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  1. #1
    Hi - I'm an artist/illustrator who usually works with a hybrid process involving CGI, vector and raster graphics. I'd like to work in wood in CNC marquetry and engraving - or a combination of both. I tried setting up a cheaper (300) machine as a start but found that the instructions were incomplete and didn't get anywhere with it. At the minute, I'm thinking about upping the budget and going for something like an ooznest workbee. Can anyone offer any advice as it's a fair bit of money to invest. It's only wood I need to work with - not aluminium. Thanks in advance if anyone can help.

  2. #2
    Welcome. Beware that cnc is quite a rabbit hole with lots of new stuff to get to grips with and a significant cost to entry....as you have started to discover! The advantage of a oozenest workbee or Shapeoko is a sizable active community to support you and an entry price about as low as practical but still around 2k (remember it is not just the machine you need). But if you look at their forums you will see there is still a lot of tinkering required.

    Two suggestions:
    If it is marquetry, then you should look at lasers as they are much better suited. Some people even manage with a Critcut machine.

    If you are serious about your art, then I would first look to develop your processes using a contract cutting service or local machine owner you can pay for their machine time. Then as things develop you will know what you need and decide whether invest. (As a furniture designer/maker that is exactly what I did, and even with my own machine will still use them as appropriate)

    But then if you like process and are obsessed with having your own robot slave...like.many of us.....just accept you have an expensive hobby and dive in ?

  3. #3
    Hi Rob,

    Sadly the truth is that to do CNC properly it can't be done cheaply, by that I mean sub 3k, esp if for business use and more so if using expensive material on jobs that require an accurate and stiff machine.
    Andrew was IMO being kind to the Workbee, shapoko type machines, I won't on the other hand pull my punches because I'm sick of people being miss lead into buying machines that are IMO inferior in just about every area to what a good CNC machine should be. Then to make it worse they are conned or lead even more into buying so-called upgrades which are still inferior and lacking to what a properly built machine would be. You simply "can't make a Silk Purse out of Sow's ear" and these machines are Porky Pig's thru and thru.

    Now I know some are going to say or think I'm only saying this because I build machines so want to steer people away from competitors but this isn't the case. I don't need to do that as my machines speak for them selfs and sell without ever needing to push, plus they are not IMO a competitor to me, more of an irritation because of the impact I see them having on new CNC users.
    I say it because it's the truth and I have people approach me all the time who have taken this route and wasted good money so it really annoys me. I would and will always steer people away from these machines, even if it's to another competitor.

    Regards your usage then Andrew makes some good points about the laser for marquetry and outsourcing so you need to think carefully.
    On the other hand, having your own in-house CNC machines opens up many different avenues for revenue and can take you down profitable paths you never dreamt you'd go.
    I see this happen with customers all the time, they start off thinking to go in one direction, and within not long periods of time, they have gone in a completely different one which they never even had thought about.

    Good luck and research well before spending your hard-earned cash.!
    -use common sense, if you lack it, there is no software to help that.

  4. #4

    Two suggestions:
    If it is marquetry, then you should look at lasers as they are much better suited. Some people even manage with a Critcut machine.

    Thank you Andrew - That sounds like really useful advice. I've tried cricut machines before without much progression. In my ignorance I thought the workbee was or at least could be fitted with a laser. Can you recommend a laser machine?

  5. #5
    Thanks for taking the time - You've managed to put me off the workbee but I'm back at square one!

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