use a closed pencil drawing to create Grbl code for small CNC machine

Asked by richard hynds on 2017-03-28

to cut various one-off shapes in 6mm. plywood from pencil drawings. Can Inkscape produce the coding to control a small CNC milling machine? The pieces would be no larger than 50 x 50mm. No engraving, just a flat shape like a jigsaw piece

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Hachmann (marenhachmann) said : #1

Hi Richard,

so you'd like us to outline the full workflow from importing a scan to outputting to the CNC machine?

Quick overview:
- Import scan
- use either B├ęzier tool to redraw, use Autotrace feature to trace (works if shapes are colored in) or use centerline trace extension to trace the lines directly (doesn't come with Inkscape, needs to be installed from
- Modify autotracing results + save as Inkscape SVG.

Now comes the part that I know barely anything about:
- so, after some research, grbl is a program that can read gcode (which is the format that you'd need to output).
- Yes, Inkscape can generate GCode, with the GCodetools extension. There are lots of tutorials for this on youtube and in other places, but I never had the opportunity to test any of them. You'd need to do some research for the usage.
- Inkscape can also directly send your data to a plotter, via Extensions -> Export -> Plot.
- There are a couple more ways to get GCode / Plotters to work with Inkscape. You'd need to look for extensions, mostly. Make sure you run an inexpensive test when you try them out. Some may not work at all, because their authors didn't keep them updated, and some may be excellent.
- There's a forum for plotting / cutting with Inkscape:
and there's a forum section here:

That's almost all I know, hope some of it will be helpful!

Kind Regards,

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