I needed a new one.

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Review by Craftsman on the lake posted 08-21-2009 02:41 PM 11819 views 0 times favorited 27 comments Add to Favorites Watch
I needed a new one. No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I rarely use a scroll saw. If I have to do some scroll work I either do it by hand or use a bandsaw for outside work. Recently I had to do lots of inside scrolling. I’ve got an old craftsman scroll saw that I less than affectionally call ‘Thumper’ for obvious reasons. But, it cut and was good for work that wasn’t too intricate.
I’m making a desk for my niece and the side panels between the styles are the medical symbol for an RN as she’s soon to be graduating from Nursing school. I’ll post this build after it’s finished. I started out with Thumper then I broke the blade alignment guide. It’s essential for this machine and is unavailable as it’s so old. I decided that it was time for a new scroll saw.

Here’s a picture of Thumper and the panel I was working on.

I researched scroll saws both here and elsewhere on the net. I was surprised to see the low number of choices. My scroll saw needs are few and probably will be for awhile. I know the Dewalt is king right now along with a few other higher priced ones but I didn’t see myself spending $500+ on this tool. Lots of the scroll saws get marginal reviews. Many are in the $99-$150 category. I took a look around and ended up at Lowes. Of all the saws I looked at in the lower/mid price range the Hitachi seemed to look like it was constructed to last awhile. I won’t mention other brands I looked at, at the risk of offending anyone.

I’ll discuss these features pictured below

Upper blade vise, Table tilt knobs, Lower blade vise, On off and speed control.

The saw comes with a stand, but I had a 3/4” plywood cabinet stand for Thumper so I used that. As a result I think the vibration is at a minimum. Maybe that’s because I’m used to Thumper but the Hitachi seems to run pretty smoothly.
The blade insertion is two small vises on the upper and lower arms. They have thumbscrews but the top one also has an allen wrench insert. Some people indicate that the lower vise doesn’t hold pinless blades well. Mine does so I can say that this isn’t a problem. The lower one is a little tight for my large fingers but if I tilt the table to the right there is more room. I found it amusing though that the directions say that they recommend pinless blades if possible but the saw comes with two pin blades indicating that some people are having issues and to avoid calls they have switched the supplied blades from pinless to pin.
The saw has a servicable dust blower. The worklight has a separate switch. The saw has a large well placed on/off switch right over the upper arm and above that is the variable speed control. Both feel and look like they will last.
The front of the table has a knob within a knob. The outer one tilts the table (to either side) up to 45 degrees and the center knob locks it in that position. I am impressed with the way the mechanism snaps the table into position at various degrees and the gear that accomplishes this movement is a fairly large steel mechanism. Nothing flimsy about it.
The unit is mostly cast iron or steel with the exception of the green plastic cover on the side. It has two screws and I can see myself opening it up periodically to clean out the small scrolled chips that drop through and into the lower base area. the base also has a 1” dust port on the lower front right of the unit. There is a small blade compartment at the lower left, back of the saw.
When using the saw the first thing I noticed is that even though the blade was moving very fast at high speed, the rate of cutting was much slower than Thumper. Granted I was using two thicknesses of 1/2” oak screwed together thus 1” of oak in thickness which would be tough on any saw. Thumper used to cut as fast as a band saw. I think it was the long stroke it had. There was a little more wait time with the Hitachi but the cleaner more controlled cutting is worth the drop in speed. I broke one blade in the whole cutting of the panels that you can see below.
The saw was $179 at Lowes. It’s going to be just fine for my needs in the foreseeable future. In my mind I don’t mind buying something at a certain price point but I have to go at least to a level that makes it feel like I’m getting something equal to that dollar figure in product. The high caliber expensive machines were not practical for me right now and some of the lower priced machines didn’t fit that dollar/quality idea that well. The Hitachi CW40 seemed someplace in the middle and was the right buy for my needs. I gave it 5 stars for what it is at this dollar level.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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Craftsman on the lake

3336 posts in 4211 days

27 comments so far

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4527 days

#1 posted 08-21-2009 02:54 PM

Very nice review. I have a scroll saw for the same exact purposes. I got a Delta Shopmaster as a gift a couple of years ago and it suit my purpose also. If this guy were to die like Thumper, I would be glad to pick up this Hitachi….

