16 or 21?

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Forum topic by KnotBoard posted 02-24-2014 04:36 PM 3118 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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16 posts in 2614 days

02-24-2014 04:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: scroll saw scrollworking

I’m a newbie on this forum. I’ve gone through most all postings in the Scrollsawing forum looking for advice on what size of table a person should get. I’ve played around with wood for several years but have no experience with scroll sawing. I love what I see a person can do with a scroll saw. It has really piqued my interest and I see where having one of these could add to the enjoyment of working with wood.

I don’t know how to project out what I’ll be doing so I’m not sure if I should go with the less expensive 16 inch or go for the 21 inch. 30 inch is too far out in the price range to consider. Is the table size the main concern or the depth of the throat? What would be an example of a project that would require the step up to the 21” size? From all the reviews and opinions of scroll sawyers I’m leaning towards an Excalibur. I know there’s less expensive ones out there (and more expensive ones) but my experience has been that it can be costly trying to save money. Regardless of size, it will be a BIG investment for me and the 21” pushes me well beyond my monetary “comfort zone” In other words is there really good reasons to step up to the 21” saw? I don’t have a business. Most things I make are for family and friends so there isn’t much monetary return on my projects to help offset the cost differences.

I normally take a good amount of time to try and research what the best choices would be. However, there’s a big woodworking show coming to town this next weekend and if there’s any show only discounts available, I’d like to be able go ahead and pull the trigger.

Thanks in advance for any advice you have to share with me.

-- Steve

24 replies so far

View lepelerin's profile


498 posts in 3385 days

#1 posted 02-25-2014 12:53 AM

I do not own a scroll saw, but why don’t you try a 16” first and see how much you like that type of work. If you find yourself limited with a 16”, resell it and get a 21”.
just an idea

View Pdub's profile


926 posts in 4240 days

#2 posted 02-25-2014 05:59 PM

Hi Steve,

I started out with a 16” craftsman because I didn’t have alot of money and didn’t know if I would enjoy it. I upgraded to a 20” within the first year and now have a 26”. The picture I attached would be difficult to cut on a 16” scrollsaw because the cuts in the middle of the pattern are more than 16 inches from the edge. To answer your question: the depth of the throat is the main concern. The size of the table helps to support your project. When cutting on a scrollsaw you need to spin your board around to complete your cuts. The throat depth determines how large of a board you can spin around before it hits the back of the throat. You can cut some larger projects with the smaller saw but you will have to back out of some cuts and go at them at different angles. I know it sounds confusing but you will understand once you start cutting. You can do quite abit of stuff with the 16” so don’t let me talk you into the larger saw, but if you really enjoy scrolling and want to get into larger projects, you’ll want the larger size. I hope this helps you make a decision. Good luck.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View KnotBoard's profile


16 posts in 2614 days

#3 posted 02-26-2014 05:23 AM

Hey Paul,

Thanks for sharing some great scroll work and good advice. I was trying to figure the size from what I can do when I use my 15” band saw. Not the same type of work but rarely do I find I wish I had a bigger one. But I don’t have to spin my work around as much as what you have shown a person may have to do with scroll saw work. I hope to be able to afford to just jump up to the 21” but if my funds only call for a 16” for now, at least I can get started. Just looking at the different things that can be done with a scroll saw, I really believe that it will be something I will end up using frequently so I don’t mind investing the added cost of jumping up to the larger size. Heck, I got money I haven’t even borrowed yet :o) This may save me at least one step in buying at new price and selling at a used price before buying a larger new one again.

Thanks again,

-- Steve

View BigJerryWayne's profile


138 posts in 3163 days

#4 posted 02-26-2014 04:56 PM

I got a Craftsman 16” saw about 3 years ago. I was not sure I wanted to get into scrolling a lot and wanted to try a cheaper saw first. I still don’t do a great deal of scrolling, but I do wish I had gotten the DeWalt 20” saw. My Craftsman uses pinned blades and blade selection is less than blades without pins.

-- An oak tree is just a nut that stood it's ground.

View KnotBoard's profile


16 posts in 2614 days

#5 posted 02-27-2014 03:05 AM

That is the Catch 22 of trying something new. Buy something less expensive and find that it isn’t much fun to use or start out with a better, more expensive one, that’s hard to justify, so there’s no excuse, as far as the scroll saw is concerned.
Thanks for sharing your scroll saw story with me.

-- Steve

View TheDane's profile


5953 posts in 4723 days

#6 posted 02-27-2014 03:45 AM

I bought a cheap 16” first … it was poor quality, so I donated it to Habitat for Humanity and bought a Dremel 20” on sale.

The Dremel saw (out of production now), was far better than the first saw but still not a great tool.

