Questions about a basic CNC setup

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by photondev, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. photondev

    photondev Tele-Holic

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    I see several builders here that have upgraded to a CNC setup.

    What would be a basic setup for a hobby builder like myself?

    How much would I expect to spend to have a decent basic CNC setup?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    Photon, I don't have a cnc but I have been following this topic for quite a while (I used industrial cnc's while I was gainfully employed in another life....). I'm sure you are going to get a lot of really good advice from he folks here who do use cnc routers, but there is already an active forum that discusses cnc and lutherie at one of the luthier forums.

    http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=10106

    Probably many of your questions will be answered there.
     
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  3. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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  4. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I've been cncing for about a decade and a half. Like just about everything, you get what you pay for with cnc routers. I built my first one from hardware store items and that was good enough to build multitudes of bodies.


    About 12 years ago I bought a 3000 dollar machine from a place called pcncautomation. That was a rip off and that one isn't as good as my X carve is today. I haven't used it in years. The design flexes too much because the linear guides aren't designed for cnc rigidity.

    I also bought a K2 2514 or 15 on ebay and added a plug and play controller and motors to it. K2 was a popular hobbiest brand and got sold off and is now Velox cnc. That machine is nice and accurate enough for bodies and necks, although I have to do the necks at an angle to fit them in there. I bought the bare bones router on ebay. I bought a probotix pre wired controller and nice sized steppers. I use Mach3 with that machine and larger 280 oz-in stepper motors.


    I also bought a Shapeoko2 when they came out. That would have been good for signs and garden art, but was too flexible and inaccurate for necks. My Shapeoko2 sat in mothballs for a few years. During that time Inventables ( the Mfg). Upgraded many parts. I decided to upgrade my S2 as well with these parts.

    I think I learned quite a bit from these experiences.


    For a hobbiest that isn't planning on going into production, an X carve or Shapeoko3 can probably do the work on bodies. I just did one yesterday and today.

    Neck work requires better accuracy and less flex. The more you pay for a machine, the less it will flex ( hopefully) and it should have better accuracy.

    There are plenty of discussions at the CNCzone.com.

    I upgraded my Shapeoko2 to to current x carve specs and then added an aftermarket aluminum Z axis, riser blocks, Y axis stiffeners, and 9 mm belts and pulleys. This machine now is as good as my K2, but the software isn't. The software is freeware and the controller is GRBL. Mach3 was a commercial hobbiest/pro software program that a lot of guys used.


    If I were to do it all over again, I'd spend the $ 5-10,000 on a quality machine with currently modern linear guides and antibacklash ballscrews.


    These guys were around when I first started out and still are in business.

    https://technocnc.com/


    There are plenty of good ones out there. Some have come and gone which makes parts replacement tougher. You want one big enough to do a neck and body. Something 24" x36" will work out nicely.


    A couple people here built their own machines. I am the type of guy that once was enough and the kit assembly was fine, but I just want to make things out of wood now.


    A machine large enough to house a router capable of holding a1/2" shank bit will be able to do more work than a trim router too.


    I'd skip the kit made out of plywood. I think it's Bob's cnc or something like that. I'd also skip a machine where the linear guides are tubing.



    Check out Probotix.com for their unity controller too.

    https://www.probotix.com/


    https://www.veloxcncrouters.com/vr-2536-2-x-3



    Sources of Kit cncs. There are pluses and minuses with these brands.


    https://carbide3d.com/

    https://www.inventables.com/technologies/x-carve


    https://openbuildspartstore.com/

    http://www.cncrouterparts.com/standard-cnc-machine-kits-c-46_29.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019
  5. photondev

    photondev Tele-Holic

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    Thanks guitarbuilder for the detailed explanation. There's a lot of information to digest. I started reading a thread in the luthiersforum that Freeman posted, and they suggested newbies to look for a maker's space with CNC setups before investing any significant time and money. Makes a lot of sense to me. I found one in my city.
     
  6. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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  7. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    I've got my eye on the Lead1010 from Open Builds. It's a version of the WorkBee that doesn't require special plates and can be made larger without buying a whole new kit. Hoping to get the kit in a couple months...
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The only thing that bothers me about that package is the Z axis. Those bearings have to allow flex. It was the same with the X carve. I ended up with an aftermarket bolt on Z axis and that made things a lot better.

    https://cnc4newbie.com/
     
  9. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    Marty (guitarbuilder) is absolutely correct that your CNC investment level counts relative to capability and precision. The stiffer/beefier the machine, the more accurate and consistent the results are going to be. One popular saying is to "buy your second (or third) CNC first"... that's not always possible, of course, so one has to decide what's most important to them just like with buying any major tool for their shop.

