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Units 19-20 Whitworth Road

Washington, NE37 1PP


Mon - Fri 8.30 - 5.00

Sat & Sun CLOSED

Sales Department

Make custom toolbox foam inserts on a CNC router

Make custom toolbox foam inserts on a CNC router

In todays tutorial installment we will be showing you how we produced this custom tool box insert using one of our Piranha CNC routers.  We will run through the material type, tools used and the relevant settings in Vectric V Carve software.

Follow this tutorial to give you a better understanding on how we produced the end result.  Perfect for anyone or any business to break into manufacturing their own tool boxes or designs with custom inserts for tooling and other items.  This type of work is becoming very popular in the UK and having a CNC router enables you to cut out highly complex shapes rather than trying to use a scalpel.

Let’s get started by setting up the job in the software.
Step 1

Prepare your project in Vectric V Carve Pro (downloadable file at the bottom of the page), or your favourite CAD drawing package such as AutoCAD, CorelDraw or SketchUp.

The material used was 50mm thick and on this occasion it was quite a light textured foam with a painted finish and can be purchased from the guys over at ShadowFoam based in the UK. You can use the more tough, almost neoprene like foam, that has two cores if you are after a more tough insert suitable for higher traffic applications.

Before we start anything we need to prepare the settings for the job in V Carve Pro (this is material dependant, such as thickness and the size of your material).

Job Type: This would be single sided – no need to process this job on the flip side of your material.

Job Size: As you can see this is where you need to input the size of your job, we used some foam that was sized at 1200 x 550mm and with a thickness of 50mm.

Z Zero Position: This is where the machine takes its Z height from – we chose material surface.

XY Datum Position: You have the option to pick where the job starts on the material and use an offset should you wish to. Here we have picked the bottom-left.

Design Scaling: This option is not required in this project.

Modeling Resolution: This is the resolution that the 3D representation uses in demo and toolpath previews. You can view your project in 3D and check for any errors on your drawing.

Appearance: This is purely there to give you a basic representation of the material you will be cutting – or near enough as.

Once you have set up your job you will be ready to move onto the next step of your project for CNC routing.

The file supplied for you in this tutorial can be modified to suit your needs. Once you have the drawing imported into V Carve Pro you can then move onto the next steps – picking the relevant tooling and applying toolpaths.

Step 2

Pick your tool and apply toolpaths. Before we do the final profile cut we need to cut out the tool and logo areas as a pocket. This was acheived by using a basic cutter to ‘rough out’ the foam before we go back around to do a cleanup pass. The clean up was done using a double flute (straight cut), this means you obviously get a nicer end product. With the harder based tool box foam you can also use a bit of gentle heat to ‘seal off’ the edges.

See below for our tool selection:

Rough Cut Tool

We used a standard compression tool for the roughing process. 12.7mm in diameter.

Our cutting parameters show a pass depth of 20mm (for our pocket), this is the depth at which your tool will pass through the material in one shot – please note that each tool we cut out was actually at a different depth.

You can choose this to be whatever figure you require but beware: this must not exceed your spoil board thickness otherwise you will be going straight into your matrix bed.

Clean Up Tool

As you can see we are using a 6mm Straight Flute Tool for cleaning up. It must be noted that you should be running the tool in a conventional rotation to get the best finish.

The pass depth should match the previous tool setting for each pocket. At this stage the cut should be taking away a matter of mm off the previous cuts to give it a nice clean finish.

Step over is the amount of travel the tool uses to pocket out your material. In this instance we want the tool to create a nice smooth finish on the material. Bigger steps result in rougher finishes over smaller steps.

Speed and feed rates have been set using the recommended parameters from the tool manufacturer.

Step 3

Process your material on the CNC router.

Follow your usual CNC workflow on the machine that you have.


There you have it, you now know how to make custom toolbox foam inserts on a CNC router. Information on downloadable files goes here. Want to download the Toolbox CutFile for you to use in your projects? Click the button at the bottom of this page. Software used in this tutorial is Vectric Aspire (same applies for Vectric V Carve Pro).