CNC programs

Discussion in 'Plans, Designs & Software' started by Drake Guitarworks, May 9, 2013.

  1. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    My experience is that with the right software (I'm using an alphacam version) and proficiency using that software, things take much less time when done on the cnc, and the repeatability, speed and accuracy is unsurpassed and invaluable to a business.

    The larger machines and some of the more expensive software packages in the right hands cannot be surpassed for accurate, repeatable production work, but how long things take and what the end result is still remains in the hands of the programmer and operator.

    As with many things in design and manufacturing, if you see it complete in your head and fully understand all aspects, getting it on the screen and to useable code is quicker than what I like to call the "design while you cut" method where you're not 100% sure about all of it.
     
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  2. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    Bruce was right that the only part that's not better to do on the cnc is the fret slots, he was also right that the gang saw is a great machine, the best. If you put some thought into it and make bushing sets, different scale lengths are no problem if you spend a few bucks... but that's all out the door now because the 4" slitting saw that gets picked up but the cnc will smoke that gang saw for speed, accuracy and clean cuts.
     
  3. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

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    Sorry, I'm not following you

    I've not yet seen any CNC that can cut 24+ slots in less than 1 minute. even ones using 4" slotting saw blades.

    and how is Placement accuracy or repeatability going to be "better" as compared to a well built immovable gang arbor?

    my own video shows how fast and easy it is to use.

    http://youtu.be/0AB_9b5c1w0
     
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  4. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    Okay Bruce... yes the gang saw is the best piece of equipment to slot a fret board, as I mentioned, it’s just that if you have a cnc that can run an aggregate head then you can not only slot your board in a minute or two but you can route your inlays, radius your board, cut out your board to final shape and if required cut the nut slot.

    With respect to accuracy and repeatability, well depending on who built the gang saw, who machined the bushings, who sharpened the blades and who sets it up, it can work anywhere from perfect on down, each scale length requires new bushings and then there’s the set up time.

    With the cnc any scale length is possible and it’s perfect to the molecule every time...
     
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  5. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps my statement came off as a bit exaggerated. My point was not that CNC isn't complicated or difficult, but rather that it isn't nearly as complicated or difficult as a lot of people want to make it seem, and it's a lot easier and less complex than it used to be (thanks largely to improvements in software).
     
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  6. PDotson

    PDotson New Member

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    I gotta say, as a beginner, being able to sit here and read all the different views and points discussed by you all is great. I love this forum.
     
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  7. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

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    sorry.. but, I'm not buying this..

    I've used a Haas VF-3 with the optional high speed board and program and multi tool change to cut frets slots.. it took 9 minutes. and broke 1 $40 dollar bit. which added another 6 mins. for replacement of the bit. and that was for the fret slots only.. it was another 24 mins. if you add the inlay cavity's.
    I can match that with my hand jigs.

    I'd rather use the CNC to cut my spacers for the gang arbors. and have multiple scale arbors. just like Gibson does it. and the set up of a gang arbor saw is one and done. and maintenance is less than a CNC.
    I built my gang arbor saw 5 years ago and I haven't had to do anything to it yet. and it only cost me $1800 to build.. you can't buy a quality CNC for that yet. and its just about monkey proof as you can see in that video. anyone can learn how to operate it in just minutes..

    again I'm all for CNC for production use.. but there are still some jobs that will be better if done the old way.
     
  8. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    I don't know anything about that Haas machine, what software you guys are using or how you're doing stuff - but I do know I program a couple million dollars a year of custom work and it gets cut on this 5'x12' Weeke machine designed to cut wood

    [​IMG]

    If you use this aggregate saw

    [​IMG]

    It climb cuts 24 frets in less than 2 minutes and that's no shit, I can cut a Tele body in 6 minutes and a LP from both sides including flipping and restarting in 11 minutes, Tele neck in less than 10 minutes etc etc... Like I said, I don't know what your experience is or how you guys are doing things so I can't comment, but this is the cnc thread and that's my 2 cents.
     
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  9. Jim_E

    Jim_E Active Member

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    The concise answer to this is "you're doing it wrong"

    Block inlays per LP custom with a 1/8" down shear, entire fretboard .068" deep, less than 3 minutes start to finish, and I can do it all day long with the same bit...
     
  10. Drake Guitarworks

    Drake Guitarworks New Member

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    Lots of great information here, folks. Thanks to everyone for participating. I would love to make something using CNC because it appears to make the job of shaping wood so quick and easy and consistent. I look at my routers and feel like I'm living in the middle ages. But it sounds like there's a lot I need to learn first. This is good. I'm getting specific information of what is required to even start down that road.

