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on October 29, 2012
I bought this at a local big box store because I was worried I wouldn't use it, wouldn't like it, or wouldn't be able to figure it out. Let me tell you about me, so you understand why those were my concerns...

I'm about as crafty as a sock, my only sewing experience was sewing little bags with yarn closures as a kid, and I have NO PATIENCE. I don't like manuals too much, which doesn't help.

For whatever reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to try this. Not sure why... but anyway, I'm a gadget junkie, so maybe that was part of it.

I bought it, the little sample pack of thread at the same store, and stiched out one of the included patterns. It was AWFUL, but recognizable for what it was... Santa with some trailing letters. But the bobbin thread came up so much, most of the pattern was white... it was pretty bad. I thought "other people can do this... let me google it". So I googled it, re-looked at my machine, and I had my bobbin threaded wrong (I missed the little lip it has to go under). Tried again, did a free "mouse in a stocking" pattern I found at emblibrary, and it was AWESOME! Super, duper cute... an inch away from perfect! The challenge there was I relied on the machine to tell me what color to put in, rather than the color change chart from the designer (FYI: apparently a common rookie move). So my mouse had pink feet and ear edges, instead of grey, but besides that... PERFECT!

So I did the next thing, and it was GREAT. Here's my lessons learned:
1) Polyester (what comes in that sample pack) stretches a lot... so if you have a dense design, it will cause pucker. There's probably ways to avoid it, but I avoid it by using rayon :).

2) If it's acting funny, it's because it's threaded wrong... most commonly for me, it's the "lip" thing in the bobbin case. Then you get too much white. If it dies after a color change and about 8 stitches, says "recheck upper thread", really, just rethread it, even if it looks fine.

3) REALLY try to not stretch the fabric when you're hooping it. Causes some scary puckering.

4) There is a difference between different vendors of designs. Some are super good, some not so much. So try a sample or two from a site before you go hog-wild there. They may look cute on the screen, but when you try to stitch it out, they have 5 layers superimposed, which causes some issues, the margins are too thin, or the color changes are really poorly defined.

5) You're likely going to want some software. Many people apparently use Embird, so I wanted to like it, but I don't like their business model... I may be missing something, but my understanding is that it's a chunk of change for the base model, that much again if you want to make your own, that much again if you want to use letters, etc. It's not nickel-and-diming, but hundred-and-hundred-and-fifty-dollaring. Same concept, different scale. They let you try it out, but it's truly crippleware... you can't save images you've built (like what that's supposed to tell you, I don't know... how can I know if this is ok if I can't stitch it???). But I suggest you try it out... for whatever reason, it's very popular. I found Stitch Era Universal, which is freeware that requires a constant internet connection, has ads, and is really free and useful. There are some things that are less useful than Embird (harder to see where your edges should be is my only concern right now), but I can take a design, add some text, save it to the file format I need, etc. I even got fancy and made part of a P-51 red so that I could do a pattern for the Tuskegee Airmen. Took me a while (~1.5 hours) to figure out how to do it, because I had to split objects, insert color changes, etc, but I did it. You can also digitize, but I'm guessing that's hard. :) Both of these have active yahoo groups. There are other software products, but I don't know them, so can't comment effectively.

6) Don't pay full price for any design unless you LOVE it and HAVE to have it now. There's going to be a sale, you're going to get a coupon, or something. That may just be at the sites I'm at, but so far, the sales make it super tempting to get those really neat designs. Put it in your wishlist, wait for a sale or coupon. YMMV.

7) Get the free stuff! Sign up for the club, see what they offer free. Emblibrary has a great Christmas club, and a super nice selection of low cost designs that changes weekly. Bunnycup has a REALLY great selection of free retired sets (the ghosts are super cute!), great designs from a technical perspective, and frequent additions to the "new sets" page. It tends to be "cutsier" than I would love, but if you're looking for cutesy, that's a great start (lot of applique, too, and good instructional stuff).

