Choosing a Saw:                                                

Most of the saws are the parallel arm design and range in price from cheap to expensive. I feel that the saying, "you get what you pay for", describes the saws pretty close. The parallel saws are easier for the beginner to learn to use and control. They are good at precise cutting and will cut the thicker materials.

    Now you may have looked at the forums on the net and got a wide variety of answers to what is the best saw to buy. There are a lot of good saw on the market and each one has things that are different, maybe better, maybe not. If we compare it to what we drive that's why some like myself drive a Suburban, other a pickup, others a BMW, others a Cadillac, and some a Ford Taurus. What is the right saw for you is your choice, but I would like to give you a few things to consider when looking at saws. There is really no one saw that is the best for everything that everyone wants. If that was true only one saw would be left on the market. So look at the points that are made here and decide for yourself what will fit the needs you want in a saw. Basically they all cut and a person can enjoy the fun of scrolling on any of them, and that is what it's really all about.

    The first thing that I look for is the overall looks of the saw. Does it look like the parts all blend together and were made to fit or does it look like the parts were used because they would work. Where are the controls located. Do I need to look under the saw to find the on/off switch, or is it on top or out to the side where it is visible from a cutting position, without having to move my head to see it. Then are the controls large enough to read and use, do the numbers on the variable speed control relate to the speed , or is it just a dial, then you guess what speed it's running. Is the on/off switch convenient to use, large enough to turn it off fast when needed.

   Is there a blower on the saw and where is it located. But first does the blower have enough power to blow the sawdust off the table or at least the cut line. And from what distance, I like to have the blower up above the height of the top blade clamp so that it does not obscure my vision to the blade and cutting area. Another reason for the height is so that I don't have to move it each time that a hole change is needed for fretwork. If it does hang too low is there a way that I can move it to a higher location.

    Now the table top, is it large enough to support the work. I don't need one that is 30" in diameter in case I work on a large piece. But I also am not wanting one that is 8" X 8" that makes me feel like a waiter trying to balance a tray on one hand. Some of the table tops seem large but when you look at them most of the top is behind the blade, what do you use that area for, it's under the arm anyway. Are the edges of table smooth or is there a sharp edge there that will nick your finger or scratch your work. Is the arm high enough off the table so that I can have my fingers on the work and make turns, under the arm, without having to reposition my hold for a quick turn under the arm. How is the blade slot in the table. Is it an insert that can be changed or is there a slot all the way out the front of the table from the hole, does the slot have edges that will catch the edges of the work piece as you turn it, or is it machined to let  the work slide over it.

    Now for the blade holders. What do I need to do to put a new blade into the saw. Are there clamps for the blade that are removed from the saw to insert the blade in, or are the blade clamps attached to the saw. What tools are need to change the blade, do they come with the saw, how handy are they to use. If I want to change sizes of blades do I need to readjust the clamps or does the normal blade changing process take care of that. When doing fretwork and one end of the blade may be changed 40 times or more, does the blade get bent by the clamp so that it can't be fed through your 1/32" holes for the fretwork. How easy is it to remove the blade, top or bottom, for fretwork. Is this something that is flipping a lever, a thumbscrew, or do you need tools to do it. Some fretwork has 400+ holes, so you may need to do that unhook and  re-hook quite a few times. Some saws use the pin end blades that just need to be hooked. Seems like a fast way to change a blade. But these blades only come in large sizes. Where most of my cutting is done with a #2 or #5 blade. The smallest blade in the pin end blades is more in the #9 or #12 range. These big blades make small detail work almost impossible.
    Now let's turn the saw on. How much noise does it make, remember this is a thing  you may do for hours. How much does the saw vibrate. Vibration can be intensified by mounting the saw on a workbench. Does the saw have a stand available for it that may help reduce the vibration. A 3 legged stand will give a better base for the saw than a 4 legged stand. And just about always the saw will have less vibration on the stand than on a workbench. One quick test for this , run your saw where you want to mount it. Then set the saw on a concrete floor and run it. You will probably notice a big difference in the vibration. The 3 legged stand is the closest you can get to having a good solid base for the saw. If it's variable speed run it up and down in speed to see if the stroke remains smooth or gets jerky at certain speeds. Did the vibration change as the speed was changed?

      It's finally time to cut on the saw and see what it really will do. Cut into a board and see if the saw has the needed power to cut what you want it to. Some saws really have a under powered motor and if you feed too fast you will notice the motor laboring and stalling, not what you want. Try cutting turns on the saw, mild and sharp, and see if the cutting changes while making those turns. Some saws bog down in the turns because of the twist being put on the blade. Does the saw have enough clearance to let you make your turns without having to reposition you hands all the time. Does the saw seem as smooth and vibration free when placed under the
cutting load. It's easy to get a saw to run smooth just running, but when cutting everything can change real fast on how the saw performs. Did the blower keep the sawdust off the cut line? Mostly how did the saw feel to you, you're the one who is going to have to cope with the performance.

