SCM Systems 400XS Review Update

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Okay so there is a lot going on here, and I feel like I stepped into the middle of a hornets nest without even knowing it.

My Goal is to help YOU discover the joy, beauty, and art of power relief carving with a high-speed engraver.

That has always been the goal of the Carving On Wood.com website. I love woodcarving, and I want to share the joy and personal satisfaction that I experience while carving.

Customer Service Issues Surrounding SCM Systems

  • Yes, I have been receiving emails from you about Customer Service related issues after purchasing equipment from SCM Systems.
  • Yes, I can only say to, ‘Stick with it, and work with the company’. **And you know that is what I have told you should you be one who contacted me with your frustrations about this.

SCM In response to recent posts and videos I have done.

I was personally contacted by the owner of SCM Systems, and we had a good discussion. I told him specifically about the customer service related issues that you had contacted me about.

He said that customer service is an area that they have been struggling with for a while, but it is something that is being addressed. They are striving to improve this aspect of their business. (As we all must do in business.)

I personally believe that customer service is one of the most important aspects of a service based business.

Equipment Issues With The 400XS High-Speed engraver

This is where things start to get complicated, and why I feel like I have stepped into a hornets nest.

There is a lot of “extras” going on here. It is not all related to just SCM Systems, but some of their past distributors as well.

I am not going to go into details here because I don’t know that I have the full story from everyone involved. I also feel that I have no right to be disparaging to any company. It is up to them to work things out.

I can tell you this, to the best of my knowledge, after talking with the owner of SCM that the turbine that comes with the 400XS, should you purchase one today from SCM Systems, is the same turbine that I have in my hand piece.

At one point they tested some options out, over a year ago, and quickly found that the option did not hold up to customers use. They quickly changed things back, and worked with their customers to repair and replace any defective parts.

I Am Staying Neutral

Beyond this I cannot specifically state anything. I ordered my 400XS over 3 years ago. This tool has been a great tool for me.

I am not affiliated with any company, and have decided to keep that position. There are not that many suppliers of high-speed engravers, and that makes the community to small for me to take sides.

I do NOT like that equipment companies fight for market share. But, it is the same with any other industry as well. There will always be a competitive aspect for market share and customer sales. This can be done in a positive way or a negative way.

I do not want to become a part of this aspect of high-speed engraver use, and so I choose to remain neutral.

The Main Reasons Why EVERY High-Speed Engraver Will Fail

This list is quite short, and most of the reasons are due to YOUR personal carving habits. These reasons are:

  • You are running the tool with the air pressure set to high. (**follow the recommendations set by the manufacturer. Running at excessively high rpm’s places to much stress on the turbine. **)
  • You are not using a moisture filter. (**Any moisture that enters the hand piece can damage the turbine. The turbine is not meant to be flooded with excess moisture of any kind. Again follow manufacturer recommendations. There are some differences with hand pieces that use oil in their operation. Again follow all manufacturer recommendations.**)
  • You are being to aggressive with your carving strokes. (**Just because it is a POWER tool does not mean you can be aggressive with the tool. I state over and over again that, ‘You need to let the tool do the work. If the burr stops in the material you are carving you are being to aggressive.’ Being to aggressive will kill every turbine in every hand piece regardless of manufacturer.**)
  • Your burr is not rated for use with a high-speed engraver. (**There are a lot of burrs on the market, but if the burr is not recommended for 300,000 – 400,000 rpm’s the burr could damage/injure the hand piece or you.**)
  • Running a burr that has a bent shaft. (**A bent shaft on any burr puts huge amounts of torque on the turbine. This added torque can quickly destroy the barrings of the turbine. DO NOT RUN BURRS THAT HAVE A BENT SHAFT. If the burr looks like it is wobbling more than usual stop using it.**)
  • You get a bad turbine. (**Every product ever manufactured can have a few defective products among all the good products. This should be expected of ALL high-speed engravers regardless of manufacturer. That is why good quality customer service is important.**)

As you can see most of the problems that require customer service, and can make you frustrated with the tool, equipment, and monetary investment that you have made stem from improper use or not understanding HOW-TO use the equipment.

