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Hey Guys,

I'm interested in building a strat-style guitar from scratch but there's one problem: I have absolutely zero experience with CNC machining. I'm at the stage where I probably don't know what I don't know, and I could really use the help of somebody with some time and patience.

A few questions:

1. I have CAD models for the body and neck, but I am not sure how to go about using this to create the toolpath. I see that you guys use a program called VCarve, but it looks like VCarve doesn't work with Mac. Is there another option, or am I going to have to mess with a virtual machine? 

2. If I do get this going, how difficult is it to create a good toolpath that wont mess up my project? Are there any limitations of the machine that I should be aware of when creating the toolpath?

3. What size is the bit/how small can this thing cut? the fret slots in particular are pretty small, but I could also do those by hand if it was too much of a hassle.

I'm sure I'll have more questions, but if anybody could help me start there it would be greatly appreciated.
Hi There!
You are off to a great start.

A question, are you wanting to do full 3d cutting? or is this more of a 2.5 axis (cutting x & y but the z depth is flat)?

I suspect you are doing 2.5 axis (which is much easier) You are correct Vcarve is the software we use, and it looks like it is windows only.
However, if you have export your 2d faces into DXF it is very easy to setup the cutting process here in the shop.

Our machine is rather capable, we can take full sheets of 4'x8' (however these can be difficult to hold down).
What material are you wanting to cut? (species and thickness)

The cutting bit is based on the material and thickness, we do have some bits, but possibly not what you need, in which case you can purchase those online easily and bring with you.
I recommend the largest bit you can fit, this allows for cleaner cutting at a faster rate. you can always "etch" with say 1/8" and then do a tool change to cut out the profile with a 3/8".

For a good starter, I would stop by the space on a Wednesday with:
1. Laptop (not required, but makes it easier to make changes to your design)
2. USB key (transferring files)
3. Sample wood (a piece of your material, large enough to make test cuts)

You won't cut your finished product the first night, but you should leave with a far greater understanding of what is required for the process and any tweaks you need to make.
Hey, thanks for the reply.

I'm unsure of the exact difference between 2.5D and 3D; there are contoured edges so my guess would be 3D. Here is a picture for reference:

[Image: large.png]

There are also routed cavities on the back, so clearly I'm going to have to run it as two separate processes (front and back) and find a way to line it up perfectly. Any idea on how to do this?

It will be either Ash or Alder, I do not have the wood yet. Some videos online show that most of these cuts work well with a 3/8 bit so we should be good on that front. For the smaller stuff I will bring my own bits.

I will not be there this Wednesday, but will probably be there the following week.

Again, thank you for the help!
Everything except the contoured edges would be 2.5 axis. Honestly, you would be better off running the contoured edge with a router bit as a secondary process. Everything else is very doable. Since it is solid wood, you should be fine with the bits we have. (upcut bits can make a mess in plywood).

A 2 part process is not super hard, but does require some planning. You can bolt the board against a reference corner, as long as the size of the wood is known and very square, you can turn it over and use the same reference edges to maintain accuracy

I look forward to seeing this one go forward!