Desktop CNC

Discussion in 'The DIY Tool Shed' started by Steerforth, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    I’m looking for a desktop CNC rig with enough work area to do a Telecaster neck, and a body that’s been roughed out on a bandsaw, has compatibility with some decent software, and that doesn’t cost as much as a new pickup truck.

    I was looking at the Laguna IQ series, but don’t know much about them.

    Any ideas, about any brands?
     
  2. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    There are lots of brands out there. I have a k22514 and an X carve now, as well as a poorly made pcncautomations in mothballs. Knowing what I know now for guitar work, I'd want a 24 x36 work area. I'd want supported linear guides. I'd want ball screws or antibacklash lead screws at the minimum. This will put you into a 4-8000 dollar territory. If the Laguna has those features, I'd consider it. Over the last 10 years I've seen Camaster turn out to be a popular one too.

    Velox bought out K2.


    https://www.veloxcncrouters.com/


    Looking at an IQ, it looks pretty much like what I described...LOL. That's kind of what the decent cnc's cost. Hobbiest machines like Openbuilds, X carve, and Shapeoko3 are made like an erector set. They can do lots of things but they are pretty flexible and prone to more frequent adjustments. If you can afford the industrial quality machine it'll be money well spent.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  3. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, guitarbuilder! That’s really good information! I’m taking notes here. The features that you mentioned are things that I’ll look for. It’s always good to hear from someone with experience!
     
  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The other thing that comes up is the controller and routers. Mach3 was the standard for home cnc years ago. That ran off a parallel port on a computer. Now that USB is so common there are other options but you can still get mach3 and use a USB adapter for it called a UC 100. The smaller machines use Arduino and similar controllers that aren't quite as sophisticated. I just bought a plug and play one from Probotix and it has served me well.



    Spindles are now more common. I have no experience with them but there are air cooled and water cooled ones. Other guys will probably chime in about those.

    http://cncdrive.com/UC100.html


    https://www.probotix.com/
     
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  5. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I use Camaster and highly recommend them, but there are lots of great choices, depending on if you want ready to work or want to fully assemble yourself. Camaster, ShopSabre, Laguna, Axxiom, ShopBot, etc., are all examples of the former. AvidCNC (formerly CNC Router Parts) is an excellent choice for the latter. The largest Shapeoko is also big enough to handle the neck of a guitar, AFAIK.

    There are a number of different CNC control software systems used in these smaller machines. Mine uses WinCNC. It and Centroid are more full featured control systems. Mach has been around for awhile, but I suggest that Mach4 be utilized rather than the older Mach3 at this point for any new machine.

    I agree with Marty about spindles...way better than a repurposed router motor in many ways, including speed flexibility, collet choices, CNC controller software control of both on-off and speed including changes within a job and....noise.
     
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  6. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks, Jim! Great information!
     
  7. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Happy to help, Steerforth. What part of Arkansas are you in? I have woodworking friends down there. 'Just curious...
     
  8. cleanheadsteve

    cleanheadsteve Tele-Meister

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    hey jim,
    i'm in ashdown, arkansas. close to texarkana

    Sent from my SM-S767VL using Tapatalk
     
  9. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    .

    The first step in CNC ownership .... is find a CAD program and learn to use it. People get a CNC and it sits there for a year while they figure out how to draw the models up the way they want. Since CNC machines are evolving all the time, it's best to get the software figured out. The CNC part is easy after that. Most models you find out there on download sites are wrong or won't work so don't expect to download a file, chuck some wood at your CNC, and have a guitar to play that afternoon.

    Second step in CNC ownership .... is figure out how you are going to fixture parts in your machine and then set up the software to generate tool paths.

    Fusion360 (there has been a hobby level allowance for free use unless you are making $100k/yr or more with your CNC business)
    FreeCAD (this is what I use, since the general model of "free" software like Fusion360 lasts until they lock enough users in to convert to fees, and people get locked into using what they know and they cave). https://www.freecadweb.org/ The team is working on tool path generation so in the interim I have used Fusion360 on the machining side (much more simple than doing the CAD there). There are some other programs out there too, probably some new ones.
    OnShape was $40/month
    Rhino is popular with some guitar builders
    Solidworks is around $8,000 with annual maintenance fees, Catia and Siemens NX are upwards of $20,000+annual fees.
    and so on. You can quickly see how the CAD component becomes a critical issue.

    Most CNCs need some sort of PC to feed the gcode line by line. You can use your laptop but you'll suck dust into it. Better to find either a new $200 fanless PC or a $50 RaspberryPi system running Linux with "gcodesender". If you run that Mach software mentioned you'll need a modern PC at significantly more cost just to run the latest Windows OS, the Mach software is pretty simple itself but it lugs Windows behind it. I use a twenty year old desktop computer running modern Linux and gcodesender. I have a few similar machines kicking around the garage shop so if that one fails I may upgrade to a fifteen year old machine.

    I use a Shapeoko 3 that's around 24x48 (but less cutting area each way due to gantry layout). Weak point in the stock unit is rigidity of the z-axis. Guitarbuilder upgraded his X-carve with a new z-axis that I have admired and may upgrade at some point.

    A Makita 1/4in router is all you really need for guitar cutting. You can get water cooled units (but then worry about freezing if in a garage or shed) that run a lot more quietly. I started with a Harbor Freight 1/4inch router because I didn't know how fast I might destroy a router from accidental full plunge and movement so a $15 broken thing was better than throwing $150 every time. I ended up wearing out the HF router's bushings after learning for a while and upgraded to the Makita. There is a Dewalt model that is also liked by CNC'ers.