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

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13704 posts in 4114 days

#2 posted 08-21-2009 03:04 PM

i got a $100.00 ryobi , it work’s somewhat .
someday i’ll get an excalibur 30” , like i used to have .
but for now this one works .
thanks for the review , i’ll keep it in mind .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Trikzter's profile


42 posts in 4029 days

#3 posted 08-21-2009 03:08 PM

Thanks for the review. I am looking for a scroll saw and just can’t bring myself to be paying the high dollar on the more expensive ones (can’t afford it either).

-- Rick... A tree knows more about wood then I do.

View PurpLev's profile


8574 posts in 4421 days

#4 posted 08-21-2009 03:31 PM

Thanks Daniel, good review.

like you, for any intricate work, I use the bandsaw with a 3/32” blade as I just can’t find the need to get ‘another’ machine since most my intricate work is on edge, and not yet inside work. but it’s good to know there are other option that don’t cost $500 when the time comes.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View kosta's profile


946 posts in 4127 days

#5 posted 08-21-2009 09:50 PM

I got a task force 16in scroll saw and the blade holder on the bottom arm broke off and let me tell you something that was a pain in the ass to fix I spent over 4 hours straight trying to put a new pin in but I finally got it to work but having a foot pedal really makes a big difference

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 4043 days

#6 posted 08-22-2009 01:27 AM

I’ve got the dremel…it is nice for the price and works great – I got it when I had to make a bunch of small stuff for a friends kid’s model train layout…

Now, I just dont have much need for it…so it gathers alot of dust….I was thinking of selling/trading it so that I can get the bench space for something else. I was going to put it up on craigslist as soon as I get the rest of the junk that was in my old shop sorted out…

I never recommend to anyone to buy a jig saw unless you are making models or doing lots of intricate scroll work….even with that I will usually reach for my router and a pattern bit…...much more control and infinitely better work…without so much tear out and vibration..

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View a1Jim's profile


118066 posts in 4350 days

#7 posted 08-22-2009 03:25 AM

View littlecope's profile


3097 posts in 4275 days

#8 posted 08-22-2009 03:30 AM

Hey, I have one of those “Thumper” things too!!! What an apt description…LOL (I can’t believe my saw just got a nickname!!)
That Hitachi looks like a dandy! If I ever need one I’ll have to look into those…Thanks!

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View ericandcandi's profile


152 posts in 4291 days

#9 posted 08-22-2009 04:30 AM

Melted my thumper when it cracked…..Headed to lowes now. Thanks for the review

-- ericandcandi in Louisiana- Home of the "LSU Tigers"

View woodbutcher's profile


592 posts in 4939 days

#10 posted 08-22-2009 06:23 AM

Craftsman on the lake,
Very nice review. I looked at that same saw at Lowes sometime back, and I have to agree with you. I believe that scrollsaw offers the biggest bang for the buck out there right now. I use nothing but pin/less blades for my scroll work. I’m sure the new Hitachi you have will handle pin/less blades just as easily as pinned type blades. As far as the speed of cut goes in that very thick wood you were cutting, I’ve found that slowing the strokes per minute down and using blades with fewer teeth speeds the cutting on most thick woods. Good luck with your new saw and congratulations on an excellent choice.

Ken McGinnis

-- woodbutcher north carolina

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Craftsman on the lake

3336 posts in 4211 days

#11 posted 08-22-2009 07:26 AM

Yes 3fingerpat, In fact I removed the wire part of the hold down and just use the metal head that it screws into. The wire part was shaped and bent funny. I didn’t think it did the job right. Funny though, Thumper had a hold down much like the presser foot on a sewing machine, like a two tined fork. That was a pretty good design.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View bayouman's profile


94 posts in 4438 days

#12 posted 08-22-2009 04:34 PM

I have the same scroll saw and it does a great job for the price.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4446 days

#13 posted 08-22-2009 04:45 PM

Congrats on your ne scroll saw.

View DaleM's profile


958 posts in 4157 days

#14 posted 08-22-2009 06:02 PM

Other than the shape of the table top, this is the same saw Craftsman was selling a few years back.

-- Dale Manning, Carthage, NY

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Craftsman on the lake

3336 posts in 4211 days

#15 posted 08-22-2009 08:24 PM

Dalem, You’re right, besides a few little changes it looks like the same saw. Funny how things happen like that.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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