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Can You Make A Guitar With A Cheap CNC Machine?


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There are a lot of cheap CNC routers on the market these days which claim to be able to make guitars. Can they? If you would like to help support my channel and get something cool in return, please consider:



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  1. i agree, i´d rather pay 25 bucks a month for using Easel pro because its an awesome software, also after building two CNC machines before i agree on that for guitar building i really think you always should be aware of that it prolly gonna cost ya in the area of at least 1500 bucks, maybe even up to 2000 bucks. for guitar building i think that the machine would have at least Lead Screws because its alot better than belts. Ballscrews are of course the best but then it will start to get pricy. Also i think that those Polycarbonate V Wheels can be ok if the construction of how they are used is good and that the wheels it self are high quality real Polycarbonate wheels, OpenBuilds have some really nice solutions for machines with V wheels and they seem to work great for guitar building, but the pricepoint for buying one will be in the range for 1500-2000bucks at the end of the day, maybe a little cheaper if you buy the parts and build it your self.. thanks for a good video.. 😀

  2. I have built guitars out of.. rasps, hand saws,simple drills,sandpapers (and even without routers) which took me months for each…but did it…so i dont see why a cheap cnc wont be able to make it…at least if its for personal use like mine…if its for someone thats gonna pay a lot of money for it and has specific demands then probably not….

  3. You didn't just say "huge Asterix" did you ? Oh yes you did ! Obelix is the big fellow ! Oh hang on did you mean this little chap * his name is Asterisk .I feel sorry for him as people keep calling me Tasmin when My name is Tamsin !

  4. Chris your knowledge and experience sharing with the world is so valuable for us that dont understand and are learning this craft. Thank you so much for your amazing advice and videos definitely the best on YouTube love from Australia 🇦🇺 great work mate 👍

  5. I’m an amateur builder and I’m definitely considering CNC, even though I’m only planning to build three or four guitars a year. For me I’d say that it’s not just the speed of manufacture in CNC, but the safety aspect. Planers, jointers and routers are dangerous – even experienced operators can and do injure themselves using these machines. I’ve been woodworking most of my life and I’ve scared myself a few times.

    CNC takes a lot of those tasks and takes them well away from the operators’ hands. I’d rather spend my time on design, hand carving transitions, finishing and playing. I’m a gigging musician and I don’t care to get my hands cut up.

    Also, a decent CNC, expensive as it is, potentially removes the need for several other bulky and expensive machines, so the cost equation could potentially balance up fairly quickly.

  6. Excellent advice Chris, nice to hear from someone with real-world experience of different levels of machine.

    The worst mistake you can make is to buy something inadequate for the job and then pour more money and time into trying to make it work. In the long run you will save money by spending what you must up front, even if that means waiting while you save up for it. I've learned that the hard way, building several CNC routers over the last few years, starting with a very primitive, very cheap, MDF and allthread contraption and trying to improve on it with belt drives, acme screws, cheap controllers, free software, stronger wooden frames and inadequate motors. You just end up with a scrap box full of costly junk.

    Several iterations later I have learned my lesson, spent some more money (though carefully choosing components that are good enough but not way over spec) and now have a router with a welded steel frame and gantry, ballscrews on 3 axes, a 3HP water-cooled spindle, adequate sized motors and power supplies plus a rock solid controller and software. At long last I have a machine that I can use to do real work rather than spending all my time tinkering with the machine itself. It's recently been put to the test to produce my entry in the 2022 Great Guitar Build Off which taught me a lot about how to use a CNC machine to build guitars (videos can be seen on my channel for those with a little time to waste). Design work was done in Vectric Vcarve (desktop edition).

  7. I built a CNC router based, very loosely, on your plans. A little bigger, made from birch plywood and with a 3HP spindle. It cost around £1500 and will cut ash at a depth of 4mm at 3 metres per minute without complaining. For the software, I use FreeCAD. I can make a Telecaster body in 4 hours and a neck in about the same time. The main limitation I have come up against is in drawing the head and heel transitions. So I machine the neck shaft and carve these transitions by hand. The moral of the story is – you can do CNC guitar making on the cheap but you have to put in a lot of effort.

  8. Thanks for your input here Chris. It is disheartening to see big youtubers and an ad campaign targeting guitar makers for a machine that is not fit for purpose. I still need a CNC machine because I really struggle to make by hand due to having thoracic outlet syndrome. I'm sure you can sympathise. But you have encouraged me to wait a little bit longer and get a much better, more consistent machine. I was looking away from the foxalien stuff and toward the sainsmart prover xl. It's only 6060 but I figured it could carve a neck diagonally. It has much better stepper motors, much better z height and movement, and is more rigid for pretty much the same price as the masuter pro (after the modifications needed). But what you are saying about the software is spot on. I didn't even consider that when looking. I have also been reading a book written by Edward Ford who is the founder of Shapeoko. These are the guys that have brought CNCs to the hobby realm after years of hard work and that have been willing to share their knowledge, so I would rather go with a company like that for my first machine. Plus it's only around £200 extra. I have even seen some used for under £1000.

  9. I’ve been using an original Xcarve that’s been heavily modified. Risers and stiffeners as well as a whole different z-axis and Vectric Aspire software. Mine is 1000 x 1000 mm and I couldn’t imagine using a smaller machine, you’d have to tile everything. Without raising the gantry on a regular Xcarve it would be very difficult to cut a neck with an angled headstock, you’d almost have to use a Fender style bolt on neck exclusively.

  10. I spent $1,800 on mine, followed by 8 years and $1,000 to troubleshoot why it couldn’t consistently cut accurately. Finally discovered that the stock motors were not rated for the machine. Likewise, software was an expensive lesson. I wish I had gone with different CAD and CAM options. But after 8 years, it is now operational.

  11. I have thought about it, long and hard. Chris here definitely has the best advice on the CNC machines. I may one day get an x-carve, but for me this is a hobby. I'm a hobbyist. So doing it faster isn't really that important. So I'll probably never get a CNC (Or build one, I did buy his plans).

  12. I have a cheap cnc machine, terribly slow and sometimes quits before the job is done. Not very precise but it’s good enough, oh wait, I’m talking about my hands.

  13. I think I have mentioned in comments before. But I a huge fan of onefinity CNC. All in, I spent less than $3,000 for a machine that has ball screws and is very accurate. Is that the right choice for everyone? probably not. But for the things I do in the workshop it was perfect. It is extremely sturdy and accurate for a reasonable price. Perfect for Fretboards, bodys, and necks.

    When it comes to software. I highly recommend Fusion 360 if you're a hobbyist. If you are selling guitars then the 'Free" fusion license won't work for you and you should look into other software. I totally understand why Chris uses Rhino 3D /Meshcam/ Easel. (Assuming he hasn't changed since the last video I remember him talking about that) If I started selling guitars I would be looking at Rhino 3D very closely. But I would likely use vcarve pro for my CAM. Not saying his approach is wrong, but I would need different things out of my software.

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