Regardless of manufacturer or company, quality customer service is what will help you navigate problems with your high-speed engraver.

BUT, should you continue to misuse the tool you will inevitably become victim to the same thing happening again.

That is why I have gone to great lengths to help you discover the proper uses of the high-speed engraver, and how you can keep the tool running strong for years to come in my training videos.

I Offer NO Guarantees With Regards To Equipment Purchases

I can only offer my recommendations, as far as my experience will allow, and that is simply my recommendation.

Should you choose to listen to my recommendation you do so at your own risk. I cannot guarantee what other companies will do, or how they choose to run their businesses.

My Business

My business is specifically in the realm of helping you discover the joys of power carving and power relief carving. I will continue to do the best that I can to provide the best training and up-to-date information on tools and equipment, but as things change I cannot be expected to be an intermediary for you with tools and equipment purchases.

I will continue to do the best I can to help you learn and master the skills you need to have fun with power carving. I want you to succeed. I am happy to answer any question I can, and be of service as a coach and friend.

We are all on this journey together.

My Recommendation Of The 400XS

YES, I will continue to recommend the 400XS high-speed engraver. This is the tool that I started with, and it has performed really well. Things change, and I have no control over those changes. After speaking with the owner of SCM Systems, and learning more about what is happening between “Company Competition” all I can offer is:

Do your research, talk to every company, and base your decision on the information that you have available to you. That is all any of us can do.

Should you have customer service issues with this company I am happy to listen, but I have no affiliation with this company beyond that of being a customer. I can pass your frustration on to them, and hopefully they can come up with a solution that all parties can be happy with.

Problems With Any High-Speed Engraver

Should you have problems with ANY high-speed engraver please refer to the top of the article where I talk about the most common reasons for tool failure.

YOU could be just as much of the problem as YOU can also be the solution.

Please learn the proper uses for the high-speed engraver, and how to control the tool. This will save you a lot of frustration later on.

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  • billy bill

    Tim, I personally started out not knowing that much about
    power carvers but have been reviewing them a lot as of late in regards to the
    best equipment at a reasonable price, so that I can start my carving journey.
    In my reviews I have found very few side by side reviews and most of the
    information seems like a lot of sales propaganda. Tim I do appreciate all your
    posts about how to carve and also about your experiences with the equipment. Staying
    neutral and staying out of it is admirable. From my past experiences as a
    consumer I have found that reviews from other consumers are very informative and
    helpful in regards to quality and customer service which I feel goes hand in
    hand. My take is if I read too many negatives there is a reason or reasons why and
    tend to stay away no matter what is stated unless a company proves them self’s
    over a long time period and not just over night after the problems start.
    If they have had problems and clams to have solved/fixed
    them time will tell all. Trust and quality is something that is earned over
    time and not just stated that is being worked on. Actions speak louder than
    words and facts don’t lie….. People do!

    • You are right that time will tell. I can tell you that the issues surrounding the 400XS are recent. SCM Systems has a long tradition (30 plus years) of quality products and accessories. From my perspective the customer service issues are more recent, and stem from the struggle with distributors and keeping control of their product.

      I would really like to do comparison videos and side by side reviews. In fact I would simply like to carve with all the engravers on the market just to see where each tool has strong points. This is something I will be working on this year.

      • billy bill

        Myself,
        from what I have reviewed and read over the intranet has lead me to not order one of the SCM 400XS. (To many negatives as of late) So I decided to order one of the new Vortex XJ7 high speed carvers. On their site they have a nice side by side review with data and pictures of the compation and their new Vortex seems to have a lot more going for it. Including so far what seems like some pretty attentive customer service over the phone. I know it’s new to the market and you take a chance in that regards but it seems to have a better design and it has a good price to boot. But to each their own and I hope it is as good as it looks on paper?

        • Jimmy Ostrove

          billy bill: have you ever received a Vortex XJ7 carver, or have you just been given the runaround for almost a year, now?

