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Gnome

building a CNC machine

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i've been slowly collecting parts from ebay for 3-axis, 4'x6' cnc router which, when finished, should be able to bang out small production wood, plastic, and possibly light metal routing. I'm aiming for a fine enough resolution to be able to rout intricate inlay designs, as well as machining any kind of neck/body design.

(personally i like handmade guitars, but id like to make the machine capable to do anything)

i figure i'm about $1000 in parts into it, and i need about another $500 (minus software) to get the basic mechanical problems solved.

Would it be worth it to chronicle my work on here? I'll start posting pics if anyone is interested, and when/if i find my digital camera.

anyone done anything similar?

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I would be interested to follow your work. I have a Haas vertical mill at work that I am going to try to use. It's what I do for a living, so it seemed like a natural way to pursue building a guitar. But if I could build something for my home shop, that would rule. :D

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I'd love to see the progress as it comes along, could inspire me to make my own one day and I think it is an awesome idea if you have the time to do it :D

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I never could figure out how they interface the electronic/computer end with the mechanical side of things. Enlighten me! :D

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4x6 is HUGE in cnc terms. i seriously doubt your going to be able to get any kind of accuracy to be able to do inlays with a table that big, keep in mind the induced flex, backlash, and more play where stuff can go wrong in a table that big.

aim for something like 2x2 and you might can do it.

also, your going to have to run a HUGE threaded rod for axis lengths that long. at least 1, maybe 2", good lucky paying serveral HUNDRED dollars for a 2" stainless threaded rod thats 6' long. each.

i think you should tame it down a little. what are you making thats 6' anyway?

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Why would you spend "several hundred dollars" for stainlee steel threaded rod? If you watch ebay, I'm sure you could find a set of ball screws for that kind of money. That would be way smoother and accurate than threaded rod.

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ball screws are 100x more expensive than acme threaded rod. and bad thing about ebay is finding matched parts, and waiting for them to come up.

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anyone know a good site about building a CNC Mill. Sounds interseting to make. I want to make a guitar really quick because i want to start sell guitars before I graduate High School in four years. A site that shows a beginner to make a CNC Mill. Or is there a place to buy a Mill for about 500 dollars. If i make one i dont care about the price though, but i dont want to pay for the plans to make one.

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you may find a hand mill for 500, used. but def not a cnc. heck, the stepper motors alone cost near that. much less the whole machine.

ive got availability to alot of metal working tools, and a medium amount of welding and other experiences. and i kind of fell on my face when i was getting ready to make one. the problem is definately experience, so if you dont know what couplers, stepper motors, g-code, collets, what kind of end mills for different feed rates and materials, ect. are, then i hate to say it but your about 1+ years of researching before you lay your hands on making one. sorry.

easiest and closest thing to do would be this.... make a copy carver. guitar frenzy had a pic of one when he had his 'make a strat' tutorial. i would build one of those. not to hard but still a good bit of work. THEN, learn a little bit of CAD, and take a 2-D autocad prs, lp, strat body template and convert it to 3d, so you have your carved top dimensions. THEN take them to a machine shop (that will even think about doing wood) and get them to mill them out of solid maple or a good reliable wood using your 3d cad file you made.

so then you have some 3d templates of different bodies you can use on your copy carver.

sounds like a plan to me. seriously dont waste your money+time on trying to make a cnc to start off with.

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i was going to build it this next summer. I will have a year and a half of metal work by then. Im in my robotics team so welding and metal work will be easier then. SO i just want to know a mill (cnc or not) that can be computer opperated and can cut out a guitar body. Preferably 3 demensional. Well anyone have a site with a DIY or plans for free. I just want to print it and read it so when time does come to build it i have a general idea of what im about to do.

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as many people have explained to you monkey, almost nothing in this world is free. as my granpa bluntly puts it, "free cheese exists only in mouse traps", thus dont expect everyone to do the work for you, let alone for free, go out and research yourself, and i doubt you will be able to get ready and build a cnc by next summer, sorry to disapoint you,but it aint probably gonan happen, and aside from that, it is seriously expensive, so unless you have a feasible reason i (like asm said) beleive that you should instead consider building a copy carver, itll be good experience, and is still chalenging enough to be somewhat fun

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i have done research and i know not everything is free, but people have been talking about it so maybe somone knows a good one. But if no body does ill see if i cant get some good plans from my local electronics store. I would buy plans but i dont have a credit card and i dont like asking my parents for money.

