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Horrible quality, not what I expected from Porter Cable

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Review by drobertson posted 02-25-2015 10:37 PM 9409 views 0 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Horrible quality, not what I expected from Porter Cable Horrible quality, not what I expected from Porter Cable Horrible quality, not what I expected from Porter Cable Click the pictures to enlarge them

I am honestly trying to be fair with this review, but I am extremely frustrated with this scroll saw. In the past I have been a happy owner of many Porter Cable products. At this point I am reluctant to buy any more.

About a year ago my wife started to enjoy using the old clunky scroll saw we had to make kids puzzles. She got pretty good at it and now does it as a small side business. Each week she spends about 8-10 hours creating puzzles on the scroll saw for sale at our local farmers market. It won’t make us rich, but she is making some reasonable money at it.

We figured that since this was a business it deserved a bit better equipment to work with. I had always been happy with the quality of Porter Cable equipment and Lowes had a Porter Cable PCB370SS on sale at a decent price.

When we set it up we immediately had issues. The work light wasn’t functional right out of the box. This wasn’t a blown bulb, the wiring inside was broken. Considering we had very good lighting of the work area I didn’t really think anything about it. Yes, I should have taken it back right then, but I still had high hopes for the machine.

Within a few months the bellow that provides air for the dust blower failed. It was pretty cheap construction and just cracked right on the mold line. I ended up using a fish tank air pump to jury rig a fix for this problem

The next piece to fail was a few months back. There is a plastic cap & adjustment knob that covers the tension adjust on top of the saw. This part sees massive vibration as the head moves up and down. Despite this obvious technical challenge the engineer though that it would be fine to just put a hole in the raw plastic and hold it down with a compression spring style pin. The edge of the pin ate right through the plastic.

Aside from the poor quality there are a number of basic poor design decisions people should be aware of. If you have good solid woodworker hands don’t expect to be able to easily use the bottom blade locking mechanism with any comfort. I would consider my hands slightly larger than average, but I can only get a few fingers in to the locking screw that holds down the blade. It is not easy to use at all. My guess is this was designed by a small Chinese person for a small Chinese person.

The bevel gauge has a plastic cover that protects it from the top, but the back of the gauge opens directly into the dust chamber below the blade. It fills up almost immediately with dust making it impossible to read. Lucky I have my compressor right next to the saw. A quick blow normally fixes this issue.

Expect to have to constantly re tighten the screws holding the base together and the dust extraction port doesn’t seem to do anything productive. I hook it up to the shop vac and it doesn’t seem to affect the dust flow in any way. My guess is that all the suction gets lost from the large openings in the body. After use I still need to open up the machine and vacuum out large amounts of accumulated sawdust even when I constantly use the dust extraction port.

Just recently the whole scroll saw started vibrating badly. This is the final issue that prompted the writing of this review. It is a bit over a year old now and it sounds like it is dying. Regrettably the machines body is enclosed so I have little possibility of fixing things up with a bit of maintenance.

I have been attempting to get in touch with porter cable customer service, but I have had no luck talking to the division I have been directed to. At 4:00 pm est today I reached a recording that their office hours are from 8:30 AM until 5:00 pm est and that they are closed right now. Call back later.

My 2 cents would be to stay completely away from this machine. There are other far better scroll saws for similar cost and the Porter Cable name does not equate to quality in this machine.

BTW, I tried posting almost this exact same review on the Lowes web site and the site administrator deleted it. I consider that extremely bad form.




View drobertson's profile

drobertson

57 posts in 3233 days



24 comments so far

View Jesse's profile

Jesse

58 posts in 1743 days


#1 posted 02-25-2015 11:17 PM

If you don’t want to splurge on an expensive Excalibur scroll saw then consider the Dewalt or the almost identical but a bit cheaper Delta. I own 2 of the deltas for my business and I really enjoy them. Very little vibration, good work space, smooth cut, and I run them for hours on end with very little to complain about.

View drobertson's profile

drobertson

57 posts in 3233 days


#2 posted 02-25-2015 11:21 PM

Thanks Jesse,

We are actively looking for a new scroll saw and I will check out the ones you recommended. At this point I really can use some advice, a bad scroll saw is causing tension in my marriage. ;-)

Doug

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4248 posts in 2678 days


#3 posted 02-25-2015 11:27 PM

I can highly recommend the DeWalt scroll saw.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Andre's profile

Andre

2009 posts in 1923 days


#4 posted 02-26-2015 12:40 AM

Looked at this Saw a few times and was very tempted, thanks for the warning. It is one of them tools that always calling out to me, but so far I can not come up with a reason to buy one?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View RJweb's profile

RJweb

120 posts in 2749 days


#5 posted 02-26-2015 12:45 AM

Check out craigs list, I picked up a dewalt 788 for 250.00 3 years ago, and still going strong, good luck

-- Life Begins @ 190 MPH

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1594 posts in 1541 days


#6 posted 02-26-2015 03:45 AM

It is hard for me to recommend tools by mfg any more.

