Open Source Luthiery

Like a lot of people, I'd never have got started building guitars if it wasn't for the fact that someone else spent time contributing knowledge to the community so that people like me could learn from their experience. Often this comes in the form of youtube videos explaining various techniques, but also includes things like design files.

As my way of trying to contribute back, in addition to writing up how I do various things on the blog, I'll also publish here design files under an open source license so that others can benefit from my efforts too.

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Fretboard design generator

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Generating fretboard layouts is tedious at best. Whilst there are lots of existing fret spacing calculators out there, they still require you enter the measurements into your design tool by hand, and I wanted to automate that process. Hence the existance of this - a simple webpage where you enter the details of the fretboard you want and it'll generate either an SVG or DXF file for you to import into either your design/CAD software or CAM workflow.

You can access the tool here, or find the source code here.


Fretboard Radius Gauges

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One of the advantages of a 3D printer is you can make your own tools. I recently forgot to bring my fretboard radius gauge set into the workshop, so I quickly whipped up a design in Autodesk Fusion 360, which is parametrisable so I can quickly change the design to the desired radius, and then printed out the gauge I needed - I was back up and running in less than half an hour!

To save you the effort of the design stage, you can find the original parametric Fusion 360 design here, or if you don't have Fusion I published on Thingiverse a set of generated STL files ready to print.


Fretboard clamp blocks


Not all useful designs need be complicated. I’ve recently taken to radiusing my fretboards as I CNC them out of the blank, rather than doing the radiusing after gluing. This makes it very easy to get accurate radiuses, but makes gluing the fretboard a pain, as it’s hard to get a firm clamp on top: hence these clamping blocks!

The design is here, and it is parameterised so you can tweak the radius by just modifying the parameters and then you can regenerate the CAM model.

Of course, not everyone has access to a CNC machine, so if you’d like us to make you a set at a given radius, just get in touch and we’ll make you a set of ten blocks for £25 plus postage.