    Don't get discouraged if everything on the saw is not perfect. Keep in mind that you are trying it like others have and the table may not be square, others may have not set it back square after checking out the way it tilts. The blade in the saw may be larger than the size you would use. Ask if they have a different blade the size you use and try it in the saw. Remember that everyone walking by may stop and jam a board into the blade like using a chainsaw, so the dealer keeps a large blade in the saw so they don't get broken all the time. The blade alignment may not be set right on the saw either. Just ask the dealer if the saw was set up or is it right out of the box. We all know that out of the box is not always set perfect, that's why the manuals tell you to check all the setup before you use it. Don't be afraid to try what you want to. For you to buy one and bring it back is a problem for you and the dealer, they want you happy with the purchase when you make it. So check everything out before you make the final decision on which one you want to buy.

    There are a lot of good saws on the market today. Finding the one you like the feel of is the important thing. Don't always listen to everything that you are told. Try it yourself and remember what you were told, and see if it is as big a problem as you were led to believe. Everyone of us have reasons why we chose the saw we are using. Some of those reasons may not make any sense to you at this point. But think about what you want from the saw.  Many have a saw they really enjoy and think it is the best, but they have never used any of the other saws on the market to compare it to. That new car you bought in 1992 was real nice, but look at the same car today, a lot of improvements and changes have probably been made to it.

     All this and much more are things that you will want to look at on a saw. I hope that the above list gives you an idea of the things to look for and try before making that purchase of a saw.

          What saw would I buy. Depends on the price range I want to spend.
            The ones I would be sure to take a close look at before buying:

           Delta 16" VS    Cost range $160.00
           Delta Q3           Cost range $460.00  ( Includes stand )
           Dewalt              Cost range $400.00  ( Includes stand )
           Delta P20          Cost range $480.00  ( Includes Stand )

           Excalibar           Cost range $850- $1400
           RBI                   Cost range  $800.00- $1100.00
           Hegner              Cost range $1000.00-$2200.00
           Eclipse                Cost range $1500.00


Subject: "uncle," - selection of scroll saw
Date: 01/24/01
Posted By: DonPet

As a follow-up on an earlier post. I had posted just before Christmas, my wife had purchased a Ryobi VS scroll saw for me as a Christmas present. I had made some items with it for Christmas presents, and found some positives and negatives about the saw... Many of you had only negative comments about the saw and praised the Delta VS as a good entry level saw. Well, "uncle," I decided to take the Ryobi back and see if Home Depot would still exchange it. They did, and boy what a difference in the two saws. I chose the Delta over the Rigid for a couple of reasons. (1) the arm/throat clearance was greater; (2) the motor was a 2 amp. as opposed to the Rigid 1.2 amp (both Rigid and Ryobi have 1.2 amp motors) (3) the quick change blade system (4) interchangeable table insert opening, easier to make and insert zero clearance blade inserts (a blank one was also supplied) (5) Heavier and more solid table and frame, although the table is smaller than both the Ryobi and the Rigid; (6) up front blade tensioning (spring tension on Ryobi and in the rear on the Rigid). I tried cutting with just the blade supplied and the Delta sliced right through both thin " plywood and equally well with 5/4, cutting some very small puzzle shaped pieces. Much less vibration than the Ryobi, both high and low RPM. I did not experience any "chattering" of the workpiece, at least yet, as I did on the Ryobi. I am definitely not as experienced as most of you guys in the art of scrolling, but I think I may enjoy some of the minor scroll work I do a little more with this saw.  One question, I might ask however, "Why would some of you recommend the Rigid over the Delta for entry level?" It does have a life time warranty back through Home Depot, but it has less arm clearance than the Delta, it has a smaller motor (although I'm familiar with amps/motors and know sometimes this doesn't mean much), and thumb screw change as opposed to quick snap blade lock on
the Delta and it does cost a few dollars more. I guess with my inexperience, I just don't see the advantages.
I enjoy reading WOOD forum

