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Review Your Scrollsaw(s)

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  • Review Your Scrollsaw(s)


    One of the most common questions asked on the forum, especially from new members, is "What saw should I buy?" While there is no absolute answer to this, I think that the great wealth of expertise here can go a long way toward helping people out.

    We have had a similar thread stickied in this area of the forum for years, but since it was started in 2006, many of the saws discussed are no longer made, or have changed their features or their prices. With Bob D's permission, this thread will replace that one, to bring things more current, but for those who wish to reference the older thread, it can be found here:


    The point of this thread will be to provide a resource for new shoppers researching what scrollsaw might be best for their needs.

    If you own a scrollsaw, or even several of them, please take the time to:

    1. Select which saw(s) you own in the poll

    2. Provide a brief review of any of your scrollsaws. Reviews should be aimed toward newer saws sold on the market, or saws which might still be somewhat easily found today secondhand. Reviews can include pricing, pros and cons, availability of accessories, or anything else you might find helpful to others.

    3. Please also feel free to post any general shopping principles and strategies, not necessarily unique to any specific saw.

    This entire portion of the thread will be solely the opinion of the forum members here and will not necessarily represent the opinion of, or an endorsement from, Fox Chapel.


    Additional Resources From Fox Chapel:

    Buyer's Guide

    New buyers should be aware that Fox Chapel Publishing periodically releases a "Scrollsaw Buyer's Guide." This has most recently been made available in the Spring 2013 (Issue 50) Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts magazine, and comprehensively looks at the some of the newer and most popular saws available today. Everything is examined, including pricing, features, assessment of vibration, and reviews from authors and members of this forum. It is very much worth purchasing if you are in the market for a new saw, and can be bought here:

    Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Issue 50 Spring 2013


    Fox Chapel Publishing offers a free "Classified" section of the message board, where members may buy and sell scrollsaws and scrollsaw related items. There is no fee for using this service. The classified section may be found on the left side of this page, under "SSW Community," or by clicking here:

    Main Index - Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Classifieds

    Please do not use this thread to buy and sell, as it is for review purposes only.


    To forum members who wish to participate, thanks for sharing your valuable expertise!

    To new members looking for a new saw, HAPPY SHOPPING!

    Porter Cable
    Excalibur (any model)
    Hawk (any model)
    Hegner (any model)
    Last edited by Scrolling Days; 04-04-2013, 10:15 AM.
    Shawn Ferguson

    Come visit at The Ferguson Puzzle Company !

  • #2
    I currently own a DW788 that I bought reconditioned. I have had the saw for a while and it has for the most part performed up to or abopve my expectations.

    I have had to take the saw into the shop once and have the upper arm replaced to cure knocking--but, I do use my saw a lot on thin to thick stock, so I was not surprised to have to spend some on repairs.

    I would recommend this saw as a good mid price saw or as a step up from some of the entry level saws (<$250USD).

    I started with a single speed Delta (pawn shop purchase/but like new) and kept it until getting parts was a problem. Upgraded to a new Hitachi CW40 (basically the same as today's Porter Cable). I worked that poor saw into a premature grave. Actually, I needed to order a few parts you expect to periodically replace (blade holders, table tilt knob, etc) when my wife asked the question all scrollers live to hear, "Why don't you just buy a better saw and quit fighting this one?". That is how the yellow saw ended up beside the door.

    If you afford (or even if you have to stretch a bit) this saw ($500 with stand and light), do yourself a favor and jump in. You will be amazed at the upgrade from one of the entry level saws.

    Right now, I can't see myself upgrading to a "high end" saw because I am doing this as a stress reliever and just to make a few gifts. The cost-to-value index is just a bit too high on the cost side right now for me.
    When looking at the clock at work--the correct time is:
    Too early to leave, too late to call in.


    • #3
      Another proud owner of a DW788 (type 1). I just got it used a couple weeks ago. I upgraded from an entry level Ryobi. The difference is night and day. I have not been able to use it much, but it is sooooo much fun to use.

      I am in the same boat as Jim. Scrolling for me is a fun diversion. I can't justify the higher-end saws, but that's me. To me, the DW788 is pretty high end


      • #4
        I have owned a DeWalt Scroll saw and found it to be a smooth running saw and convenient to use. It died after 20 months so I practically gave it away. I found it to not be durable in cutting 3/4" or thicker stock. My friend has had the same experience with his. He has replaced the motor 4 times in 5 years at $400 a pop. Neither of us do any fretwork. I think the DeWalts that last a long while are just doing fretwork. I now own two Hegners, one is a 1986 model and works well. I purchased a 15" Jet saw on Crieg's list for $15 and it runs smooth and cuts very well. I have loaned that jet saw to my friend while his DeWalt is in the repair shop yet again. He finds this $15 Jet saw ( 1988 model) cuts straighter than his DeWalt because he can tension the blade MUCH tighter than the Dewalt and this makes for much straighter cuts on thick woods. I once had a Harbor Freight saw that was terrible. Fretwork ..maybe, but nothing thicker than 1/2" or so.
        Hegner Polymax- 3,Hegner Multimax-3,
        "No PHD, just a DD 214"


