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Not too long ago, I showed you my ShapeOko 2 CNC mill, giving you an overview of the hardware. The other side of CNC milling is the software. There are TONS of options for software, covering a wide range of features and cost. The biggest factor in choosing your software is often how you plan to use it.

When you hear about CNC milling, you’ll often here it talked about as 2.5D or 3D. The difference between these two is much like the difference between a contour map vs. a topographical map.  2.5D cuts out a shape, using the X and Y axis, on a plane. Then the bit moves down, to a different plane, and makes another cut. 3D makes cuts while the bit moves in all 3 axis, X,Y and Z, at the same time.

My ShapeOko is capable of doing both 2.5D and 3D cutting, but this piece of software, Easel, is specifically made for 2.5D. There are a few reasons that I wanted to introduce you to Easel, the biggest being that it’s FREE, it’s browser based, and it’s VERY easy to use.