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Please recommend a very inexpensive saw for a beginner

by lumberjoe
posted 554 days ago


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51 replies

51 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile (online now)

David Kirtley

1276 posts in 1594 days


#1 posted 554 days ago

From my small experience with scroll saws, there is not much difference between the saws in the $200 price range down to the $80 price range. Once you get around $500 things start changing and you are in a different world at the $1000 range.

I would not have any trouble recommending the little Ryobi 16in saw at the lowest end of the market. It uses plain and pin end blades. I actually have one I bought for my mother. No, it is not anywhere near a quality saw but if your budget doesn’t allow a high dollar one, it is not a bad little saw to use while waiting on a nice one.

If she enjoys the quiet and is patient, a manual saw can be quite fun as well. Good quality blades in in a manual saw will cut faster than you would think. Good work support and a comfortable position can make it a quite pleasant experience. A bit more elaborate but also take a look at the marquetry chevaliers that people are building.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

894 posts in 621 days


#2 posted 554 days ago

Don’t be a cheapskate. Get your wife a nice saw.Tell her it’s her valentine. A lot of people like the Dewalt (no personal experience here.) in the intermediate price range

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

208 posts in 2100 days


#3 posted 553 days ago

I tell anybody who asks, to buy the best saw that you can afford. I don’t have much experience with a lot of saw, I went from a 16” Sear to the DeWalt DW788- a 20” type 1 saw. I do a lot of fret work so the tool less blade change and no jig for the pin less blade was what I needed. So look for a saw that can use either type of blade without the hassles of special jigs for the pin less blades. Just my opinion.
Rick

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#4 posted 553 days ago

Thanks for the tips! We are trying to “go cheap” now because my wife is not even sure it is something she will like doing, so she just wants to get exposure. If she ends up taking to it I’ll have no problem selling the cheapo on craigslist or keep it around for trimming custom cast acrylic pen blanks.

Out of curiosity, what makes a good scroll saw better than a cheap scroll saw? This is one aspect of woodworking I have no experience with at all.

David, one day I’d like to build a chevalet. That’s not in the cards this year though.

Alternately, what used/older saws should I keep an eye out for on craigslist?

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1519 days


#5 posted 553 days ago

I had a DeWalt 788 that I started on and it was a very good saw until the motor burned up.(200+ to replace) I bought a PC at Lowes that is acceptable for what I use it for. I am not a scroller but have occasion to use one.
Ease of blade changing and vibration is two things to look for.

-- Life is good.

View johnstoneb's profile

johnstoneb

613 posts in 769 days


#6 posted 553 days ago

I bought a Skil recently. It looks a lot like the Ryobi. It is Ok for what I do with it. It supposedly uses pinned and plain blades. The plain blades are dificult to get in and from what I have read if your wife is going to get into scrolling seriously you want a saw that takes plain blades. The pinned blades take a larger hole to access internal cuts. The Skill or Ryobi are about $100 dollars and would work for a beginner just be prepared to buy a better saw soon if she find she likes to scroll.
Sheila (scrollgirl) publishes a daily blog she may be able to give you some better recommendations.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jim454's profile

jim454

35 posts in 1009 days


#7 posted 553 days ago

+1 on what Kirtley said. Here a website you can go to to get more info for scroll saws and scroll work scrollsawer.com

View me5269's profile

me5269

43 posts in 763 days


#8 posted 553 days ago

I picked up a cheap craftsman about 25 years ago, used it maybe a dozen times and decided i hated scrolling and packed it away. I got it back out when I moved and started playing with it again, then went to a demo at Lowe’s on the PC and liked it. Settled on the DW788.
Try craigslist, I see a lot of them in my area anywhere from $50 and up. my nephew got a dw788 type 1 on it for $200 with stand, light, blades.
Mike

-- Mike

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#9 posted 553 days ago

I’ve been doing a little craigslisting today. Is this a good deal?

http://westernmass.craigslist.org/tls/3526916822.html

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Bernie's profile

Bernie

414 posts in 1433 days


#10 posted 553 days ago

Lumberjoe – your link was deleted by the poster – maybe he sold it or you bought it. Sounds like you’re in a pickle. If you buy a cheap saw your wife may have a bad experience and not like scrolling because of the cheap saw. Cheap means hard to change blades – cheap means a vibrating saw resulting in poor cuts and frustration – cheap means no blower for the dust – small throat capacity limiting the quality of the projects.

Like Rick said – buy what you can afford and buy once. She will have a better experience with a decent saw and a good saw will give her the capacity to do very nice projects. A good scroll saw is an asset to a woodworking shop. When I was installing my allure flooring, I was able to cut pieces to fit around the cast iron radiator legs. Scroll saws lets you add flare to wood projects and I’ve accomplished some difficult cuts made easy with my scroll saw.

