CNC wood carving Machines. Valuable tool or expensive toy

Hi and thanks to everyone who replied to my original question. I had been looking at a number of systems and at time of writing I had decided that the Ooznest WorkBee was one of the better options both for value and size. I was really pleased that you came back to me confirming that its a useful piece of kit. I want to do some metal inlay work and it seemed that by using a cnc cutter you could cut out the channels very easily and accurately to lay the metal strip into. From your further comments it seems that the use of cnc is really for batch and production work. Is this the case and is it the design work that takes the time? I do have a 20 year old son who could probably hack into GCHQ but would this system be too time consuming for him and myself?
@Jenny, as I finished typing the above I saw your reply. From what you are saying it seems that the cnc router would definitely be the solution. I am happy to use gouges etc but the time it would take would be horrific and the initial inlays I am going to try would be less than 2mm wide.
Thanks again everyone. This site is always helpful and informative and to date I have never seen anything other than a real willingness to help people like myself enjoy this wonderfully creative part of my life.
Kind Regards

Stephen

There’s a company in the UK, in Norfolk I think, that manufactures CNCs and sells direct…can’t recall the name off-hand but Peter Millard did a YouTube Video on it, including a visit to the company… The machines looked pretty good to me, and retailed at about £1k for the size you are talking about…

Look up Peter Millard on YouTube and look through his videos to find it…

Hi there,

Just thought I would drop you a line and see how you were mking out with your decision about a CNC router.
Have you made a decision yet? did you check out the Vcarve demo? it is truly remarkable stuff. doing simple inlay work is only the tip of the iceberg. it is a true five axis G-Code generator that also creates three dimensional images of what the finished piece will look like which you can export to a PDF, bitmap, jpeg & etc. so you can actually show a customer what the finished job will look like before you cut it. great to get someone to sign off on something before you actualy do the work.
tell me what type of inlay do you do?

Hi Jenny, I am almost certainly going to buy the WorkBee which was the one I originally researched as the best on the market. Your reply was extremely informative and has given me the encouragement to go forward with a CNC Router . I have not started to do inlay work yet but I want to inlay metal wire into various exotic woods, either as designs, or to enhance the wood itself. I have tried to do it with my palm gouges but the time it takes and the accuracy of the grooves is not that good. I have a work bonus coming up soon and I intend to purchase as soon as the dosh is in the bank. I will let you know how I get on and if it all works out I will post a picture or two.

Hi Martyn.
That presumes a need for batch processing!
If your work need a little extra, the Shaper looks like a good machine, I’ve nothing to do with the company so gain nothing by my comments, and am surprised nobody else even commented.

I for one wouldn’t want the bother of programming a CNC machine, (wouldn’t know how!) and have no room for a fixed unit, so a portable equivalent looks good to me.
Has anyone else seen it and been tempted?
Barry

Hi Barry, sorry I did not reply directly to you. I have to say I was impressed by the shaper and it is something I am still considering. You are absolutely correct in your comments regarding space and the need for some fairly hefty programming. As my main aim is to cut small 1mm channels for wire inlays the shaper would seem to be a very useful tool. Its also a fraction of the cost of even an average priced CNC so it would enable me to buy a number of other tools etc that I would like to enhance my tool box. I am going to be in the US and Canada in January so I will be taking a look at several of the stores that specialise in these things for a hands on inspection. I will report back when I return.
Steve

Thanks Steve.

Perhaps you’ll put one in your luggage on the return trip, you can always get a transformer to run at 110.

I keep asking them when/if they might ship here, but they aren’t great at comms. Their web site has a forum, but nobody answers there either.
Be glad to hear what you think!
Barry

Hi Steve, how did your trip Stateside go? did you get to see, or even try the Shaper?

I’ve heard that they are ‘close’ to shipping to Europe, but who knows if that will include ’us’ with 240v.

