CNC newbie Les Paul build

Wood Butcher

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Hi,

So it has been a good few years since I last built a guitar. I had a thread going for a lefty Les Paul I built for myself back in 2016/2017. The thread is here but all my hosted photos are now gone :( ...


This is the guitar I built ( still going strong !! ) ...

my les paul.jpg


My intention was to build another straight after finishing my lefty but in right hand for my brother. Well, life and all its trappings got in the way and I wasn't in a position to start a new build. However, things have changed for me a fair bit in the last 12 months and I have got myself in a place where I can start building again. Ive also been building / upgrading my workspace and have added a CNC to my workshop ( garage ) ....

CNC.JPG


Ive been itching to do another Les Paul so have finally started on one as a test / proof of concept to get the CNC side of things down. As this is my first test piece, I have opted to keep the cost down in regards to timber, using up wood I already have lying around.. The specs on this build are as follows ....

4 piece Khaya body
Ebony fretboard
3 piece Brazilian Mahogany neck
Flame Maple top

I started off with a fretboard and created my tool paths in Fusion. Inlays are Celluloid I have cut on the CNC. Fretwire is Jescar 45100...

fretboard 1.jpg


fretboard inlay.jpg


fretboard full.jpg


Next up the body. The Khaya was picked up cheap and sold to me as woodturning spindle blanks. I ripped it on the bandsaw and glued up a body blank....

timber.jpg



Calculations show that it weighs 3.4lb / board foot. Quite heavy so I added weight relief chambers ....

back.jpg


front2.jpg

Next up I prepared a maple cap and first cut a angled route for the pots on the underside of the cap and secured it to the body with locating dowels done on the CNC ...

Top underside.jpg


I could now begin machining the top, firstly with an adaptive roughing pass and then a finishing path with a ball nose bit ...

top rough carve.jpg


top carved.jpg


Angled control cavity ..

control cavity route.jpg


With the top complete, I designed a simple jig to hold and support the body at the correct angle to cut the neck and pickup cavities ...

pickup cavity route.jpg


The top was then sanded to remove any tooling marks and this is the result and where Im currently up to with the build....

body sanded.jpg


Next up is to get my neck blank prepared and glued up and continue with machining the neck , which I hope to be able to update with in a week or two.

The CNC and software has been a bit of a learning curve but incredibly interesting at the same time. I got my machine in April of this year but had ordered way back in Sept 2020 and have been attending night classes in Autodesk Inventor since then. I already had a fairly good understanding of 2D CAD as I used it in a previous job but the 3D took a bit to get my head round and Im still learning all the time.
 

PrinceTonNR

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Excellent! Although I have built a few guitars over the years I still have a Les Paul on the list. This thread is an inspiration to get started.
...after all the house projects are completed :rolleyes:
 

Wood Butcher

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So since my last post I have been working on my neck and the best way to machine it. I first machined the headstock angle to 17 degrees and routed for a two way truss rod. Once this was done I cut the tenon and fitted it to the body before turning my attention to the back profile of the neck....


This went better than I had hoped for, the neck came out really nice. I left a bit of wiggle room for glueing the fretboard on which I will blend in by hand...

neck heel.jpg


The cutaway is still slightly oversize so once the fretboard is fitted to the neck and tidied up I will be able to finalise the inside of the cutaway and then bind the top and do the roundover on the bottom...

neck joint.jpg


I also still have to glue some wings onto the headstock and add a overlay onto the headstock as well but its starting to look like a guitar now !! :)

body neck.jpg
 

Joe Desperado

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Wow. Fantastic for a first CNC build. Or really any build.

I’m still refining my neck model, but have cut a few test necks and like what I see.

keep up the great work!
 

Wood Butcher

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Wow. Fantastic for a first CNC build. Or really any build.

I’m still refining my neck model, but have cut a few test necks and like what I see.

keep up the great work!
Thanks,

This was my first test cut so Im pleased it came out as well as it did. I need to come up with a better way to support the headstock. I had an angled wedge underneath it ( actually the off cut from when I band sawed the rough neck out ) but there was still some noticeable chatter and uneveness when the back of the headstock was being machined, especially the very tip which Ive managed to sand out with no detriment as I left excess stock when I machined it.
 

Joe Desperado

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My fixture is just that. A board with the angled headstock cut off at one end, slightly longer then the headstock being cut. This weekend I machined the wedge perfectly flat on the jointer And mounted it to my neck fixture. I’m not cutting past the transition, so I have not notice any chatter, but suspect I would too. Wondering if you could double face tape the headstock to the block? The wedge being mounted does help with getting the blank in the right spot for my WCS which is the nut.
 

Joe Desperado

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BTW my test cuts have been on construction grade lumber only. Good thing too as I have had to tweak everything from how I hold it in place to the shape of the heel and headstock transition. Certainly what you see in CAD is what you will get when cut. Even the tiniest of flaws in the mode. Lesson learned.
 

Marty M.

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That's a nice neck and body. what brand cnc? I've been using an X carve which gets the job done but isn't as rigid as one would like.
 

Wood Butcher

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That's a nice neck and body. what brand cnc? I've been using an X carve which gets the job done but isn't as rigid as one would like.
Hi Marty,

The CNC was built by a guy / company here in the UK called JazzCNC. Its a great little machine, just over 60x90 cutting area but real solid. Ive not had any problems with it whatsoever and would happily recommend them to anyone in the UK after something similar.
 


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