Buy her a good saw and if by some odd chance she doesn’t like scrolling, you can sell it on craigslist and probably take less of a hit on the wallet then if you buy her a cheap one and have to upgrade. She will love you for buying her a good quality saw even if she doesn’t like scrolling. At best, she will feel guilty for leading you on to wasting your money and will want to make up to you (did I think that?).

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

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#11 posted 553 days ago

I got sniped! It was a 2 year old DW788 with a stand for 350$. All great advice. I understand what you are saying, I just need to make a decision. I don’ want to spend a lot on a saw because I will be stuck if she hates it. But on the other token a cheap saw is not really going to give her the best user experience or first impression of scrolling.

There are a ton of turning clubs in my area, but no scrollers. It would be awesome to take a few classes before committing to anything.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2244 days


#12 posted 553 days ago

I will be stuck if

If it’s a good saw it will maintain its value (especially if you buy used at a decent price). if it’s a low quality saw – then you’d really be stuck with it.

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

View DIYaholic's profile

DIYaholic

12860 posts in 1271 days


#13 posted 553 days ago

Joe,
If you find a good deal on a great saw, Like the DeWalt 788, you can always resell it if she doesn’t like to scroll. I, for one, would consider taking it off your hands!!! I will be looking for a scroll saw in the not so distant future, so you go ahead and scour CL, as I may be the one to repurchase your saw!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procratination a bad thing?

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3578 posts in 1964 days


#14 posted 553 days ago

IMO, stay away from Ryobi as their quality is questionable!

Rigid, Dewalt, Craftsman, and some others …. would be my choices!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View PurpLev's profile

PurpLev

8476 posts in 2244 days


#15 posted 553 days ago

post to see if there are any scrollers in your area that would be willing to let you come in for a test drive. I would if I was one… but I’m not ;)

just make the title self explainable so local scrollers would actually check it out.

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

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#16 posted 553 days ago

Good tips. She actually likes the craftsman for some reason. There is one of those on CL in my area brand new in a box for 75$
http://westernmass.craigslist.org/tls/3448387749.html

I like the idea of taking one for a test drive. I’ll run it by her. She is PAINFULLY shy though. She won’t even sign up here.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View DIYaholic's profile

DIYaholic

12860 posts in 1271 days


#17 posted 553 days ago

That posting has been removed also.
Did you get sniped or buy it???
Either way, good luck!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procratination a bad thing?

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#18 posted 553 days ago

Sniped again! I think I am just going to pick up the Craftsman at sears. It’s a little over 100$ brand new. If she likes scrolling, we’ll invest in a DeWalt (and have more time to find a used one). If she doesn’t, I have a nice tool for making segmented pen blanks.

She has her mind made up that she wants to get going on it this weekend.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3043 posts in 1271 days


#19 posted 553 days ago

I bought a Sears saw and used it a few times. My wife wants to try it so I bought a used RBI Hawk on Craigs list. I wanted her to have a good experience on a decent saw. I think I can get my money back is she decides to bail on the scrolling. Never will on the Sears.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#20 posted 553 days ago

The only RBI I have been able to locate used is a tad pricey (550) and 240V! That must be a beast of a scroll saw. I don’t have any available 220’s in the shop, so I’d like to stick with 115v

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View DIYaholic's profile

DIYaholic

12860 posts in 1271 days


#21 posted 553 days ago

Joe,
This DeWalt 788 on CL is right around the corner from me. It be a hike but figured I’d clue you in. It’s been on for a while maybe a few weeks. I don’t have the cash, especially after “The Wood Working Show”.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procratination a bad thing?

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#22 posted 553 days ago

What is the difference between DW 788 type 1 & 2?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View William's profile (online now)

William

8884 posts in 1438 days


#23 posted 552 days ago

TopMax, the type one was built in a different factory. With the type twos, production was moved overseas. It was a concern I heard a lot when the switch was made that quality would go way down on them. Interestingly, I have talked with so many people who are perfectly happy with their type two saws. I have not heard too many complaint on them. So, all in all, the type twos may be a good deal after all.
I have never even touched either saw, so I cannot tell you from personal experience.

I started scrolling with the Ryobi 16” that was mentioned earlier. That saw got me started and I am now a complete scrolling addict. However, I do no recommend that saw to anyone who truly wants to get their feet wet in scrolling. That particular saw is not well built. It will give you so many problems. If I had had something else to do at the time, there was several times I probably would have carried that saw out back with a rifle and put it out of it’s misery.
My saw of choice now is a Delta SS250. It is a well built saw and it can be had for less than a hundred bucks. I haven’t seen it new in a long time. I don’t know if they are completely discontinued, or if they just aren’t in my area. I’ve seen them all over on ebay and such though real cheap. I bought mine for $79. Then I bought a second one on clearance for $59. The worst problem I have found on the SS250 is the plastic thumb nut on the top blade clamp. Replace it as soon as you get it with a metal nut (I use a wing nut on mine) and you’ll be fine.