        • #5
          I have an Excalibur EX-21 that has been used almost daily for 4 years. I rarely cut wood less than 3/4" thick since I do intarsia about 99% of the time. The saw has behaved flawlessly. After 4 years I replaced the upper blade holder. Otherwise it has not been tweaked, adjusted or repaired in that time. It is quiet and has so little vibration I've been known to set a cup of coffee on the saw table while I'm cutting and not have it move. Dumb, I know, but I can reach it easily.

          My first scrollsaw was a Craftsman 16 inch that was, in a word, terrible. The blade changes required 3 hands and an Allen wrench. The vibration was so bad that we named it The Cocktail Shaker. It lasted about 3 months at my shop and was given away.



          • #6
            The only saw I have ever owned is the DeWalt 788 ( type 2, made in Taiwan). There has been discussion that the earier DeWalts (type 1, made in Canada) were superior, and they probably were, but mine has performed wonderfully for me. I use it the vast majority of the time cutting 1/4" wooden jigsaw puzzles.

            I have cut thicker stuff, and I admit that when I did some 1" pine ( gingerbreading for my parents' house), it gave the saw a workout, but it was certainly up for the task.

            The blade changes are very easy, the table adjusts for bevels, and I love all of the "up front" controls, including the tension, variable speed, and main power, all within easy hand's reach. Personally, i think every power tool should have a power/kill switch in the front, even a relatively safe machine like a scrollsaw.

            I get really no vibration at all, but again, most of my experience is with thinner stock.

            I would highly recommend this saw if you can afford the mid-price range.
            Shawn Ferguson

            Come visit at The Ferguson Puzzle Company !


            • #7
              I had a yard sale Dremel and a Craftsman inherited from my Father. The Dremel only used pin blades so it never got used. The Craftsman had the most idiotic blade clamping system, horrendous for fretwork. It seems the folks making entry level saws have not learned anything over the years. It is still very difficult to work the lower blade clamp without removing plastic covers. It doesn’t seem to get better until you get into the Dewalt price range.
              After using a Delta SS350 for about a year(still have it) I purchase the Hawk G4 26 in May 2005. It was a decision between the Hegner and the Hawk, the Hawk won because I liked top and bottom feeding and real easy tool less blade changes. It also had lots more room under the top arm.
              Since I always liked the Delta quick clamps I bought the Pozgai conversion for the upper clamp on the Hawk. For me it is now the ultimate saw setup. JMO
              RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, Nova 1624 DVR XP
              Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
              Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
              And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association


              • #8

                I like the fact that you decided to update this topic. The poll though is kind of vague so I hope people will report on the actual model they are using, I realize you cannot list every model by Craftsman, Delta, etc.

                I also have a DeWalt 788 type 2 and so far I have not had any problems with it. I had a Craftsman before the DeWalt and could never get rid of the vibration on the Craftsman. One day I decided to take the Craftsman apart to see if there was any way to reduce the vibration and was shocked to see how poorly they made that saw. Most of the parts inside were plastic and a couple of pieces were cracked causing the vibration. After pricing replacement parts I bought the 788.

                Anybody buying a new scroll saw still needs to do their homework. Everybody has different likes and dislikes. I personally will never buy another Delta power tool because getting parts for them is a crap shoot since they are in bankruptcy.

                In God we trust, all others must pay cash!

                I don't want no bargains, they always cost me more money.


                • #9
                  I started with a Dremel, not a bad saw just a lot of vibration. The motor gave out and the repair cost was going to be excessive so I upgraded to the DeWalt 788. I cut everything, puzzles, ornaments, portraits, fret work and the DeWalt breezes through them. I've had to replaced the upper blade holder and lower blade holder, but with the amount of hours I've put on the thing that is expected.
                  The only problem I have with the machine is that I wish the blower was a little stronger and longer. It's about time to replace the blower as it wont stay put anymore, moves around while cutting.
                  Because of the amount of time I put on this machine I am about to move up to a Excalibur and keep the 788 as a backup. However the Excalibur will be paid for from the proceeds the 788 makes so it is more than paying for itself.
                  Brian in the Four Corners


                  • #10
                    Delta shopmaster. Dont know the model number nut it cost me about $125 or so about 12 years ago.

                    I love it.

                    It currently vibrates a lot but i dont have a stand for it and am just using a shopmate collapsible workstand so its to be expected. no matter though because i only cut on the slowest speed anyway.

                    i only cut 1/8" bb and the biggest blade i use is a 1.

