When I lent my services to a collegue who was working on a film about 12 years ago, I was introduced to the world of cnc. I remember watching this huge machining centre milling out a slab of mdf and turning it into a fantastic set of gears. I knew that it would have taken me hours to achieve the same thing with traditional power tools. I decided then that I would invest in a cnc router for my own business Oxenham Design. At that time I could turn on a computer, but even to check email seemed like a crazy set of operations. I persevered and learned every piece of relevant software I could get my hands on. I am now fortunate enough to be using Vectric's ASPIRE software, and Techno cnc routers, which has helped us to create some amazing projects, both in part, or in full. I thought that this blog would be a great place to share "behind the scenes" adventures with the software, materials and equipment we use, as well as the projects we build.

Monday, 27 May 2013

I Won't Be Canoeing Around These Parts!

First thing Saturday at the shop was to draw up the Aspire 4 file for the banjo neck. No Fancy 3d modeling on this job! 2-2 rail sweeps, and a rectangular "create shape" were all it needed. I made sure to center in the material, so I could flip the part and machine the dropped portion of the headstock where the tuning pegs go. It took quite a bit of googling to find enough data on the size of a banjo neck, but I was able to piece enough info together to get something real. I didn't need to make the fingerboard curved, or have any fret markers, this needed to be very simple in design. I originally set up all the vectors for the creation of a 5 string banjo, with a tuning peg on the neck, but I started with the back of the neck, and forgot to mirror the vectors, so the tuning peg would have been on the wrong side of the neck :-O
As I had already machined the back of the neck, I had to come up with a solution. The solution was to mill off the bump-out for the 5th string, and make the neck without it. DOH! Jamie stoooopid!

The neck was 2 sided machined from a 40" piece of a fairly straight 2X4. A little dry, but did the trick.
Once the neck was cut, I traced it onto the top of our brand new-old rusty can, and cut the opening with a dremmel and a cut off wheel.
The neck slid through the body and got screwed to the can at the back. I drilled out the 4 holes for the now tarnished tuning pegs, and screwed them down.
I used a nail, bent accordingly, for the nut. I cut in 4 grooves so the strings would ride evenly on the way to the tuning pegs.
 In order to keep the strings seated in the nail, I drilled the headstock and hooked the strings with some rusty cotter pins, bent over on the back side.

We used a detail sander with a scratchy cloth to sand through the paint layers, down to the metal in spots. This got sprayed again with a rust accelerator, to age the now exposed metal.
 The final detail was a clothes pin for the bridge. No need to actually fasten it down, as the tension on the strings held it firmly in place!

I drilled the neck for the 5th string tuner, and used a bass tuning peg. Total red-neck!

The job delivered today at 2:30, and they loved it!
I've 2 small jobs to finish up tomorrow before we head down to Indiana, and I hope to blog about the sign camp while were there, but I think the internet is a bit slow, so it might be when we return before I post about it!


  1. I've read your blog post and it was amazing. I'll visit your blog again to read more article :)

  2. Hi Jamie, Wade Shepherd here from the sign camp, You wanted me to remind you about the user manual for hexagon. But today I tried and I was actually able to download one. They must be doing some work on their site. So I guess I don't need the manual any more. I've found that not all the tutorials work on their site though so if you know of anyplace to get some good ones that would be great. Thanks