Guitars! guitars! Guitars!

Today I cut out a new shape body I’m working on. I decided to use a 1/4" dia bit for the whole thing instead of changing to a larger bit for the perimeter cut. I allowed 1.5"+ of bit under the collet. My deepest pass was set to 1.5" too. I thought I had the wood clamps out of the way, but they got hit a few times and got shaved shorter in the process. The collet also bumped them on the deeper perimeter cuts.

I was expecting to lose some steps during these unfortunate incidents, but to the X carve’s credit, the belt upgrade held its own with the 50 IPM feed. This is some poplar I glued up. I found at the curb with a " free" sign this summer. It had some cracks and checks, so I only used the good part of it. The color is pretty nice for poplar.

My machine’s upgrades include the Y stiffeners and risers, aftermarket Z axis, and 9mm belts and pulleys. I believe they all were worth the price of admission as the results are really pretty nice compared to the Shapeoko2 that it once was.


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Yes you can definitely build guitars. I was a shop teacher for 5 years, I created a high school course where we built electric guitars to learn fusion 360, 3D printing, Haas CNC and cnc routers, and basic engineering and design. We started with Techno Isel router and a Romaxx. But big surprise building guitars became popular, we needed more capacity and didn’t have a lot of budget, so we built a slightly hopped up X carve with a Gecko G540 and 279 in oz steppers running mach 3 with stiffening brackets on the Y axis. My students built a lot of guitars and necks on that machine. We did buy pre slotted fret boards and less ambitious students used pre made necks. But it’s possible to built the whole thing on an x carve. If you take light cuts, the x carve is pretty accurate. When you gig deep theachine deflects. I came up with a system of deeper but still fairly light cuts for rough removal with very light finishing cuts. Proved to be plenty accurate. Some necks needed a little hand sanding to fit perfect in the pocket but that was not a deal breaker. I can’t remember which one’s were made on which machine. But at the end of the day it didn’t really matter. Just took a bit longer and a little more care to get good results with the X carve! So after I left teaching I bought and x carve for my home shop. We also made aluminum Bridges and saddles on the Haas, which was really fun.
Love the x carve. Great hobby level machine for the money. IMG_20191214_141735060|375x500


Going to use a macassar ebony top and mahogany body. Plans are for the mahogany. Any thoughts on getting it to take less time to hollow the cavities?


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Justin, Any suggestions for learning f360 for necks? I would love to make my own but most of the f360 tutorials are tough to follow.

Don’t do it in 3d. Use 2.5D. Take your cavity outer perimeter and offset it say half the diameter of your bit in concentric smaller paths. Then do the G code on that. Then copy and paste it into notepad as many depth changes as you plan on making. Change the Z- increments for each level. That’s what I do.

Thanks I will give that a shot. The first three guitars have all been straight easel, but I have fiddled with f360. Figuring out where to copy paste G code will be new.

I built my first cnc router about 15 years ago from hardware store parts and HDPE. Back then most of the software we use today wasn’t available yet. This approach just made sense to me and I’ve continued doing it because it saves so much time. The router doesn’t end up having to travel all over the place. It just works inthe area you desire. If you make each rout its own program, you can mix and match them in a different program. For example a tele neck pocket, a humbucker neck cavity, control cavity, bridge ferrules, F hole, etc. That way you can have a Thinline, a regular tele, a tele with humbuckers, rear routed controls, etc. And that’s just a tele… You probably will need to remove a couple codes, when you add them together. I always put a G20, G90, F50, G1Z1.0, The top of the material is Z 0 done with a probe. I also add G1X0Y0 at the beginning of each program. My x0y0 is always on the centerline of a neck or body at the lowest point on the object as you are looking at the top view of it.

Cool thanks. I’ll get there eventually!

It’s definitely doable if you put in the time. Once you have the neck modeled the adaptive and parallel toolpaths will be your friend. If you slice the headstock at the nut, and the neeck base right out of the pocket you can draw two profiles and use the loft tool to create that complex geometry of the tapered back curve. But honestly, it you do a flat strat neck in 2d and just cut the profile, headstock, tuner holes and truss rod slot, you could just hand shape the back of the neck curve. Might be faster than learning how to model the neck and get the hang of the 3dCAM. I taught myself, but I had like 100 students counting on me so my motivation to get it down was really strong. Plus that was my lesson planning time so I had an uninterrupted hour or so each day to stay ahead of them plus a little time at home. Not a bad gig. I had a series of videos on the whole build process but I lost most of them when I left because they were in my school Google drive.

I am slogging through learning fusion, and within a few days I’ll take a shot at dong a practice run on pink foam. I only have 4 students that want to work on guitars (middle school) so the learning is up to me. Throw in maintaining 3d printers, a laser cutter and managing 60 13 year olds around power equipment and finding time to sit and learn is tricky. I’ll post pics when I get there.

I taught middle school Technology Education for 30 years. I had 6 classes of 25 kids on average daily. It was a lot of work. Things got more computerized over time and I was determined to keep materials going while staying current with electronics, robotics, and the other current topics. I built my first cnc there and had the kids make boxes with names engraved on top. I wish I had learned 3d back then but Inventor was in its infancy and being done at the HS level. We were doing C02 cars for one unit and it would have been fun to cnc some of them out.

I miss the space to work. These days I have a 12 x 16 shed in which I have the X carve, My K22514 cnc, my router table, Wet Dry vac, a chair and a work bench.

Hats off to you!

Great and useful information, thanks!

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