A “Random Tree” Wooden Model Made with Inkscape

random tree cut with cnc routerA “random tree” is easy to make with Inkscape.  Just hit Extensions >Render > Random Tree and it will give you a nice little tree.  Play with the variables and you can make it smaller or larger.

A fun, pleasing pattern of lines.  But what if you wanted to make this tree in real life?  You could print out a stencil and cut it out with a jigsaw, or you could use your CNC router!  Inkscape makes this easy with the Gcodetools extension.  If you wanted to simply engrave the “tree” you could use the path it generated, however, if you wanted to cut out a tree like what’s shown on the right, some extra (but easy) steps will have to be taken.

1. Generate your “Random” tree – As noted before, just hit Extensions > Render > Random Tree and everything will be taken care of.

2.random tree with stroke being made larger Select the tree with the node tool (F2), then open the “fill and stroke dialog box (on the top menu bar or use shift+ctrl+f).  Click on the third tab then enlarge the width (circled in red in the picture directly to the right).  Make it whatever diameter you want, but to calculate the cutting surface, subtract the diameter of your cutter (since it will cut halfway on either side).  You may want to modify the “join” format below this if you want the tips of the “branches” to be rounded like in step 3.  This icon is marked with a blue arrow in the figure to the lower right.

inkscape random tree stroke to path




3. As of the end of step 2, the tree may look wider, but if you click with the path tool, you’ll notice it’s still down the center.  With the node selection tool active, hit the “stroke to path” tool (ctrl+alt+c) to turn the border of the stroke into a new path.  This icon is marked with the red pointer to the right.

4. Once this is done, you have a path suitable for cutting your tree out of MDF or whatever you want.  Full directions on how to do this with Gcodetools can be found here.

random tree cut out


Seen above is the finished product.  I didn’t program the router to cut quite deep enough as the bottom wasn’t fully cut.  It still needs to be deburred.  This was a good test of my Dremel 4000 tool that I recently installed in my router.  I’ll do an article soon about how I mounted it and my thoughts on this tool.  For a little background on the significance of the “Random Tree”, check out this Wikipedia page.  Also, for another random tree that was good enough it ended up in our kitchen, check out this post!


  1. Another CNC-made Random Tree | JCOPRO.NET - pingback on November 30, 2011 at 6:57 pm
  2. Hi,
    Can the CNC Router cut glass 2-4mm?
    I want to buy one, but think I need water cooled.
    Which way should I go?
    Had my eye on a 6040…
    Found your info pretty interesting.
    Thanks again.

    • Looks like a nice unit, but it’s not the one I have. If I had to guess, I would think it could cut glass, but I’ve never tried. I’d be really leery of the dust from glass though, so you probably want to do a little more research.

      Glad you enjoyed the info.

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