Build 4 : Ash HS superstrat, now with CNC!

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by LiveOVErdrive, Jul 10, 2017.

  1. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    So I got a CNC machine - a Shapeoko XL. It is pretty cool. I'm using it on this 4th build.

    This build will be an Xmas gift for my brother, who does not actually play guitar, but who is an accomplished woodwind and electronic musician and should be able to figure it out.

    Here's the design: Body will be Ash. Neck will be Hickory (yes, hickory). Fretboard: ebony.

    front.png

    And heres a nice back view:

    design_007.png

    My current plan is to put a Dimarzio PAF Pro in the bridge and an American Standard Fender single coil in the neck, though I might go for a quarter pounder instead. I figure this will be a well rounded set - capable of nice cleans (important to him) as well as metal (also important to him...and me).

    Anyway, onto the CNC bits. I've spent hours upon hours modeling this thing out in Fusion 360. This has been a learning experience and I'm a whole lot better now than I was when I started a few weeks back. I did a test neck in pine, learned some things, and am now starting in on the hickory.

    Did I mention that this is a beautiful piece of two-tone hickory with a nasty black line down the middle? It is.

    20170710_161714.jpg

    Fun fact - this is the cleanest truss rod channel I've ever done.

    God I can't wait to see this with a finish on it:

    20170710_205904.jpg

    That's all for now. I should probably finish up my nearly-done 3rd build (all I have to do is shape the neck, finish it, and put it together), but ... you know ... new CNC toys to play with.
     
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  2. Bobo

    Bobo SS.org Regular

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    Thoughts on a hickory neck? Don't think I've seen that before. It's a beautiful piece for sure.
     
  3. electriceye

    electriceye SS.org Regular

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    Reading up on hickory, seems it's incredibly strong. One thing I also saw mentioned that it has a tendency to check/crack in widths longer than 2". How dry is this piece? Looks great, btw!
     
  4. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Ok, WAY COOL! I'm on the verge of jumping over the CNC fence, so really interested to hear your experiences on this build. What is easier, what still takes a lot of time, challenges, etc. Watching closely on this one.
     
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  5. KnightBrolaire

    KnightBrolaire tinkerer/aspiring builder/8 string hoarder

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    I've heard of people having success with hickory when used as laminates but not as a one piece neck. Helps mitigate the cracking/checking.
     
  6. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    All I know about hickory is that it is supposed to be super strong (particularly to shock - hence it is the traditional material for axe hafts and such).

    Also I can use the cutoffs to smoke some brisket later.

    Good to know about the cracking/checking. We'll have to see what happens. I got this wood off the shelf at my local home improvement store, so it is probably kiln dried and hopefully stable at this point. I do recall a few of the boards having pretty substantial cracks, but this one (and the other two-tone one I bought) were clear. Nevertheless, I'll keep an eye on it. Worst case scenario, I'll keep this one-piece for myself and do a more traditional maple laminate for my brother's build.

    CNC has been fun so far. I'm still learning, of course. Can't tell you how many hours I've spent modeling alone, much less tweaking my CAM settings and such. And then there is the physical aspects - reliably zeroing the machine between setups and tool changes, fixing the workpiece to the table without having it slip (finally switched to screws from double sided rug tape). There is a lot to learn but I'm loving it. I guess that's the software engineer side of me, but the ability to design my shapes and dimensions precisely in advance and then mill them to spec is very appealing to me. Inlays should be fun, too.

    Some people say you lose the "soul" of the build when you go the CNC route, but I think Neil Peart put it best: "All this machinery making modern music can still be open-hearted".
     
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  7. Narvic57

    Narvic57 SS.org Regular

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    Great Start man!

    If that's not to indescrete, how much is a CNC machine like yours? Did you also buy the software? (Can pm me if you want :) )
     
  8. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    I really need to learn fusion 360. Looking to make the jump to cnc after this batch of guitars
     
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  9. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Here's the link. It is a kit that includes everything but the laptop to drive it with. All you have to do is assemble it, and most of the hard stuff is done for you.

    https://shop.carbide3d.com/products/shapeoko-xl-kit?variant=42721938758

    The kit comes with cad and cam software, as well as the control software for the device (carbide motion). I use the control software, but I use autodesk fusion 360 for cad and cam. It is free for hobbyists and startups. License info is on their site. It is an industry standard and there are a ton of resources out there to learn it. Especially on YouTube.

    It is pretty awesome. I was able to pick it up pretty quickly, although of course I still have a TON to learn. But three weeks ago I had never touched a cad or cam program and now I'm milling a guitar neck I modeled from scratch, so it can't be THAT hard.

    YouTube is your friend.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  10. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    The things I'm most excited about are:

    Perfect neck joints
    Inlays
    Fret slots that don't cut all the way through to the edge of the fretboard.
    Compound fretboard radii
    Accurate, repeatable neck shape
     
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  11. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Alas, it looks like I had my alignment off on my first setup (the top holes and truss rod channel). The double-sided tape must have slipped during the roughing step. So today we've learned to always screw the workpiece down to the waste board.

    Truss rod channel is slightly off center at this end
    4469362067543821890-account_id=1.jpg

    Tuner holes are also off. The heel end is fine though.
    718369232850614763-account_id=1.jpg

    This will still work, but I'm not giving away a gift build that isn't perfect, so I guess this neck is mine now. Good thing wood is cheap. Some wood. This wood.

    The profile feels good though. Very V-shaped, which I love. I ran a finishing pass with a ball-nose endmill, which cleaned it up a lot. It will still need a bunch of sanding and scraping, but still. Pretty cool.

    20170711_182036.jpg
     
  12. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    doesn't look bad for a first attempt. i suppose there will be lots of test necks before the setup is 100% perfect. I see lots of people making there test cuts with hard foam from home depot.

    and you've inspired me, starting to learn fusion 360 as we speak.
     
  13. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Yeah, I did a test neck in pine before but clearly I should have done a few more. Hard foam is definitely the go-to, but I really don't want to fill my shop up with foam shavings :)

    Great! It is fun. I found this series of videos to be particularly helpful. There are 3 I think, and he takes you all the way through the process of modeling up a part, and explains EVERYTHING he does. If you're a complete newbie to CAD like I am, this is very helpful.


    (edit: grammar are hard)
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  14. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    Yep. That's the one. I built that part tonight haha. Just gotta figure out how to bring my body designs into fusion now.
     
  15. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    I think you can import SVG files to use as sketches? Not sure. I designed this one in Fusion. This was ... okay. Editing it isn't all that easy.
     
  16. ImBCRichBitch

    ImBCRichBitch SS.org Regular

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    Sweet looking so far. Who is your brother? You said he was a accomplished electronic musician, got me curious if its someone i listen to
     
  17. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Oh, whoops. "accomplished" was probably the wrong word. "Skilled", maybe? He's a woodwind player but he dabbles in weird experimental/electronic/noise stuff for fun on the side. Nothing released that I know of.

    I'm being vague because I don't know if he wants me to talk about him or not.
     
  18. ImBCRichBitch

    ImBCRichBitch SS.org Regular

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    Ahh. i thought you meant like Deadmau5 or something
     
  19. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    ok, so playing around with fusion. how in the hell do you make the tummy cut??

    i draw the line on the back of the guitar for the shape of the cut, and it just stays blue and wont turn black. very frustrating
     
  20. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Ahh so this was tricky. What I did was went into modeling mode and made a cylinder (separate from the guitar body) then I moved it in position and used the "split body" operation on the guitar body with the cylinder as the tool. Then I deleted the piece I just cut off.

    I can take a screen shot tomorrow with the cylinder in the picture if that helps.
     
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