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  1. #1
    Hi everyone, I'm a new member from the UK looking to get into the world of CNC. I am interested in getting one of those cheap router/engravers for around the £200 mark. They all seem to vary slightly in their design, so any consumer advice or recommendations would be appreciated! One of the main uses I have for one of these machines is to create intricate headstock inlay designs for electric guitar necks. The potential issue with this plan is that it would require me to fix the headstock itself to the bed of the machine, with the rest of the neck hanging over the edge. Does this sound like a bad idea? I'm sure I could affix the machine to my work surface and/or add a counterweight of some kind if it's inclined to tip over, but I wonder whether the overhanging weight will cause the machine to flex in a way that would affect its operation? Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    A £200 cnc router? My Makita battery trim router wasn’t far off that! You might be able to do what your after, but I’d guess you’d bugger up a few decent guitar necks in the process.

  3. #3
    That's what I was afraid of, they don't look up to much! Might work with a bit of fettling...

  4. #4
    I wouldn't have any qualms about having the workpiece overhanging the table.I would make sure the overhang was supported adequately though.The problem is likely to be the very low power turning the cutter.What sort of motor would you expect on the machine?The typical 1/4" trim router has about 600W to work with.The tiny machines may have the facility to move the cutter around your intended design,they may be so deficient in the power that it would take several passes at closely spaced depths to do so.If you get too ambitious there is a real risk of losing steps and chaos and disappointment ensues.As a means of learning the basics of CNC use the little machines serve a purpose and can probably be resold to recoup a good part of the initial cost.You can do a lot of the learning by cutting much softer and cheaper materials than hardwood guitar necks.How much understanding of creating a toolpath do you have?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Machinery Jones View Post
    That's what I was afraid of, they don't look up to much! Might work with a bit of fettling...
    £200 would only get you a spindle + vfd plus mounting bracket.

    Don't be fooled, what you are looking at, is a machine fitted with threaded rod instead of ball screws etc etc etc.

    Sorry welcome to the forum.
    The more you know, The better you know, How little you know

  6. #6
    On the subject of power, one example claims to come with a spindle that is 'rated' at 60w but with a 'maximum' power of 120w- I'm not sure how to interpret that really! I've seen people use these things to carve wood, but perhaps not anything as hard as maple (which is what I was hoping to use). I would also require square edges at the bottom of the routing for the inlay- this will presumably require an end mill. Could this throw another potential spanner into the works? To my untrained eye, V-bits look a lot more rigid than end mills- especially when it comes to the smaller tool sizes. I have very little prior experience with CNC, but I understand the basic principles of creating a toolpath and the significance of cutting depth and feed rates. I was thinking that one of these machines would be ideal for learning on, but I was also hoping I could find something that was capable of doing this particular job for me!

  7. #7
    Don't want to put you off but what you after doing just can't be done reliably by these cheap nasty things. To cut inlays with fine details will mean you are using tiny cutters and these snap for fun on even sturdy machines with spindles that have very little to no runout and lots of power.

    If you just want to learn the principles of using a CNC machine and cut a bit of balsa wood etc, then go for it. But don't try putting any expensive hardwood materials or guitar necks near these things that you don't mind scrapping.
    You'll get very frustrated quickly if you buy this with the intent of doing any meaningful work with it.
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by JAZZCNC View Post
    To cut inlays with fine details will mean you are using tiny cutters and these snap for fun on even sturdy machines with spindles that have very little to no runout and lots of power.
    The 0.2mm ones snap if you just look at 'em funny. The 'spindles' on these very cheap machines will have so much run-out, you probably wouldn't get 0.5mm ones to last the plunge, even when carving warm butter.

  9. #9
    Okay, thanks for your honest thoughts on the matter. I thought I'd ask some people in the know before I tried and failed miserably!

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