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If you have the proper format and file they are very easy to use. The only thing you need to do depending on the machine and number of station heads it has is change out the cutting bit's on the smaller one's.

The least expensive is of course using somebody else's, for that I would recommend finding a local cabinet making shop since with the home improvment boom they have grown in leaps and bounds and that is generally where people that farm out work to go.

The reason behind them vs. say a machine shop that has plenty of these would be the machine shops are used to working with metal of course and use different cutting oils and lube's which you wouldn't want on your project body. The cabinet shops work with wood and are better equipted to handle the situation.

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You'll need to find the right type depending on what you do. Carved tops, and the more "difficult" designs will require a 3 axis CNC as a minimum. These are VERY expensive (no change from $100,000). Angled neck pocket?? You'll need a four axis machine.... You dont even want to know what they cost, and they are rare to find. There is only ONE in my home state, and we have over 700 cabinet making businesses...

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all CNC milling machines are 3 axis, X, Y and Z. I've spent many hours on CNC machines as a machinist.

You can do an angled neck pocket with a 3 axis machine, there would be a couple of ways, either by physically angling the body, or with multiple passes on that plane.

They aren't really difficult to run once you understand the G code language.

There are G codes, M codes, F codes, S codes etc for all the functions.

There are small CNC machines available for around $4000, but they aren't large enough to do bodies or even necks.

For a point of interest, in the tool and die shop I worked in, we bought a 3 axis CNC mill. We paid $47,000 for it used and I woudln't want a smaller one for doing bodies on, when you are set up to run CNC, what you want to have is a table big enough for 2 bodies, one gets the back done, the other the top, the program runs both of them. Then you take off the finished one, put the other one to the opposite side and a new blank and run them.

We didn't have an automatic tool changer on that machine, so you physically had to change the tools, not that it was hard, it was an air collet, but that still slows down production.

However, once that $47,000 was paid, there was another $10,000 paid in purchasing tool holders and cutting tools. The our CAD/CAM (computer aided drafting and computer aided machining) program was another $4000. It was great, it would write the tool path for you based on your cad drawing, but you still had to manually go in and put in your tool offsets, depths, speeds and feeds etc.

So, they are great, I'd love to buy one, but I wouldn't buy one unless I could buy a good one, you also need to be wired for 220 as I don't know of any that run 110, if there are they wouldnt' have much power.

a 4 axis machine wouldn't help you as typically the 4th axis is a rotating chuck, a 5th axis is a tilting table. I've worked on a 6 axis machine, they are really cool, but alot more to think about in terms of programming too.

Bang for the buck, if you want to buy a CNC, stick with a company like HAAS, they are very good, not as pricey as say an okuma, and they have great customer service, and that is very important in CNC manufacturing.

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