I’ve never used one of the newer Craftsman saws, but I’ve heard of many people that are happy with them. I just don’t know. I wish I could tell you more about them but I cannot.

If you are able to afford a Dewalt or an Excaliber, they are the way to go. I have talked to noone personally who has ever been unhappy with their purchase. However, I understand not buying one as well. That is a lot of lettuce for something that you’re not even sure you’re going to use much. Myself, I simply cannot afford one. I’ve been told many times that I need to buy one. Family and other responsibilities though come before a saw that costs that much.

I don’t know how good used saws go in your area, but my dream saw is a Delta Q3. When they pop up around here they are usually $200 or less. They just never seem to pop up when I can afford it. The Q3 is a great saw. I believe that it could possibly hold its own against the Dewalt or the Excaliber with a serious scroller such as myself. The ones I’ve seen are older saws. They were built though to be completely rebuildable.

The two things I look for in a saw is quick blade release and quick tension (up front prefereably). Here and here are two blog posts I wrote at This Old Workshop that go deeper into my reasoning for that. If you have time, give them a read.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2094 posts in 784 days


#24 posted 552 days ago

Seems to me that a really cheap saw is a good way to put off a beginner . . . i.e.. they are usually junk.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3578 posts in 1964 days


#25 posted 552 days ago

MonteCristo has a point, if a poor saw gives bad results it might be a turn off to woodworking altogether.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View mchuray's profile

mchuray

81 posts in 1594 days


#26 posted 552 days ago

A friend of mine first bought a Skill. Then took it back and got a Porter Cable. I did get to try both and the PC is a nice saw for the price. Scrollsaw mag listed it as the best of the $100-$200 saws. That said the Dewalt is really a much better saw. After trying several kinds I went with General International’s 21” Excaliber. A little more than the Dewalt, but really smooth with very little vibration.
Mark

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#27 posted 552 days ago

I’m kind of on the fence still. On one hand I agree with a lot of what is said here. On the other had, a lot of people told me that if I didn’t buy a 3hp cabinet saw with 500lbs of cast iron on top, I would hate woodworking and be frustrated. I absolutely love my Ridgid R4512 had have no plans to upgrade anytime soon.

I realize a scroll saw and a table saw have very little in common. I also have a very impatient wife (who plans to spend our entire kid free weekend scrolling), nothing but old craftsman, non-running deltas, and one RBI 220v saw for sale near me, and somewhat of a budget constraint. If I had a few more weeks to wait for the tax refund, I would bite the bullet on a new DW.

mchuray – interesting about the Porter Cable. It gets horrible reviews on the Lowes webiste.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3043 posts in 1271 days


#28 posted 552 days ago

You are in a bind my friend. Bite the bullet and go get her a new saw. I got a RBI 110V for $250 but I waited a long time. I see more saws for more money but…....hey, bullets taste pretty good…right?

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#29 posted 550 days ago

I think I may have found a good deal AND the guy actually has it. It’s about a 4 hour round trip for me to get it though, so I’d like to know if it’s worth it or not.

RBI 220VS (115v) never used with a stand for 200$

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View coloradotrout's profile

coloradotrout

24 posts in 599 days


#30 posted 550 days ago

Keep an eye out – craigslist – for a used Dewalt.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#31 posted 550 days ago

The IRS allows $.55 a mile, so it must cost more than that to drive. Are you really saving anything driving that far?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#32 posted 550 days ago

Good point. I could make an appearance in the office (I work from home and only go in 2 or 3 times a year) next week and get it then. It’s only about an extra 45 minutes round trip. From what I can google, these normally turn up on CL for about 600$ so it must be halfway decent.

My only concern is why the guy has it. He is calling it a mini table saw.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

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TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#33 posted 550 days ago

He obviously doesn’t know what it is! Hot? Maybe? $400 is probably worth the trip.

One day I was going to run up to Rockler to pick up something they had on sale. It wasn’t a big item. Then reality set in ;-(( It would cost more in gas to go than I was saving! May as well pay full price when I was in the area ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View coloradotrout's profile

coloradotrout

24 posts in 599 days


#34 posted 550 days ago

Yeah, beware the travel costs—so easy to be deceived—gets me all the time. Folks might be willing to meet half way—or perhaps some trip of theirs brings them closer to you. Always worth asking.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#35 posted 549 days ago

Well she got impulsive and took matters into her own hands. We’ll see how it goes:

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Dan's profile

Dan

150 posts in 555 days


#36 posted 549 days ago

The saw she grabbed is the one I was going to recommend. Its sitting in my basement lol. I still use it for all my detail cutting (until I can afford the saw I want lol).

