Rhino for Mac or Windows for Guitar Making?


I’m new to CAD/CAM and I’m looking for solution that allows me to easily create guitar models for manufacturing with a CAMaster Stinger CNC.

Rhino has the reputation of being easy to use and the price is low compared to industry standards like Solidworks.

So my question here is what will I miss if I go with the Mac version?

I’m a Mac guy and while I also have a top gaming PC and a Firepro V4900 that I bought for Solidworks (the original plan), I’d like to stay in the Mac realm. I’m going with either a Mac Pro or Retina iMac (currently running a MacBook Air).

Real world advice appreciated. Thanks

@decibelguitars might have the most useful opinion on this one but for my extra 2 cents…

Almost all of the modeling tools are in the Mac version so if you can create your tool paths in another program, I bet you’d be fine with Rhino for Mac. On the Windows side, Rhino has plugin support so you could use a plugin like RhinoCam to do the tool paths directly in Rhino. Plugins aren’t yet available on the Mac side but it’s high on the list to provide developers with the tools they’ll need.

In either case, I’d suggest using the evaluation versions for 90 days to see what works before investing. Post here with any questions or email tech@mcneel.com if you need help along the way.

Rhino for the Mac has been serving me well for a few years now, and the price has certainly been right. :wink:

You’ll still want a PC around for turning your CAD files into tool paths and running your machine. Generating tool paths and controlling a CNC remain Windows or Linux domains, but that’s slowly changing. (There is a Mac version of MeshCAM under development, which works fairly well for sculptural 3D stuff.)

My hope is that as the Rhino team continues to work on the plug-in architecture and developer tools, we’ll see some great additions coming to Rhino on the Mac, things like CAM capability, parametric design, and T-splines are on the top of my wish list. But even without these additions, Mac Rhino is a very solid modelling platform (no pun intended), and an excellent value.

If you have any specific questions about how I’m using Rhino in my guitar design and building process, please do not hesitate to ask!

  • darren.

Designed and rendered using Rhino for Mac.


Thanks for the replies! Very encouraging news :slight_smile: I downloaded the Mac trial version and I’m going to play around with it.

A few more questions:

@ BrianJ: Are Windows plug ins going to work with the Mac version right away, or do they have to be compiled for Mac? I contacted a few makers of Rhino CAM plugins and response has been negative regarding Mac support from all of them…

@ decibelguitars: Thanks for your kind offer in helping out a newbie :slight_smile: Are you using MeshCAM yourself? It looks very simple to use (I’d like to keep things simple)…

Also Regarding CAM: The CNC will be in another room and is delivered with a PC. Is it better to do the CAM work right where the CNC is, and on the same PC? Or is that typically done on the design PC (in a small shop), away from the CNC?

Thanks again for all your help.

I do use MeshCAM. It does 3D sculptural stuff nicely, so depending on how complex your designs are, it may or may not be the best tool. For example, MeshCAM isn’t great at doing simple pockets, so I actually use Vectric V-Carve Pro for all my routing programs. You could do a Telecaster body with nothing but V-Carve. But my necks and bodies have some fairly complex curves, so MeshCAM is great for that.

That’s not good to hear! Yes, third party developers will have to port their plugins to OSX. I know we have to release an SDK for the Mac version of Rhino first though. I’m surprised if the RhinoCAM plugin developers wouldn’t give this a try once it’s possible. @joeanand may know more about any plans.

I would imagine many developers would be hesitant to make a commitment when the size of the Mac Rhino market is yet unknown, and there’s no SDK available yet. They simply have no information upon which to make a business decision at this point.

Yep. But the CAM market for the Mac platform is wide open at the moment, and the first one who puts out a solid, reliable product at a reasonable cost will have a winner IMO. The product needs to be aimed towards the small industry (design, craft) and educational sectors, as you will never get big industry off of PCs and high-end CAM software.

There are lots of schools and small production shops here who are or would like to be Mac-based for everything, including CAM.


hi guys, total newbie here. It looks like it’s been a while since anyone has replied to this but I am looking to get into guitar design. Just wondering what the best course is for Guitar creation from scratch and with using various other existing templates for nuts, neck widths, radiuses, scale lengths, string spacing and nut standards… and the proper plug-ins to have for that specifically to send paths to CNCs, as well as access to a community who specializes in that area of Rhino. Thanks

Do you have any specific questions?

I use the Grasshopper plugin included in Rhino to generate my entire instrument.

I use madCAM plugin to generate G-code cutting paths for my CNC router which runs Mach4.

I’ve automated my madCAM settings using Rhinoscript which is also included with Rhino.

This all works well for me but as you can see in this thread there are other CAM options as well.

A good course is to start drawing parts in Rhino after you’ve done the built-in Rhino tutorials.

There is a lot to learn. The Rhino community here is extremely helpful for learning Rhino.

www.luthiersforum.com is very helpful for luthiery and CNC issues - definitely read through old threads there as it’s a treasure-trove of knowledge.

Hope that helps.

Darren, love the finish colour you have on the green guitar above, can you tell me how to get the flamed maple finish and how to apply the colour. Thanks