My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #96: New Observation About My DeWalt Saw - Something to Think About

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-07-2010 02:06 PM 4403 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 95: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars Part 96 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 97: A Very Exhilarating Day »

There are times when I really feel guilty because I like my job so much. Not really too guilty, but sort of. I guess a better way to put it is that I feel bad for the people who really don’t like their own jobs. Maybe that is why I fight so hard to keep my business going and put so many hours in. The alternative seems very unpleasant to me. Although I have done many other jobs in the past, and I know if it comes down to it I will do what I have to in order to survive, I hope that I can keep things going in this direction for at least a little while.

I really had a good weekend. It was nothing out of the ordinary or special, but I made good progress on things and I am happy with the output. I had the chance to make some home made sticky buns yesterday that are absolutely incredible. I have even been good with taking the time to keep up with my daily walks for the most part. I really do like that quiet time to enjoy the beautiful surroundings near me. I think it has helped me keep a clear head and also is good for my body. The nagging hip has been much better and I barely notice it at all anymore. No drugs or pills, just that little bit of stretching and exercise seems to have helped a lot.

I know the key to my success will be to keep a balance and that alone is a full time job, it seems. The reasoning behind pursuing so many different aspects of designing is certainly not based on greed. I try to diversify my business in many directions because that way I am not counting on only one aspect of it to support me. If something goes wrong with the magazine, there are other alternatives. If something were to go wrong with one of the wholesalers I work with, I have other avenues of income. Etc. etc. I think that is one of the reasons I am one of a handful of designers that have survived these past several years when the economy has not been kind. It is not because I am sadistic and feel the need to work every waking hour. I have come to love the rush of challenging deadlines and actually meeting them and those few moments when I am all caught up with everyone, I tend to feel a bit bewildered and think “what now?” I think that all has to do with really liking what you chose to do as a profession. If I had no concern for money at all, I would probably be doing the exact same thing.

I have a funny story regarding my time at the saw this weekend. (More enlightening than funny, I guess.) I spent several hours on Saturday cutting the star ornaments out. At first I tried some new blades, but again I wasn’t happy with them because they drifted to one side and they were extremely aggravating to work with. So I went back to my Olsen blades that I have come to love.

While cutting however, I have noticed of late (not just with this project, but all recent projects) that in order to obtain the proper tension on the blade, which I like very tight, I needed to really push down on the head of the saw to seat the blade before tightening the clamp and setting the tension. Now this is a little thing, but with the number of times that I do it in a scrolling session, it can be tedious. By the seventh or eighth star that I was cutting out, my shoulder started to hurt.

This made me sad because my saw is about 12 years old and I began wondering if it was nearing the end of its life. I don’t use it like many who do production do, but it has had its fair amount of use and this problem has been gradually more and more noticeable and I am starting to wonder. I had sent a request to Delta to try their new saw several months ago as I mentioned here in my blog, but I haven’t heard from them and with the economy the way it is, I really don’t want to count those chickens right now. I really also don’t have the means to put out the money it will cost to buy the new saw so I was hoping that it is something that can be fixed (I tend to want to fix things instead of dumping them and getting a new one anyway)

I finished my cutting but my shoulder was quite sore. It actually kept me awake Saturday night until I got up and took some Tylenol for it and I can still feel it is tender today. I was thinking that this can not continue and trying to figure out an alternative.

The next day (Sunday) my partner was cutting out one of his projects and noticed the same thing about the tension. He just couldn’t get the head seated low enough into the blade holder to get a good tension on the blade. Although I was glad it wasn’t just me that was having the problem, the reality hit me that there was probably something wrong with the saw. He is quite mechanical and tried several adjustments to see if anything would make a difference. He finally found the culprit.

I love the DeWalt saw. To me is is the best scroll saw on the market for many reasons. However, one of the things that I don’t like about it is that the upper arm won’t stay up on its own. You have to hold it up to un-thread your piece from the blade when you are going from hole to hole. There is an after market piece you can buy for about $25 called an “Easy Lift” which consists of a cast piece of metal and a spring. It attaches right to the saw and the spring helps to hold the arm up when you are changing holes. I purchased this arm after I already had the saw for about 7 years, as I didn’t see holding the arm as a huge problem. But everyone said that it was so much better to use it, so I thought I would give it a go and splurged on the piece. All in all it has been working fine, but it seems that when Keith disconnected the spring from the arm, the weight of the head of the saw itself would seat it perfectly and the tension could again be adjusted accordingly. I don’t know if I explained it clearly, but with the ‘easy lift’ in place, I had to dial the tension all the way up (to 5.5 on the scale) to get the proper tension and sometimes that wasn’t enough and I had to try to reconnect the blade a second time. Now that the arm is disconnected, I obtain my desired tension when the scale reads 1.5-2. Quite a difference.