    I started out looking at the largest Shapeoko (which is a nice machine for the money) and perfectly adequate for most hobbyist use including things like Guitar bodies. From there I looked at a few more larger units like Axiom and ShopBot and eventually looked at Camaster. (made in Cartersville Georgia of US-manufactured components in-house or sourced other than things that just don't get made in North America at all) I went that direction based on the advise of some folks I really trust, especially since my intended use swung from "just hobby" to a combination of hobby and a little bit of business to mostly business with hobby benefits. IE, in that time frame, I decided to start a retirement business from my multi-decade woodworking avocation just to stay busy and make some mad-money. I considered a 2'x4' "bench top" machine target...which is honestly perfect for guitar builders...but eventually went to a 4'x4' machine because of some potential client needs I wanted to satisfy as I moved my business along. Honestly, there have been a few times that I'm kicking myself for not going larger since I've had to turn down some jobs, but I really didn't have the shop space to do that...but that's not relevant to guitar making. Suffice to say, my machine is working to pay for itself and my use for personal projects like these git-fiddles is icing on the cake. :)

    For the guitar making stuff I've done so far, I'm using no more space than would be accommodated by something that's 2'x3' and that includes cutting necks. 2'x4' would be "more comfortable" for neck-through designs just to have a little room to work. For bodies only...as long as the blank and any hold-down methods chosen will fit within the cutting area, it will work fine. The beefier the machine including the spindle/router, the faster you can push it without distorting things. I personally prefer machines that have rack and pinion and/or ball screw movement for strength and precision, but many of the lower end machines use belts for cost control. They can cut just fine, but you cannot push them hard...the laws of physics are what they are.

    The machine is one thing, but the software is also important. That includes both the CAD/CAM side (design and tool pathing) and the machine control. I personally prefer "mainstream" solutions for those things, rather than one-off/custom applications that are manufacturer specific. That makes it easier to upgrade later and may provide much better support, too, because of online communities like this one for guitars. I personally use Vectric's CAD/CAM applications.
     
  10. spyderxxx

    spyderxxx Tele-Meister

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    There are 2 sites for build your own that I know of . The first is https://www.joescnc.com/ and the second is http://www.mechmate.com/
    The fist uses aluminum extrusion and would be comparable to cncrouterparts. The second is all steel.
     
  11. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Friend of Leo's

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    I reread the Mark French article in AL that I linked in the third post last night. I think it is a good overview of cnc routers as they might be applied in a hobby or small production situation. Probably best for someone with no experience, Mark does mention brands and software packages and approximate costs but does not go into detail about any of that. There are probably much better articles about specific hardware or software, costs, capabilities, etc. Mark also makes the very salient point that hobby cnc is changing daily and even tho his article was written this summer it is rapidly out of date.

    I come from a different world of industrial applications - particularly in metal working (laser cutters, cnc mills and turning centers) and the only software that I'm familiar with are AutoCad and SolidWorks. I used to use the cnc laser to make jigs and forms but never cut wood with any of these machines. When I look at my hobby of building guitars I frankly see very little application for a home cnc - it would be nice to do fretboards and maybe acoustic bridges but frankly thats about it. For me it would be an expensive toy and I have enough of those already, besides I still like the feel of a sharp chisel in my hand.
     
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  12. jkingma

    jkingma Super Moderator Staff Member

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    That's good advice.

    Also reminds me of that saying "the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago".
     
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  13. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    Especially if it's a black walnut tree!
     
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  14. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Tele-Holic Ad Free Member

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    I have quite a few of those on our property and some have even been milled to lumber and slabs over the years. :)
    ------

    @jkingma , both are corollaries of "hindsight is golden" I believe. :)
     
  15. pepperfox

    pepperfox TDPRI Member

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    I have this machine and vouch for it. The Z axis has been plenty rigid enough, but I don't run the machine to its max capacity.

    The Z axis doesn't have a ton of travel so bodies are tight. If you use 1.75" body blanks, you'll just need to set your tool path offsets tighter so you dont run into your limit. Other than that, no issues.

    I added extra brackets to my bed to hold the corners of my spoil board down better. They designed it to hold the center only, so the corners bowed up when screwed in. I just added a few so the spoil board doesnt bow with humidity in TX.

    Would definitely recommend, and for ~$1,200 it is a bargain for the amount of tool you get.
     
  16. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    That's good to know. I like to go slightly thinner on bodies, but getting a larger Z travel wouldn't be too hard with how the machine is designed. Thanks for the tips!
     
  17. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    That 1200 dollar pricetag is just the main kit components. If you add the motors, controllers, and router, you are up to 2000 dollars. The lead screws are a big plus. The Z axis without linear bearings is a minus from my experiences.
     
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  18. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

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    Since it is open source, there are some kits on Aliexpress for less. Upgrading the Z axis after the fact is also doable. The CNC4newbie Z carriage looks well made. I'm still debating whether I really need a CNC or not, but boy do I WANT one :). I have a CNC milling machine, so I can still do intricate stuff if need be, I just can't do larger things or do anything in wood very fast at all, as the machine is made for the slower metal machining speeds.
     
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  19. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

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    The second part of that saying is, “the next best time is now.”

    The one John quoted actually has to do with the fact that it’s never too late to start.
     
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  20. s_tones

    s_tones Tele-Holic

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    I built a CNCrouterparts 24x48 and I love it. If you go that route you have to build it right and support it well.
    It needs a perfectly flat and sturdy support. Then, it needs to be put together as true and straight as you can possibly get it.
    I'm not particularly adept at electronics (understatement) so I forked out $$ for "plug and play" electronics.
    I use RhinoCAD/MadCam both of which I love.
    I would say the whole deal these days would come in at maybe 6-7k excluding a whole pile of end mills at $10-$50/per.
    So, it ain't cheap but it sure is COOL!
    Steve
    IMG_2820.JPG
     
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