I wish I would have saved the money I spent on these 2 saws and bought a DeWalt.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View mikeevens45's profile


68 posts in 2636 days

#7 posted 02-27-2014 04:06 AM

old school delta or Rockwell is a smooth saw but heavy check the local craigslist its where I found mine and they guy threw in a 12 inch craftsman for nothing. best $ spent

-- as technology progresses, wood workers seem to regress...all my power tools and my favorite is a chisel and a hand plane

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2878 posts in 3982 days

#8 posted 02-27-2014 02:42 PM

I started with a Harbor Freight saw that lasted less than a year. (variable speed) Got a DeWalt (variable speed) and it lasted less than two years. In 2008 I bought a new 20” Hegner that I still use. I since bought a used 25” Hegner and a 15” jet that are both over 25 years old and are working well and can get parts for. The one I use most is the 15” Jet. I paid $15 for it. It depends on what you intend to do with your scroll saw. I do not do any fretwork but spiral blades will help a lot with that kind of scrolling on a short throat saw.
I do inlay work, sign making, toy making, compound cutting, bowl making, and intarsia . All can be done on my smaller saws. Two of my saws are single speed and the one that is multi speed I leave on high all the time. Other people would not consider a single speed saw. Different strokes….

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View daves1's profile


188 posts in 3826 days

#9 posted 02-27-2014 02:47 PM

I have a Dremel 16 inch throat and it has served me well over the years except when I had a large project to do. I am currently looking at a 22inch hegner. If your beginning I suggest a 16” until you decide if you really like scrollsawing and if you move to a larger one later.

View KnotBoard's profile


16 posts in 2614 days

#10 posted 02-28-2014 12:47 AM

Thanks again for all the helpful advice.

-- Steve

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 3738 days

#11 posted 02-28-2014 05:23 AM

If you buy a used saw and find you don’t like it , you can resell it for about what you paid for it. With a new saw your going to take a hit in the wallet.

Size makes a difference, If you plan to make Christmas tree ornaments. A 16” will do you fine. Most people in the club I’m in have 21” saws and are happy.

Sometimes you can get around the size limitations of a smaller saw by using spiral blades. Spiral blades are like regular blades that are twisted into a “spiral” so they have teeth on all sides so they cut in any direction. Using spirals you don’t have to spin the wood as you cut.

Disadvantages of spiral blades are a less smooth cut, and they are harder to control. I like the way they cut , but I know many that don’t. My advise here is try them yourself and decide what you think.

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 3334 days

#12 posted 02-28-2014 02:14 PM

It really all depends on the type of work you want to do. The Excalibur is a great saw and should do you well. You might want to talk to Ray at Seyco as sometimes they have rehabbed or show models for sale and he can surely steer you in the right direction.

-- Kepy

View papaken115's profile


10 posts in 3306 days

#13 posted 03-28-2014 11:09 PM

I have been scrolling for over ten years now. I bought a cheapo pinned blade saw from one of the drive by vendor showrooms and it got me “started”. I immediately figured out that the blade selection was terrible and the hole size was even more egregious.

I don’t think it is the saw so much as what you want to do with it. If you own a Dewalt, you will most likely be a “top feeder”, meaning you will pass the blade through the top of the piece when moving from hole to hole. The Excaliber will likely make you a “bottom feeder” and trying to feed a blade about .020 through a #67 or so saw hole may prove challenging. Some scrollers really like the bottom feed method and say it makes them more productive. Then you have to consider whether you want to use spiral blades or straight blades. Spiral blades will let you cut a larger cutting on a smaller throat because you don’t turn the piece but to me are next to impossible to control in tight cuttings. Straight blades mean having to turn the blade as more than 270 degrees or more for some of your turns.

I personally have the Dewalt 20” and it has served me very well. I can’t justify the price for a higher end saw with what I do and my output is as good as most I have seen. This post could be about novel length by the time you get all the different opinions. You really should just determine what you can afford and what you intend to do with the saw. Check out the saws for reviews and user input and make your own decision.

You said there is a show coming to your area soon. Go there and put your hands on the saws you want to decide between and go from there.


-- Ken, Red Hill, New Mexico

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 3003 days

#14 posted 03-29-2014 12:28 AM

If you haven’t used a scroll saw, I would buy used. You can practice and learn the advantages of certain features. This can help you decide on the features and size of a new purchase. There are many scroll saws on CL.


View DocSavage45's profile


9043 posts in 3903 days

#15 posted 03-29-2014 01:09 AM


Putting my .025 cents in ,late, LOL. Just saw this in the March Magazine post. I have been reviewing the lower end saws. There are some good demonstrations on You Tube. I determined that for what I want to do I needed a pinless blade as they are smaller. I just found out about spiral blades. “Oh Dah!”

I am in the middle of rehabbing a Craig’s List trash/treasure find. It is an 18” C arm Delta Scroll Saw. I wouldn’t buy one in the future but the price served my needs right now. More time than money. I’m learning a lot. Might know more about the internal workings that others as I took it apart to the bearings after watching a great You Tube video. Only one needle bearing in my saw. The Middle priced DeWalt and Delta saws have many!

Watched Mustache Mike on Stumpy Nubbs when he did his scroll saw shows for Newbies and that helped me decide to get a fish tank air pump as I cannot replace the bellows on my old saw. “Obsolete.” No replacement.

Hope your search and journey finds you a happy scroller!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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