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www.stepperworld.com has some controllers and stepper motor kits for good prices.

i would still advise against a cnc for guitar applications. its accuracy is just totally not needed. and the only reason people like PRS have them is cause anybody can set a piece of wood in a mill and hit a couple of buttons. its just easier and faster.

so unless your making 100+ a day then its not justifiable.

best bet would be copy carver, seriously, guitar frenzy carved the back of a neck, so it gets good detail. probably to hundreths and a cnc is only gonna give you thousandths.

not worth 1500+ more.

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I had a kid offer to build me a large cnc router for cost as a school project. While it reportedly would have cost me less than $1000 without software I decided that the copycarver would be much better suited for my style of building. In the time it would take for my old analog brain to program a guitar and get it into production I could have carved several design templates for the copycarver. That doesn't even take into consideration the learning curve just to get started.

Granted, I'm an old fart who is hopelessly stuck in his own ways and have little desire to make building guitars into a job but with the time investment to get one guitar designed you had better be in major production to make it worth your while. Even PRS used a duplicarver until they got too huge to keep up. I understand your ambition but it might be a better to follow the path of countless other industry giants and only expand your tools as demand warrants. The copycarver will take you a very long way if you want to go into business with a very small investment.

On the other hand, if you have the time and money and just like the idea of playing with a really cool tool, go for it. :D

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could that machine do a guitar. That is already one of the sites i saw, and it did look the best. Im thinking on getting the 4 by 4 foot plans. Thats a good size for a guitar. Thanks for the help.

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hey asm, thanks for the words of advice... my reasons for a 4x6' router are many. First, I want to be able to do more than just mill guitar bodies. I know several carpenters in the area that would be more than happy to throw some work my way, if I could produce detailed wood pieces. I'd like to get into machining columns, mantle pieces, custom moldings, and signs of all types.

Once the machine is built and properly set up, routing guitar bodies or necks will be trivial.

At any point in time, ebay has tons of servo/stepper motors, linear bearings, ball screws, etc at decent prices. You just have to check every day, and invest a bit in luck for winning the auction. Remember we are talking about milling wood here, at a low feed rate. Im going to use a Dremel as the router for development...

Why not try and build a cnc? I have adequate skills with electronics, due to having a BS degree in electrical engineering. Heck, my day job is software/hardware development. If I really start digging into the software/motor control aspects of the project (which I'm just starting to now), I could probably write a crude program for motor control. Plus, We aren't talking tolerances to a 1000's of an inch.

I would argue that it's entirely possible to do. My only problem now is finding the time to do it, with work/school and everything else, but once im done gathering parts i'll start to piece something together and start looking for control boards. It's going to be a learning process, but think of the application once its done? for a couple grand (at most) I'll have the ability to make a ton of cool stuff.

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due to having a BS degree in electrical engineering. Heck, my day job is software/hardware development.

sorry, that made me laugh :D

on topic: yes building a cnc would be a sweet project, but id hate for some one like monkey, to go out and buy all the expensive hardware and plans, and then turn out with either a cnc that is totally crap tastic, and even if by an off chance it really does actually work semi well, a thousand dollars is invested in something he totally doesnt need even for starting a new guitar company. my sugestion is to use the money to build a few guitars instead to gain experience (since i doubt many people would buy from you, even if you had a cnc and it might even discourage some people) , or invest in good/better tools.

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haha, yeah sometimes I think it really is BS.

once i get the machine done i'll hopefully have all of my steps documented, then maybe someone on here can make the plunge and build using what i've done as a foundation for futher work. Im actually thinking of building a 2'x2' to start, I cant find decent rails on ebay for really long lengths.

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ive seen complete bed units of x/y axis on ebay. more costly, but you dont have to worry about backlash problems and building the whole movement system

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Lets ay i wanted to buy a pre made cnc mill thats 4 by 4 feet, what place would sell one for a good price, with or without software. I cant find that many places that sell them, i get mill shops that use them. And Lows doesnt have any mills what so ever. So can you help me out on my search of a good priced premade cnc mill? I want to see if i can buy one and not worry about a screw up. Thanks. How im trying a new aproch to PG, so how do the motors on a mill differ from the ones on lets say a remote control car?

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