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I've just had my first go with the Syren Serv-o-Matic. As with the Rope Rocket that I used for the first time last week, I cleaned off the laser char and applied a couple of coats of varnish. I really felt this was worth the trouble, to bring out the fine cherry. As with the Rocket however, I made the mistake of assembling the components before varnishing them. I was too impatient, and assembled both machines before realising it was then harder to apply the varnish - especially without gumming up the moving parts. I should have followed Chuck's instructions, which as usual are comprehensive and well illustrated. A couple of points I would emphasise from my own experience. First, it really is vital to ensure all the gears move freely - to the extent that they almost feel loose and sloppy. If you watch Chuck's short Youtube video you'll get an idea of how everything should move, powered by just one finger. Another point Chuck makes in the instructions that I would echo is the importance of getting the right tension in the rope being served - too loose and it is difficult to get the serving thread to lay on properly; too taut and the rope will pull the handles in to the machine ends and make the gears too stiff to turn freely. I quickly found there is a knack to serving. It's not super difficult, but it does need practice. I experimented on a piece of light coloured rope for contrast, which tends to highlight the mistakes. I'm not sure how easy it is to see in the picture, but the serving starts out a bit gappy and lumpy on the lefthand side, then gets better towards the right as my technique improved. Also, I should have used a less 'hairy' serving thread. Being hand powered, it's a simple matter to put mistakes right; as soon as you see a gap, or you overlap the serving thread, you just reverse direction to before the error and then continue. In summary, another useful addition to the workshop which I'm looking forward to using in conjunction with the Rope Rocket. Derek