Scott's Guitar Blog: March 12, 2009

New Old Tool in Shop!

Sorry it’s been so long since the last post…I’m soooo busy! I have several cool things saved up, and will hopefully post some of them soon. This article is about a cool milling machine I hunted down after my friend and fellow luthier Ken Parker put the bug in my ear after a visit to my shop. Ken said it would change my life, and when people at such high levels in their art and experience give you ideas and advice, you’d be foolish to ignore it.
Please visit the site at Custom Guitars.com

Most vertical milling machines are HUGE. A Bridgeport can weight 3,000 lbs and stand at 7′ tall.
I have no room for a monster like that. Ken told me about these cool smaller mills made by Clausing in the 70s. They only weigh 600 lbs, and are 71″ tall at the highest point. They are also pretty darned hard to find. I got very lucky and found one in 3 days, only an hour’s drive from my shop. After taking it apart, moving it, getting it into the shop and putting it back together, I was as wiped out as I can remember.

Then I did a test pass on a scrap of rosewood I had laying around. It cut through it like butter, leaving a deep smooth groove 1/2″ wide, as smooth or smoother than any router I’ve used. Very exciting. I’m beginning to realize all the parts and materials I can make with this. Wood, aluminum, steel, brass…
I can make: bridges, tailpieces, nuts, perform slotting, make cavities, etc….all with a precision never possible by doing the work on drill presses and sanders. Off to the shop, thanks for stopping by!