          • Pearl Jenner

            Jimmy, I just cancelled my vortex xj7 after waiting almost 7 months. It says on their website they have started shipping but that is not true. I received an email yesterday stating they haven’t received them yet again from their manufacturer. So I find that very misleading to their customers who payed months ago and also any new customers, and that was the reason I decided to cancel my order.

          • Chris Peterson

            after reading your review I called to check on my order of a vortex xj7. After three months they could not give me a delivery date. I canceled my order after being told some people have been waiting almost 2 years. I told them if they every got things straightened out to let me know and ifI I hadn’t order something else I might try again, I was told they would not honor the price and it could go up. I was also told they were having problems with the carvers they had shipped. I do not think this is good way to do business. I hope this saves someone else alot of aggravation.

  • onyenaturuchi n.c odunze

    if really customers service issue is addressed, then we will use the materials the offer,else i was scared.

    • Customer service is a very important aspect of any business. There are times when focus can be lost due to many different reasons, but my hope is that hearing about it directly will put the focus back on this topic.

  • Anthony Augusta

    I have a question ,if you don’t mind Tim, I have had Burr’s wear out in no time at all, and sometime they last for quite a while . Have you narrowed down who sells the best ?

    • Unfortunately, I have not purchased burrs from very many suppliers. I hope to do that in the future, but for now I have really only purchased from SCM Systems and Profitable Hobbies.

      I do purchase burrs for my flex shaft machine and micro grinder from Wood Carver Supply.com. They have a great selection of burrs, and I will be testing out some of their 1/16″ diameter burrs in the near future.

  • Juan C

    After seeing tim’s videos on YouTube, first off great videos. I was really excited to try and get the 400xs but aside from tim’s videos I can’t find any reviews and anything I find on the 400xs is negative. Even on the YouTube scm videos “no comments ” on none of the videos so it starts to not look good. I called scm to get information about basic stuff on the site like why I wasn’t able to order the system and supplies all in one order to try and get it all together and avoid shipping for 2 orders. or was it just my computer. The person I spoke to was rude had no straight answer. I asked about the warranty she just told me that “I think it’s one year” and that more information is on the website felt like she was in a hurry to get me off the phone. Overall a bad experience with customer service and I was really excited about getting a 400xs but if that’s customer service imagine if I have to call for help with my engraver… I had to pass on it 🙁 still looking for a good engraver.

    • Hi Juan, I am sorry to hear that this is still an ongoing issue. Maybe I need to start looking into engravers myself, and see if there is an option out there I can feel confident about recommending better or even offering a system for sale myself.

    • g. brady

      I would like to chime in on my experience with SCM. I am a wood carver. I live for detailing. I was on the internet looking and found a couple of engravers. I called SCM and asked some questions about their tools. Come to find out they do have the best warranty on the market. It is a 1 year on the turbine and lifetime on the handle. i actually spoke with 3-4 folks at SCM about differnet items that i have been reading about. The explained how the systems should be set up. i had my own compressor so I did not need a full set up. They recommended the proper bits I should use. I ordered them individually. They went out of their way to answer all my questions.
      The topic of high speed systems was brought up at our wood carvers meeting. Come to find out there are about 9-10 carvers that have the SCM tools. I brought up the topic to see if anyone has had customer service issues. Quite the contrary. Not one had a bad thing to say. Just the opposite. Nothing but praise. Most have had their systems from less than a year to almost 20 years. My friend invited me to try his engraver and I have had mine for about 30 days. This is a dream to use. It is truly like drawing with a pen, It allows me the ability to detail like I’ve never been able to with any of my other tools. I have probably about 100 hours on my tool. This is my favorite tool. You should give them a call. I love this tool and the folks at SCM.

