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Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by alk-3, Apr 29, 2013.
Very cool. I remember when I first saw pictures of the black one - really dig the design.
Awesome Thread! You've certainly got my attention.
I've enjoyed your previous build threads, I'll stay tuned for this one!
I'm continuously surprised at the generosity of MLP brethren
I look forward to following this thread, and entering the competition once the details are finalised
Okay, so after I send the fretboard through several times to slowly remove material, the fretboard is left just a little bit taller than it needs to be.
It has the finished radius on the top now, and is very smooth.
Now I need to prepare for the next step.
The first thing I need to do is create a computer file that will tell the cnc machine what to do. I make a 3d model of the completed fretboard. It has all the fret slots, and inlays in the right spots, and the right depth.
I use this file to create a cut path that the cnc can actually understand.
The green lines on this picture show the path that the tool will take to do the work.
This may seem like an easy step, but this takes HOURS to create.. its very tedious work.
Now that I have something the cnc machine can use, I switch over to the maple boards to setup the machine. I attach them to the table, and set the machine at the zero point, and start cutting.
I have these very tiny router bits. The cutters on here are only 0.023 wide, and they are made for cutting fret slots.
Its a bit nerve racking to do this, because its easy to break these very tiny bits.
The fret slots are the first things to get cut.
After all the slots are cut to the correct depth, the machine automatically starts to cut the inlays perfectly spaced between the frets.
Now I have to stop the machine and switch to a new router bit. This one is a little bit larger and will remove more material but does a rougher job.
And I can go ahead and remove the waste material in the inlay cavities, as well as rout the perimeter of the entire board.
And now the completed fretboard. Everything seems to have worked out just fine!
Really, this helps speed things up a bit in production, but this leaves a board that still need quite a lot of hand work. Nothing can substitute for the human touch that is needed to really make this perfect. Each inlay needs to be cleaned up, and the board needs to be sanded level, but we are getting there!
Youre welcome, and thanks for commenting!
Glad you like the shop, its a pretty relaxing place to be stuck all day every day
Thank you guys!
Thanks guys, Im sure Alex will get the draw sorted out when he can, but in the meantime, there is plenty of building to go!
I want in!!
By the way, Tom, your shop looks way bigger in those pictures.
I would LOVE to own that burst. I want in. Good thing you're doing, Alk
Great thread, loving the pics.
Lost in all the guitar comments - that is good photography as well.
I know! That wide angle lens gives me so much more real estate! I could get some bigger machinery!
Amazing! I never would have guessed you could cut fret slots with a CNC. What'll they think of next?
So now that I have the test board done and everything looks good, I can commit to cutting the real fretboard.
I start with the fret slots again.
It takes several passes on each slot to get to the depth while not breaking the fragile bit.
We go down the board one slot at a time, till all of them are done.
These cuts follow the radius of the fretboard, meaning the frets will almost bottom out in the slots across the entire fret wire for a very solid fret to board joint.
I do not want to bottom out the fret in the slot completely for a very good reason;
One of the major things to consider when building a boutique instrument is the lifespan. I expect these guitars to last for many many decades with the proper care.
There are a couple of things on these guitars that are wearable parts - much like the brake pads on your car. The frets are one of these things. They will eventually wear down, and need to be redressed. After you do that a few times over the life of the guitar the frets eventually need to be pulled and replaced with new ones.
Often times techs will give the fretboard a quick sanding to flatten the board, and remove any dirt or divots left from fingernails digging into the wood. If I were to bottom out the frets in their slots, then the repairperson would not be able to press new frets into place without deepening the slots. That is very hard to do if the guitar has fingerboard edge binding.
So, - in short, in order for the guitar to last as long as possible in as good condition as possible, its important to have a very slight space under each fret wire.
Then I cut the perimeter of the inlays. Again, these cuts follow the radius of the top of the fretboard.
One at a time.
Once all those cuts are completed, I once again switch to the larger bit for removing more material at once.
And begin removing material.
And then finally the perimeter gets cut in several passes.
And here we have it! Looks great doesnt it?
Okay, here it is all done
Here is a close up of the board.
You can see its going to need a fair bit of additional work to get it cleaned up completely.
It should be noted that this entire time this fretboard has not been heated above room temperature, as you would get from power sanding a radius on to the board. Heat can warp the wood, and create distortions that cant be easily seen, but will create a board that is unpredictable when it comes to fretting and having a perfectly level surface. Thats not to say that every board that gets power sanded is warped, but its a possibility, and a chance I would prefer not to take.
I can almost smell the wood, thanks
Man, getting into this very quickly. Cant wait to see the final product
Are there any clips of Joe Bonamassa playing the Retrospec? I'd love to hear how it sounds when he's playing it.
I'd love to see a goldtop with darkback version of this, I really think it would be amazing!