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Thread: Guitar neck building and engraving

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
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    Guitar neck building and engraving

    I think I have finally come to the point where I want to do my own work. I build acoustic guitars, and I have my necks CNC milled. I also pay for detailed engraving of Mother of Pear and inserts for pegheads and fingerboards. Not being able to do it myself means I have to spend a lot of time and money having someone else do it. I am under know allusions that this will be a cheaper approach. Its more about time and flexibility. I think a table under 3 feet is sufficient. Does 4 axis include spindle? if so, should I go 5 axis? what kind of expendature?

    Mike

  2. #2
    Typically the 4th axis is a rotary, which could come in hand for carving necks with the depth of the heel. A 5th axis could be an articulated head on the spindle and if that's the case then add an extra zero to the end of any purchase you're looking at for a 3 or 4 axis machine.

    If you plan to carve the heel then make certain the machines you're looking at have plenty of Z height and travel.

    David
    David
    CurlyWoodShop on Etsy, David Falkner on YouTube, difalkner on Instagram

  3. #3
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    Mar 2003
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    Dave made some really good comments there. I'll add that while you could get away with a 2x3, you'll probably get more utility from a 2x4. IMHO. That z-height thing is going to be important because of the structure and joinery nature of acoustic necks at the heel...something I don't have to deal with with the electrics I cut. Z-height affects the thickness of the material you can accommodate under the gantry as well as the length of the tooling you can use.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    I have been working with a friend who knows this stuff. I think I want to go with a system that does inlay engraving first. Keep cost down, but get to learn. Machines along this line are interesting to me if you have thoughts.

  5. #5
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    Inlays are no issue for a CNC machine. Lots of folks at least do the pocketing for that using CNC if they have one. Filling the pockets is variable depending on what kind of materials are desired. Some guitar inlay work is still best done traditionally if it's a complex, multi-piece design that's being infilled, say, with shell or other materials like that. For my designs, I'm planning on starting to cut my "logo" out of .040 brass and inlaying that into the headstock rather than painting it on like I did with my current build, for example.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    I make banjos, and pearl inlay work is what prompted me finally plunge into the cnc universe. I bought a tiny (12" x 10" travel) Techno Davinci machine at a big commercial woodworking auction, was used to generate templates for grinding molding knives. Took me a while to struggle up the software and hardware learning curves, but it's just great for inlay! I can cut out the pearl, cut the pockets, and then scratch lines to guide my hand engraving. Everything comes out just about perfect, no hand filing, no hand fitting. I glue them in with CA glue, and then wick it around the edges to fill the micro gaps.

    It's also easy to cut fret slots, and stop them just before the edges so the fret tangs don't show, no need for binding. Because of the limited travel of my machine I have to slot and profile the fretboards in 2 operations. I made a 1" center-to-center grid of 1/4" holes on the aluminum table, allows me to accurately index the fretboards with dowel pins. Also great for putting the inlaid work back on the machine for scribing the engraving lines.

    Check out this video (and his others) of some amazing inlay work - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmAhaLmctvY

    I wouldn't mind if I never hand cut and inlay pearl again. Only wish I were 24 instead of 74 so I could get a little more payback on my investment of time and $$.
    Last edited by richard newman; 02-28-2020 at 1:36 PM.

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