      • Juan C

        I understand a company has a lot of people working under one roof the day I called I must have talked to that person that was just having one of them days I can only guess. It’s good that you came in with your experience with the 400xs and it sounds like you are loving the tool. The more people that comment on the system the better it is for people like me that are just getting started with this kind of hand peace . This passed weekend 12/26/15 I went to a car show and a very talented metal engraver was using the 400xs to engrave on a motor water pump . So I asked about the hand peace and he had nothing but good things to say about the 400xs. On the other hand his partner had the shofu lab air z working on a car window. I was told that both are very good engravers. So now I’m just comparing the two before I order one. Haven’t had a chance to thanks to holidays.. thanks for the reply I won’t judge a company on the actions of hopefully one employee. I work on wood, metal, and glass I love engraving and carving so I need a hand peace that can work long hours and can handle it.

  • Pearl Jenner

    Can I just ask is the scm engraver oil less ? I can’t seem to find that information on their web site. I live in the uk and I also can’t seem to find an email address for them. Do I really have to ring them to find out shipping charges?

  • Uncle Bovvy

    HI
    I have had the same runaround for over a year on the vortex xj7. My new name for this tool is the ufo vortex. (they talk about it but there is not proof that it really exists). Been told over and over delay because of this and that. They took all of their lousy excuses off of their website. They claim their tool is the best, but they can’t get one built so how can they test it. The guy over there convinced my girlfriend that this was worth waiting for, tired of waiting and don’t want to be a guinea pig. They say all the other tools out there are bad, and everyone else is to blame for their tool not being ready. They fired this machine shop, that shop, problems with delivery drivers, research and development, blaming everyone but themselves. Sounds like maybe these guys don’t know what they are doing. Just didn’t make sense, say they tested their tool against the other tools but how can they when they don’t have a tool to send out. Also, who tested this thing, them, how is that a fair test. Final straw my girlfriend asked about the warranty and was told it was one year on the turbine but they get to decide if its covered. How does that work, so they say not covered and I’m out the money, sounds kind of phony to me. Anywho, got tired of waiting, so my girlfiend went with another company and very happy. If anyone actually got one of these, chime in, I’m just curious at this point.

  • Steven E F Phelps

    As a followup to those individuals who may have purchased/ordered the Vortex XJ7 from Unbridled,LLC/Sculpting Studios. I was a die hard and held on to the order for 14 months believing that it had to be coming! After receiving the last email/update I contacted the BBB. The information in the email stated that a NEW (countless #) design where they had reduced the moving parts even further from 14 down to 4! Now I’m no engineer but that was a stretch for me. I outlined in my complaint to the BBB of the numerous delays, design changes, even the endless number of machine shops they seem to switch to regularly. My resolution was to have an ABSOLUTELY FIRM delivery date.
    My order was cancelled!
    I am under the opinion that they may have had good intentions but it has turned into a scam because they cannot produce what they say they could. If you have orders with them, I would encourage you to cancel and get your money back. If you are thinking about ordering, order a carver that has been on the market and is trusted.
    It’s a shame, in the beginning the Vortex XJ7 looked really good.

    • Jimmy Ostrove

      I ordered the “XJ7” on February 2, 2015. I canceled my order on November 5, 2015, 9 months later. At the time, they commented on what a shame it was since they were finally shipping the carvers. I’d heard that before. As it turns out, they didn’t take me off of their product “Update” list. I got an update this past July (2016) saying that they had “some” XJ7’s that were shipping. Like a handful. Shortly after that (less than a month), I started getting email advertisements for their NEXT latest-and-greatest carver ever designed and produced!

      I felt the same way you did, Steven– that they were probably well-intentioned, but completely incompetent when it came to producing. However, I no longer feel that way. There’s just too much evidence that they are running an on-going scam. Not only did they not ship the carver, I had ordered several cutting bits, drills, and other accessories/supplies from them along with the original order. They never shipped ANYTHING. Not just the phantom carver unit, but items that should have been in stock and shipped just never appeared. There was no reason for this. None at all. In fact, had they been willing to do anything in the interest of recouping any of the goodwill they seemed to be hell bent on destroying, they would have shipped the balance of the order to me and even refunded a portion of the purchase. But no, they did nothing. The only way they could redeem this would be to take pre-orders as reservations, with no money down, in the future. But they won’t.

      You see, they’re not bad businesspeople: they are good con artists. They should be banned from doing business.

