Questions about Variable Speed and Foot Pedal...

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Forum topic by Ted posted 12-29-2012 06:02 AM 11221 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2877 posts in 3260 days

12-29-2012 06:02 AM

Hi Scrollsaw Users

I’m saving up for a scroll saw and want to do a little research in the mean time, so a couple of questions to help get me in the right direction. I don’t need anything super heavy duty but I do want a good saw with plenty of features. That would include:

20” Throat
Variable Speed
Easy Blade Changing, preferably tool-less.
Anything else I haven’t thought of yet.

I believe Dewalt and Delta both have saws that come with the above features. Not sure what models or price range, but will figure that out as I’m shopping around.

My Big Question… I would like to use a foot pedal to control the speed. Will this be an issue with the saw already having built-in speed control? Or can I just crank it to the highest speed and use the foot pedal to control it? Also, how would that effect the light and the blower? I assume this is taken into account with the saws built-in speed control, but I’m imagining the light going brighter and dimmer if I use the foot controller. Also the blower.. do they tend to be on a separate smaller motor or do they work off the main motor? That may be an issue if I use a separate speed controller.

Any thoughts are much appreciated.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

38 replies so far

View Bob Collins's profile

Bob Collins

2845 posts in 4733 days

#1 posted 12-29-2012 12:04 PM

Can’t help you from out here Ted, I have a Makita 20” variable speed etc but I don’t use it that often, as for the Foot Pedal I know nothing. Sorry, hope someone over there can help. Have a happy New Year.

-- Bob C, Australia. Your best teacher is your last mistake.

View patron's profile


13717 posts in 4390 days

#2 posted 12-29-2012 01:27 PM

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

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

12314 posts in 4478 days

#3 posted 12-29-2012 01:49 PM

If the motor’s speed is controlled with a rheostat, I’d think cranking it up to high and using a foot pedal would work OK. Not sure if the speeds are controlled with a mechanical switch.
My old Delta’s blower worked better on high as it was simply a bellows connected to the arm. It cratered the first year I had it. I just connected the hose to my compressor and turned it down to as low as possible….maybe 20 PSI and it has worked fine ever since.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View me5269's profile


43 posts in 3217 days

#4 posted 12-29-2012 01:49 PM

I have the Dewalt. I use a deadmans foot pedal (down is on, up is off, HF $15). The speed control is on the top front of the saw and easy to reach and control. I’m not sure what would happen to the speed control circuitry on the saw with a variable foot switch. The blower works off the lower arm, have not had any problems even at low speed. I use a maginfying clamp on lite I picked up at HF for less than $30.

-- Mike

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2877 posts in 3971 days

#5 posted 12-29-2012 01:57 PM

I spent too much time at work tig welding and having to keep the foot pedal at the just right position all day long so that I would not want a foot operated speed controller. In fact I set my scroll saws at one speed and leave them there. I just control my feed rate and this works fine. I prefer a click on , click off foot switch for the same reason. I do not have to hold my foot down on the switch all day long. I find that tiring. Just my experience and another opinion.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3260 days

#6 posted 12-29-2012 03:17 PM

Bob, I would not be opposed to a Makita scroll saw.. really just depends on what’s available on craigs list when I have the money. I didn’t know Makita made a scroll saw. Doing a google search it appears it’s not very common here. I’m a big fan of Makita tools.

David, the Dewalt 788 is probably what I’ll end up getting. I’ve seen them on CL for as low as $300. Now if only I can see one when I have the money! :) If I see a comparable saw at the right price and the right time, I would go for it… although I’d be kicking myself if the Dewalt showed up for sale the very next day!

Gene, I wish I knew electronics better. I’m sure the built-in speed control is a rheostat, as would be the foot pedal. Also pretty sure it would be okay to crank the tool to max and use a separate speed control. I guess one of my concerns is if I got a saw that is not variable speed, whether I could use a rheostat pedal with it or if that would damage the motor. I didn’t think to mention that issue, I guess because I can’t see myself buying a saw that is not variable speed.. so a moot point.

