The Hawk G4 combines size, power, and a choice of blade-feeding methods.
With a 26"-deep throat, the G4 is one of the largest scroll saws available. The size allows you to cut large projects that would require the use of spiral blades on smaller models. The American-made saw can cut materials up to 2 5/8"-thick. I wouldn't try to cut hickory that thick with a #2/0 blade, but with a larger blade, you can easily cut thick pieces of less dense wood, such as pine or cedar.
One of the most useful features of the G4 is the ability to "top feed." Older Hawk models require you to loosen the blade from the top holder, tilt the wood up, and feed it through the blade-entry holes from the bottom.
Bottom feeding the blade is an exercise in patience, especially when using fine blades and small blade-entry holes. The improved design of the G4 allows you to release the blade from the bottom blade holder, lift the top arm, position the workpiece so the next blade-entry hole is under the blade, and feed the blade back down through the hole from the top. When top-feeding, you can easily line up the blade and hole. There's no tilting or fumbling around for the hole. Some other brands of saws have always offered the option to top feed, but the G4 is the first Hawk scroll saw to offer the option.
Top feeding does require you to feel around to position the blade in the bottom holder. It takes a bit of practice to get the blade lined up in the holder properly. Hawk has experimented with a number of different designs for the bottom holder. On the G4, the bottom of the blade fits down into a hole and is clamped in place with a set screw. It can be difficult to fit the blade into the hole; it tends to get caught on the threads of the screw. But once you get a feel for aligning the blade, it becomes easier, and the screw holds the blade tightly.
You can set the variable speed to cut relatively slow or fast. When cutting most projects, I set the speed at about 75% of the top speed. That is fast enough to do most of the cuts I need while still providing the control that delicate cuts require. For hard woods, such as when I was cutting a puzzle from hickory, I cranked the speed up, and was surprised at how easily the saw took on the hard, dense wood. I don't cut many things at a very low speed, but the saw slows down enough that I was comfortable cutting delicate and intricate fretwork.
The hickory puzzle I cut also demonstrated the raw power of the motor. Other scroll saws I’ve used struggled a bit with the dense wood, but I could not detect a change in the motor power when cutting the hickory. RBI, the manufacturer of Hawk saws, claims that their Duratorque 2.0 Industrial Grade Power System delivers full power at every speed, and in my opinion, that is a fair claim.
The G4 features adjustable "feet" on the bottom of the legs that allow you to perfectly level the saw. If you take the time to level the saw, there is no vibration. The table tilting mechanism is similar to other Hawk saws; the time tested clamping system works as well on the G4 as it did on the other Hawk designs.
The one thing that I was concerned about was the plastic clips that hold the bottom blade holder to the bottom arm of the scroll saw. I've heard several reports of these clips breaking. When I contacted company officials, I was told that they are in the process of redesigning the clips. They originally chose to use the plastic clips because they are lighter in weight than comparable metal clips. The lighter weight helps the saw to run better. The company has received a few complaints about the clips, and are responding to customer suggestions to correct the problems.
Contact Hawk if your clip breaks. To replace the clip, remove the two screws holding it in place, put the new clip in position, and replace the screws.
The Hawk G4 is available for $1,199 from RBI Hawk Tools. The saw includes a getting started kit, complete with free patterns and samples of different scroll saw blades. For more information, or to order a saw, contact RBI Hawk Tools at 800-487-2623, www.rbiwoodtools.com.