Every bench tool (with the possible exception of my drill press) required me to fine tune the tool before it was ready to use. Instructions for such requisite procedure were either included (as with the radial arm saw and the table saw) or readily available from a secondary source (my band saw). However, I’m new to owning and using a fine scroll saw, and detailed information was neither in the instruction manual nor readily available. Therefore, I resorted to the Internet for research on how to tune up my new Excalibur scroll saw
The name of Seyco.com comes up repeatedly in any Internet search, so I spoke with Ray Seymore yesterday in connection with ordering blades, and he confirmed that Seyco takes each Excalibur out of the box and runs it through a “make ready process” to assure that the scroll saw is running correctly before it is shipped to their customer—a service that makes the decision of who to buy from a no brainer had I only known. However, I didn’t know about this and since I have an established thirty-year relationship with the vendor from whom I made my purchase, I spent hours on the Internet trying to figure out how to do the tune up (I hope I haven’t missed something).
Also, Ray Seymore asked that I emphasize that an owner/operator make absolutely sure an adjustment is needed before making it because many times such an adjustment is made due to an incorrect customer set up or other error (such as an incorrectly installed blade or a misperceived loose bolt which is then over tightened). These mistakes result in a far more severe problem and could even void the manufacturer’s warranty. So, everyone, please proceed with great caution, and make absolutely sure all components are correctly installed before making any further adjustments. Caveat emptor—let the buyer beware!
The single most important adjustment IMHO is to correct front to back blade oscillation to an absolute minimum. This front to back oscillation is easily adjusted by loosening the three allen head bolts holding the motor and rotating the motor to find the lowest level of vibration. Additional details and an in depth discussion of this procedure, along with other trouble shooting tips, can be found at:
Before correcting for blade oscillation, my approach was to check and adjust the upper arm so that it was parallel to the table surface. Just use a ruler to make sure the distance is the same at the front and at the back of the arm, using the back tension knob (Part #6, Upper Arm Adjuster) to make this correction.
Make the adjustment to minimize the front/back oscillation and then recheck and adjust the parallelism of the upper arm as I it seemed to me that it had changed slightly.
The next area to tune up is to make sure the saw blade is parallel to the outer faces of the blade mounts and this is done by making sure the setscrew on the left side of the block in the upper blade mount protrudes the same distance as the setscrew in the lower blade mount. Check to make sure the setscrew face that is against the blade is flat and not cupped—if cupped this can be filed or stoned flat with either a jig or a simple nut used as a guide. The setscrew on my new saw was neither treated with Lock Tight to prevent vibrational or other changes in the setting, nor was it backed with a second, locking setscrew. I prefer to avoid the use of Lock Tight in this circumstance because removal requires heating the area to avoid stripping the hex head in the setscrew. Therefore, the original setscrew needs to be replaced with a shorter one (M6X4) and a second setscrew (M6X4) added and used to lock the position of the first setscrew that actually contacts the blade.
There are two approaches for making this adjustment to align the blade parallel to the blade mount faces, and they are either/or and are as follows:
1. Use something like a feeler gauge set at 0.044 in each blade slot, placing it in and to the right of the left setscrew; turn the setscrew in until just snug and then backed off ¼ turn; however, this approach is sometimes criticized because it leaves the setscrew proud of the surface and can prevent the blade from seating fully in the back of the mount slot if the operator is not careful or in a hurry—thereby failing to actually clamp the blade; or,
2. Use something (such as a small Engineer’s square or a 1/16” piece of brass) which is the exact thickness of the mount slot, again placing it in and to the right of the left setscrew; turn the setscrew in until tight and then back off just enough to permit the removal of the metal thickness gauge; then lock it in place—this approach removes the criticism that the setscrew is left proud and the potential problems with the first approach.
The final adjustment that I found was to use a 90-degree square to adjust the table at a right angle to the blade. Instructions for this step are included in the manual that came with the unit. The manual also gives instructions for repositioning the index plate if desired. I don’t bother with repositioning the index plate because I’ve always found it the most accurate to actually adjust the blade to a square and never rely on the index marking.
The last step for my scroll saw tune up (not an adjustment) was to wax the tabletop with paste wax (or, perhaps “Top Coat”).
In closing, thanks to scrollgirl, a/k/a Sheila Landry at sheilalandrydesigns.com, for her posts here on L.J. regarding her purchase of the 21” Excalibur scroll saw. Her experience and review, along with the comments of others, helped me in making my decision to buy the Excalibur. Sheila had the good sense to purchase her unit from Seyco, so I’m sure she didn’t have to worry about the foregoing subject of this blog.
If anyone knows of any other steps that need to be taken, I sure would appreciate their input, since the foregoing has been the extent of what I could locate in my research. Oh, and P.S., I have no connection or affiliation with Seyco—I just admire Ray’s web site, service and willingness to generously share his knowledge.
03/23/2015: One additional thought that has occurred to me: I don’t leave a blade in the machine when I’m not using it, for the same reason I release the screws on the fingers of my Leigh dovetail jig after using it—the pot metal is susceptible to warping from the pressure, twisting the alignment, and destroying the clamping ability of the machines.
-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington