Using CNC To Build Ukuleles - Good or Bad?

Pete Howlett

Well-known member
Aug 20, 2008
Great points folks. Yes Bob; it's a necessity for me. Also, the quality of small machines from China is remarkable. You don't need a ton of money and the investment is worth is especially if you use it to make other things.

John Colter

Jan 28, 2009
This kind of debate must have been all the rage when the printing press was introduced, about six hundred years ago. It is a very similar situation.

Kevin Waldron

Feb 19, 2012
In general I agree with Pete that 2D style files (Fret Board, Inlays, Cut Outs, etc.) are relatively simple to master with practice and perseverance but it can be very frustrating for a new comer. I also agree with the Vectric software's as a whole but it has many limitation when you begin to do do true 3D parts and pieces not just 180 degree shapes. Think you will find that it now requires much practice and has a much greater learning curve to do more complex curves and structures. Software price will now escalate and considerably more time is needed to develop much more complex models. ( Some of the models we created have anywhere from 25 hours to 200 hours in developing.) We probably took approximately 3 years of playing and designing to be able to establish a number of 3D working models and for sure it took another 7 years or more to develop all that we have. Programs like Solid Works, Rhinoceros, Alibre, FormZ, Vectorworks are but a few of the programs that I personally might look at if you want to go beyond basics.

I would say that after developing a neck model with all holding jigs and fixtures that neck carving will take less than 10 minutes from start to finish. It is still best to cut the block or shape to somewhere close to the neck dimensions and some minor tune up will be required maybe 3 minutes if the the file is as it should be. One other thing you might want to consider down the road is a laser scanner as prices continue to drop. Software such as Rhinoceros and many of the others allow you to take a picture and do a tracing of just about any item 2D or 3D.

It's also possible to do a neck on a CNC rotary machine (commonly called a machine with 4 axis or typical Rotary unit).

Thought I'd add my two cents after being involved since 2003 in CNC's both wood and metal - 3 axis and 4th axis/ Lasers / 3D Printers. My personal desire is to own a 5th/6th axis machine but haven't got around to spending the money for said just to play with.



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Well-known member
Oct 22, 2014
Always great to get a 2 cents worth from Kevin... Wow, this stuff obviously gets deeper than I thought. A little more than just entering some numbers and out spits a perfect part.

I find it interesting that pictures can go from 2D to 3D. That would seem to me to be the wave of the future where all that programming goes away and you could just take pictures of something and the computer would do the rest. Maybe CNC is just in its infancy at this point.