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on December 2, 2013
It will cost you about $1200 to get all the parts you need to get something you can use. The online instructions end before you are done and you have to figure out how to mount the limit switches, the power boxes and cabling yourself. The owners are soliciting positive reviews on their forum ( The reviews in February 2013 are probably solicited) The forums are moderated and only positive posts are allowed through. The frame is flexible pvc and you are very limited in what you can cut (cut hardwood with 1mm deep cuts at about 300 mm per minute for example) Cutting metal is almost out of the question. The milling bed is not flat and there is no way to align the frame properly ( expect a mm or two error over the surface. Expect flex of about 2 or 3 mm with light pressure)

I bought the 12x12 3D version and reinforced the side frames and base with aluminum angle to try get it more rigid. I regret choosing this make and model, but I don't regret having a cnc carving machine. After all the problems above, it does actually work, and even the wobbliest tool can be made to solve your problems if you understand its limitations. There are many applications where this tools will work fine ( printed circuit boards with appropriate bed leveling software, engraving, relief carving in soft woods, small slow cuts in hard woods)
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on February 26, 2010
First off, the instructions for putting this together are online and it has a lot of pictures and a few videos. There are no printed instructions in the box, but I didn't mind this because the online stuff is very good at showing all the steps. It's just something I thought some people might want to know up front.

This kit comes with all of the mechanical parts and 3 stepper motors. It does not come with any cutting/carving tool or driver/controller boards for the steppers. Zen Toolworks sells a very nice spindle motor and bracket kit separately for $69.99 Spindle Motor for Zen Toolworks CNC Machine Kit, with Tool Holders. I have that kit and in my opinion it's a perfect fit for this machine. Stepper motor driver boards are available from a number of places, or you can build your own from instruction available online also.

I was able to put this machine together in about 4 hours. You only need basic hand tools and a small vice (for pressing the bearings into place). It's very sturdy and the motion is precise.

Also, Zen Toolworks support via emails is quick, and online in the google group everyone is very helpful.
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on January 21, 2012
went together great. all parts are made well.. the only complaint i have is the online instructions get to a point of the construction and just stops and moves onto the spindle installation. the kit is so well made and straight forward construction that it was not hard to figure out how to put the rest together. go to the Zen Toolworks Wiki and look at the instructions as well allot of other information on the CNC machine.

really happy with the product and would highly recommend it to anyone that is interested in getting a starter for cnc.

warning... the cnc controller board which is advertised by amazon as a bundle with this cnc is not the same controller board offered by zen toolworks.

But, on a positive note.. Zen toolworks will still help you to get the controller working and running.. great customer service.

recommendations: depending on the control board and options you are wanting to run with the cnc. read the specs for any electronics you intend to buy with the system.. for example the 3 axis controller offered by zen tool works from their site requires 2 power sources. the control board from amazon requires one source, up to 24v power supply. also depending on the spindle you will need an additional power supply for it.

i did compare the probotix 12x12, which another rater recommended, and found that the probotix cost went up exponentially once you added stepper motors electronics power supplies. the zen toolworks comes with motors, which is a large cost, and the probotix did not, so the motors were upwards of around $250 more added to the cost.

so in my opinion this was the better buy and i am glad i did.

highly recommend it.
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on March 31, 2013
I have owned this machine for about two months and could not be happier with it. I spent about 3 months researching different options before deciding on my ZTW machine. In the end I chose Zen Toolworks because they have a good supportive community on their forums, they responded to my emails about support, and the design of the machine has the home hobbyist in mind.
The construction of the machine is incredibly rigid, and the high density pvc makes the machine very forgiving. To clear up any worries about accuracy, I have an entirely stock Zen Toolworks kit, every piece was purchased from them. I use my machine to mill circuit boards with traces down to 4 mil.
Any CNC machine you purchase will have a learning curve. I had never used a CNC mill before receiving this machine, but I was able to make fun test cuts on the very first day. Within a week I was milling my own designs, including custom PCBs. If you are new to CNC, download the software, most have trial versions, and play with it BEFORE placing your order. Most of the issues you will have will be in software, not with your new ZTW machine.
Anyway, good luck. If you choose this machine I promise you will get your moneys worth.
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on February 7, 2013
I bought this kit almost 2 years ago. For the Price, there is just not anything out there to compare with this great little machine.
I have done tons of carving, 3D carving,and cut parts for 3 scratch-build R/C Aircraft, all with the Zen 12x12.
It is a great machine to learn the ins and outs of CnC milling.

