Mastercam Helps Create Music at Reed-Custer High School

Mark Smith’s Advanced Manufacturing Program classes at Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood, Illinois, have created everything from wood frames for the sunglasses industry, to skateboards for pleasure, kitchen cabinets for neighbors, and even professionally finished guitars for themselves and family. Facilities for the program include a classroom with 16 seats of Mastercam for programming CNC toolpaths, a room for assembly of various projects, and a shop that is filled with traditional woodworking tools and a Thermwood® Model 43 CNC router.

Reed Custer High School Student putting together a guitar

As sophomores, the students can take a guitar-making course called STEM I. The acoustic guitar materials are provided to the class by Taylor Guitars®. In the process of building their guitars, the students learn how to work with hand tools and power tools, along with more advanced operations using Mastercam and the CNC router. Students use a special jig and router tool to prepare a space around the face and bottom of the body, where they meet the sides, to receive an attractive edging material that hides the structural member slots and give the body a finished appearance.

Top of finished guitar before strings are added
Reed Custer High School student with guitar

An important function for Mastercam and the router is to machine the opening in the neck of the guitar that allows access to the truss rod so the guitarist can adjust it with an Allen wrench to compensate for changes due to age, humidity, and other variables that affect tune. The oval opening is sealed with an attractive cover. The fret board is then glued on using the registration points as a guide. The back of the neck, along with the tuner holes, is machined to precise specifications. “These are operations being assigned to Mastercam and the CNC router,” says Smith.

To learn more about students making guitars at Reed-Custer High School, read the article, CAD/CAM Strikes a Positive Chord in Tech Directions.

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