                    I like it because i used to be able to easily get replacement parts. Also I can jury rig something if I can find the parts in most cases.

                    Right now I cant justify spending 1k on a saw for work that i do.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by evilbadger View Post

                      I like the fact that you decided to update this topic. The poll though is kind of vague so I hope people will report on the actual model they are using, I realize you cannot list every model by Craftsman, Delta, etc.

                      Thanks, Tim......I think the credit goes more to Rolf who pointed out that the old thread had become obsolete. Reading some comments in other threads, it appears some other members felt the same. Probably in a few years, this thread would benefit from a reboot as well.

                      I agree about the poll, but the maximum allowable choices the software allows is 10, so I wasn't able to break down model variations. Hopefully members submitting reviews will specify the type of saw they are reviewing (eg. the EX 21 and EX 30, or the Hegner 18V or 22V).

                      Thanks for your review, Tim, and to everyone else who has contributed thus far. With all of the collective experience and insight members of this forum have, I think this could be a very valuable thread for people looking to get started.
                      Shawn Ferguson

                      Come visit at The Ferguson Puzzle Company !


                      • #12
                        Thanks Shawn for making the effort.
                        I would love to have one of the manufacturers wake up and make an entry level saw with easy to use clamps for < $200. They would have a gold mine.
                        RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association


                        • #13
                          I love my Excalibur Ex-21. I was debating between it and the slightly more expensive Hawk when Hawk closed their doors. I was happily cutting on the Ex before they Bushton reopened them. The Ex was a huge improvement in both vibration and clamping over my initial craigslist special (Dremel 1671). My wife didn't think I was actually using the EX at first because it was quiet and I wasn't swearing every time I skinned my knuckles changing blades.

                          The only change I'd make if I needed to buy again would be to go larger: there have been several posters I'd have liked to cut into puzzles but which were too big to fit. On the other hand, it's quite big enough for most original work.

                          The tilting feature's value is very dependent on what you are cutting. For most of what I cut I leave it straight up, but as I experiment more with angle cutting for bowls and inlay it seems much easier than tilting the table. That said, I've never actually cut on a tilted table: the 1671 was difficult enough to get level I didn't want to mess with it. The Ex-21 is very easy to switch between tilted and vertical: I don't think I've even had to adjust for squareness after returning to vertical (check: yes, adjust: no).

                          From previous discussions and reviews it seems to me that there is a sharp difference in usability and quality between the budget saws and the Dewalt 788. Above the 788 you start running into diminishing returns: the saws get better, but not as fast as they get more expensive.

                          Unless you know you need the features of the higher end saws (larger throat or blade depth, tilting, super-heavy duty, etc.) you will likely be happy with the 788, but if you can budget it take a look at the others.

                          I don't regret my craigslist special as a cheap way to decide that I liked the scrollsaw enough to buy a good one, but it could easily have been frustrating enough to turn me off to scrolling completely. Once hooked, it was easy for me to justify upgrading to the Excalibur. I'm very glad I have the EX, but if I'd started with the 788 then I doubt I would have upgraded and would probably still be quite happy.



                          • #14
                            Started with a Dremel 1830, which I used for a couple of years. Good saw, despite the oilite bearings that constantly needed oiling (let you know when they squeaked. Unfortunately, certain speeds started vibrating pretty badly.

                            Bought a used DW788, Type 1, made in 2001. That thing was great.

                            Last year I let Ray talk me into an EX-21. This thing is even smoother than the Dewalt. I should have put the Dewalt on the shelf as a backup, but I let a friend talk me into selling it to him.

                            I usually cut 3/4-inch thick board or thicker as I'm mostly doing intarsia. I have cut 7/8th-inch thick walnut, with a 2/0 blade. Slow but it works. I wasn't able to do that with the Dremel at all.

                            I'll probably stay with the Excaliburs. If I do get another I'll move to the EX30.
                            The good woodworker does not craft the wood for honor. He uses his craft to honor the wood.


                            • #15
                              I did very little scrolling at the begining, using a Dremel with pinned blades. Didn't want to change it, so bought a Delta Q3 40-650 & used it for a few years & then wanted a different type blade clamp. It has the flat clamp & my DeWalt 788 has the thumb screw which allows me to use the spiral blades much easier. I could not get the spiral blade clamped tight enough, if I adjusted the clamp open enough to get the blade into it. Much happier with my 788, & it is one of the type II saws. I haven't had any problems, except replaced one of the blade holders. The reason for that was the thread stripped out & could not tighten a blade in the holder. Got a spare just in case now. I really like the 788 & will continue to use it as long as I (ME) hold up. A little humor - HA Thank you Shawn for the post. I think it was needed for everyone, especially the newcomers.


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