Stratton, James A. M.S., Purdue University, August 2011. Automating the Fret Slotting Process Using a PLC Controlled 1.5 Axis CNC Mill. Major Professor: Richard Mark French.

Can automation assist small job shops and hobbyists in the production of stringed instruments? This research set out to answer the question using a quantitative approach to determine if an economical CNC machine could be produced in such a fashion as to seamlessly join the workshop as an affordable, yet precise instrument to aid in the production of stringed instruments. The key was to incorporate common industrial automation equipment into the operation of the machine in an attempt to sever the dependency on outside resources, such as personal computers and shop utilities, while remaining compact enough as to not devour valuable workshop real estate. The fabricated 1.5 axis gantry mill was tested empirically by producing a population of fret boards which were measured for accuracy. Materials, methods, and statistical analysis are all included within this document. The results and conclusions of this study are provided in an attempt to answer the primary research question.


automation, automated, PLC, fret, fret slot, slotting, luthier, guitar, CNC

Date of this Version



Mechanical Engineering Technology

Department Head

Dr. Vahid Motevalli

Month of Graduation


Year of Graduation



Master of Science

Head of Graduate Program

Dr. James Mohler

Advisor 1 or Chair of Committee

Dr. Richard Mark French

Committee Member 1

Dr. Helen McNally

Committee Member 2

Dr. Haiyan Zhang