|Review by Craftsman on the lake||posted 08-21-2009 02:41 PM||7801 views||0 times favorited||27 comments|
I rarely use a scroll saw. If I have to do some scroll work I either do it by hand or use a bandsaw for outside work. Recently I had to do lots of inside scrolling. I’ve got an old craftsman scroll saw that I less than affectionally call ‘Thumper’ for obvious reasons. But, it cut and was good for work that wasn’t too intricate.
I’m making a desk for my niece and the side panels between the styles are the medical symbol for an RN as she’s soon to be graduating from Nursing school. I’ll post this build after it’s finished. I started out with Thumper then I broke the blade alignment guide. It’s essential for this machine and is unavailable as it’s so old. I decided that it was time for a new scroll saw.
Here’s a picture of Thumper and the panel I was working on.
I researched scroll saws both here and elsewhere on the net. I was surprised to see the low number of choices. My scroll saw needs are few and probably will be for awhile. I know the Dewalt is king right now along with a few other higher priced ones but I didn’t see myself spending $500+ on this tool. Lots of the scroll saws get marginal reviews. Many are in the $99-$150 category. I took a look around and ended up at Lowes. Of all the saws I looked at in the lower/mid price range the Hitachi seemed to look like it was constructed to last awhile. I won’t mention other brands I looked at, at the risk of offending anyone.
I’ll discuss these features pictured below
Upper blade vise, Table tilt knobs, Lower blade vise, On off and speed control.
The saw comes with a stand, but I had a 3/4” plywood cabinet stand for Thumper so I used that. As a result I think the vibration is at a minimum. Maybe that’s because I’m used to Thumper but the Hitachi seems to run pretty smoothly.
The blade insertion is two small vises on the upper and lower arms. They have thumbscrews but the top one also has an allen wrench insert. Some people indicate that the lower vise doesn’t hold pinless blades well. Mine does so I can say that this isn’t a problem. The lower one is a little tight for my large fingers but if I tilt the table to the right there is more room. I found it amusing though that the directions say that they recommend pinless blades if possible but the saw comes with two pin blades indicating that some people are having issues and to avoid calls they have switched the supplied blades from pinless to pin.
The saw has a servicable dust blower. The worklight has a separate switch. The saw has a large well placed on/off switch right over the upper arm and above that is the variable speed control. Both feel and look like they will last.
The front of the table has a knob within a knob. The outer one tilts the table (to either side) up to 45 degrees and the center knob locks it in that position. I am impressed with the way the mechanism snaps the table into position at various degrees and the gear that accomplishes this movement is a fairly large steel mechanism. Nothing flimsy about it.
The unit is mostly cast iron or steel with the exception of the green plastic cover on the side. It has two screws and I can see myself opening it up periodically to clean out the small scrolled chips that drop through and into the lower base area. the base also has a 1” dust port on the lower front right of the unit. There is a small blade compartment at the lower left, back of the saw.
When using the saw the first thing I noticed is that even though the blade was moving very fast at high speed, the rate of cutting was much slower than Thumper. Granted I was using two thicknesses of 1/2” oak screwed together thus 1” of oak in thickness which would be tough on any saw. Thumper used to cut as fast as a band saw. I think it was the long stroke it had. There was a little more wait time with the Hitachi but the cleaner more controlled cutting is worth the drop in speed. I broke one blade in the whole cutting of the panels that you can see below.
The saw was $179 at Lowes. It’s going to be just fine for my needs in the foreseeable future. In my mind I don’t mind buying something at a certain price point but I have to go at least to a level that makes it feel like I’m getting something equal to that dollar figure in product. The high caliber expensive machines were not practical for me right now and some of the lower priced machines didn’t fit that dollar/quality idea that well. The Hitachi CW40 seemed someplace in the middle and was the right buy for my needs. I gave it 5 stars for what it is at this dollar level.
-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.