8) Get most of your non-thread stuff on amazon... it's just cheaper and convenient. The things that I wouldn't trade for the world are my pre-cut stabilizer sheets (Tearaway Embroidery Stabilizer, 8x8, 200 Precut Sheets for Embroidery Machines, pre-wound bobbins (144 Prewound Bobbins for Brother Embroidery Machine Size A (156), aweseome weird looking scissors (Havel's Ulti-Mates Angled Machine Embroidery Scissors, and any curved forceps for finishing the threading process (unless your fingers are more agile than mine). I got mine at a local craft store in the jewelery making section for $3. Yes, I'm lazy, and I trade money for time... you can probably get roll stabilizer way cheaper, wind your own bobbins, use any old pointy scissors, and finish the threading with fingers. But for me, being able to grab a sheet, have a really full bobbin with exactly the right tension without having to learn how to use my bobbin winder-thingie, and cut stray threads without contortion are so worth it. (Note: I'm likely going to have to learn bobbin-winder-thingie at some point, since sometimes you want bobbin and upper threads to match, like for applique, but I'm not beating feet to it :) )

9) Shop around. The prices for the exact same thread varies from $2.85 to $5.99, with everything in between, with similar variation in other stuff I've seen. brothermall2 and allthreads are relatively good sites, although the user interface is clunky at the first, and it has a limited selection, but prices are great (especially for the easy glow-in-the-dark thread, and fast shipping.

10) If you can afford it, you like madeira thread, and you think you're going to do this a while, get the set. It's expensive, but you get the drawers that go with it, pre-filled and with little stickers for where the spools go back to, and a cross-reference by number (it's sorted by color sheet order). For about 10x what I spend on 30 threads, I got 356 threads, nice wooden drawers with spool-hugging plastic inserts (to avoid rolling) I'll use forever, and not having to worry about getting a particular color for a special pattern. It solved two of my biggest concerns: storage and inventory. How do I know what I have, find what I have, and store what I have? Now I can easily see what has a hole, find anything, and not be flipping through boxes of spools to find stuff. This set was SOOOO worth it for me. I bought several spools of that brand at a cheap thread site, tried it on a pattern or two, and took the plunge early.

11) This is shockingly fun so far. I can make a neat pattern in a short time... I put Mario's gold flower on my son's pajamas, a glow-in-the-dark ghost on my daughter's blanket, and am working on a state quilt. So for non-crafty, non-creative me, this is something that I look forward to doing... it's almost funny. My kids like watching it stitch out, I like the "set and forget" and good results (with a few setbacks for learning issues), and I am so impressed with what I can make.

12) Research stuff before you buy it. I almost got the "hard" glow in the dark thread, which apparently glows longer, but requires special handling, instead of the "easy" glow in the dark, which you use, launder, etc, just like regular thread. And I almost spent $6 for thread, and I avoided spending $600 on modular software. I bought metallics, which are beyond my skill set, because I violated this guidance...

13) Keep the manual close... my first several times threading, I had the book open next to me. As someone who had literally never threaded before, it took me a couple of times (probably 5) to figure it out. It's clearly labeled on the machine, and you'll be doing it in your sleep pretty quickly, but you have to hit all the marks or it just doesn't work. I also watched the first video, and looked in the manual for repeating a color or stitch (they call it "re-sewing", if you want to look it up in the manual) when I had threading issues. So I flipped through it, and refer to it (despite my anti-manual leanings). I also read other people saying you have to read the manual cover to cover, and I won't say they're wrong. I may have had fewer threading issues if I would have complied :)

