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2013 Scroll Saw Buyer's Guide

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An updated guide to today’s most popular scroll saws

Scroll saws vary in price almost as much as they vary in features. The most inexpensive models cost about $100, while the most expensive can cost $2,000 or more. Choosing the right saw depends on what you expect to get out of it. Some beginners make their initial purchase based solely on price. They want a cost-effective way to try out the hobby. Unfortunately, lower-end saws can be difficult to use and often end up frustrating the user and driving people away from a rewarding hobby.

SSW40An updated buyer's guide is is a special feature available in SSW50.

More experienced scrollers often choose a new saw based on specific performance criteria. Intarsia artists are interested in saws that can cut thick wood. Fretwork portrait artists usually prefer saws with a large throat depth that allows them to cut bigger projects and top-feeding saws in which the blade can be released from the bottom blade holder and threaded down through the top of the workpiece. Traditional fretwork artists are interested in saws that provide smooth vibration-free cutting and produce cuts that are perfectly square to the workpiece. There are different saws designed to meet all of these different needs.

Itarsia Woodworking for Beginners  Wooden Bowls from the Scroll Saw  Scroll Saw Workbook  Big Book of SS Woodworking

2013 Scroll Saw Buyer's Guide

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Comments (29 posted):

scrollpup on 07/08/2010 12:12:57
Excellent article Bob! You really did your homework on this one! Jerry
wood-n-things on 07/08/2010 12:35:44
Nicely done Bob...The price for the 788 is a bit high in your article but then they fluctuate through out the year.
Marsha on 07/08/2010 13:10:42
I think it's a great article, well researched and very well documented. We need more articles like this one. Thanks Bob Marsha
ChuckD on 07/08/2010 16:13:12
I agree with all the above. Great Job....:food-smiley-004[1]:
Rolf on 07/09/2010 08:13:38
I don't know Bob, I think you wussed out on us:93[1]:by not picking the best high end saw. Which of course is the Hawk G4. Ok now that I have stirred things up a bit, it is a great article. I like how you presented the deciding factors based on the type of scrolling that will be done.
BobD on 07/09/2010 09:30:09
Well...since they're not making the G4 right now, I couldn't decide Bob
keystonecop on 07/09/2010 10:55:00
Page Not Found This is a dedicated thread for discussing article: 2010 Scroll Saw Buyer's Guide Preview
BobD on 07/09/2010 12:44:13
Yeah, it's in the magazine (that's how people were commenting on it). We were experimenting with how to present it on the web, which is why the articlebot posted the link. We're hoping to have it live soon.
JohnB on 07/09/2010 21:42:30
It's up and in lights now :)
pupper70 on 07/11/2010 13:28:53
Great job, Bob. It was fairly done and very interesting. Dan
Gordie on 07/11/2010 14:59:38
Speaking of high end, what happened to my favorite; Hegner!!!!!! Thanks for allowing my input too Gordie
B'ville Scroller on 07/11/2010 16:25:29
I read through the article but I also know that the Dewalt 788 is not being manufactured anymore as the company migrated it to the Delta 40-690 (that's why they look alike). Is there a reason that this article did not point out this fact? Yes, it is still available from suppliers who have them in the stockroom but it is my understanding that once they are gone, they are gone.
Steviegwood on 07/12/2010 01:07:15
I just bought the EX-30 for $859.00 using the 15% off that General had. Hard to get used to top feeding after user the bottom feeding Delta Q-3 for twenty years. Great article on the saws and very fair except that I personally thought that some of the price quotes were high. Steve
Shannon on 07/12/2010 13:07:47
We had to go with the manufacturer's suggested retail price for the guide. Bargains can be found with a little leg work!
dedijerry on 07/12/2010 14:56:15
Good article, there is a design flaw with the Porter - Cable as well as the preceding Hitachi, however. The table tilt has a small ball bearing for a guide that "locks it in at various angles" the problem is the hole the bearing sits in is too large and it allows play (1- 2 degrees) in the table top. You must continually check for square as it will slip out of tension while your working both Hitachi's I have had (one was a return) and every Porter Cable I checked at all 5 Lowes I have checked has the same problem. I was surprised no one noticed this during the review. I still like my saw for an entry level saw and am trying hard to wear it out so I can step up to new and better saw.
Huntter2022 on 07/14/2010 19:30:44
Bob you did a great job on the review's The G4 is not being made I was told from Bushington #1 reason is they don't read Japanese so they decided to not do it
hotshot on 07/14/2010 21:13:06
