Sign in to follow this  
Bill Merkel

machine made violins also CNC "Betts"

Recommended Posts

With a cnc machine there are a pile of variables to consider. The accuracy of the machine, the size and type of tool, and the accuracy of the model. A cad designer could with sufficient time and effort produce a 3d model of a famous instrument part down to the micron layer, and then send it to a cnc machine as a gcode path that would then get carved out by a drill bit. If you used a fine enough bit, you could even replicate the feel of the surface to a large degree. But the cnc machine isn't smart like a craftsman. It can't feel the changes in grain, or notice density changes or make that judgement call on the fly that people can. It's definitly a tool that has a place, and a cnc in the shop would probably let a good luthier work faster and more efficiently at certain tasks, but as someone who owns a cnc machine, I do not feel they are a replacement for skill.

They definitly do allow us less skilled woodworkers play in the mid leagues though!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's definitely a tool that has a place, and a cnc in the shop would probably let a good luthier work faster and more efficiently at certain tasks, but as someone who owns a cnc machine, I do not feel they are a replacement for skill.

 

We agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't expect to make high quality instruments. 

What I am doing is making instruments for underprivileged kids. The kids that would otherwise never pick up an instrument. it takes a long time to make them. I made a duplicator to speed the process in roughing out the instruments.

I could use metal plates to copy but haven't found anyone that sells them. any suggestions. in lieu of that the code to make them on a cnc. I have no idea of the cost of either so if you could advise how much i can expect to pay that would be appreciated as well.

thanks B/C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, blackcloud said:

I don't expect to make high quality instruments. 

What I am doing is making instruments for underprivileged kids. The kids that would otherwise never pick up an instrument. it takes a long time to make them. I made a duplicator to speed the process in roughing out the instruments.

I could use metal plates to copy but haven't found anyone that sells them. any suggestions. in lieu of that the code to make them on a cnc. I have no idea of the cost of either so if you could advise how much i can expect to pay that would be appreciated as well.

thanks B/C

It would be really tough to make anything cheaper than what is already on the market hand made from Asia.  At some of the prices it would hardly be worth firing up the machine let alone building it in the first place,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that a CNC could be ideal for roughing out parts such as plates and necks. 

Wouldn't it just be a robo-apprentice? 

At some shops, the rough gouge work is done by apprentices, and the work is then handed off to more nuanced hands after, right? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, Nick Allen said:

I think that a CNC could be ideal for roughing out parts such as plates and necks. 

Wouldn't it just be a robo-apprentice? 

At some shops, the rough gouge work is done by apprentices, and the work is then handed off to more nuanced hands after, right? 

Exactly right, Nick. I find more makers are using CNC parts but do not want to draw attention to that "heresy" as it were. 

FYI, wood moves as it is machined, so there really is no such thing as perfect replication. However, it takes the drudgery out of making IMO. I then have more time learning workmanship skills. Still trying. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/29/2016 at 2:53 AM, Aarwhy said:

...CNC results are only as good as the  image, with out quality Imaging, code results will be poor.

Nobody is giving away  good  quality Dxf, STL Violin drawings , rare, if you are lucky enough to get one,  it’s  still somebody else's  design.

 

Few, are able to produce a 3D image of our own  particular design.  It’s time consuming, difficult   manipulating, fine tuning....

This hits the nail on the head for me.  Maybe in the future more 3d scans will become available for anybody to make their own reference plates for studying or copying.

I was lucky enough to be a student of Steve Rossow the first year he started teaching at Red Wing...I really enjoyed learning about CNC stuff.  With regards to making the 3d files necessary for cutting on a CNC, I think the easiest thing is still to make it the traditional way and scan it.  I've fumbled around with making a 3d violin plate in Rhino, and I find it easier to just make the thing with gouges and planes.  I do think there is a gap in software that can blend an abnormal outline into a continuous smooth curve of the long arch, with customizable cross arching.  I'm sure if there was any money in developing such software, somebody would have done it already :lol:

I'm guessing in my lifetime there will be a publication of a nice book for violin makers with the usual measurements, photos and such...but also contain a CD full of scans to look at details with various image software/CAD programs.  I'd order a copy!