Mike, I don’t really see the point in an on/off pedal, since it just does the same thing as the one on the saw. My reasoning for the pedal is so I can control the speed while keeping both hands on the work piece.

Jim, it did cross my mind about my foot getting tired of holding the pedal – kind of like driving long distances without cruise control. Now that you bring it up I’m thinking even more about it. I really want to be able to control the speed while working. Maybe I can find a pedal that is not spring loaded, and will stay where I put it until I change speed. This is why I’m asking these things now, so I don’t have to find out through trial and error. Then again, maybe it won’t be such an issue with me, as I don’t spend all day at a tig welder.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26045 posts in 4155 days

#7 posted 12-30-2012 02:26 AM

Ted, my preference would be to use the rheostat and not have a foot pedal to fiddle with when scrollsawing. I love my foot pedal on my drill press, but it is not variable speed. It leave both hands free. I don’t see the need for the foot pedal on the scroll saw

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 3886 days

#8 posted 12-30-2012 02:47 AM

I also have a on/off foot pedal on my Dewalt and I always leave it on high speed. The foot pedal is almost a must have for scroll saws so you can hold the work with both hands and avoid the chatter. Most folks, myself included, do not have the hold down on the saw. It came off very soon after I bought the saw and it never went back on. I’m sure you have your reason for wanting to control the speed via a foot pedal but I’m with Jim on that issue – leave it on high and control the feed rate. Maybe you’re over thinking this Ted.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3725 days

#9 posted 12-30-2012 03:06 AM

I have read this with great interest. I recently purchased a used RBI Hawk and noticed that on Craig’s List some had foot controls and some didn’t. I am learning something from you guys and appreciate it. So I see most are saying use high speed only and if you use a foot control use it to start or stop the motor only. Thanks

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3260 days

#10 posted 12-30-2012 03:16 AM

Jim, thanks for your thoughts on this. My rationing is just the opposite… use the foot pedal and not have the rheostat to fiddle with while I’m cutting. That’s not to dismiss your point of view. I looked at your work and your shop – you have obviously put a lot of thought into getting the most efficient use of your tools. But I’m picturing doing some very intricate cuts and the saw whirring away at too high of a speed, I would have to take one hand off the work piece to reach the rheostat on the tool. In that brief moment the blade can grab the piece, rattle it up and down and ruin it. That won’t be a problem if I can control the speed with a foot pedal. I could go faster or slower as needed without ever having to take one hand off the work piece. Maybe I’m over-thinking it. After all, plenty of woodworkers do some very intricate scroll saw work, using a single speed scroll saw. But I do sometimes tend to over-think things.

You roused my curiosity.. how do you use the on/off pedal with your drill press? Does it somehow control the raising and lowering of the drill?

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View woodnewbee's profile


76 posts in 4155 days

#11 posted 12-30-2012 03:20 AM

I have an old Craftsman saw that I seldom use or have used much. My father in law does a lot of scrolling and his blower quit so he got a fish tank areator and ran a line from it and says it works really well. Not sure about foot switch but like Grandpa am learning a lot.

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3260 days

#12 posted 12-30-2012 03:20 AM

Bernie, Grandpa.. this is what happens when I type too slow.. hee hee

I’m pretty sure I will remove the hold-down and never put it back on. I see it as just in the way.

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Ted's profile


2877 posts in 3260 days

#13 posted 12-30-2012 03:21 AM

Woodnewbee… you, grandpa and me too! :)

-- You can collect dust or you can make dust. I choose to make it.

View Grandpa's profile


3264 posts in 3725 days

#14 posted 12-30-2012 04:36 AM

Yeah I have very, very little experience with a scroll saw. They hadn’t been invented when I was in training…..ha ha

View vonhagen's profile


549 posts in 3414 days

#15 posted 12-30-2012 04:44 AM

my dream would be an old oliver and maybe an old sewing machine foot pedal would work.

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

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