In thinking about it, I think that I was fighting against the spring that ‘lifts’ the arm up in order to get it to set into place. Perhaps that is why DeWalt designed the saw without the ability for the arm to self-lift. Perhaps it expected the full weight of the upper arm to contribute to the seating process. Maybe they knew what they were doing.

As I said, I was using the saw for seven years without the contraption and not missing a thing. Now it will be a bit of an adjustment to go back to not having the lift, but if it saves my shoulder from all this pain then it is certainly worth it. It is to me anyway. I want my fellow DeWalt owners to be aware of this because I know there are many, many of them that also use the easy lift arm and I feel they should know that it could possibly interfere with the tension adjustment.

Moral of the story: Sometimes it is best to leave things as they are.

Yesterday I spent the bulk of my day painting my skaters (when I wasn’t making sticky buns!) I finished two more figures.

It seems that every now and then, we all take a little stumble in our lives. With that I present Edouard:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

And when we do, it is always good to have a friend there to help us up. Meet Dora:

From SLDP103 Skating Pond Figures

As I said, I am really going to spend more time on getting the entire scene done quickly. Although the two sets are completed, I am redoing them so that I am fresh and writing the full instructions as I go so that they will be ready to publish by the time I am finished here with them. I hope that will be by the end of September, as I am weaving my other work in between doing these.

With that said, I should close. I need to do the Photoshop work on a set of photographs for the next project which will go out to the magazine tomorrow and also I want to make the packet for the new star ornaments, as I have had order requests for them already. I also want to get more candle trays in the works as I have at least two new Halloween designs that I want to have ready by October 1st the latest. Here it is the seventh already.

Until tomorrow . . . enjoy your day!

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

2 comments so far

View William's profile


9950 posts in 2898 days

#1 posted 09-07-2010 02:56 PM

I’m glad you found the problem with your saw Sheils. If you’re anything like me, losing your favorite saw would be like losing your best freind. I have at time had up to eight saws. I buy them at yard sales and such. I get pretty good deals on them because people around here buy these saws thinking they are going to do a lot of scrolling only to find out later they don’t enjoy it as much as they thought they would. Anyway, I alway go back to my Delta though as my go-to saw. Now the bad things is that they no longer make the particular model that I love so much. So, if anything ever happenes to it, I honestly think I’d cry. We’d have to hold a proper burial and all that for it.
Now, I know I got off topic there, and here for that matter, but thought it might interest you what I do with those saws when I find them. I find these saws sometimes dirt cheap at yard sales. I even bought a good running antique Craftsman one time for $5. I have three saws that I keep, my “go-to” Delta, a second Delta that I keep as a backup that is real similar to my other Delta, and a Craftsman direct drive that I cut my large stuff on. When I find these other saws dirt cheap, I buy them and take them back to my shop. I clean them up and make sure they are in good running order. I mount them somewhere out of my way in the shop so they can be used by someone if needed. Then, on the rare occasion that I can get someone new interested in scrolling, I’ll give them a saw. The only stipulation when I give someone a saw is that if for some reason they see they don’t want the saw, they are to bring it back to me in case someone else comes along wanting a saw. I’ve given away five saws now Sheila, and I’ve only been burned once. The guy I gave it to I found out later sold the saw without even trying to cut anymore. I felt used, but kept my head in it by going to visit the other four and seeing the work they have done. I’d buy another saw and give it away in a heartbeat. Four to one is a good ratio to me. It makes me feel good that I heled get those four into a great hobby.
If you’re interested, PM me. There’s a very interesting story behind one of those saws I gave.


View helluvawreck's profile


31736 posts in 2922 days

#2 posted 09-07-2010 03:24 PM

I think that it is one of the most blessed things to love the work that you do and I’m glad that that seems to be the case with you, Sheila. I think that you will always do well if you keep up with those daily walks because, even though you miss some time, you recharge your batteries when you do it. Perhaps you might need a new part for your saw. Have a good day, Sheila.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

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