      • Bill M

        I agree…..Sculpting studios/Unbridled llc Vortex XJ7 / Vortex F5 is a scam. Sculpting Studios is trying to rewrite history about their so called Vortex XJ7 / Vortex F5. I felt I should set the record straight with my review of the Vortex xj7 and the Vortex f5. As of Sept 2016 they have only built a handful prototype tools that ended being returned because of missing washers… (I thought these tools were put together under a microscope…according to Sculpting Studios). They stretch the truth about how long they have been making a tool and been producing it. The Vortex xj7 has never been a production model
        (now they act like the Vortex has been around for years.). For two years they repeatedly lied about being able to deliver their Vortex XJ7. This has been nothing more than a failed attempt at an engraver. Let me repeat, a complete failure. They have their great comparison chart with the Vortex rated at #1. Who did this test to pick the best engraver? They did. With which prototype of the Vortex did they use? Nobody really knows. Please realize they did their own test. This is so misleading… For the past 2 years their attempt at an engraver has only been a prototype, never a production model. According to Sculpting Studios, every company they do business with is a lousy company. It has never been Sculpting Studios fault for any of the delays. I find this very hard to believe. Manufacturing is a two way street. If these companies were so bad they would not be in business today. The only thing that I have seen from Sculpting Studio is that they have tried to destroy other engraving companies. Every company that they deal with is so bad according to them. I am convinced the real problem is Sculpting Studio. All the other companies are still out there producing and thriving. In fact all of the negative press about these companies is coming from Sculpting Studios and only Sculpting Studios. I know this because when I called to ask a couple of questions and she went on a filthy rant on how bad all these other companies were for 20 minutes. This is a terrible business practice and bad customer service. Obviously she can’t say anything good about her tool because she does not have a tool. She also forgot they have lied about delivering the world’s greatest tool for 2 years. They have taken money from unsuspecting customers and never delivered. Now they has the hootsba to scam more people with a new and improved Vortex F5. They say “Hurry and pre order this greatest tool that is only on a drawing and has never been built or tested by anyone. We went from 14 parts down to 4 part..(cheap) Be the first 85 saps to spend your hard earned money and get nothing. It will be ready to go in only 2 months…. But wait… we have more tweaks, excuses and delays it should be here shortly. Trust us….” on and on they go. Yes, these are some of the many excuses that I heard along the way. (they have taken all of the excuses and emails off of the web site) I would like to hear the other side of the story from these other companies. Sculpting studios/ unbridled llc is very quick to print private emails and talk about shifty eyes of a customer service representative, slow delivery, not responding by emails, false promises all the while they were doing the exact same thing. Save your time and money and go with someone else. I did and very glad I did.

        • Hattori Hanzo

          has anyone had a hard time getting their money back after their order was canceled?

          • Manuel Ribeiro

            Hello Hattori, How are you doing with the F5? You seem to be the only person I know to have laid down hands on one off those?

        • Bill M

          Sculpting studios/ unbridled llc is still up to their same old tricks of not delivering. i just checked with them to see when they are delivering the greatest tool in the world the vortex f5… This is the same Vortex f5 that was to be delivered a month ago… some tweaks, some modifications…2 months… 2 weeks… one week we have to try to fix it…. same old lines…same old stories… same results…. poor customer service…

  • Hattori Hanzo

    got my vortex f5 today and its a pretty good tool. it my first precision engraver so my knowledge is limited when compared to others. it may have taken them far more than anyone would have wanted but they did deliver. Been waiting nearly two years. I hope to find out if the wait was worth it.

  • jim

    Vortex XJ7 from Unbridled,LLC/Sculpting Studios is not an ISO 9001:2008 Registered Company like they have been claiming for the last 8 months. This is very misleading and down right wrong to list this logo all over their website and to claim this high quality standard when in fact they don’t have this high quality standard. They have had these logos on their site for over 8 months now. I have worked for companies that have gone thru this quality process and the ISO organization takes this very seriously. You can not use this logo to mislead and misrepresent that you have this quality standard in place at your organization. This makes me wonder about them as a company after reading all these other reviews…

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