So, this a long review, I know, but if someone else is thinking they may be interested, that's the path I took, and my results!
3,472 helpful votes
3,473 helpful votes
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on March 15, 2016
I have now owned this machine over a year so I thought I could give it a really full review.
First, I purchased it refurbished through Ken's sewing center. I was hesitant but it was the only way I could afford it. I have not regretted it. I later went back and purchased a refurbished serger from them too. Both have been a great value. They were super nice to work with.
So embroidery-I assume most people looking at this machine are entry-level, as was I. Here are some things you need to know. There is a lot more start up costs involved than just the machine. The thread, bobbins, repositionable hoop, a variety of stabilizers/heat bond will all be necessary and add up quickly so factor this in. Additionally, the machine comes programmed with some designs but they are frankly lame. So you will need to purchase designs. I have actually found quite a bit free online and buying through etsy and different designers during sales keeps that cost relatively low but you still need to factor it in. THEN you need software. I have downloaded free trials of embrilliance and sew what pro and liked both but I plan to purchase sew what pro which is $60-ish dollars (much less than embrilliance and I think easier to use.) There are many videos on youtube that help you get going and if you have basic computer knowledge it's really pretty simple. Mostly a matter of transferring files around. There are also two facebook groups for this machine that are great resources so if you're on social media, join them. The biggest complaint about this machine I see is the size of the embroidery field. Yes, it's small. The repositionable hoop is a must in my opinion. It is only $30 or so but really helps extend your machines capabilities.
SO. Sewing. I am entirely self taught with sewing. For a few years I had a $100 brother and then moved up to this. This machine is like a Cadillac next to my first. So user friendly. Has all the right features. Easy to thread, easy to adjust. A great variety of stitches. It is not going to do heavy-duty sewing for you. (In my opinion that's what you need a vintage machine for.) Comes with a nice variety of presser feet and the thread cutter seems like a silly feature at first but I love it now.
I have really been able to crank out some great projects with this machine and it has really grown with me from beginner to sort of intermediate now. I just love it. It is not my only machine but it is my main machine. I'd recommend it to anyone. My photo shows a set of clothes I just made for my 4-year old. I did all of the sewing, monogramming, and applique on my brother.
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296 helpful votes
297 helpful votes
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on September 15, 2015
I love this machine! The quality of the touch screen is great for the price and the embroidery is fantastic. This machine is able to make patches, and free standing lace! I work in an industry where I am surrounded by high end Husquvarna embroidery machines and the quality of the finished piece is the same. Embroidery is extremely addictive and this is the perfect beginner machine. I can't stress enough how this is only going a starter machine. If you love embroidery you will end up buying another machine with a bigger embroidery area, if you can afford to spend more then just go with a bigger embroidery area. The 4x4 is very limiting if you want to get serious with embroidery you will find yourself buying another machine.
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214 helpful votes
215 helpful votes
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VINE VOICEon December 6, 2016
I bought this for my mom just about a year ago. She took it out of the box, wound a bobbin, and practiced one pre-loaded embroidery pattern before putting it into a closet. When I was visiting about a month ago, I "borrowed" it. I will say that it has actually inspired the Martha Stewart in me! You'll need a lot of stuff if you're just starting off in the embroidery arena: tear-away backing, thread, a few patterns or monograms, computer software to create and transfer your patterns, and some temporary spray adhesive. Buy all these things because you're going to want to try stuff immediately, and you'll need most of these to do anything! Also, watch some YouTube videos - they were immensely helpful with all the tips and tricks. So, what I like about this machine:
1. You can sew and embroider on this machine, and it's not "too" hard to switch between sewing and embroidery - you have to change out the foot and the base. The foot gave me some issues in the beginning and I would get frustrated, but I've managed to figure it out.
2. There are some pre-loaded fonts, and they're nice.
3. The touch screen is very handy and most of the icons are obvious (some I had to look into the manual for a description)
4. There are a lot of stitch selections for sewing (I didn't know there were that many options!), and when you select the stitch you want, the screen will tell you which foot to use - yay!
5. The self-threading needle - omg this makes the world go round. I have another very nice sewing machine that I never use and partially because it takes me all day just to thread the needle. This machine does it for you. Sometimes it misses, but just keep trying - it will get it.
6. There are numbers on the machine to direct you to threading the machine correctly, and also to help you wind the bobbin. These are uber helpful for newbies like me because I've got a reminder right there.

