Which cnc machine should I get?

Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by MikeNeal, Oct 9, 2017.

  1. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    Hey guys. Going to be making the jump to cnc in the next few months. Basically the jobs ill be doing with cnc the entire fretboard. The outline shape of the body, the pickup, neck, and control cavities, the drilling, trussrod slot, and neck outline. I will still do the carving by hand - since that's my favorite part.

    So basically I'm torn between the 1000mm x-carve and the shapeoko 3 xl.

    The x carve has some benefits like a larger cutting area, and it's about 500 dollars cheaper.

    The shapeoko comes partially assembled and has thicker rails, but has a smaller working area. The xl is the top of my budget range. So the xxl is out of the question.

    Any opinions?
     
  2. ElysianGuitars

    ElysianGuitars Vendor

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    Shapeoko will be more rigid, in my opinion. I have a Big Ox, which is similar to the X-Carve, and it works well for smaller things, but I'd like a more robust machine. 33" x 17" is probably enough to start on. Typical guitar bodies are only 12-13" wide, and it's big enough you can probably do a neck through blank in two or three positions.
     
  3. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    Hmm. The bigger cutting size of the x-carve would also help with some non guitar woodworking that we do.

    The guy at highline guitars uses an x carve and seems to have good luck with it.

    I really like the the beefyness of the shapeoko though
     
  4. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    I have the Shapeoko XL and it kicks ass. Thing is big and beefy. I've yet to bog it down and I run 100+ in/min in hardwood. Shallow cuts but still.

    Easy to put together too.

    In my mind, if you're gonna spend this much money on a tool, get the better one. Its gotta last you forever.

    (doesn't mean the shapeoko is better - I don't know anything about the x-carve. But it sounds like you guys think the shapeoko is more robust)
     
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  5. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    Also Fusion 360 has a built-in export plugin for it. FYI if you go with the shapeoko, always export with mm as your unit vs inches. Otherwise it will sometimes run into gcode errors and stop. Works fine in mm.
     
  6. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    good to know.

    do you notice any flex in the z axis? i saw a video where he demonstrated that the z axis could be flexed, whereas the x carve is solid.
     
  7. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    I have not noticed any flex, but I also haven't checked.
     
  8. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    i think other projects i want to do will keep me to the bigger machines.

    the shapeoko 3 xxl will be around 2200 CAD
    the 1000mm x-carve will be aroind 1600 CAD

    is the shapeoko worth the extra 600 dollars?
     
  9. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear Vendor

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    A few guys I know claim the xcarve is a toy and say to stay well away. Most of the people recommending it are not doing critical work like luthiery.
    Haven't used it myself but I have upgraded from a 1.5k CNC to a 10k CNC and can say the same as them - do not cheap out. You want something as rigid as possible else you're stuck going either slow or inaccurate.
    Not saying it isn't possible to work with cheaper machines, but it's a lot more work and you will regret it eventually, especially when the difference is as small as 600 usd. It seems to only take a matter of months to become very aware of limitations and start planning for upgrades, so I'd cut your losses :)
     
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  10. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    I guess that settles it then
     
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  11. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    At least it isn't a Guitar. For 600 extra dollars you're getting a double neck instead of a AAAA maple top. :)
     
  12. KR250

    KR250 SS.org Regular

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    Looking into the same machine myself now, thanks for the info on this thread. Where is the best place to purchase from? Looking at XXL on RobotShop is $1900 USD.
     
  13. LiveOVErdrive

    LiveOVErdrive SS.org Regular

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    I bought my xl straight from carbide 3d. Went well.
     
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  14. Durero

    Durero prototyping... Contributor

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    I'm not assuming this applies to you, but in case it helps you or anyone else considering a CNC purchase: if you haven't already mastered drawing in 3D CAD, then I'd strongly recommend working that out and having your cut-ready models done before you buy your CNC machine.

    It is invaluable and well worth the price to test cut some of your models on someone else's machine first if at all possible. This can really help gain the experience needed to make good judgements about what the various CNC features are worth to you and what your budget should be.

    I also second Tom Winspear's comment that a budget closer to the 10k range might get you much closer to the accuracy, reliability, and speed you might be expecting from the CNC process. Certainly the cheaper machines can achieve acceptable results, but the amount of babysitting and quality control checking the machine might require could be frustrating if you're expecting perfect repetitions of each part.

    Just hoping to help other potential CNC geeks to have a less painful experience than I've had with it.
     
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  15. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    no issues with the 3d modeling and CAM.

    I'm almost looking forward to the assembly and troubleshooting that these machines entail. I'm kind of a nerd like that.

    unfortunately the 10k machines are out of my pricerange. - nor will they ever probably be in my price range. I'd rather build a guitar by hand then pay that. Mostly looking at these hobby machines because its a relatively cheap way to explore CNC.
     
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  16. Durero

    Durero prototyping... Contributor

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    Right on. In that case I'm sure you'll have a ton of fun with it!
     
  17. dankarghh

    dankarghh SS.org Regular

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    I started with an x-carve, used it to make an open builds c-beam sphinx and am now designing and building a third. Open builds have a new kit out called 'workbee'. It is very similar to the c-beam machine I made, and to be honest was perfectly happy with. WAY better than the x-carve. It runs on lead screws instead of maintenance heavy belts. I'd be getting that if i could start again. My new machine is basically a ballscrew version of that. Happy to help out if you have any other questions! (stay away from belts).
     
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  18. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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    The workbee kit looks awesome. Can't find anywhere that I can buy it though? Or do you have to buy it piece by piece?
     
  19. MrYakob

    MrYakob SS.org Regular

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  20. MikeNeal

    MikeNeal SS.org Regular

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