    So start with the CAD and then buy your machine.

    Good luck!
    .
     
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  10. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Respectfully I need to comment on this. I didn't have a clue about 3d drawing when I started this adventure. I could use a few tools in McDraft to get basic shapes drawn and printed. There's absolutely no reason to not have your cnc router nearby while you learn how to do CAD. As an example, the X carve comes with Easel ( the Cad and Cam in one user friendly package) which allows you to start cutting stuff right away. It is fairly simple. People do it all the time for signage and other 2d products. Now if you want to get into 3D stuff like necks and bodies, well that is a separate learning curve itself. It takes the CAD to a higher level. Having a 2d knowledge base and knowing how to use your cnc router will help speed up the process of getting to know 3d. People sometimes need a carrot to help them keep going and just drawing for drawings sake can be kind of monotonous.
     
  11. Switchy

    Switchy Tele-Afflicted

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    IMO

    I don't think a "desktop" CNC is going to have the capabilities necessary to produce a viable guitar body. Guitar bodies are relatively large objects to route and you need a proportionally large machine. I mean to say, you need a good amount of floor space and a stand-alone CNC table. This will cost a few thousand. The Laguna IQ series seems to start at $7000.00? That seems about right, but for 7 grand you might consider a real CNC machine, like a used Knee Mill style CNC instead of a frame style Laguna. Rigidity and repeatability is key to a quality routed part.

    And depending on how serious you are, I would recommend a Haas CNC which can be found used for reasonable prices, but that's in the $20k range.
     
  12. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    While I personally prefer and use a heavier machine, Switchy, a Shapeoko XXL is perfectly capable of cutting guitar bodies at 1000mm x 1000mm. It will not work as fast as my Camaster, but it can do the job, albeit more slowly. Now I bought my machine for my part-time retirement business and cut a lot of things on it. Guitars is just a "side hobby" at this point. If someone wants a kit, but one that's more sturdy, Avid (formerly CNC Router Parts) has some very nice options.

    There needs to be some caution around used industrial machines, too...many can be good buys, but one has to be really careful that they are not beat into the ground already. Some also require proprietary software systems which can be more challenging for folks new to CNC when it comes to getting assistance "from the community". I'm not saying this is a bad idea...'just that much caution and research is required.
     
  13. cleanheadsteve

    cleanheadsteve Tele-Meister

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    my 2 cent opinion.
    i find cad programs difficult and dont use them at all for my cnc guitar builds. i use adobe illustrator. many folks use inkscape, which is free. illustrator will import a pdf file and allow you to edit it. pdf guitar templates are all over the net so u don't have to design from scratch. then i save my file and use a 2nd piece of software to create my toolpaths and gcode file. i find using this step the most challenging but not too difficult. then i open that gcode file in "universal gcode sender" and it uses it to operate my cnc. this third piece of software is the easiest in my opinion. if i was forced to learn cad, i would have given up.
    my opinion on cnc machines is this. i bought a cheap one that was big enough to create bodies and bolt on necks. why? because i didn't have enough knowledge or confidence to spend real money on a good machine. now that i've played with my cheap machine, i wish i had a better, faster, more sturdy machine. but i'm still glad i bought the cheap one first. it gave me the confidence and experience/intelligence to buy what i really want next time. but for now. even my cheapie can produce quality work as long as u maintain the machine. keep the screws of the frame tight, etc.
    my machine is a bobs cnc e4. it cuts 24"x24". it runs slow because it has small stepper motors, its made from thin plywood. almost like thick cardboard, but i only paid $600 bucks for it. they are around $1,000 new. sold as a kit, and it takes a few days to assemble. not a bad price for the amount of knowledge i have gained by using it. and only now do i feel somewhat qualified to choose a better machine. and yes, my cnc will make guitars, but not nearly as good or fast as a better machine


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  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    If you can use illustrator or inkscape, you can do cad. It's the same learning curve with different tools in front of you. Learning CAD, like any software takes time. It also allows to to deviate and create your own stuff, which eventually one might want to do when they get tired of using other peoples work....Just my 2 cents after making my first drawing from Rhino and using Cura to slice it for a new 3d printer. All new territory for me. Luckily there are video resources out there as I've had a headache the past 3 days from having one brick wall after another...LOL. Now I have to do a temporary fix on the leveling springs which aren't strong enough to level the bed. I'll probably make some washers out of pickguard material.
     
  15. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

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    This is a little late but I found this: https://www.onefinitycnc.com

    I am not crazy about non supported rails but the rest looks interesting.
     
  16. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    There are a lot of propriety parts in there. That would be a turn off to me. I've had two manufactured cnc machines made by companies that went belly up shortly after I bought the product. Open source machines are more easily dealt with if that were to happen.
     
  17. Ziggy

    Ziggy Tele-Holic

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    Can you reccomend one that would be big enough for a guitar neck and still use the ball-screw arrangement?

    Maybe in the $2500 and less price range?
     
  18. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I am not sure that there is anything in that price range with screw drive with this exception and I don't know anything about it except I own one of his Z axis upgrades for my x carve and it is nice. You'd probably want the 1000mm version to do necks more easily. I'd be interested in finding out about the nuts he uses though. It appears they are bronze nuts with one spring loaded to take up backlash.

    https://cnc4newbie.com/store/en/new-carve-cnc-p104/
     
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