Cut quality in vinyl material

I wasn’t sure where to post this as all search results I’ve seen for cutting vinyl refer to issues with drag knife… not what I am using…

I need suggestions for cut quality in vinyl planks. Why vinyl flooring planks? They come in multiple finishes, waterproof and have a backing already attached (great for coasters).

My machine specs, mpcnc skrpro1.2 with tft screen, estlecam and dewalt660. Controls all work fine, no issues there.

Did a test cut of vinyl flooring plank for a coaster. Overall, I’m happy with it, but noticed a few areas to improve. The bottom of the letters have rather obvious tool marks. I had to speed up the feed to keep chips from sticking to the cuts… maybe need a very shallow cut at slower feed to clean up bottom? Any suggestions to get smoother bottom?

Also, on the edge cutout the top half is good, but the bottom portion is a little further out. It is almost like the finishing cut didn’t happen all the way down. It occurs at the same distance down as the holding tabs. Is there something I am missing as far as finishing cut and holding tabs?

Is there any flex in your core? Is the tool orthogonal to the spoilboard?

I would definitely make sure the endmill is SHARP-sharp on the end (may not be if you ever did a through cut into mdf) and add a finish-pass to the bottom. That foam core is kinda soft (relative to the vinyl) and tends to squish a bit.

I appreciate your response!
Good point about core. I’ll check it as I’ve only run a few test pieces now. Maybe something has loosened, but really don’t think so. Ran another piece after with simple straight lines and bottom of cut is smooth, but the feed rate was lower. Chips stuck to the sides of the cut. I’m going to try to cut out a piece without holding tabs and see how it looks. The step in the side is even all the way around and only start at the same height of the tabs. On a learning curve with estlcam so figured I have something set wrong.

The foam backing is tricky, but I have mastered clamping it without deforming the material. Need just enough pressure to hold yet not deform it. The foam actually helps keep it in place… I have been using this material on another machine for over a year and learned by plenty of mistakes. ( more than I care to admit to… :grin:)

I’ll check my core and let you know what I find

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I messed with some of it a while ago. I should probably get back to that, but wood is just so PRETTY

Got a minute to look at the core and it’s not wobbly at all.

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Sorry for the brief response previously, but things got crazy for a bit. After going over the machine, I’m satisfied the issues are not from the machine, but the gcode of the part being run. I believe I found the problem was operator error (me) in setting tool paths in estlcam. The edge where there is a lip at the height of the holding tabs appears to be from double toolpaths. Somehow I made two on top of each other. One had a tabs and finishing cut set and the other didn’t. As far as the tool marks at the bottom of the letters, I need to run a slightly deeper pass at a lower speed. Ran a test piece at a slower piece and the bottom of the cut was smooth… if I run the whole thing at the slower speed, the edges of the cut fuzz up with chips. Still learning the ins and outs of estlecam, but so far happy with the results.

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Ok, so the issues with the cut quality my learning curve with estlcam. After removing extraneous tool paths from the piece, most of the issues were eliminated. The only issue with the one in the picture is I forgot to do a slower cleanup pass on the bottom of the letters…


Ok, got crazy and tried a larger piece for fun and to see how the toolpaths looked. It came out better than I expected, but need to play with speeds and feeds some more.


Some more test sample coasters. Just sold a set of 4.


Looking good Matt!
I tried out a scrap piece of vinyl flooring from our remodel… Was very pleased with how the vinyl machines. I love using vinyl flooring for coasters for the main two reasons you cited… 100% waterproof and comes with a great backing already bonded to it.
I did a few sets of coaster on my 40W CO2 laser machine a couple of years ago for xmas gifts for neighbors… I used the cutoffs from 3"-4" logs, with the natural bark around the edges. Had to apply several coats of clear to seal the wood, and then glue and trim felt bottoms… A lot more work than the vinyl flooring! I know what I’m giving as gifts this year!! :wink:


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Thank you Ron!

I built my machine to be able to do 36" full length flooring panels, 4 across. I can get 8 4" coasters out of one panel. Plus they are available in many finishes. Find a flooring guy and buy the scraps and leftovers cheap. You can also buy damaged boxes at the box stores. Enjoy making them and share some pictures!


Just an update on the cut quali

ty… been reading a lot in here about climb vs conventional milling and up vs down cut bits. The fuzziness were terrible and took a while to clean up. Different feed rates helped, but not much. The machine was set for conventional milling, so I changed to climb and what an improvement! There were still some fuzziness, but much less. After switching to a down cut bit, the pieces come out clean. I used to spend more time cleaning up the parts after coming off the machine than the time to cut them. It only takes less than a minute with a toothbrush sized wire brush to clean up each piece now. This piece is pretty much how it came off the table after the tabs were clean up.


Nice! I tried getting some tiles over Christmas to try to make some coasters but Lowe’s would only sell the full box and I didn’t want to spend $80 on materials before I knew how it would come out. They didn’t have any damaged boxes either but I imagine that is something you have to check regularly. So I guess I’m going to have to find a flooring guy like you suggest. Do you have any other suggestions on where I can get the tiles individually?

The only other source I was able to tap into were coworkers and neighbors who did there own floors, but that is not a reliable source. Right time, right place scenario… could also try smaller flooring stores, but I haven’t. A box speared by a forklift is garbage to a store, but gold to me… lol. Good luck in your search!

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Now the cut quality is so much better, I no longer dread the clean up of the parts. Just cut a gear coaster and a small spur gear to go with it. Used Matthias Wendel’s gear generator, which will help when I finally tackle a gear clock in the future. The gears are dead on and mesh perfectly!

Edit: meant to add pic of piece right off machine. You can see how clean the cut is.


My wife uses tiles to make acrylic pour art. She got a bunch at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.

Cheap and as many or as few as you want.


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Good to know. I was just at lowes yesterday and saw a bunch of the solid vinyl waterproof planks for $35-40 a box. Might go back to get some variety in color and grain patterns.
My current planks are from the three and a half boxes I had left over after doing all the floors in my house.

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