What I don't like about this machine:
1. The pre-loaded patterns suck. You can use them as practice, but I can't see that I'll ever use them otherwise, and they take up valuable memory on the machine.
2. This is probably true with all embroidery machines (or maybe not), but I was irritated that I had to buy software to be able to embroider things. That annoyed me. There are only a few options - luckily they all have trial periods so you can figure out which ones you like. To be honest none of them are super user-friendly, so once you get use to one, just stick with it.
3. There's very little information (that I could find) in the manual on some trouble I've had. I've had one problem over and over again involving the bobbin thread and I can't find any info in the manual on addressing the issue. From what I've been able to read online, this may have something to do with the tension and I can't find information on when/why to adjust the tension. This is so annoying when it messes up in the middle of a pattern!
4. You're limited to a 4"x4" hoop size. There is a larger hoop you can buy for this machine that gives you 7" x 4", but you'll always be limited to that 4". I would like a larger hoop, but this will do for now.

A tip I learned online: use the spray adhesive instead of hooping your fabric for embroidery. Hooping will cause puckering of some fabric. If you hoop the tear-away backing then the temporary adhesive spray keeps everything in place but doesn't pull the fabric. It gives a much nicer finish.
72 helpful votes
73 helpful votes
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on March 5, 2015
This is a great buy. I learnt basic sewing from my mom when I was a kid. I bought this machine as a hobby and I have been enjoying it for the last 4 months. Started with basic sewing and went on to embroidery. It is easy to thread , sew and the best part is the embroidery (ofcourse since this is an embroidery machine!) . I evaluated several machines before I bought this one. I wanted unlimited designs for my imagination to go wild so USB connectivity was an important criteria. It comes with a few free designs and a piece of fabric stabilizer that get you started right out of the box. You can download more free patterns of the web or buy them. I was spending a lot of time finding free patterns so I purchased a .pes design CD (they contain 1000s of designs for less than 10 bucks). Comparable Vikings,Singer ,Janome were over 500$. I was not sure how long the machine would keep me fascinated since it was more for hobby so I settled for this lower priced machine. I have stitched dresses, pillow covers, embroidered towels, free standing lace and more.
What would I buy if I have to again? Well this has a max embroidery area of 4x4 inches, I would buy another that has a larger area say 8x11 to do bigger designs but thats just me. I think this machine has been a good buy.
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109 helpful votes
110 helpful votes
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on April 26, 2010
I just purchased a Brother SE-400 computarized sewing and embroidery machine from Ken's Sewing and Vacuum Center via Amazon.com. It arrived within three days. So far, I am VERY pleased with this machine.
Loving embroidery, I decided to purchase the Brother SE-400, as it had all the features I wanted and it was within my price range. Prior to my purchase, I read all the web reviews I could find on the SE-350, as there are barely any reviews yet for the SE-400 (new on the market). Noteworthy is the fact that the SE-350 and the SE-400 are the exact same machines except for the additional computer connectivity that the SE-400 possesses. The SE-400 has a port for computer connectivity and comes with a USB cable which helps connect directly the sewing machine to your computer. This is an advantage over the SE-350 as this feature allows you to upload embroidery designs directly from the web(or your computer) to your machine, and update your machine's operational software from Brother whenever updates occur.
The SE-400 is compact enough, comes with a handle at the top, which makes it truly portable. Even though it is relatively lightweight (compared to my good 40-year old "all metal" Kenmore), the SE-400 feels sturdy while sewing and it is a very easy machine to operate. The manuals that came with the machine are very well written and the diagrams easy to follow. It took me only a few minutes to figure out how this machine operates. I love the self threading feature of the machine, as well as the built-in thread cutter, bobbin sensors, and drop in lower bobbin.
I was also delighted to find out that the embroidery part of the machine has the following built in features: You can reflect an embroidery design; and rotate the design 1 degree, 10 degrees, or 90 degrees at a time.
I appreciated all the enclosed accessories that came with my SE-400. I wished though that it came with an additional large embroidery hoop too, besides the medium hoop. I guess I will have to buy a large hoop sooner or later, if I am to become more involved with machine embroidery.
The SE-400 is a good choice for a home sewer. I give it a 5-star.
One more note. If you are looking for a hard carrying case for this machine, I highly recommend the Brother 5300 universal hard carrying case. It is the perfect fit for it.
2,173 helpful votes
2,174 helpful votes
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***Update*** Almost 2 years after purchase! This machine is a great machine! I just recently did embroidery on our kids school shirts with this machine and it came out beautiful, Mario characters, Minecraft etc. Super nice job! I did end up giving this machine to my mom because her regular sewing machine was not working anymore and I now have a Husqvarna Viking embroidery machine but I still love certain features of this machine more and so I missed it when I gave it to my mom and I went and updated and bought an SE625-- I have to say, if you are going to spend this anyway- go for that machine, I cannot even begin how much better it is!!! It has a color touch screen where you can manipulate what you are working on in so many more ways! You can curve text, change colors, sizes, rotate tiny amounts like 10 degrees and it is just amazing, it cam with a CD that contains 200 embroidery designs and not stupid ones either, really nice ones I will actually use-It was only $360 At WMart store!!!

