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  1. #1

    Smile CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Hey Everyone! This is my first post here.

    I am a high schooler with a CNC machine at his school. I am going to try to build a stratocaster guitar on it. I am somewhat experienced with CNC machines and with woodworking but I have no experience building muscial instruments. At my school I have access to a CNC machine, a planer, a laser cutter, as well as other woodworking tools.

    My end goal for this project is to get a decent sounding guitar while keeping the budget under a few hundred dollars.

    I am going to build both the body and the neck on the machine, then I plan on buying the fretboard and all the hardware for the guitar.

    I just took the first step in my process, buying the wood. I decided to go with basswood as I managed to find some good, quartersawn wood at a nearby lumberyard, and it isn't super expensive. It is now in 3 pieces of wood, about 32 x 10 x 2 inches each. I want to use 2 of these for a blank and one for the neck.

    My next step is going to be to try to make a blank for the guitar body. I think I want the blank to be 1.75 x13.75 x 22. I think this should give me enough room to mount this to the machine. I plan to cut the width on a table saw, then possibly run it through a jointer to get a better fit, then cut down the the thickness with the planer. Then I will use some wood glue and glue the two pieces together, bookmatched. I'm hoping to leave the guitar unpainted with some nice finish on it, but if the wood doesn't come out too good I'll paint the body.

    I'll be updating this post as I continue to work on the guitar. I would really appreciate any help I could get, as I'm learning many things as I go.

  2. #2
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    It looks like you're off to a good start and have plenty of shop tools at your disposal to turn out a really nice guitar. I've built one acoustic guitar and plan to build many more but along the way I want to build at least one electric and one bass. I think those would be fun CNC projects.

    Keep us posted!
    David
    David
    Romans 3:23
    Etsy shop opened 12/1/17 - CurlyWoodShop

  3. #3
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    I am not an expert, but fabrication is fabrication. I would recommend that you first purchase all of the parts you will need for the project. Then you should find or create your digital model so that it fits all of the parts. Much of the hardware is different from vendor to vendor and you don't want to route out holes bigger than what is needed.

    Just my $.02

    Sounds like a fun project.

  4. #4

    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Just got the blank glued today, going to let it dry over the weekend.

    Thanks for the advice about the fit of parts. I think I'll start with the basic body shape and the electronic and pickup pockets, where fit is similar regardless of components, and hold off on the other connections.

    I'm going to try to do a couple tests on some home depot insulation foam. Anyone every done anything like this before?

  5. #5
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    You did not mention what CAD app you are using. Here is a Fender Strat 1962 CAD file on GrabCad. https://grabcad.com/library/fender-s...vintage-1962-1

    Foam would work, but you will get a better feel for the process if you use a similar blank made of Pine or other cheaper wood.

  6. #6

    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    I'm going to be using V-Carve for my CNC. I also have some experience and access to inventor and solidworks. I don't actually remember where I got my strat file, but It's basically identical to that one. I've found a few body files, but haven't found a free one for a stratocaster neck yet, so I'll probably try to design one myself.

    The foam is probably going to be more for testing the toolpath quickly to help me make sure the two sided machining goes well, I can test out on some wood afterwards. I've done some smaller two sided projects but nothing large. Thanks for the advice about the wood, I do want to see how the surface comes out with some real wood.

  7. #7
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread


  8. #8

    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Wow that neck looks great. I'm not seeing any Bi-Flex truss rods (the rod that is in that neck file) from my normal sources, (Stewmac and Guitar Fetish) would a normal truss rod work fine for this? Also right now I have basswood that I was planning on using for the neck, as when I bought the wood it came with enough for the body and the neck, but is that going to be too soft to last? I've seen some people saying it will work and some saying it won't on other sites.

  9. #9
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Oh, yeah. Now that I look at it I see it is designed for the Bi-Flex rod which is not so common.

    This is why I say to get all the parts you will use first and then start cutting based on the parts. You can use the same neck, but you may have to modify the truss rod channel. I don't know that the channel or the curve will change, but the hole for the adjustment probably would.

    As for the type of wood, I don't know. Often harder woods like Mahogany, Maple or Walnut are used for the neck. Many times the fretboard is a different wood altogether.

    I think that making an instrument like this is going to involve a good bit of trial and error. People spend a lifetime doing this and never get it EXACTLY how they want it to sound or perform. I suspect that if you like the process of fabricating an instrument that you can then play, you will start here and continue to improve the process with each iteration. There is no doubt that whatever material you use will "work". You could use a 2x4 from Lowes and it would produce sounds. But since your goal is a "decent" sounding guitar, I think basswood might work. Look at it this way, you can probably do better than a Chender made of Chinesium.


    Good luck.

  10. #10
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    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    If my memory is correct,you will need to convert that file to an .stl for Vcarve.

  11. #11

    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Maybe I'll look at getting a different wood for the neck then. I'll have to start putting a list of parts together for the guitar, to get final dimensions, I'll share once I start getting things figured out. I'm planning to start looking on stewmac and guitar fetish, trying to buy some kits when possible.

    I definitely understand that this isn't going to be a super awesome guitar, for me alot of the satisfaction comes from making the guitar myself, even if it doesn't sound amazing.

    I can convert into an .stl from inventor probably, thanks for the advice. I've just been using A360 online viewer to check out models.

  12. #12

    Re: CNC Stratocaster Build Thread

    Heres a tentative list of components: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...it?usp=sharing. Sorry the document is a mess. I have a good start but I got kind of overwhelmed when trying to choose pickups. I was thinking about going with a HSS format for them, anyone have any reccomendations?

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