Barry

Hi Barry, I made a trip to Lee Valley Tools HQ in Ottawa and they seemed to be fairly complimentary about the Shaper. They did say that it was probably better suted to a more mobile usage and that a CNC machine would be better in a workshop environment. I have to qualify that by saying that was an individuals opinion , not that of Lee Valley or Festools.

I had an email from Shaper a couple of weeks ago as they are about to launch accross Europe. They were exhibiting in Hanover and issued an open invitation to anyone on their mailing list. I would have gone but it was very difficult to get flights and the tickets were horribly expensive.

I am beginning to edge towards a DIY CNC build but will wait a little longer before I make my final decision. I will let you know how things progress from my end and I await their official European launch.

Kind regards, Steve.

Thanks Steve, yes I also had the invite, but as they didn’t provide any ticketing: air, accommodation, or the like, I declined :sob:

Hi, Barry.
Read this thread with interest. From the YouTube videos I’ve watched, I don’t think ‘programming’ a DIY CNC is so difficult, if you can use a computer, manage email and navigate this site and it’s quirks, I think you’ll manage an ‘automated carver’ no problem :+1:t2:

Cheers Stu.

If… there was more room in the workshop, if I could be bothered with even looking at programming a CNC etc, but thanks for the vote of confidence :wink:

Just think the hand held might open up all sorts of possibilities, which a CNC would also cope with admirably well, but in more space, more of the time…

Barry

This topic has gone cold, but I thought this clip might make CNC users take notice…?

I’m still awaiting the company announcement that a UK version is available…

Barry
Looks like it may have its uses, but seems a very handrolic way of trying to achieve what a cnc can do faster, and if you watch some of the cnc videos, much better on wood to created shapes…it’s seems this tool can only effectively ‘carve’ a flat surface that already exists, whereas the cnc’s available can carve thicker wood in shaped surfaces incorporating designs…you might have some problems trying to get this thing to work over an already shaped surface (e.g. a domed surface)… and given your penchant for wanting to avoid electronics and programming…I’m not sure you would find it that great to try and use…I watched a ‘test video’ for the tool, and although it seems simple to use, there is a lot button pushing, downloading, scanning, programming to do…lol…

Stu93

Hi everyone,
Well, I finally “took the plunge” (pun intended) and have purchased the OOZNEST Workbee self build CNC machine. I dont have it yet as there is a 4 week lead time but I purchased the recommended Vectric software which I have been using for the last 10 days.
Total cost of the system so far is a little shy of £2K but that includes everything from the CNC, new dedicated router, work boards, bench, software and all the other bits and pieces. As soon as I have the WorkBee I will let you know how I get on with that but for now I can give you an idea of how the software works. I purchased the VCarve desktop which gives you 3D capability and a good number of extras over the 2D sytems.
I am so impressed with the Vectric programmes which are easy to use and have a tutorial for every subject you can imagine. I have already set up 4 projects for designs I want to create ranging from a metal inlay platter to a drill grid for a solitaire board with 42 X 12mm dia at 20mm spacings.
Yes it takes a little getting used to but the possibilities extend far beyond my expectations and I cannot wait until the WorkBee arrives. I am currently working my way through all the tutorials and trying out all the different facilities.
I hope to recieve the CNC around the 5th of August so if anyone is still interested I will update you on the build process and also how my first design attempts work out.

Please do keep us updated @Redsilverdog and good luck! What will be your first project?

Hi all,
My first couple of projects will be a wizards staff, a brass inlay platter and a gavel and engraved panel for the chairman of my local bowls club. Using the various tutorials I have managed to create the platter pattern and also the finials for the staff which I normally spend many hours to create. The machining estimate for this is 3 minutes per piece (X3) and will be fully shaped which will save me time on the contouring and sanding. I would normally spend about 4 hours on the bandsaw, scroll saw, and bench sander plus a fair bit of time with a hand file.

