My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #246: Time For a New Saw (???)

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-04-2011 02:23 PM 2707 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 245: On to Writing Part 246 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 247: More on Saws »

With the show in Saratoga Springs right around the corner, there is much I need to do to prepare myself for the event. My partner and I have been in the planning stages, and it seems our nightly walks have turned into mobile business meetings where we discuss the upcoming event.

There will be so much preparation necessary in order to make things run smoothly. Having never participated in a show of this size, I just don’t know what to expect. I think the best philosophy is to “expect anything and everything” and then I can be fully prepared.

One of the most important things that we have to decide is which kind of saw to have at our space. I have had my own DeWalt 788 for about fifteen years now, and although I have recommended it to just about everyone, I am no longer confident that it is the best saw out there. DeWalt is in the process of (again) changing hands and since they began manufacturing the saw overseas a couple of years ago, I seem to hear more and more stories of people who are dissatisfied not only with the performance of the saw, but also the customer service.

I read over and over again on the several different forums geared to scroll sawing and also from customers of troubles that they have had with their saw. To make matters worse, it seems that in many (or even most) instances that their experiences with customer service is also horrific. And many have to wait for months to have their saws repaired or obtain parts. Many of them also needed to send it back several times before it was repaired properly, if at all.

So what do I do now?

I am the type of person that feels comfortable recommending only products that I actually use and believe in. I realize that different people have different needs, but if I have never used something or am unfamiliar with it, I don’t want to endorse it. I would rather send the person asking to someone who has had more experience with what they are looking for. If I find something that works for me, I like to stick with it.

With my saw, I have honestly for the past fifteen or so years felt that for the money it was the best saw on the market. At a price of around $500, it wasn’t the cheapest, nor was it anywhere near the most expensive. But to me it had convenient features and performed as well or better than the saws that cost two to three times more. I never regretted recommending it to anyone who was serious about scroll sawing. I am a firm believe that in order to have fun and do well in a new venture, such as scroll sawing, you need to buy the best saw you can afford. It was always so sad to see someone buy a cheap saw that was in essence a piece of crap. Typically, they would get frustrated and abandon the hobby altogether. It works like that with most things, I feel.

Some of you may remember when I wrote to Delta several months ago requesting perhaps to try one of their new scroll saws. It seems that the saw was very similar to my beloved DeWalt, and Delta (who was then owned by the same parent company I believe as DeWalt) came out with their own version of the saw. I requested this because I had heard about the troubles that the new generation of the DeWalt saw was having and I was hopeful that the Delta saw would have perhaps fixed the ‘bugs’ that afflicted the DeWalt saw and give similar performance and service as the old DeWalt’s did. Needless to say, I have never heard back from them. Since then too, I heard that DeWalt is again being sold.

Earlier this week, my partner and I went in search of some lighting to install under the cabinet which sits over my saw. We haven’t been able to find anything suitable and decided to go with the stock light that was made by DeWalt specifically for the saw. In trying to find one, we went to three DeWalt tool sources and were told by the parts department that the light is discontinued. Does this mean the saw will be next? Who knows?

It was yet another reality check that things were (again) changing.

So now what? How can I feel good recommending something I am no longer sure about. The simple fact is I can’t and I won’t. So I am currently looking into another alternative that would not only be suitable for my own needs, but that of my customers.

I am going to end here today, as this is already getting a bit long, but I will continue on this train of thought tomorrow and discuss some of the ideas that I have come up with. I am still working on writing instructions today, and hopefully be able to finish up on that. I heard from the wholesaler yesterday that she accepted all 20 new designs that my partner and I offered her. That was a first. It felt great that the big push of the last couple of weeks paid off for me. I spent the day getting the nearly 100 photos finished up and sent to her, as well as getting the packets together. I have about seven more packets to do today and then we will be good to go and I can focus on some other things.

We actually dug out yesterday and the roads and stuff weren’t too bad. There was a wall of about 2-3 feet of snow behind the car, but that didn’t take long at all to clear. It is actually quite pretty. Our cat Pancakes found a new “toy” which he loved to play with – a three foot icicle. It was like an all day sucker to him and he would lick it as long as you would hold it for him:

We are also thinking about taking a ride to the place near us where we got the nice birch, maple and oak very reasonable and seeing if they come across any maple burls in their travels. They are mainly a lumber yard, but have a shed of some specialty wood like quilted, flaming and bird’s eye maple that they keep separate from the regular stuff. The prices are far cheaper than the place in Halifax and we want to just see what they have. It will be a good excuse to get out for an hour or so.

