Hello again,

A fellow luthier has a patron that wants to set him up with a CNC router. Anybody had some experience using CNC at the small shop level? The budget allowed could go as high as 10 kilodollars. I did some preliminary shopping around, and the number of machines, and the variation in prices, are mind boggling!

By the way, Rick Samish at Fine Line Cabinets in Redwood City, CA, carved a bunch of necks for me some years back, and it has been a great help. They require a good deal of finish work, but the basic shape is defined, and it's easy to tell where to stop.

When I carve a neck from scratch, I end up taking forever, because I don't know how to fix a spot where I've taken off a bit too much, and have it look ok..  



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Hi Brian 

I have been using CNC in my shop for about the past three years. There is much more to it than just buying a machine - and there are a lot of those and their options to choose from! You must also have drawing software and "toolpathing" software. There are some packages that combine the two. I use, and highly recommend Aspire from Vectric software which does both. But all of them, including Aspire, require quite a learning curve. So, if your friend buys a machine don't expect to be productive for a few months! BUT, if you stick with it the jigging, parts and anything else you design etc. can be incredibly precise and the ultimate product that much better.

If you want to discuss it, feel free to call me at 781-361-1471 and I will try to explain the journey much more fully.


Hello Sylvan,

Thanks for the quick reply!

I've built four three axis routers over the last 20 years, and have avoided all computer controls due to the added complexity, and expense. I make "analog" holding and guiding fixtures for it and do perhaps twenty different guitar making operations on it. The "computer" that operates it is between my ears (;->)...Here is a link to info on it on my website---scroll down to the bottom of the page:

I'm a jig and fixture nut, but my friend James is not, so an enthusiastic client of his has offered to buy him a CNC machine. While I can do carving duplication with my three axis router, making necks on it is one of the least pleasant tasks I've ever performed. James has allowed that he would be willing to set up to carve necks for me, so I thought I would scope out the current state of the market for CNC gear.

I'll give you a call this afternoon if it's convenient. I'll be teaching for the next two days.




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