I love Brother products! We have a huge color laser printer and it is amazing, I print like mad on there for my business and it just goes with it flawlessly. These embroidery machines are the best in My Personal Opinion. I love my Husqvarna, it does a lot of very different & beautiful stitches, the online software the machine came with is great and most importantly and the very reason I got it was because it embroiders up to 6 x 10 inch designs; but it was more than 3 times the price and I got the cheapest one they offer, no touch screen, no color on the screen, it is monochrome. And so the best value for the money is absolutely the Brother brand. When I upgrade again, which will probably be in at least 5 years! I will choose a Brother for sure because I feel if they can offer these amazing machines for this price, imagine what you get when you spend more; just how I feel about it. ***The threader on Brother machines is fantastic, it literally Never fails, I fight with my Husqvarna at times, trying 3 or 4 times to get the thread in there with the threader, their threader is a stupid design!

***UPDATE!!!*** 1 Year Later after my 1 Star Review...
It has been almost exactly a year since the purchase of the SE400. It was a wretched machine to me for a while at first- having the problems it did from being thrown together by whoever put it together (read below)... I wanted to come back and say that my crafty husband that he is, looked online for a complete repair manual on the machine=we found one for $5.00. We bought it, immediately downloaded it and immediately found a sewing machine parts online store that we as regular people could buy from... It's not as easy as it sounds. You have to look for a good one if you have issues and take this route like we did. Well we got the parts, he put them on, easily I might add with the manual. It needed an entire back plate cover-$13.00- for where it was all cracked and then after using it a bit more after the first review a spring just popped out and it would not perform any of the stitch functions other than straight. So it needed a tiny spring also-it was under $1.00 from the online store.

The machine works great now. It was fixed for under $30. by hand(my husband's :)) and I am incredibly pleased with it. I still cannot give it a 5 star because of the condition it arrived to me in but and it's a big BUT.... It does a wonderful job stitching embroidery and I am so pleased with it now. If you have issues with it, try to fix it yourself before spending hundreds... we bought this machine to save money right??? We did anyway or I would have gotten a Viking :) My husband did fix it but after watching him and being able to look at the repair manual myself, if it has anymore problems I am confident I am going to fix it myself. The repair manual literally tells step by step how to fix any issue including motor issues. It is what the professional you will take it to will use to fix your machine. It is a great machine for the money... Hands down. With the terrible and I mean terrible time I had with it- Yep She made me cry a time or two... It is a really good machine and works like a charm now. Getting some nice digitizing software this coming week and am very excited about it. I made a rag quilt two weeks ago after cutting out several hundred squares on my new big shot pro sizzix machine(awesome btw) and this machine went through 16 layers of flannel with only 2 complaints(beeps& then stops) the whole quilt.

***First review on se400*** I was SO excited about getting this model! My husband bought it for me for by birthday... I work from home making kids clothing and baby items so I can stay with the kids and be a stay at home mom while also making a bit of cash... I needed this machine to make my production time faster and so I could make personalized items for my business.

