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I am the Anti-Mechanic

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  • I am the Anti-Mechanic

    I have been making little wooden boxes and some minor-league fretwork by hand for years. I am seriously getting into the fretwork, and my son told me this week that I should leave the Stone Age and get some power tools instead of doing everything with hand tools, lol... *insert teenager making Tim Allen grunting sounds here and hollering MORE POWER!*

    It seems to me that buying a middle-range scrollsaw would be more enjoyable for me than buying a low-end saw and really hating it, since I am not mechanical and don't know much about fixing things up--I want it to work right out of the box! I see a lot of people on this board recommend the Dewalt DW788. Is this saw pretty newbie-friendly? What kind of maintenance is needed? It seems that Tool King has them for sale for $359, but with the stand and light it's another $200--are the stand and light really worth $200?

    I use a wheelchair quite a bit so I figured to set the saw on an old kitchen table for easy use. Our living room is built on what used to be the garage when this house was built in the 60s; it has a concrete floor, lots of electrical outlets, and windows all the way around for good ventilation, and my son is fixing this up for my workshop. This is the kind of stuff I like to do. I just got a copy of the new Scrollsaw Workshop and I think I would also love to do some intarsia. I'd love any suggestions you might have about upgrading my work area. After reading this board and the Scroll Saw Workshop magazine though, seems like my only other real need might be some type of electric sander. There seem to be innumerable kinds.

    I've been voraciously reading this board every day for the last two weeks. My granddad taught me woodworking so everything I know is about a hundred years old. I got two books on woodworking tools and a scrollsaw book but it might as well have been Greek to me. I have learned a ton on this board and now I'm slowly starting to compute, so thanks a lot for all the great advice on here.

    On a side note--I have sold quite a few boxes and portrait-type pieces, but I LOVE those big fretwork clocks. If I made one I would never part with it, but do people actually buy those at $4k a pop? I've always wondered. I'm sure you'd come out with like 50 cents an hour if you did sell one but I have always wondered if people would buy them for that much. I'm just nosy


  • #2
    Welcome to the group!
    If you start out with the DeWalt, you will probably never need to upgrade. It is an excellent saw.
    If you are using your saw mostly from your w-chair, then don't get the stand - by all means use what puts it at a comfortable angle for you, since you're going to want to use it quite a bit! Your kitchen table may need to be lowered a bit to be comfortable - you don't want to be stretching for long periods, or you'll get some awful pains (don't ask how I know!) You will probably want to raise the back - either the legs of your table, or the back end of the saw- a little to make it easier still to use and see it. You can buy one or two lights at your favorite discount store, and either mount them to your table or to something near your table, to give you plenty of light.
    I suggest you get John Nelson's Scrollsaw Workbook and work slowly through at least the first 6 or seven lessons - you will find it easy to understand and you gain skills in baby steps - exactly at your own pace. I'm not on Fox Chapel's payroll, but I always recommend this book - it is one of their very best ever!
    As to pricing scroll work - I'm a complete novice at that - maybe FC should publish a book on that!
    Again, welcome. I look foreward to hearing about your new saw and workshop.


    • #3
      Just one other suggestion....If the light that comes with the DeWalt isn't way out of your budget range I'd buy it. It mounts out of the way on the saw and can be adjusted to illuminate where you want it. I've used my DeWalt 788 almost daily for the past two years and finally burned out a bulb!!
      If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!


      • #4

        First let me say welcome to the site. It is a site that will be able to supply you with alot of info for any question you have. Next I checked your link that you provided and it is Wildwood's site. They are of course a very good source for patterns as well as other things.

        The saw you mentioned is a very very good saw. It maybe middle of the road money wise but it will cut with the big boys no problem. Now as you can see from the picture if you are going to be sitting in a wheel chair the stand is going to be in the way. If you have a desk or table with an open bottm you are better off. Now these saws are virtually vibration free but if you seee it has a bit of vibration you can add a piece of carpet padding under it and vibration is gone. Now these saws are a bit heavy which is a good thing because it is what takes alot of the vibration out but for moving around you may want that table to have wheels. You ask about maintnence there is virtually none except you want to keep the speed control clean after each use so it doesn't build up dust on it. As far as the light goes that is a preference thing. I use a magnifier when I cut so it has a flourescent light built in. If you do not need this than any good light will do. One other thing
        If you are a bottom feeder one that feeds the blade through from the bottom you may want to buy this item. It is a Jim Dandy lift kit. $20 and you convert this saw from a top feeder to a bottom feeder. Some people just stick a block of wood under the arm to hold it up and out of the way when feed the blade but this is easier. Now the only other thing need for this saw is some good blades and for that go to for Flying Dutchman blades.

        Only other tool need is a small palm sander. Good luck and you are looking in the right direction for both the saw and the site to supply the answers.
        John T.


        • #5
          Welcome! Yes,the Dewalt will serve you well.And,a table for it could be built easily enough to accomodate a wheelchair,and the jim Dandy product John mentioned is well worth the 20 bucks.I have two dewalts,and spend countless hours on them,there are a good saw. As for the Refurbished one, I posted a reply on a question regarding refurbs. on a post in the beginners section of this site (i think thats where it was) You will love the saw
          Dale w/ yella saws


          • #6
            Thanks for all the kind words

            Sheltiecarver, the funny thing is that I ordered Mr. Nelson's beginner book just about half an hour before I wrote this post--glad to know I picked the right one to start out of all those books! I didn't know you could tilt the saw without messing it up; that's a great suggestion and I will definitely try that! As regards pricing, the main reason I know about Wildwood is because they have a price list--I look for something similar to what I am making and then I have a fair range of prices to choose from. Years ago I developed the habit, while I was quilting, of not looking at other peoples' patterns too much because it interferes with designing my own stuff, but the price list with pictures was just too much to resist I was just asking about the clocks because I was curious; if I hunker down and actually make one I will never part with it, because they are just too gorgeous.

            Neal, I'm trying to start out cheap, but it's sure good to know about the longevity of the light, as that's one problem I used to have with my sewing machines. I love reassurance

            JT, lots of great tips there...I love the Jim Dandy thing and have that on my Christmas wish list now, hehehe... I had to stop and figure out what bottom-feeding and top-feeding meant but now I see that bottom-feeding is definitely preferable.

            Lucky788, I see by your name you'll be a good person to ask for Dewalt advice, lol. Thanks a lot


            • #7
              I am not an expert by any means,but I can help wherever i can,and if not, I will know someone who can.Feel free to look to me for advice,either here,or throug emails. No question is dumb,its how we learn Magpie!!
              Dale w/ yella saws


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