This is the finished item. I have tried to transfer the CNC drawings over but the file type is being blocked.
I hope to have the WorkBee next week and I expect to take around a week to build it. I will make another post once I have it all together.
Steve

Hi all,
I have finished building the Workbee CNC machine and have created my first few items and I have to say two things from the off. The CNC is an invaluable tool and its also an expensive toy. I have spent hours watching the cutter head whizzing around pieces of wood creating some wonderful designs and shapes. So here are my observations which I hope you find useful. I would also add that I have no ties to Workbee or Vectric and these are entirely my own notes based on my own experiences.

The build.
The kit comprises two boxes filled with a number of smaller boxes and lots of extruded aluminium profiles. There are two methods to build, Reading the manual or following the video on the Workbee site. I chose a mixture of both as some of the construction was not immediately clear from the manual but easily understood from the video.
I took my time and spent about 3 days in all on the construction. I could have done it in less by working 8 hour days but I wanted to enjoy the build and also get it right first time. I was very pleased with the construction and all the parts were accurately machined and slotted together really well. There were spare screws and fixings in most of the packs and also spare profile retro fittings should you forget to install them during fixing. Overall it was a very enjoyable project and apart from a couple of times I never had to redo any of the build. The times I went wrong were when I was assembling one of the cross beams as I had used the wrong one and the second when installing some of the cables in the drag chain.

Wiring.
The wiring looms, step motors and electronic components were all clearly labeled and went together really well. There is no paper manual for the electrics and everything is online. I found it clearly written and in an good format. My one mistake was when wiring one of the step motors to the main processor where I had the cable the wrong way round. Once again all my fault.
Once finished I started it all up and was really impressed with all the LED’s on the processor and the way it all hummed away to itself just waiting to carve something. Unfortunately I could not get it to run although all the motors were working and I could manually move them around on the homing program. The problem was in getting my laptop to speak to the processor and I tried everything I knew to solve the problem. After a lot of trying to get it to work I called Workbee for some help. A very knowledgeable gentleman requested linking to my laptop and within minutes he was working away on my system from their office near Brentwood. He made a few changes to the programs and then set up a test piece from the Clip Art library and it all worked straight away. This was a moment of pure joy as the router began its task and started moving around along its programmed route.
Since then I have been designing all sorts of things and having a great time with it.
In summary I would make the following observations:

A really well made and engineered kit.
Easily constructed but make sure you fully read the instructions and understand the drawings.
Excellent support team who seemed really keen to help and were also genuinely interested in my plans.
Workbee had a real understanding of possible problems during the build and had covered most eventualities.
The 750 X 750 layout I chose gives more working area than I will ever need.
The accuracy of finished articles is superb and you can just keep on turning stuff out.
The Vectric software comes with all sorts of extras including a Clipart library and a user forum with many projects to try.
I had a problem with one of my designs when setting up a tool path. I emailed my design to Vectric who replied within minutes and had one of their support staff look at it and advise me how to proceed.

So, I am really pleased that I took the step to a true CNC machine. It has opened up many new possibilities for me without getting involved in commercial batch processing. I am still a hands on woodcrafter but CNC is going to be so useful. You can obtain a free trial version of the Vectric programmes on their website so give it a try and see how you get on.

If you have any questions I will be pleased to answer them based on my experience.

Hi All. The ‘Shaper Origin’ saga.

Looks as though I (we) may not even be able to get hands on with a Shaper machine until 2020/21and Festool have bought it, or at least the European rights:

I’ve just been “offered” the chance to attend a ‘course’ after which I would be able to buy a unit, but, you guessed it! Inflated price on exchange rates… US price $2500, but on the “only 399 Euro” course it’s only 2890 Euro… (3289 Euro total) and I’m betting the lucky people who are invited to attend the courses will have to travel to somewhere on “mainland” Europe, so even more expense.
Even this is reliant on being a “chosen one”…if picked to attend.

I doubt anyone from Festool or Shaper ever get to read this but here’s hoping…
A disgruntled ‘prospective’ customer.

Update, just in case anybody is interested:
Today I received a phone message saying there was to be a London based “course” not when or where, I clicked the book now option to see, and it said they had run out of places… Half an hour after I got the message!!! Either there were loads of people waiting, or just not very many UK plugged machines.

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