Hegner, Second Look
Not long after that first Hegner review, I inherited that same Hegner I reviewed, and my life pattern changed such that the Hegner was the only saw I had access to during my work week. I changed from reviewer to user, and in doing so, hours of use and experience have changed some of my perceptions and weighing of the characteristics of the Hegner in terms of strengths and weaknesses. In several areas, my opinion of the saw has improved.
What perceptions have changed with use/time?
1. The saw is fun. I've grown quite fond of this saw and the elements of changing blades that were extremely painful at first have become tollerable.
2. The top QuickClamp (which is not standard) is easier to use than the knob on the EX, and much better than the wing nut style I reviewed (which is still available). The QuickClamp model takes the guess work out of blade alignment and is very easy to tighten. Having to remove the bottom clamp, and use a tool to tighten it is not easier, but with time, the process goes smoother.
3. I can't overstate how nice it is to not worry about adjusting the saw for blade travel or dealing with the set screw in the clamps.
4. The built in blower was worse than I originally thought. I've added FD Mikes' blower extension, so now I'm quite happy with that aspect.
5. I have just encountered a major break in the Hegner, but because of the simplicity of the design, I'm able to fix the breakage myself. I would be scared to death to tackle this on my Excalibur. Itís not that I didnít know this about the saw before, but I now value this characteristic more.
6. On this saw, the arms have more mass moving up and down than the double parallel arm saws, and thus, vibration is greater at the higher end. I didn't appreciate the difference initially.
What perceptions remain:
1. The Hegner and its parts should not cost what they do. At the Hegner price point, the QuickClamp and better blower hose should come standard, as well as the additional clamps for larger and smaller blades. The saw just doesn't feel like it should cost $1700 (stand, quickclamp, footswitch, 2 additional clamp sizes, TuffKey).
2. Top feeding, though possible, is not as easy as on other newer designs. For large pieces where bottom feeding is extremely difficult, this becomes more relevant.
3. Because of the simplicity of Design (and regardless of my current Hegner break down), I still believe the Hegner has the reliability advantage.
So do I prefer the Hegner to my Ex? Yes and No.
Hegner wins in reliability. Because of the simplicity of it's design, Hegner wins in terms of ease of repair. Hegner wins by far in terms of warrantee (7 years vs two for the EX). Hegner wins in the area of minimal blade travel. Finally, Hegner has a better top clamp option in the QuickClamp. For those with weak hands, the ability to gain leverage to tighten the bottom clamp with the Tuff Key might be an advantage.
For a total blade change out, Excalibur is easier/quicker. Excalibur wins in terms of being able to lift the top arm out of the way for either top or bottom feeding. For top feeding, Excalibur wins outright. Excalibur has bigger table surface. Excalibur wins on price (with the more complex design, you would think it would be more expensive than Hegner). Excalibur comes standard with a good blower solution and their best clamps. Excalibur wins for the table tilting mechanism. Excalibur won over my children as they do not like the blade change mechanism on the Hegner at all.
The best saw for you will depend on how much you value the best characteristics of each saw, and how much you can tolerate the weaknesses of each saw. No more apt than in scroll sawing is the saying, "different strokes for different folks." :-)
Posted 01-20-2012 at 10:31 AM by Jim Finn