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What level (beginner-pro) scroll saw to get?

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Forum topic by deeve posted 05-24-2020 06:05 AM 681 views 0 times favorited 29 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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deeve

35 posts in 68 days


05-24-2020 06:05 AM

My wife was talking about wanting to try doing some projects with a scroll saw. She is much more skilled and “crafty” than I am. Her patience and fine motor skills far and away exceed mine and I think she might enjoy making things and be good at it, but I am biased.

I have been looking on Craigslist and have seen everything from Skil/Ryobi level stuff at around $100-200 up to Dewalt and RBI machines. I do not know anything about scroll saws but what I have seen cheaper ones vibrate more and make getting smooth cuts but I don’t really know.

I see that I can spend about $150 on a cheap unit, around $350 for a Dewalt DW788, or $700 for the RBI. Most of the reviews I have read on different saws mention things like excessive vibrations, foot problems, blade change ease on the less expensive ones.

Is this a case where buying more than you need is overkill or better to spend once cry once?

-- Dave Hillsboro, Oregon


29 replies so far

View kroginold's profile

kroginold

54 posts in 1819 days


#1 posted 05-24-2020 06:42 AM

I would avoid the cheapest ones. The Dewalt is a solid performer as is the RBI. If you want a decent starter saw, Lowe’s sells a Porter Cable for 250 and if you want a bit better new saw, a Delta for 380 that is very similar to the Dewalt. The drawback of the cheap saws is the vibration. If you get one of those your wife will most likely have a poor experience. If you look for used saw, stick with Dewalt unless you find a good deal on RBI, Hegner or Excalibur. And avoid Craftsman.

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MrUnix

8085 posts in 2969 days


#2 posted 05-24-2020 07:13 AM

The cheap ones can be helped a bit by bolting them to a table top or something solid, but they are what they are. For the next level up, the Dewalt is probably the best loved. The porter cable is reported to be basically the same saw as the Dewalt as mentioned above, and the Delta 40-694 is reported to be in the same class. Then you get to the top end machines, which are the RBI, Excallibur and Hegner, with the Hegner being the most expensive of the bunch.

I would try to find a used machine rather than buy new – just because you aren’t sure if your wife will even enjoy and continue scroll sawing. Generally, if she decides that it’s not for her, you can re-sell the machine for basically what you paid for it.

Speaking of used – here is a nice 26” RBI near you that looks to be in excellent condition and comes with the magnifying light and foot switch and some other stuff:
https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/tls/d/eagle-creek-rbi-hawk-precision-scroll/7127721685.html

And here is an Excallibur that also looks to be in great shape:
https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/tls/d/portland-scroll-saw/7128749466.html

Or a basically new Dewalt DW788 for $350:
https://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/tls/d/beaverton-dewalt-dw788-scroll-saw/7123010501.html

There are some others out there that aren’t all that terrible for less cash – you seem to be in a good location for used machinery!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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deeve

35 posts in 68 days


#3 posted 05-24-2020 07:46 AM

Thanks for the info. @MrUnix those were three that I was looking at. Sounds like the $300- $700 range is where I am at. Nice to know the Porter Cable and Delta are less expensive options

-- Dave Hillsboro, Oregon

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MrUnix

8085 posts in 2969 days


#4 posted 05-24-2020 08:27 AM

Thanks for the info. @MrUnix those were three that I was looking at. Sounds like the $300- $700 range is where I am at. Nice to know the Porter Cable and Delta are less expensive options
- deeve

Keep in mind that those are only the ones out there right now, but many more will come and go if you are patient, and many will be much better prices. If you are willing to drive a little bit, expanding your search area will yield even more. I stumbled upon my first scroll saw at a yard sale just by accident – I was driving along and saw it sitting in the driveway. It was a top of the line Delta, and I wound up walking away with it and some other stuff for $35. I’ve seen ones like mine (40-601) selling on CL in the $100-$250 range. The older C-arm Deltas are nice saws, and the Q3 is an excellent machine but rarely shows up used. I just missed a 26” Hawk complete with the custom RBI bar stool and a ton of extras for $200 last year. Same with a new in the box Excalibur for $250. I kept an eye out for years for a reasonably priced Hegner, and scored a like new one a few months ago finally for what I consider a great deal (even trade for a lunchbox planer I had).

They are out there, and there are some fantastic deals to be had – but you have to be patient and ready to pounce when they show up. Like with those two deals above that I missed out on – they typically don’t even last for a day, and that Excalibur sold within 30 minutes of being listed to some lucky slob!

