Questions about a basic CNC setup

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

  1. Ripthorn

    Ripthorn Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 22, 2009
    Austin, TX
    Lovely machine! I have several end mills for my milling machine, so not too worried there, but I don't know that I would ever be able to get together enough dough for that kind of kit!
  2. Peltogyne

    Peltogyne Tele-Afflicted

    Oct 29, 2012
    Northern California
    I went a different way, would have loved to have my own but found a local makerspace with this one.

    So for $80 a month I had 24/7 access to a machine that is often working. Fusion 360 for CAD/CAM at zero cost, throw in the use of the entire shop as a bonus and it's an affordable way to make wood chips.
    guitarbuilder likes this.
  3. pepperfox

    pepperfox TDPRI Member

    Dec 27, 2018
    Dallas, TX
    Dang, yep you're right! I bought mine last Black Friday. Got it for $1,200 all in (minus the Dewalt router).

    As some have mentioned, there are some less expensive kits on Ebay from Asia. Seen some good reviews on other forums on these. As others have mentioned, there are open source boards like the Arduino to run your G code and motor drives won't break the bank. I think <$1,500 with the Dewalt is doable for a lead screw driven machine that is 1000x1000mm. It won't be as rigid as a Laguna IQ or similar, but will be a truly serviceable machine.
  4. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

    Apr 18, 2014
    Lions & Tigers oh Mi !

    I run the Shapeoko 3 so I had a kit for the first build (considered scratch build for a long time) -- the 2x4ft size. I may upgrade to the better z-axis Guitarbuilder got. But really, the stock one with a good setup does necks ok making lighter final cuts. Get the router they suggest. When you make a mistake in sending the router 'home' and it plows a trench across the work piece an inch and a half deep before you hit the stop button it shows you what it's capable of when you really push it.

    If you only plan to do bodies then you can get a less accurate and much cheaper CNC machine since bodies are pretty simple. Necks are much more work -- that's the reason factories stamp their brand on the headstock and not the bodies...

    The kits are easy. I did mine as a summer project and had an 11 and a 14 year old do most of the assembly with me hoping they would get excited and want to build things. They had a great time assembling it. One of the two learned enough CAD to make some prints on the desktop 3D printer I have but no CNC projects. So it's easy to get a machine running in an afternoon to a weekend.

    The weakest link in the CNC-guitar-building project is you using the software to create the models you feed to the machine. Don't spend anything on a machine until you can create your solid models in CAD. It might take you a year or more to find the software you like and be speedy creating models you want. It's easy to make rectangles and circles but if you are doing smooth arcs that look like pro-designed guitar bodies, and then necks with as much finesse as people complain about in new guitar purchase threads, it will take a while. That is the hard part.

    I use FreeCAD to create the part models. I mostly use it because it's open source and I remain suspicious of Fusion360 getting beyond their initial development and cutting off all free use (where you're just part of the beta tester fleet) -- that's an old software business model -- where you spend hours and hours learning software so have all this sunk cost/time that makes you resist moving to something new. I do use Fusion360 to generate the CAM gcode, because I hadn't found reliable open source options, there may be now and I should survey again (the FreeCAD team is developing that branch currently so I'm hopeful). I use gcode-sender to feed the CNC machine the gcode. It's a twenty year old desktop PC that shipped with Windows 2000 -- I rolled a new copy of Linux on it just for gcode-sender (you can get a $35 fanless raspberry pi to do the same thing too). That way my good pc/laptop stays out of the dust and debris. If it goes down I can roll in another machine just as easy.

    Fixturing the parts such that you can accurately flip them to do both sides becomes a challenging puzzle -- registration points.
    Then can you design the part to cut it all with a single cutter or do you need to manage tool changes and resetting axis?

    A dust shoe for the router is important. A cyclone separator is important for a shopvac hookup (I built mine to fit like a sandwich between the shopvac base drum and the vac head so it takes up no more floor space than the original shopvac).

    Scrounge a lot of scrap wood to practice with. You will make it more scrap along the way. Or sometimes the scrap wood will actually work out and you'll finish the build with it... Like this scrap-wood J-style with a polished hardboard pickguard.


  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    Ontario County

    I agree with most of what you said. I think however that learning CAD and CAM on an inexpensive machine is the way to go. You draw something simple. You produce something simple. This is what kids are asked to do in school today. You can see the correlation between the simple drawing you made and the simple result and whether it is good or bad.

    There's no point in mastering CAD first for this kind of stuff, maybe if you are making a career out of it, but not tele bodies and necks. Most of the software now is pretty intuitive and although there is a learning curve, it's much simpler than it was.

    I'd venture that based on the questions members ask, most people on the Inventables forum buy the machine and learn the Easel software after the fact.
    GunsOfBrixton likes this.
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