The use of a liquid-crystal spatial light modulator (SLM) device to convert a linearly polarized femtosecond laser beam into a radially or azimuthally polarized vortex beam is demonstrated. In order to verify the state of polarization at the focal plane, laser induced periodic surface structures (LIPSS) are produced on stainless steel, imprinting the complex vectorial polarization structures and confirming the efficacy of the SLM in producing the desired polarization modes. Stainless steel plates of various thicknesses are micromachined with the radially and azimuthally polarized vortex beams and the resulting cut-outs are analysed. The process efficiency and quality of each mode are compared with those of circular polarization. Radial polarization is confirmed to be the most efficient mode for machining high-aspect-ratio (depth/width >3) channels thanks to its relatively higher absorptivity. Following our microprocessing tests, liquid-crystal SLMs emerged as a flexible off-the-shelf tool for producing radially and azimuthally polarized beams in existing ultrashort-pulse laser microprocessing systems.