Jump to content

CNC Dout


Recommended Posts

Hi. I am a luthier, bought a CNC, and I have ArtCam and Mach3 programs. I want to build guitars. Use the ArtCam for some jobs, but I wonder if it is good to develop the top of a Les Paul guitar, for example. I glanced at Solidworks and Rhino, but found it a bit complicated, and not found until now a course or a person who guide me the best thing to do. My questions: continue with ArtCam? Which program is best suited to build guitars - better = more practical, less complicated and has a good result. Three years have passed in the pursuit of this knowledge and answers. I appreciate it immensely if they could help me. Thank you all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well first let's get the CAD/CAM difference out of the way. Yes, the drawing solutions within CAM softwares are usually much more simplistic and easy to use. However, that's cause they're extremely limited! I would never even dream of trying to design something as complicated as a carved top within a CAM package. Not in a million years.

There's a lot to learn with Rhino on youtube. For some reason this seems to be the program a lot of guitar builders use for CAD and it also has worked well for me. I can't comment on other programs as I liked Rhino from day one and have stuck with it.

As for modeling an LP top, here's generally how I would start out:

1- Draw my guitar outline shape

2- Figure out where I want the "highest points" of my carve (usually under the bridge) and draw a line points up the Z axis there equal to the height I want my carve.

3- Draw some curves from the top of the line from #2 to the far edges of your upper and lower bouts.

4- Do that same thing from the top of the line in #2 to the center-line-end of your body

5- And to the centerline-end at the neck

6- Play with the "rail revolve" feature using the line from #2 as your center of rotation, your guitar outline as the rail, and your curves you drew in #3 and #4 as your profile curves.

7- Repeat steps #3 and #4 (but this time connecting to the line you drew in #5) somewhere around the waist area.

8- Use the outline curve and the curve from #5 to do a Sweep-2-Rails function using the curves from steps #3 and #7.

Once you get that far you should have a pretty decent idea as to how to various functions needed to do a carved top model in Rhino work. Obviously there are a TON of ways to achieve this... that's just how I've done mine.


Hope that helps,


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Speaking from experience with Solidworks, it is perhaps not geared towards the sort of things we as guitar-makers need. You can certainly model a guitar within it, however it is more designed for larger-scale assemblies and physical characteristic modelling than CAM. Certainly an excellent suite for say, designing guitar hardware such as complex bridges and tuners but maybe not so much for the guitar itself. Rhino does appear to be more appropriate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...