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Thread: Resistance Is Futile ( I Want A CNC )

  1. #1
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    Resistance Is Futile ( I Want A CNC )

    Thanks to Saw Mill Creek I am slowly learning the language and understanding a little about CNC. So many things for instruments can be done so nicely with CNC. I saw this on Banjo Hangout. It might be of interest to a few Creekers.

    https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/394800
    Screen Shot 2024-01-21 at 5.48.40 AM.jpg

  2. #2
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    Yes a CNC can be a valuable tool to the luthier, ranging from doing some of the "boring" rough work all the way to helping with certain details and providing consistency with parts making. Contrary to what some folks thing, it's not a "just push a button" thing...there's a lot of work that has to be done before even the smallest part gets cut and dealing with the learning curve around software is the first step. There's also the normal craftsmanship and finesse work that comes after you use the tool to make whatever contribution it is giving to each project. I've found it to be very valuable to learn how to "thing like the CNC" so one can plan the work accordingly, whether it's for something simple or for something a lot more complex.

    IE...it's just a tool but it can be a great one to have available. One thing I particularly appreciate is to be able to design virtually and explore alternatives before committing to something.
    --

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

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    I have several nephews and friends with young adult children who have asked me to take on their youngster as a helper. One such youngster is about to finish his computer science degree. There is no way I can offer a job anything like what he will be qualified for. I hope we can collaborate on some hobby projects and utilize a shop that already has a machine.

  4. #4
    I built my CNC about 6-7 years ago for the specific purpose of making accurate and precise fixtures, forms, templates, etc. for building acoustic guitars. I used the CNC to cut the saddle slot, bridge pin holes, and profile of the bridge on my first guitar - no forms or templates, etc. because I had cut all of those by hand prior to building the CNC. Now, years and hundreds of jobs later I've finally gotten back to building guitars. This time my plan is to use the CNC for everything possible, at least when it is the right tool to use.

    You'll love having a CNC in the shop. It may be just another tool but it is definitely a game-changer if used for its design and place in the shop.
    David
    CurlyWoodShop on Etsy, David Falkner on YouTube, difalkner on Instagram

  5. #5
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    Maurice, a computer science degree isn't all that valuable for CNC work; it's more about graphic design and then understanding process for toolpathing. It doesn't hurt, of course, but it's not nirvana because in most cases, there's no code being written by a human. The CAD/CAM software (specifically the CAM part) does the heavy lifting for that.
    --

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

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    Our career center has classes. I took one 20 years ago for EPA 608 certification. I was 20 years older than most of the others. If I take a course now I might pose as the janitor to avoid total humiliation.

    https://career-center.org/engineerin...ided-design-1/
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 01-21-2024 at 9:15 PM.

  7. #7
    A good friend of mine often tells me: Itís good to own a dog. Itís also good to not own a dog. There are downsides to owning a CNC. The good ones are not cheap, you have to learn how to use it, and you have to buy the right equipment to do what you want to do with it. As an instrument builder, I prefer to buy CNC-made tools and jigs by the slice, from either my friends who have their own CNCs or from commercial vendors. I donít use any CNC-made parts on the instruments I make. All of this is not a criticism of those who use CNCs; Iím pretty big tent about how hand builders of instruments get to the finished product. But these are choices by each of us about how to spend our time. I prefer spending my time on honing non-CNC skills. And when it comes to the decorative elements of the instrument, like inlays, I think people value that type of work more if it is done by hand. Finally, not that this would happen to you, but I have seen examples of people who simply donít develop or improve certain instrument making skills because they rely on the CNC. Then they get a bit flummoxed when they hit something that requires that skill, something the CNC is not well suited for. There is good and bad in everything; the trick is finding the mix that works for you. Good luck with the decision.

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    Thanks Don Parker. I like your insights and philosophy. The banjo bridges make CNC look very sensible. The price tag and the learning curve will be huge obstacles for me.
    Production of the little Mid Missouri solid electric mandolins stalled when the company had to relocate. Our plan for them was to find a CNC contractor to carve the bodies. Making a few more of those is still a goal.

  9. #9
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    If you work with wood as a professional a CNC machine may often be an excellent addition to your shop.
    If you work with wood as a hobby my opinion is that my CNC router is "more fun to run" then any machine I own.

  10. #10
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    My banjo buddy works at the Career Center and has proposed collaborating with the Industrial & Engineering Technology department. The shop there is well equipped.

    I see machines on YouTube that cut with a rod shaped bit and a spindle above and below. I am having trouble putting the right words into a Google search to find what those machines are called.

  11. #11
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    Another part of the inspiration for this thread is the project pictured. It has been sitting on the bench since December waiting for me to decide how to proceed. I am working on it by hand and have decided that getting a new PC will be my next step towards getting started with CAD. Time in the instrument shop used to be my winter gig, lately it is my rain delay gig. I feel very clumsy and amateur. It will be interesting to see how this comes out. I simplified the design to be very basic and only one color.

    IMG_1974.jpg IMG_1914.jpg IMG_1976.jpg
    Now to make some letters from dyed Maple or dyed Eastern Red Cedar
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Maurice Mcmurry; 05-03-2024 at 7:13 PM.

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