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Ooznest WorkBee Review

Why choose Ooznest WorkBee?

The purpose of this Ooznest WorkBee review is to help anyone thinking of purchasing a CNC machine.  It is intended mostly for newbies; however, experience users may find it useful.

Earlier this year I decided to purchase an Ooznest WorkBee 750×100 Full Kit CNC machine after comparing a few different machines currently available.   Despite my lack of CNC knowledge, some factors involved in my decision included:

  • Price
  • Strength/Rigidity
  • Dependability/Quality
  • Support
  • Community Help

 

Price:

I didn’t want to invest in a cheap CNC machine only to upgrade, modify or purchase a new machine once I got comfortable with CNC; therefore, I wanted something for a newbie yet still be adequate for my shop needs.  My budget was under $2000; for EVERYTHING to actual produce something in hand.

Strength/Durability:

I had read about the importance of rigidity and how the lack thereof would produce undesirable results.  To be honest, I didn’t know what that meant in “practical terms”.  Nevertheless, I needed a machine that is durable enough to use in my shop to make furniture, fixtures, and parts mainly out of wood and possibly other materials such as aluminum and plastic. The Ooznest WorkBee uses C shaped extrusion beams to give it added strength as well as functionality.

Dependability/Quality:

I consciously didn’t buy a bargain China CNC machines, not because I personally have anything against Chinese products, but rather because I didn’t  know of any reliable companies in China.  In addition, I didn’t want to deal with shipping cost if I needed to return a lemon.

Support:

As far as support, perhaps I’m old school when it comes to customer service.  I was looking for someone to answer my ignorant newbie questions, someone to point me in the right direction, someone to paint a picture of the possibilities of CNC.  That didn’t really happen.

However I can say I liked Ooznest’s website.  It was easy to browse through, the information clearly presented, and they also offered complete DIY kits with all the needed hardware and electronics to get you up and running.  In addition, Ryan seems like a really nice guy.  The impression I got was that he is a man of few words (in email) but he did reply to all my inquiries.  It was mainly these reasons that I choose the 750×1000 WorkBee CNC full kit.

Community Help:

Before making my Ooznest WorkBee purchase, I had read some posts on OpenBuild’s forum.  The discussions helped to better understand CNC, but it wasn’t until after my purchase that I realized the importance of this forum for newbies. (See number 6 below)

 

What I Have Learned During The Build:

1.) Read the manuals before you start your build.  The manuals are well written and easy to follow which may tempt you to simply follow the diagrams.  But don’t do it, read the manuals first.

2.) Tools needed: an 8mm wrench, a set of Allen wrenches, wire cutter, tape, and a right angle.

3.) Open the labeled packages as you need them.

4.) The lead screws should travel through the nut blocks with ease.  You should be able to turn it easily with your hand. It should feel smooth.  I had to replace the AB-Nut-Block for the Z-axis because the lead screw would not turn properly.

5.) The limit switches are attached to the end of the supplied red and black wires.  I looked everywhere for them and thought Ooznest forgot to include them in my package.

6.) A must for newbies. Check out this wonderful post by T4Concepts about assembly of the Ooznest WorkBee: https://openbuilds.com/builds/workbee-cnc-build-my-honest-opinion-tips-and-help.6407/. I had a very similar experience with my own build.  However, the biggest benefit I found in his post was what comes next after assembling your machine. Thanks Turk!

 

My WorkBee Review (as a newbie to CNC)

Price
90%

When compared to other CNC kits, the WorkBee’s price was similar.  X-Carve runs around $1400, Shapeoko XL/XXL ($1600-$1800), SMWBD Openbuilds XO ($1400). BuildYourCNC blackToe was a bit more price at $3100.

The 750×1000 WorkBee CNC machine goes for around $1600 (although I spent a little more for the dust shoe and starter bit set) which was still under my budget.

Packaging
100%

As far as packaging is concerned, I would have to say Ooznest’s full kit is packaged extremely well.  The complete kit came in two boxes.  The components were well wrapped and/or boxed.  The hardware is organized in small labeled zip-lock bags.  Each page in the manual tells you which parts are needed for that section of the build.  The only problem I had was finding the 3 limit switches which were attached to the ends of the black/red wire.  Initially I thought they were not included in my kit but later found them.

Assembly Instructions/Manuals
100%

The manuals are very well written.  It is apparent a great deal of thought, time and effort was put into explaining each part of the build.  However, you MUST READ IT and not simply rely on the diagrams.  Some steps are not illustrated but rather explained in the text.