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

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Craftsman on the lake

3334 posts in 4208 days


#5 posted 05-24-2020 10:46 AM

Years ago I posted about an insane scroll saw find I came across. It might inspire you to look around like I did. Because of this (and a $25 Dewalt, new, biscuit joiner) I frequent craigslist quite a bit.

It's here.

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

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2835 posts in 3692 days


#6 posted 05-24-2020 10:54 AM

I scroll saw almost 40 hours a week in my shop. I agree with the advice given. I have two Hegners and one Hawk I prefer the Hegners. The only advantage to any Hegner is that they are very durable. The one I use the most was made in 1986 and the other in 2008. Going strong. DeWalt is a good saw for light work (Fretwork) but I make toys and do inlay cutting 3/4” wood. Killed a DeWalt doing that.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View DaveM123's profile

DaveM123

55 posts in 64 days


#7 posted 05-24-2020 11:36 AM

MY wife wanted a scroll saw years ago. She had no experience with one. I got her a Dewalt and it’s been a great tool for her.

-- Dave

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becikeja

1108 posts in 3583 days


#8 posted 05-24-2020 12:23 PM

+1 for the Dewalt

-- Don't outsmart your common sense

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mrg

868 posts in 3770 days


#9 posted 05-24-2020 01:01 PM

I have the Porter Cable, go with the Dewalt. Night and day difference between both saws. The a porter Cable vibrates a lot more.

-- mrg

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tomsteve

1037 posts in 1989 days


#10 posted 05-24-2020 02:41 PM

dewalts are good saws but the QC isnt the greatest. quite a few complaints of varying things breaking not too long after purchase. i bouth a type 2 that the motor windings shorted out. ive read of problems with warped tables with them,too.
ive read a lot of good about the PC.
i personally have an excalibur that i live BUT it was purchased before production moved to china. from what i read the made in china quiality is not that good.
seyco is another top quality saw but pricey.
if you find a made in taiwan excalibur on CL for a decent price, it could be worth a look.
on CL scrollsaws- if you find one to look at, take some wood and blades and go for a test drive.

something i think is wise is to have a heavy stand to bolt the saw to. if the saw doesnt have rubber feet, put some rubber vibration dampeners between the saw and stand.

View Davevand's profile

Davevand

178 posts in 1606 days


#11 posted 05-24-2020 05:27 PM

+1 on the Dewalt’s, they show up regularly on CL and FB Marketplace. Do not buy a cheap saw that uses pinned blades.
Check out Steve Goode, he has a ton of videos out there and does good reveiws
http://scrollsawworkshop.blogspot.com/

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therealSteveN

5754 posts in 1344 days


#12 posted 05-24-2020 08:17 PM

I have the DeWalt, and my Wife loves it. Of the cheap ones I had before the DeWalt, the Ryobi was the best one. Not sure if it’s the same saw today though.

The base on the one I had was blue. Otherwise looks very similar. It wasn’t junk. I had an older Delta that was junk.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/RYOBI-1-2-Amp-Corded-16-in-Scroll-Saw-SC165VS/205419917

-- Think safe, be safe

View deeve's profile

deeve

35 posts in 68 days


#13 posted 05-25-2020 04:50 PM

I am talking to a guy selling an Excaliber EX-16 for $300. I am going to see if I can get him down to maybe $250. That seems like a decent saw for the price? Anything to look out for if I go look at it?

-- Dave Hillsboro, Oregon

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tomsteve

1037 posts in 1989 days


#14 posted 05-25-2020 05:27 PM


I am talking to a guy selling an Excaliber EX-16 for $300. I am going to see if I can get him down to maybe $250. That seems like a decent saw for the price? Anything to look out for if I go look at it?

- deeve


i have an ex16. it has hundreds upon hundreds of hours on it. only problem ive had was replacing the blade clamps but those are wear parts-theres a lot of turing the blade clamps.
look on the sticker by the motor. if it says “made in taiwan” it could be a good deal. if it says,”made in china” i personally wouldnt touch it. quality of excaliburs dropped when they moved production to china

View kroginold's profile

kroginold

54 posts in 1819 days


#15 posted 05-26-2020 09:53 AM

That Excalibur is a good buy at 300$ if it’s in good shape. And 250$ even better. I have an EX30 that I bought a few years ago for 500 and I really enjoy it

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