I have since gone on to DYI build a much larger CnC mill, and converted the 12x12 to a 3D Printer.
Tech support from Zentools has been excellent, and you can find lots of help in their forums.
They also have a very detailed Wiki that covers all their Kits and products.

You do need to remember that this is a KIT.
So LOTS of assembly, and a willingness to learn, are required to get it operating properly.
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on February 7, 2013
I purchased the Zen 12x12 F8 in March of 2012. It was delivered extremely fast and all components were in the box that I needed to complete the assembly. The instruction are online and were easy to follow. The learning curve to use this machine (software needed etc) is high and it took me awhile to figure that out but I am able to carve with it and am very pleases with its operation. This is a tried and true machine if I had gone with a do it yourself machine I think I would have had problems. I highly recommend this kit.
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on January 28, 2012
I have received this product less than five days after ordering it, in France (and not in Paris !)
Packaging 100% efficient.

Do not forget to order a spare plastic board (or two) to be able to build a spindle fastening bracket.

Do not hesitate to purchase the limit switches for the 3 axis (6 switches) plus another one to measure the position of the bit tip once mounted in the spindle chuck. (zeroeing the tool tip position)
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on July 13, 2015
This is a great DIY kit for someone with some basic electronics knowledge and a willingness to dive in and figure things out. For the price and the capabilities, I haven't found anyone else that competes. The support at Zen Toolworks has been extremely responsive and outstanding to work with anytime I had a question. I had to use a couple documents to ensure I got the assembly correct and it definitely took longer than expected when I ran into some issues with my limit switches. But once I took the time to sort out the issue and contact ZTW support, I was able to work through the problem pretty quickly by some basic modifications to the limit switch wiring. I combined this with the Arduino 3 axis package and if there had been a bit better documentation on the overall build and integration, it would have been 5 stars for sure!
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on November 18, 2014
I bought this machine with the spindle and the mach3 controller kit. In the end it cost about $1200. Above reviews are correct about the instructions being all on line.

Once built, this is nice solid little machine. have used it to cut wood and acrylic so far. It has very smooth operation and the spindle is both powerful and quiet. I liked it so much that I convinced my boss to buy one for our shop at work. It's a nice size for desktop use.

The z-axis is pretty limited, but there is a 3D upgrade package available. Also available is the 3d package with aluminum uprights increase rigidity over the increased height.

Each axis is driven with Nema 23 steppers and steel acme rods. This gives you a lot more stability and precision than belt driven machines.

There are 2 controllers available. I got the Parallel port controller which is listed as supporting Mach3 software. With some research and playing with the configuration setting, I got mine to work with LinuxCNC. It runs extremely well and I am happy with it.
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on August 16, 2013
I purchased the Zen Toolworks 12x12 kit over 2 years ago (not the F8 kit) as a way to get an entry level CNC machine for light R&D use. I could not be happier. The kit came packaged very nicely. All the pieces were cleanly made and permanently marked for easy identification during assembly. Assembly was easy enough. No real special tools were required and no cutting was necessary. The hardest part was pressing the bearings, but a large C clamp made short work of that. The instructions were included, but updated instructions as well as a plethora of information and very helpful people can be found on their website. It is always nice seeing the designer actively interacting with customers to develop the product or to assist in issues that may come up.

The longevity of this CNC is better than I expected. My kit was 2nd generation(now on 4th gen I believe). The wear is minimal with only slight maintenance every week or so. Keeping the guide rods and screw rods oiled goes a long way. Since the kit is constantly being improved, I have slowly replaced parts with improved design parts as they become available, but nothing has been replaced from any breakage.

All-in-all this is a wonderful CNC machine. The improvements and support offered is stellar. I'm currently budgeting to purchase a second unit with their new 3D printing options.
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