Assembly of the Kit
95%

The entire kit was easy to assemble (as long as I followed and read the manuals).  If your not dexterous, perhaps the build could be slightly challenging; however, I can’t say that for sure.

I did receive a defective part (namely the Z-axis AB-Nut-Block) which put a stop to my build until I received the replacement.  It is for this reason I didn’t give assembly 100%.

Initial Configuration
95%

My “knowledge of CNC” prior to my purchase was that they existed and could be useful in making furniture and machine parts.  As far as how it worked or what was needed to produce something in hand, I have to admit my knowledge was nil, zero, non-existent.

With that said, I found it a bit daunting at first to configure my machine.  I didn’t understand the nomenclature.  Nevertheless, Ooznest did an excellent job of explaining how to configure the machine in Section 6.2 and 6.3 (p. 42-45) of the Full Kit Assembly manual.  Somehow I missed those sections the first time around.

If you’re a newbie, read that section word for word and follow the instructions even if you don’t understand what you are doing.  It will make sense later.

The Pen GCode Test
70%

On page 47 of the Full Kit manual are instructions for testing your machine with a pen, assuming everything has gone well to this point.  It’s really all there (but only in hind-sight, after you begin to understand CNC).

I ended up cutting about 7-8 cardboard circles, the size of the router mount, then taped them together and pierced a hole in the center.  I then taped a marker through the center of the cardboard and secured it place. If wasn’t until a few days later that I was able to run my first pen gcode test.

Why?  Because I didn’t understand how to generate gcode or know what apps to use with my new machine.  However, I did stumbled upon Turk’s post in Openbuilds forum.  An excellent post (especially for newbies) if you want to wrap your head around the two “homes” and how to produce something with your machine without actually having to purchase software.

Pros


  • Easy to build; Good instructions
  • Produces excellent results when configured correctly
  • Cuts are accurate
  • Excellent Support (Ryan)
  • OpenBuilds Community

Cons


  • No video tutorials (from Ooznest) of how to configure machine. UPDATE: Ooznest has actually started posting tutorial of how to configure the WorkBee via their YouTube channel.
  • No recommended software setup (CAD,CAM, GCode) for WorkBee
Things not yet evaluated:
  • Speed (to early to comment)
  • Reliability (to early to tell)
  • Durability (to early to tell)
  • Maintenance (to early to tell)
  • Issues (to early to comment)

Overall Review Score (as of May 2018)

92%

Overall I am very happy with my Ooznest WorkBee purchase.  The build was enjoyable and the final result pleasing. There is something gratifying about designing a piece, producing its code and having it run without errors.

For anyone wanting to delve into the world of CNC, I think the WorkBee is an excellent choice.  I personally don’t think I will regret my purchase; nevertheless, time will tell the true story 😉

This review is a living document.  Check back in the future for updates and changes.

P.S.  I am in no way affiliated with Ooznest, nor was this a commissioned review.  The reason for this review is to help other individuals wanting to get into CNC (it would have helped me when I first began my journey).

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Our next post will be a tutorial of how to run your first gcode using the marker/pen test.

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FC

This is an excellent review, I am thinking of purchasing my first cnc router and know nothing about this type of tool.
I’ve be researching and like the Ooznet Workbee this review will really help me decide.

Many thanks

MadeinAmman

Hello FC

I’m glad the review helped you. It’s a good machine and I learned a lot about CNC since my purchase (really not as difficult as I once thought). I’m now planning a custom built CNC machine based on the knowledge I’ve gained so far.

Joe G

Hi – Great review and very informative. I am in the beginning stages of research and learning – much like you at the start! I see you’re building/built a new CNC. I am seeing quite a few people that started with an X-Carve, Shapeoko, or Workbee and then build a new one. Why are you building a new one? I’m wondering if I ought to just build/buy the next step up or do things now versus later.

MadeinAmman

CNC seemed so complicated when I was first researching it. I didnt understand the terminology nor how it worked. I only really understood it after building my WorkBee. And I realized it wasn’t as complicated as I first thought. The benefit of building your own is that you can design it for your own needs. By reinforcing my rails with solid steel tubing, I can make a machine that is a lot more rigid. By using Clearpath motors, I can have a setup in which the motors have more torque and accuracy than what came standard with my machine. Dont… Read more »