SketchUp to CNC - VCarve / Mozaik / CabinetSense / Dynamic Components / Parametric?


I use Sketchup to model projects for a small, high-end, custom woodworking company. We do mainly cabinets that are all variations on a common type of box, but we also get some really random projects.

We just got our first CNC and are trying to figure out the best method to go from Sketchup model to CNC cut parts.

We got VCarve Pro because that allows you to import a Sketchup model, and it gives you a 2D layout of the parts. However this doesn’t tell you what the depth of rabbets / dados / pockets should be. Also the layers in VCarve are weird and not easy to work with.

I’m hearing about programs like Mozaik and Cabinetsense. I started working with Cabinetsense and it creates a ton of layers and seems like more than we need.

I most recently started learning about dynamic components as a way to make parametric parts, which I can use to create a library of parts that I can draw from. I think I like this option the best because it gives me total control over the layers etc with none of the extra functions that I will never use. I was almost thinking about writing my own program that would allow me to create my own variables (like cabinet height, cabinet depth, linking drawer box depth etc…). But I’m sure a ton of people have already encountered this situation and probably come up with good solutions.

It seems like Mozaik will cut my CNC programming time in half, but I don’t know if it’s worth it to get over the steep learning curve if we don’t do ONLY cabinets

Does anyone have experience with any of these things and can share your insights? Thanks in advance!

ps attached are some images of a few of our projects!


You need to check out by @ericschimel

Hey @nate2 I may have a solution for you. I was the one who actually helped design the original SketchUp importer for Vectric, and I’ve gone on to make some additional software to help SketchUp users get their parts in to CNC a lot better.

I’ve also built cabinets using Dynamic Components and I have some deep thoughts about that as well. I’m happy to answer some stuff here, but if you’re up for it we can connect offline and I can dig really deep if you want to. Just shoot me a PM here and we can setup a call.

1 Like

Hi Nate,
I design in S.U. and import directly to Cut 2D pro (the little brother of VCarve Pro - but it essentially works the same way). I originally encountered the same problems as you. It took several months of trial and error to structure my sketchup models in such a way that they would transfer to Cut2D pro.

I have learned a great deal in this process and I can say now that we have a pretty seamless workflow.
The easiest way to begin helping you would be for you to download the attached model of a drawer. You will see the layer naming and hierarchy I use.

  1. One must do away with the basic Sketchup law which states that elemental geometry must exist on Layer0. The reason is that VCarve and Cut2D pro deal with geometry on S.U. layers in a different manner. This is one of the hardest pills to swallow and it sucks. The attached model has rabbet joints and plunge holes of varying depths but if you click down through the components and groups you will notice that all basic geometry (edges and faces etc) are not on Layer0.

  2. I still manually setup tool paths in Cut2D Pro based on Sketchup layer structure. For example, in my S.U model, plunge holes of a common diameter and depth are placed on their own layer. This layer might be named something like: ‘HOLE_3mm_dia_9mm_deep’. I can then isolate all entities on this layer in Cut2D pro and setup the tool appropriately.

  3. I do not 3D model rabbet joints or holes. The reason is it creates a messy cut profile in Cut2D Pro when the model is imported. Instead, I simply draw a 2D ‘outline’ of the rebate and place it on its own layer named something like: ‘rebate_9mm_deep’. The rabate is a component nested into the panel component. All other rebates of common depth in the model are placed on the same layer. When the model is imported into Cut2D pro, once again it is easy to isolate and setup the path. In the same way, holes of any depth are simply 2D circle entities in the model which are placed onto a specific layer.

  4. Make components out of your holes, rabbets and pockets and nest them with the panel component as per the instructions under the heading:
    ‘Keep components starting with two underscores (__) together’. in this doc:
    SketchUp Files - Cut2D Pro V9.0 User Manual

  5. Dynamic components may work for you in terms of quickly resizing parts but I have found that setting up my fixings as ‘glue to’ components works just fine too.

You should try importing the attached file into VCarve. Make sure that you select ‘orient by material’ and choose ‘Top_Face1’ from the pull down list.

Hope this helps.

drawer16mm.skp (181.1 KB)

@nate2 pretty tough to beat CabMaker plugin and CutMaster for price and functionality. For large complex projects Components are cumbersome. CabMaker uses groups which helps speed up SU on larger projects. Also CabMaker\CutMaster output works great with Aspire Vcarve.

CutMaster generates router optimized patterns in DXF format so you are not as reliant on Vcarve Pro nesting optimization.

Thank you so much for your response here! Your solution seems like a perfect fit for a job where someone makes parts more than once. There might be a way to integrate it into what I need, but at the moment I think another solution might be better - whatever that ends up being.

I am hoping to keep layers as simple as possible!

Thanks MPoole! I’m going to download the trial of this software today. I can’t seem to find a general tutorial of this - is there any way you recommend I go about learning the ins and outs?

Have a look at @gkernan’s youtube channel. CabMaker on YouTube

I would like to say that faber still seems to be the holy grail of the sketchup to cnc workflow especially because of the way it is able to handle pockets and fixings as 3D components. It also utilizes the component axis in orientating parts in the CAM software. This is something the Vectric VCarve/Cut2Dpro does not do.
However, faber is difficult to integrate into a metric based system at the moment but I believe that is all about to change…

Thanks for the kind remarks @Early_Hominid! We are working on metric. That’ll be out soon. I think you’re going to like the way we’ve implemented it.

1 Like

Interested in this because I have recently been getting my head round the same issues - importing a complex 3D model into vectric - my original idea was that the sketchup model should exactly represent the 3D end product. But I had the same problem as you regarding doubled up outlines and other problems on the vectric import - and just like you I settled on represent grooves etc with separately grouped and layered shapes on the sketchup model.

1 Like