So it should be a full day. I am still catching up on emails and correspondences. It seems that I am always behind in that area. Being busy is good though and keeps me out of trouble. :) (Well – most of the time, anyway)

I hope you all have a great Friday!

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

12 comments so far

View michiganmark's profile


76 posts in 1882 days

#1 posted 02-04-2011 03:26 PM

I picked up a Hegner saw off of Craigslist for $300 and never looked back. Sold the Delta and Craftsman scroll saws on Craigslist the next day. I can set a nickle on side, turn it on and it doesn’t move. Super easy to change blades quickly, dust blower I modified and improved. The only knock is the stand. A 3 legged stand! I have no idea what they were thinking about because the saw is heavy and will tip over.

Good luck!

-- Michiganmark, I dream in wood......I'll blame it on my grandfather

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8070 posts in 1738 days

#2 posted 02-04-2011 03:29 PM

Tell me about the blade change, Mark. I had the Hegner before and I didn’t like the key thing for the blade holder. I could never get it in straight. Have they made improvements on that? Could you possibly take a picture and show me?

I had the offer to have a Hegner in my booth from the owner, who is a great guy (Hanns Derke). I just don’t know about the blade change.


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1933 days

#3 posted 02-04-2011 03:51 PM

hello there Sheila
see if you can get as many different as you can into you class to show to your audience
and tell them simple and onestly that you have very good experience with you own…...
and had stick to it , how many years was it 15 and there for can´t tell about other scrollsaw´s
but it seems to be another story for the brand today and they have to ask others and try
different saws them self and those in the classroom is there only to get them a little teaser
of what is on the market , just tell them the thruth you have nothing to be ashame of
just do it more or less as you have written here

have a great weekend

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8070 posts in 1738 days

#4 posted 02-04-2011 03:58 PM

I know Dennis:

I don’t get to try too many different saws. I don’t know how much I will get to at the show either, other than a few minutes on different ones here or there. I don’t want to get up in front of a lot of people and look like an idiot because I am using a saw I am not familiar with.

My friend has an Eclipse saw and likes it very much. He also moved from the DeWalt and says it is very similar. On that one the head tilts to angle the cut instead of the table, so I think it would be interesting to see how it does it.

I am going to go a couple of days early and ‘hang out’ with my woodworking friends and the people who are organizing the show and perhaps I will be able to play around with some different saws then. It is hard to choose without them in front of you.

But it will be fun and I am sure I will find something that will be a good replacement. :D


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 1933 days

#5 posted 02-04-2011 04:28 PM

if you get a chance to try the proxxon can you please tell me about that one
I have the little one of them I bought 20 years ago to use in my model making
and even to that its realy too small
but the big cost 3 times more back then , many times since I have thought on
upgrade to the big , but now I don´t know if its strong enoff to woodworking
and I think scrollsawing cuold be a thing that maybee cuold catch my daughter


View William's profile


9324 posts in 1660 days

#6 posted 02-04-2011 04:42 PM

I wish I had an easy answer to your problem. I have had a bear of a time with scroll saws though. I use a Delta SS250. I think I got one though that was at the end of a good run. Mine is great. I have talked to so many others though that call the saw I use a piece of crap. I found out they were no longer going to be selling the saw where I bought mine and had them on clearance. They were cheap enough, so I bouhgt a spare, just in case. The newest one I bought was indeed, a piece of crap. I keep it in usable shape just as a backup for the few times something takes time to repair on my main saw.
I have been on the lookout for a better saw for some time. The saws I’m looking for though are older, discontinued saws. I would really like an older Delta Q3 or Delta P20. I do not want a newer one. I have heard they have went the way of your beloved Dewalt. I want an older one I can restore.
It seems to me that reliable scroll saws are getting harder and harder to find without taking out a mortgage. Another problem I have found is the ability to try a saw before buying it. Where I live, the only saw I can even see locally is a Ryobi. I won’t even start with that one. I did have it and it was a nightmare. In the next town over I can look at a Hitachi (no), a Skil (no), or a Central Machinery (definately no).
It’s funny though. I know the saw I want. I want a saw with the throat depth of the largest Excaliber, the smoothness of a Hegner, the tension lever of a Dewalt, and the Quickclamp II blade clamp of a Delta.


View BigTiny's profile


1667 posts in 1706 days

#7 posted 02-04-2011 04:45 PM

Hi Sheila.