If I was going to invest in a robot apprentice, it would make a pot of coffee, then go out and sell instruments for me.  I'd be happy to stay in the shop and do the wood work :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is interesting to see what I posted in this thread over 2 years ago...

On 8/29/2016 at 7:26 AM, Don Noon said:

... perhaps in the future I won't physically be able to carve wood, making CNC closer to a necessity if I want to continue making violins.  But for now, I prefer the more traditional method.

Now, 2+ years later, the future is now, and CNC is a necessity for me to keep going at any kind of a reasonable output.  Unfortunately, the output will be zero for a while as I battle with software and related stuff.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Jerry Pasewicz said:

It would be really tough to make anything cheaper than what is already on the market hand made from Asia.  At some of the prices it would hardly be worth firing up the machine let alone building it in the first place,

Amen.  Low end is best covered by a company with economic advantage and cheap labor and materials.  Toxic for a individual person.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 29, 28 Heisei at 6:48 AM, Ron1 said:

I thought the OP was asking what machines have been used in the past- as opposed to those that are now used, ie. CNC.  Some early powered "copy-carvers" were in use in the late 1800's. There was one developed in England, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Germans also made one.  I am aware of at least one luthier using a copy carver, ca. 1900 or earlier, to rough-out scrolls, and at least experimenting with it for roughing-out plates.

When I worked in Markneukirchen I heard a story from the introduction of a copy carver by an unnamed American some time between 1900 and 1914. It is said that the machine was used for making routed plates and workers in the area making single parts feared to loose their labour so they lowered their prices below the machine made parts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who uses a CNC machine to perform apprentice services for a multitude of violin and guitar makers, I find a lot to agree with in this thread that can be boiled down to one thing: well-managed expectations.  If the goal is to save one's shoulders roughing out cello backs, then the bar for entry can be quite low (though the cost of error quite high!), but if the goal is a reproduction of very specific geometries, the magnitude of the task changes quickly. 

To an astonishing degree, the machines can cut exactly what you tell them, but the operations and fixturing of a machine are complex and many.  Just like we need a variety of sharp gouges, planes, and scrapers (along with the knowledge of how to sharpen them), to refine just the carving aspect of building, CNC milling requires computation, drawing/modeling, fixturing, and mechanical skills to even get off of the ground.

Unfortunately, the idea of CNC machine as panacea is more often a misconception than not, but with well-calibrated expectations and commitment to learning and growing with it as a tool, the results can be compelling.

 

 

IMG_20180816_185245_-_Copy.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a look at web of Tom Ellis mandolins. He took the CNC and fixturing to whole another level.... he even cuts his binding miters with CNC! Collings factory is similar (I believe ther was the same programmer/tech guy behind both companies)

http://www.ellismandolins.com/shop-tour.html

And customers don't frown upon that at all and are willing to pay pretty good money for his mandolins...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On April 27, 28 Heisei at 7:16 AM, Bill Merkel said:

Can anybody describe some of the machines that have been used in the past to make what are termed "machine made" violins?   

 

Also, I was reading about what must be a more sophisticated machine approach using CNC and data derived from scanning the "Betts" Strad.  How did that turn out?

The earliest record for machines I know of came from a dissertation on the use of steam engines in factories for musical instruments. I vaguely remember that there was in the chart one factory in Mirecourt which used a steam engine around  1860 (Or was it even earlier?) Because the book was essentially a study on the early development of power tools in the manufacturing of musical instruments there was no focus on stringed instruments. 

I suppose the steam engine mentioned in the book was in one of the biggest companies in Mirecourt, Laberte or JTL or something like this. But I doubt that the use of a steam driven power tool would make the description in the sales catalogue as 'machine made'. Would need to dig out the book again to give a better and precise reference.