Companies that once shined have now transferred all their mfging to other countries.

It seems most tools are designed with the cheapest materials they can get away with to get past the warranty period and reduce shipping costs.

Names like Porter Cable, Craftsman, and others are just not the same companies any more so you almost have to preface your recommendations with when they were built.

I buy used tools that were made years ago, if I can, and there are replacement parts still available. Even that is getting difficult so I feel your pain.

You were EXTREMELY fair with your review and I wish others would wait for a decent amount of time before providing a review. Time is the enemy of most of what is made today.

I also like the in depth discussion. I think I can speak for many of us that this is a great review that is complete and in depth.

Thank you for taking time to do so. It is greatly appreciated.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View drobertson's profile

drobertson

57 posts in 3233 days


#7 posted 02-26-2015 04:32 AM

Hey rad457

I would suggest a scroll saw is a wonderful tool. The detail work you can accomplish with a good one is very impressive and they are just fun to use. Both my wife and I enjoy working with a scroll saw regularly.

This may sound odd, but I now use it to do fairly complex joinery cuts that you would not expect to see from that tool. A little cleanup with a chisel and they fit tight as can be.

The only thing I would not recommend is the Porter Cable scroll saw. Its quality is completely unacceptable.

View jshroyer's profile

jshroyer

80 posts in 1775 days


#8 posted 02-26-2015 01:27 PM

I have the same saw. i never expected so much vibration right out of the box. i dont use it that much right now and am wishing i would of waited to get something else for less money or used. just annoyed with this machine right now. i am adding weight to the base to help get rid of some of the vibrations. no fun at all.

-- http://semiww.org/

View Joe Andrews's profile

Joe Andrews

68 posts in 2116 days


#9 posted 02-26-2015 01:38 PM

While my experience with this saw is not as unpleasant as yours, I have also had some of the same issues. I bought it because I had a project (RC airplane build) that required a lot of scroll work. The PC was the least expensive one I could find locally that was supposedly a few notches above the Skil types. The work light on mine also stopped working shortly after I got it, and I have found bolts from the stand lying on the floor occasionally. Mine doesn’t get near the amount of use yours does, so maybe it will last a little longer. I do have mine up for sale right now, though as I just finished building a CNC machine and will use it to do the work I used to do on the scroll saw. Yes, it will most certainly take longer, but I like doing the designs on a computer and watching the machine do all the work!

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 2227 days


#10 posted 02-26-2015 02:23 PM

Be aware that Porter Cable is now the middle of the line brand.

The corporation that owns all three, Stanley, stated several years ago that they planned it to go like this:

Top (Pro) = DeWalt
Mid (serious DIY, casual Pro) = Porter Cable
Bottom (occasional home use) = Black and Decker

Shop accordingly…

View drobertson's profile

drobertson

57 posts in 3233 days


#11 posted 02-26-2015 04:58 PM

@Oggie – It is pretty sad that they specifically decided to drop the quality of the PC products. I always associated PC with better quality than DeWalt. I guess my mind is just stuck in better times. This whole thing just reaks of nasty marketing dept tricks. ie. drop the price and quality on the good stuff and leave the customer to figure out they got screwed later.

@Joe I would love to hear about your CNC. We are considering either building one or going with a carvewright. We need to increase production on some of my wife’s toys and I would rather get some automated equipment for my garage than shop it out to some third world country.

View Tennessee's profile

Tennessee

2880 posts in 2631 days


#12 posted 02-26-2015 06:02 PM

+1 for the DeWalt. I’ve had mine for about 12 years. Use it often. Must have hundreds of hours on it. Everything still works like the day it came out of the box.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View timbertailor's profile

timbertailor

1594 posts in 1541 days


#13 posted 02-26-2015 11:58 PM

People are just prone to gravitate to a name they recognize. Marketing 101.

Just ask Arnold Schwarzenegger or Ronald Reagan.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View NormG's profile

NormG

6226 posts in 3120 days


#14 posted 02-27-2015 04:41 AM

I have a Delta SS350. Purchased it in 2005 on sale, right after putting the stand together and the saw on it with the plastic bag over it, I hurt my back. It sat there never used, until just before Thanksgiving 2014. It started right up and works very well, little vibration, blades change quickly (I have big hands), nice size table, blower does a good job also

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View mbs's profile

mbs

1657 posts in 3057 days


#15 posted 03-02-2015 02:38 AM

PC was a great brand. I have many of there old tools but I stopped buying them since they moved overseas and I had problems with them.

-- Sorry the reply is so long. I didn't have time to write a short reply.

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