You might want to contact the company that makes the saw you finally decide you want and see if they’ll give you a deal (or better yet a freebie) in return for puting their logo on the booth along with your signage. Might be worth the phone call, as they like easy ways to get good exposure and handing you a free saw is a lot cheaper than getting their own booth.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8070 posts in 1738 days

#8 posted 02-04-2011 04:49 PM

You may be on to something, William! LOL Maybe we should start engineering our own saw! People think that I should know all these saws and that I have access to them to try, but I am just like everyone else – there is very limited available here. Hegner is a great saw, but I am not fond of the blade changer. They are a lot of money though. I am just kind of getting on my feet myself and don’t have $1000 to put down on a saw. I just can’t justify it. Especially in this economy.

But I will look to my options and see how things work out. I certainly appreciate your input.

Sheila :D

PS – To Paul – I am looking into those options too. :)

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

View William's profile


9324 posts in 1660 days

#9 posted 02-05-2011 04:31 AM

I will be interested in what you decide to go with.
I have the same problem as you. People often see my work and ask me what the best saw for them would be. My response is usually, “the best you can afford”. That’s always been a problem for me though. That answer is awfully vague. The subject of the “best” saw though is a tough one. Take my SS250 for example. It is the best saw for me. Is it the best out there? Not by a long shot. It has been the only saw I found I could afford and be able to do what I like to do though.
I used to tell people often that my “dream saw” was the Excaliber. Well, I got the chance to try one a while back. I no longer make that statement. Don’t get me wrong. It seems like a well built saw. It just isn’t for me though. I can’t really tell you what it is. With some use, I could probably learn to like it. I can’t pay that much for something though, especially with the chance that I MIGHT like it.
The only way I could justify even saving up that kind of money, it would have to be, in my opinion, a GREAT saw. I haven’t seen any saw that I think is that great. So maybe I’m on to something. I guess I need to build a hybrid out of several different saws. That could get mighty expensive though considering some of the saws I’d need parts off of. I guess I’ll just have to be happy with what I got. I am by the way. I worry sometimes what I’m going to do though if one day I can no longer fix this saw.


View Verna's profile


202 posts in 1591 days

#10 posted 02-05-2011 05:01 AM

Sheila, I, too, am a great fan of the DeWalt. So much so, that I have a spare Type 1 and also a Type 2. My fear was realized a few years ago when my oldest DeWalt quit two weeks before a show. I had to buy a Delta to get me by for the two weeks because it took three weeks to get a new motor installed. I don’t like the Delta, I won’t use the Delta, and I’m patiently waiting for my nephew to get room in his garage to take it out of my house!!

So, now I check out CL and have picked up the two back-up DeWalts. What will I do if I can’t get them fixed in the next few years? I’ll be in the same quandry as you. I’m looking forward to seeing which scroll saw you end up with. And hopefully this will be the year that I finally have time to make that reproduction style of the pedal fret-saw.

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

View Houtje's profile


299 posts in 1790 days

#11 posted 02-05-2011 07:02 AM

I have a Hegner for 20 years now and still no problems.
Doesn’t matter what wood you use allways working….

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8070 posts in 1738 days

#12 posted 02-05-2011 01:02 PM

@ William – I used to recommend DeWalt and say it was “the best saw for your money” which I believed it was. But now since I have the Type 1 I am recommending something that doesn’t exist. There have been so many problems from people who can only get the Type 2 saws that I don’t feel comfortable about doing so. I can only go by others’ recommendations.

@ Verna – I envy you a lot! I have had mine since 1997 and for many years I made only a handful of projects per year. I always keep my tools in good repair and condition so there has been no trouble whatsoever (except once the switch went, so I got a couple of extra ones). Now though, with me and my partner using it all the time, it is beginning to show its age. There is nothing in particular that is wrong with it – it just has a little more nose and vibration than it used to, which I suppose is normal wear and tear. I am not looking forward to switching over either, but I think that the time is approaching.

@ Houtje – I did have a Hegner too and it was a very good saw. I just couldn’t get used to the blade holder. It was a pain to have to use that little key and holder. Maybe I am lazy, but I can’t help but think that there should be a better way. Otherwise the saw was great. Smooth and quiet and cut nicely. I also wish the table was a bit larger than it is. I suppose that I am used to the DeWalt table. I don’t think I am being too picky, but for that much money, I am with William – I want to be THRILLED with the saw. It is a lot to spend for something that you feel could be better in some areas. That is just me. I am not knocking it in any way. Others may not mind these things the same way I do.

I will certainly keep everyone informed about how it goes. :)


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

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