Delta & DeWalt long term review
Mon, 28 May 2001 18:42:14 -0500

I have several brands of scroll saw in my Technology classroom. The scroll saws are used by middle school students to cut pine, basswood, poplar, mahogany, plexiglass and styrofoam. The scroll saw is used because it is very safe and can be used as a general cutting machine. After three years we have two Delta Q3s that have malfunctioning electronics. One Q3 still works. Out of 5 DeWalts, two have had electronic problems, one keeps blowing fuses, and two sound like they will fly apart any minute. Too bad because they are nice machines. I have two Delta 18" variable speed saws from the early 1990s. After four years the electronics quit. I then used them with on/off switches. After seven years one motor quit. 
We still have several old style Delta scroll saws that we constantly repair however, they have been around for twenty to thirty years.
The new Delta P20 sounded great. No electronics to break. We have used one now since September. This is the best saw so far except for the one big design flaw. When the students cut their race cars (1 7/8" thick basswood) the upper chuck sways right to left, leaving a crooked cut.
The literature says the saw can handle wood up to 2" thick. It can as long as you don't want to cut straight. We now hold the upper chuck in place with a plastic garbage bag tie. The tie has to be cut and replaced whenever an inside cut is required. Delta could fix this easily with two guide pins on either side of  the chuck. This would be a great saw with this little fix. Without the fix the saw is useless for any wood over an inch thick! Bad goof for a $500 saw.


Subject: Dremel scrollsaw
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001 08:16:16 -0600
From: Rik White <>

Have you had the opportunity to use this piece of junk? I've been through 3 since March. All suffer the same problem, they just plain
quit running for no apparent reason. The saw has many flaws but this is the most frustrating. I thought you might want to add a review of this
paperweight to your website. Rik.


This was posted on the groups by Hal Shearer,

To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, June 11, 2002 12:34 PM
Subject: [Scroll Sawing] RBI and the new saw question (long)

I realize I am late to this game since I haven't been lurking here much, but I do have some comments.

I have been driving a DeWalt for three or four years now and always wondered about the top of the line saws. I got to try several at SAW
2002 - the Eclipse, Hegner and RBI. Here is my simple summary: If you are going to build a new saw ( or anything for that matter) don't
cripple it with a minor outdated design; if you built what was a superior product at one time, don't assume you will stay at the front
of the pack without some updates. Don't the designers follow these lists to see what their customers want for new features and what
problems they are having? I am pretty sure that most of us like up front controls. Would it change the quality of Hegner, Ex, RBI to move
their power and speed controls?

Eclipse: for all the wonderful improvements why do you still have to grab a wrench to change blades???? The demo guy spent half the time
describing how you could "easily" buy a few parts and fix the problem. Well, duh, if it is so easy and cheap why isn't it already there?

I still want to see Tom thread on his Hegner. It seems that the demo guys only want to cut cutsie shapes, no fretwork, no threading unless
you beg. Hmmm, I am not looking for a bandsaw.

I let the RBI folks talk me into trying their 26" because it sounded like it would resolve a couple issues I was having with my DeWalt. I
have been testing it for a couple of weeks now with nonstellar results. The first issue is vibration. I don't recall any at the SAW
demo, but on my concrete basement floor, it likes to walk around on it's own. I have to plant a foot next to one of the legs on the stand
to keep the machine in front of me. Their support folks are trying to get an answer for me. I have it right next to the DeWalt so I can
switch back and forth. RBI = 4 legged stand, DeWalt = 3 legged stand. I set a glass of water on each table and ran the motor through it's
entire range of speeds. NO vibes from the DeWalt at full speed - the water was still. A little bit of vibration at about 3/4 full speed.
The RBI has vibration at all speeds (1-10), more at about 8. With the glass right over the bolts that hold the table to the tilt trunnions
it has the least vibration - still more than anywhere on the DeWalt. But if you move the glass toward you, in front of the blade where the
table is unsupported, where your hands normally are, the water was trying to jump out of the glass. This was disappointing since I didn't
think the vibration was even going to be an issue.

Next is the threading. I had forgotten what a pain it is to thread from the bottom. Someone mentioned that he found it hard to always
bend over to reclamp the bottom clamp while threading from the top on the DeWalt. Must of top threaders have learned to attach the bottom
clamp without looking - but how do you bottom threaders find the next hole without bending over? (or removing the whole blade setup and the
project on the Hegner) If the hole is big enough you can poke a broken blade through from the top and feel for it on the bottom to help out -
but with tiny holes that a size 00 blade will barely squeeze through, you can't poke that second blade through from the top. On the RBI, you
have to bend over and look.

It is well known that blades slip in the DeWalt clamps. There are always messages about cleaning the blades and clamps or roughing them
up. I was hoping to move beyond that with the RBI and I am happy to say that so far, the blades have not slipped in their clamps, and the
top is just a thumbscrew similar to the DeWalt's.

I still have trouble keeping the cut perfectly vertical on thick cuts. I thought the RBI would help here as well. The jury is still out on
this issue. I have gotten the same good results on both saws in all of my specific tests for this so far. I guess I need to be that slow and
careful on all of my cuts.

I guess I should have known better. There are some nice features on the RBI, but so far there are many things that I just take for granted
on the DeWalt that are missing on the RBI. I still have some time on the 30 day trial and I will be doing more testing. Not convinced yet.

Hal   (sorry this got long)