Before I proceed: I did appreciate the article and was very thrilled to see this topic covered. I was especially excited to see the side by side stats and such . . . . I was curious to see how candid the article would be as it is considerably easier to write about the positive than the negative. Our community is highly religious/loyal concerning their tools. You couldn't criticize a Ryobi without offending someone. So to take an ultra critical approach to all the saws may be outside the realm of reasonability for a publisher. I understand, really! Still, in a different kind of world, it would have been interesting to note: *The country where the saw was made, *Manufacturing issues *Systemic issues with certain saws or parts *Dust collection Effectiveness (on the saws that have such a system) *Noise *The effectiveness of the "puffer/blower" (PorterCable is very weak) *Trueness of the table *Effectiveness of angle guide *Accessbility and ease of lower blade clamp *Financial Stability/History/Longevity of the manufacturer *Effectiveness of the light for the saws that come with it *Weight *Effectiveness or Ease of the tension guide (PC stinks compared to EX) *Forward and Back motion of blade (this was mentioned for the Eclipse, but it's hard to give meaning with out knowing deviation of the other saws) *Differences in Stand types per saw (was glad to see mention of the wheelchair accessible table) Street Price (save us the leg work), Market Share and etc. I'm sure a few things I just mentioned were in the article or stats and I just overlooked it. Of course I realize negatives are tricky as your negative might be a non-issue for me. Since new hobbiest are constantly hitting the forums for advice, it might be nice to post a link on the home page titled "Looking for advice on a new saw?" and point it on to a html version of this article.
BobD on 07/19/2010 09:09:54
When I was in contact with Delta/DeWalt/B&D, none of them said anything about the DeWalt being discontinued. Your comment is the first I've heard of that. They even sent me a 788 to include in the guide, which I'd consider strange if they were discontinuing them...
treslakter on 07/21/2010 07:21:13
I have a DW788 that I bought from the US with a little help from friends. (It has been marketed in Norway, but was discontinued due to low interest because of price, and probably also little interest in scrollsawing.) The remark about Delta taking over took me into looking for the two saws on DeWalts and Deltas home pages. While it was quick and easy to find the Delta version on their home page, I couldn't find a scrollsaw listed on DeWalts home page; but I found a pointer to a lower level of their page when I googled for DW788. This was the US version of DeWalts pages. I haven't looked into pages meant for other markets. I have no idea when it comes to the significance of the observation, but a production line with only one lane for painting and the same in the printing department probably saves some money? - None the less I think I better get me some spare parts just in case they come up with some really clever ideas...
Rolf on 07/21/2010 08:47:39
Hotshot, You make some good points but I think that anyone buying a saw or any tool for that matter needs to do their homework. This forum is a gold mine when it comes to pros and cons of most saws. But most negative and positive comments tend to be personal prefferences. An example, I am not a fan of the Dewalt for a variety of reasons yet it is probably the most popular saw out there so I am in the minority. I love the Hawk G4, I think it is the best saw for my style of cutting. The bottom line is that I think an article like this presents the atributes of each saw as it should. It is up to us the consumer to take that as a starting point and decide what is an acceptable tool for our needs.
JimSawyer on 07/21/2010 11:57:13
Well, I've already, (long ago), made up my mind that I intend to have two saws in my shop; the 788 and the EX-30. I really enjoyed the graph with each saw's attributes. I think someone looking to buy a new saw will find it ultimately useful. It was good to see what options are available to sawyers, (though I've already got my mind made up)....:) I agree that the prices were a little off. I would suggest that if someone is interested in a certain saw that they do a little shopping. Here's a little piece of nostalgia that I found a little while ago.... [ATTACH]32549[/ATTACH] That's a reciept for my DeWalt 788. It's my favorite reciept.......:)
ubgoofy2003 on 07/21/2010 12:31:33
That's great Jim, I only paid $ 419.oo for my 788 in 2008. I also have two saws, a Delta & the 788. Just recently I had to rely on the Delta while I fixed the stripped threads on my 788. Nice to have a second. -- Perk
ubgoofy2003 on 07/21/2010 12:37:02
Question, B'Ville Scroller? What about the parts for the DeWalt, are they the same as the Delta?, and inter-changible ? Let's hear the whole story, if you know what they are doing. Let us know if you can. --- Perk
JimSawyer on 07/21/2010 13:48:42
All I have to fall back on is my old Taiwanese knock off saw, (that I keep on a shelf, I cut my teeth on that saw), that's been through alot. Using it would be like trying to play Jimi Hendick's guitar after Woodstock. Really unstable table.......
Rolf on 07/21/2010 15:07:39
My fall back is a Delta SS350. Not a bad saw but I hope to replace it with the new Hawk Junior after I take one for test run.
Shannon on 07/22/2010 17:02:03
Oh my gosh Jim - I can't find my tax return from 1998 let alone a receipt! :)
JimSawyer on 07/22/2010 22:55:40
What can I say.... I'm a romantic. I put it in a safe place for safe keeping. and it just stayed safe. I was going through this old box of drawing pads that have collected over the past 20 years and found it in one of the books. I have half a mind to make a suitable frame for it, lol. I just wish I knew the exact date I did my first inlay; [ATTACH]32607[/ATTACH], which is on my fridge right now. I only remember that it was the summer of '95. I took a chance, and it worked!! I do have the very first thing I made with my 788 when I got it home. It's an earth magnet inlay that I wrote, '#1", right on the back of and stuck it right on the top arm of the saw. It's there right now.......heheh
SawTooth on 10/24/2010 03:06:47
I am curious why 8 of 23 saws in the Review didn't have their vibration rated. Spence
Shannon on 10/25/2010 08:03:04
We couldn't rate their vibration because we didn't have the saws here to test.
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