    Brad
     
  11. bruce bennett

    bruce bennett Active Member

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    So can I.. with hand jigs and a dremel. and while I may have "earned my pay the hard way"
    at the end of the day.. I still didn't spend 50K+ for a machine. that can require as much as a full month just to install and set up.

    CNC is great.. and it will be the way I go at some point..

    that point being when I have a spare 30-50K laying around.. which based on the sales of my
    Bennett" guitars.. will be about 100 years after I'm dead.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013
  12. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    We use CNC at Collings to slot fretboards, and we do multiple boards at once, one long pass across all the boards. It may not do a single board with 22 slots in less than a minute but it definitely does many many boards in not much longer.
     
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  13. PeteFede

    PeteFede New Member

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    We use a HAAS mill for virtually all our work.
    Personally, I took 6 months of night courses at a local technical school to learn how to run it and program it.
    We spent a lot of time modding it, and more time to overcome the problems our mods created, to make it work the way we want it to.
    We were a little naive getting into it, but luckily our team had the technical skills and knowledge to overcome the problems we encountered.

    To do CNC right requires a huge investment of capital and labor up front.
    For us, a Tele body takes about an hour from raw lumber, not including glue drying time, to final sanding before paint.

    For fret slotting, we're spinning an .023" end mill at over 50K rpm and doing 3 passes at 100 IPM so our time is under 2 minutes. We get consistent depth slots on our compound radius boards and have the ability to do blind slots which does away with binding to hide fret tangs.

    It's taken us about a year with the machine to get to the point where we could now take any design given to us on paper and create the programming and fixtures to run the part in a matter of days.

    The smaller CNC routers you see on you tube are cool, but just too slow to be anything but hobbyist level.

    We looked at CNC routers when we started out including Thermwood and heavier machines, but after talking to the mold makers and cabinet makers using them decided they didn't have the accuracy and repeatability needed for high end guitars. You'll see high production, lower quality, guitars made with these type of routers using multi-head router to further increase production.

    Most of the companies producing higher quality products have gone to VMC's. Fender Custom Shop, Suhr and Anderson just to name a few. Usually Haas or Fadal are used, which are only just adequate in the metal machining world but offer good bang for the buck for guitar builders.

    Taylor Guitars is a company that has really done CNC right. Their youtube videos give a nice glimpse into the potential for CNC.
     
  14. Adam

    Adam Well-Known Member

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    In my own shop now, I find doing fret slotting via CNC (4x8 Shopbot) using those fiddly little bits to be too expensive and slow. I'm sure if I could attach a saw blade to my CNC like Collings does it'd be much faster, but for now I CNC my fret slotting templates (both multiscale and single scale length), then slot on a tablesaw. It's really fast, less than 10 minutes a board, which is fine for a one-man shop.
     
  15. mbowers

    mbowers New Member

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    For CAD/CAM software try Fusion 360 from Autodesk. V-Carve Pro is excellent for v-carving and inlays.
     
  16. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I use Fusion 360 and love it. I was able to get a free license about a year ago when it was still relatively new - not sure if they still offer it for hobbyists.

    They keep adding new capabilities. It's become much more powerful than I need, but it's still relatively easy to use. I like being able to sketch, 3D model, simulate cuts, and generate g-code from a single program.
     
  17. neil smith

    neil smith New Member

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    Hello - new here. Not new however to the profession. Have a shop in Vegas since 97 - done repairs and restorations for years and have been building guitars and basses by hand since 2005. Thank you for sharing your experiences with CNC machines - your experiential journeys. My 60th birthday is coming up and frankly the rasp and spoke shave look less inviting every time I do a tummy contour or neck. The CNC initiative is desirable in theory. That said, the field and it's learning curve is overwhelming to the point of the rasp looking better than ever. Like most of you guys I have jigs and fixtures that help a lot - but seeing a CNC machine carve a neck or top that's ready for 220 - makes my eyes water. What I need is a shop helper - not a Laguna at $7,000.00. There are plenty of tasks that are easy and very fast. Was just about to pull the trigger on a 1,700.00 small 24x24 machine - It's advantageous that this site popped up when searching for the best CAD program for guitar builders - as now - it seems the best thing to do is either audit a college course in CAD or hire someone to do the drawings. The business is very busy - there just isn't enough time in the day (or night) to learn a new career - I'm admittedly disappointed - but as you folks know reality has a way of rearing it's head quickly if you go off half cocked. Onward through the fog. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2017

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