Think & Tinker, Ltd.
CNC router bits and carbide cutting tools with tutorials and technical guides

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Tools for Musical Instrument Makers

The past 10 years has seen a significant increase in the number of luthiers who have applied CNC technology to the more mundane tasks involved in making top of the line musical instruments.  These pioneers have recognized that the true magic of their art lies in the design, assembly, finishingand tuning of their creations. As new materials, techniques and processes bring increased capabilities to the luthiers craft, we expect to see a more widespread acceptance of computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) in all aspects of musical instrument fabrication.

Most of our 1/8" shank tools are available with and without depth setting rings.
(hardwood, recon stone, stabilized wood, composites) Carbide End-mill

PreciseBits end-mills have been optimized for cutting hardwoods, reconstituted stone, and stabilized wood products. The flute geometry allows relatively high feed rates through a variety of materials with different densities, moisture content, and grain structures.

Stub End-mill (precious metals, alluminum, steel)

Our 2-flute stub end-mills were designed specifically for cutting non-ferrous metals like copper, silver and gold.   The 4-flute tools are made for cutting brass, sterling silver, steel and stainless steel. They are characterized by low aspect ratio flute geometries insuring low deflection and long bit life at relatively high feed-rates. The precise radial relief reduces burr formation and chattering resulting in smoother, more uniform cutting.

Engraving / Scoring Bits 60° V-tip
(hardwoods, shell, non-ferrous metals, mild steel)

PreciseBit thin-web (0.005", 0.127mm) "V" tip cutters combine fine line machining with the extra rigidity needed for high feed rates. Applications include scoring, marking, scrimshaw, and engraving.

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Specialty Cutters

Over the years, we have found that certain materials place extraordinary demands on tool geometry.  This is especially true of shell, ivory, ebony and the rosewood family.  Their moisture content, oiliness, density and abrasiveness require that flute-shape, flute-volume, and helix angle be precisely tuned to achieve accurate cutting and acceptable tool life.

Fret-wire Kerf Cutters Fret Cutter

These 3-flute cutters are the result of guidance (perhaps I should say, badgering, coercion) from our many friends  in the musical instrument industry. They have been optimized for cutting ebony and many of the other dry hardwoods used in finger boards and pegheads. 

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Ivory, Horn and Tusk Cutter Ivory Cutting End-mill
(ivory, fossil ivory, horn, tusk)

The only 2-flute member of the UltraBit family, these 0.0313" (0.8mm) bits have been tuned for cutting ivory, horn and tusk.  The flute capacity has been increased to accommodate a wide range of moisture/oil content. The diameter is ground to within +/-0.0005"  (0.0127mm) insuring zero-glue-line inlay cutting. The best all-around 1/32" cutter that we make, this bit has become the general-purpose tool of choice for many cuemakers and luthiers for cutting rosewoods and other "gummy" materials.

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Shell Cutter Shell Cutter
(natural shell, Abalam® , composites)

The 0.0313" (0.8mm) shell cutter features a 3-flute design that effectively, and accurately cuts away both natural and laminated shell.  A member of the UltraBit family, the shell cutter diameter is ground to within +/-0.0005"  (0.0127mm) insuring zero-glue-line inlay cutting and minimum material wastage.

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Down-cut End-mills Downcut end-mill
(softwoods, brittle hardwoods)

The high-rake, down-cut flute geometry of these tools virtually eliminates top surface burring and fraying. This tool was designed specifically for cutting the sound holes and rosette pockets common on most acoustic instruments. It also finds application in machining balsa wood and Baltic birch plywood.

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Carbide Diamond cut Router (phenolic, recon stone, composites)

Our 6-flute PreciseBIT contour routers have been optimized for contour-cutting of glass-filled engineering composites (e.g. FR-4 fiberglass) and reconstituted stone products with high (>70%) mineral content. These tools boast very high cutting surface areas for processing abrasive materials that tend to chip during machining.

Carbide Drill Bit (hardwood, recon stone, stabilized wood, composites)

Like all of our cutters, PreciseBIT solid carbide drills are  made using the finest grade Mitsubishi carbide. Sizes ranging from 0.008 in. (0.2mm) to 0.250 in. (6.35mm) are available from stock. Diameters down to 0.001 in. (25 micron) are available upon request.

Tempered Phenolic Backing Sheets Phenolic Backing Sheet

Tempered Gold phenolic backing material is the perfect fixturing substrate for mounting delicate materials to be machined for inlay components. With a high degree of chemical resistance and excellent adhesion to common glues and adhesives (including hide glue and cyanoacrylates), Gold phenolic is compatible with the mounting requirements of virtually every material used by luthiers, jewelers, and pool cuemakers. The composition of the phenolic also acts to cool the tip of the drills and end-mills, extending tool life and eliminating thermal breakdown of the fixturing adhesive.

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ColletCare® Spindle and Toolholder Cleaner / Lubricant ColletCare spindle and tool-holder cleaner and lubricant

Designed by a corrosion chemist to:
· dissolve varnish and gummy deposits in the spindle bore
· loosen rust
· inhibit corrosion
in spindle bores and on collets and toolholders.

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