I think the Conn company in Elkhurst, Indianna (maybe I got the city wrong from the top of my head) used a copy router duplicating archings from an original Strad 

for scroll carving router machines I have no memory of anything I heard or read  when the first was used but I think this was after WW2. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Close, Andreas. It's Elkhart. It was the undisputed center of musical instrument making in the US for quite a while. For a time, they were milling piano soundboards up there for most of the American firms and some of the European ones as well. All manner of wood and brasswinds, bowed and plucked strings, percussion etc. That industry has more or less totally evaporated, or gone to China, rather.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Any decent, solidly built CNC can do it. The spindle is the most important part here though, and good  (well selected for the task) router bits. 2kW spindle that can go up to 24k RPM with good bearings mounted on stiff CNC will give you perfect clean cuts.

Some of the makers I know made their own CNC, some use ShopBot or similar machines. For software some use Rhino, some Fusion 360, Solidworks and other SW packages for modelling. If ou want just rough the wood, you can use digitizing probe off existing parts and skip the computer modelling phase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On August 28, 28 Heisei at 5:23 PM, Aarwhy said:

Using my  CNC for instrument making.

My opinion

While many traditionalist believe the only way to build instruments is the "OLD "  way, the way the masters did.

Frankly, I have trouble with that philosophy.

It's not the tools that makth the instrument, but rather the timber, and shape.

Whether that  shape was  achieved  with  a piece of sharp rock, chisel, or CNC,  is really irrelevant.

Many  imagine their instrument makers toiling away all hours in the dark, with their chisels, spoke plane, then selling  at Aldi prices.

The reality is,  very little time, is spent  using those tools.

And who would want too.

When maybe 95% of your time is taken up reducing  timber into shavings  Who would not want a machine, working unattended, giving  those  precise measurements, in an hour or so. Thus, allowing the instrument maker to put the time into final slivers, and assembly,  and finish.

That  is where the instrument is really made. This is where you need to spend your time.

Not wasting your time turning wood, into shavings.

 

Cheers

The traditional way of making shavings makes human variations of the same theme even if you work with patterns. 

A machine doesn't think about that. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Andreas points out, the imperfect human touch - even out of the most celebrated ateliers - is an important factor. It's one of the many reasons we find such profound beauty in these artifacts. Would del Gesu's works be as captivating if they all looked like exactly like the Enescu? One Enescu is more than enough, and it's made more beautiful by it's unique qualities.

Different luthiers enjoy different parts of the process by varying degrees. There are certain tasks I'd be more willing to mechanize, but hogging material isn't one of them. For me it's a pleasure to let the major chips fly! It also gives me some critical preliminary information, through feel and through the sound of the tools in the wood, about how to treat a given billet - and they're all different. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an "affordable" CNC machine.  Buying the machine is the easy part.  Mastering the software is the hard part.

https://lagunatools.com/cnc/iq-series/iq-24-36-cnc/

Check out the excellent 32-minute guitar neck making video linked on the above page, which demonstrates the whole process of making a part using a CNC machine. 

Edited by Chris Llana
Refers reader to demo video showing CNC process.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

 For me it's a pleasure to let the major chips fly! It also gives me some critical preliminary information, through feel and through the sound of the tools in the wood, about how to treat a given billet - and they're all different

Me too.:)

One of the information that I find very useful is to understand the direction of the fiber expecially in the spruce, not easy with a cnc.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Davide Sora said:

Me too.:)

 

One of the information that I find very useful is to understand the direction of the fiber expecially in the spruce, not easy with a cnc.

 

 

Great video, as always! As much as I enjoy the Corelli, I would like it even more to just listen to the crispy slicing sounds. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, JacksonMaberry said:

Great video, as always! As much as I enjoy the Corelli, I would like it even more to just listen to the crispy slicing sounds. :D

 

I have the complete set of videos for thisB)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6kCD4XtaZ4&list=PLaxadm6POX7Hy2CxMIMU5wcOOBxxNsq5r

 
In slow motion the "sound" is not so good.....:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.