I got it, it worked okay... The thread broke more than on any other machine I had... but I thought it was just the thread, the run of the mill thread I use in my serger and my $50 Brother PRW6800. As I used it more and more and realized the thread is breaking more and more and wondered why... I bought more expensive thread- $9.00 a spool mercerized cotton thread for sewing and 40 weight embroidery thread for embroidery. Still, every time I sewed I will have broken threads. So I thoroughly inspected my machine and found these tiny little scratches in my machine where the thread goes through. This is a defective unit that I received. Yet I must leave a negative review because my 30 days return policy is up on Amazon. Also the lady at the Brother company said I can drive an hour and a half away to take my machine to the Brother certified repair shop/dealer and they can fix that for me but she did not have pricing... So all of this is because I did not notice these tiny cuts in the machine until just a few weeks ago because they ARE TINY! Never less they seriously affect the performance of my machine. I placed my order the last day of February, now the middle of May and I just noticed the cuts 1 month ago. The problem is worsening, they look more like cracks now and are very pronounced when you look at them closely and I am actually afraid that this part may, at some point, break off now.

My tension is never right, it can never be right because the thread will continue to break for the lifetime of the machine because of these tiny cracks that my machine came with. This part of the machine obviously got scratched or fell or something, when it was being put together and nobody thought it would be a big deal but it was to me, it is to me. Because now I fight with this machine every single day to get it to sew properly and it doesn't sew right. The integrity of the thread is compromised from the cracks that the thread constantly gets caught in and and just breaks my expensive thread and ruins my pieces and forget being able to embroider a design without having the thread break, its just a joke. My embroidery designs look AWFUL because it constantly breaks mid design. It just is very disappointing. This machine is a complete disappointment.

Another problem that my machine has is the thread cutter, the automatic thread cutter does not work half the time. this is okay but it was supposed to work every single time, not half the time. I did, however, need this machine to sew and when it is shredding the thread in these cuts right in the second step on the threading guide, how can it sew properly.
I have spent good money on Brother products, we also just bought a $200 Brother laser printer.

My suggestion to anyone that is buying this se400 machine is thoroughly inspect it as soon as you get it because if you don't and find a problem if there is, within the first 30 days of buying it, you WILL NOT be able to do a thing about it. In my personal opinion it was $315.00 down the drain. I am incredibly surprised that the company has done nothing about it. I will be sending the pictures to them also and hopefully get something done about it. I wish my time did not run out with Amazon because this was an expensive machine and it is so obviously defective from the manufacturer, there is no way someone at home could make these marks... I just want to return it and get a different machine. So many problems with a machine that is only 2 and a half months old.
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77 helpful votes
78 helpful votes
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on July 2, 2017
I love using my new sewing/embroidery machine. I haven't had the guts to use the embroidery part yet but love the sewing machine. So quiet and just plain easy to use. Love it.
Another day: I still love this machine. I'm learning more and more about it and still haven't used the embroidery part yet but getting closer. I bought some additional feet for it and am getting ready to use them. I got the teflon foot and the walking foot and still haven't used them. I tried the free arm on a baby blanket for my grand niece and while it was fun, I'm not too good at it. I'll keep trying at that.
Looking forward to buying a new Brother serger. Found out it would be almost as much money to fix my old Bernina serger as it would to buy a new Brother so I will be doing that in the future. Any deals out there?
1 helpful vote
2 helpful votes
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on December 30, 2016
Wonderful machine at first, then would not perform internal functions and seemed to create a chain of turning off. Brother customer service was good and I was given some advise to unplug it and leave it off for several minutes which temporarily fixed some functions but it reverted to the same problem and would no longer read the embroidery cards. I was told to take it to be serviced but after only using it for less than two months?? Thank you Amazon for your great customer service. Hoping to have better performance with my next machine. I have purchased a number of accessories and supplies for this machine and it has taken a bit of time with a learning curb -so hoping my next upgraded embroidery model will serve us better.
3 helpful votes
4 helpful votes
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on November 15, 2013
Oh my goodness. I love this machine. First let me say, I am a crafter. I make fleece products so my machine has to be able to handle thick fabric. I sew double fleece and then add velcro. I have used a number of machines through the years. This machine has no trouble handling this thickness. I purchased my first Brother sewing machine 20 years ago. I finally upgraded to this! And to beat all the other functions...this machine does NOT need oiling!!!!!!! I hate having to break between projects and oil a machine.
11 helpful votes
12 helpful votes
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