-- Dan - Wooden Treasures CT - http://woodentreasuresct.etsy.com http://www.youtube.com/woodentreasuresct

View RonInOhio's profile

RonInOhio

720 posts in 1460 days


#37 posted 549 days ago

Suppose you could have done a lot worse than a PC.

Have fun !

View Ross's profile

Ross

110 posts in 568 days


#38 posted 549 days ago

I would say that because your wife made the decision on her own to buy the P/C it was a good decision. Kind of lets you off the hook if she doesn’t like it. “VBG”

“Hell Hath No Fury Like A Woman Scorned”

-- "Man Plans and God Laughs"

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BigJerryWayne

133 posts in 699 days


#39 posted 548 days ago

I was just about to chime in and mention a Craftsman, as a starter saw, the way I did. I hope she keeps the interest in scrolling.

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

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#40 posted 548 days ago

We were put off by a lot of the reviews on the craftsman – especially when it comes to using plain end blades (which apparently just isn’t possible on the craftsman). She is already a scrolling addict. She cut through a 1/4” sheet of 1/8” plywood I had in the shop last night. She was getting a little frustrated, but I told her, like with lots tools, the included blades are garbage. She went to woodcraft the minute they opened today and bought a ton of Olson plain end blades and a huge multipack of veneers. The Olson blades made a huge difference.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Dan's profile

Dan

150 posts in 555 days


#41 posted 548 days ago

Craftsman makes great tools, however, I tend to agree with the reviews that put you off. I had a craftsman 16” saw and it was garbage. Didn’t last me very long before it wouldn’t hold a blade anymore. But as I mentioned above, I have the exact saw she ended up buying and so far I love it. I think some of my work speaks for how good of a saw it is for the price.

-- Dan - Wooden Treasures CT - http://woodentreasuresct.etsy.com http://www.youtube.com/woodentreasuresct

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#42 posted 548 days ago

Dan, you do awesome work. I love those bookmarks in your Etsy shop

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

894 posts in 621 days


#43 posted 548 days ago

Okay, you guys, about travel costs to get a distant tool: take the wife along; make it a sightseeing trip; take her out to dinner; go with her into some antique shops (maybe you’ll find a great old plane); take her to a museum. She’ll approve of your purchase, and ask you when you plan to go far for another bargain.

View Dan's profile

Dan

150 posts in 555 days


#44 posted 548 days ago

Thanks lumberjoe

-- Dan - Wooden Treasures CT - http://woodentreasuresct.etsy.com http://www.youtube.com/woodentreasuresct

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14584 posts in 2272 days


#45 posted 548 days ago

runswithscissors, It doesn’t take much imagination to justify anything to do with wood or tools ;-)

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2824 posts in 844 days


#46 posted 547 days ago

That is a lot harder when you have really young kids and needs to be planned way in advance. Plus the city where that RBI was is super sketchy. I wouldn’t want to bring my family there, and don’t really like going myself.

We are taking a trip to Lie Nielsen soon and doing exactly that. That one will be an overnight though, but there are a lot of antique shops up that way.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

679 posts in 1531 days


#47 posted 547 days ago

Did you guys dig into the new scroll saw? Do you have any first impressions?

Everything with kids takes planning. Especially if they are young. My twins are 4 and my youngest is 3. They are effectively triplets.

Good luck with the saw.

View William's profile (online now)

William

8884 posts in 1438 days


#48 posted 546 days ago

Don’t worry about the kids.
I have eight kids.
After you have enough of them, it becomes old hat.
Most of mine are older now, but when they were all young I used to get comments that the wife and I made it look easy.
I’d tell them that, with practice, it is easy.
You become so accustomed to it all that you go through the motions without even thinking about it.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View coloradotrout's profile

coloradotrout

24 posts in 599 days


#49 posted 531 days ago

runwithscissors—where were you 20 years ago when I needed that wisdom!!!

But exactly how many day jobs do you have?

View gawthrrw's profile

gawthrrw

187 posts in 1043 days


#50 posted 531 days ago

My father had a dewalt that he has used for years. I can’t remember the model but it seemed well made and I think it was in the $200 range. I bought a 24” Atlas scroll saw from an old man down the road for $75 bucks. It was all cast Iron and seemed to be really well made. You might be able to find an older saw that works better than some of the newer ones for less money and It will have a story behind it.

In the end I ended up selling the scroll saw because my bandsaw will do everything the scroll saw will do. Might be able to kill two birds with one stone and get her a nice expensive bandsaw then use it yourself too!

-- Rob, Dallas TX

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