There is so much for me to consider when looking for a scroll saw. So many questions. So many different opinions. Like most people, I find comfort in familiarity and resist any type of change whatsoever – be it for the good or not.
I am beginning to see that my quest for a new scroll saw is not going to be an easy one. There is so much information and so many models out there that I am quickly feeling a bit overwhelmed. I need to accept the fact that DeWalt no longer exists as I know them and I need to move on to something else.
It is kind of funny, but on a somewhat similar level, I felt the same way when I found out that the little printer that I liked so much was being discontinued. That cheap little Canon IP4600 is the best printer I have ever owned. It is both a work horse which can output a vast amount of pages in a short time, but even more important the quality of the pages is incredible. Then add that ink system that makes it all work together at a very low cost and it is a perfect mix. It is quite unfortunate that printers and electronics in general have such a short run of life. I was thrilled to find my score earlier this week of the IP4700, which is identical to my IP4600 in almost every aspect. Buying one also gives me the security of having another lifetime of happy printing.
I wish I could say that for my scroll saw.
The problem with the DeWalt is that there are few Type 1 saws to be found. All the new ones available are the Type 2, which are no longer made the same way and peppered with problems. It isn’t as if I can just go and buy another one new and hope for another fifteen years of good service. The only way I am able to get another Type 1 saw is if I am able to find a used one. That in itself holds its own risks. Did the former owner properly maintain the saw? Were there problems with it? If there are problems, I will have no recourse and as I stated earlier, little resources to rectify the problems.
I think it is time to move on.
Two of the saws that I am considering are the Excalibur and the Hegner. Again, I am in a dilemma because although I am leaning toward the Excalibur, I may have the opportunity to use a Hegner and perhaps get a really good deal on one. However, there are some features on the Hegner that I just out and out don’t like. (OH, the irony of life!)
It seems that the owner of Hegner is going to have a booth at the show in New York. I have know him since I first started working with the magazine over fifteen years ago and he is a great guy. He and his brother have owned Advanced Machinery for many years and they have exceptional products and services. Their customer service is also incredible and they make sure that the customer is happy. ALL their products – not only their scroll saws – have a great reputation and are high quality. i have never heard anything negative about them.
In any case, I spoke to my editor the other day and he told me that not only will he have a Hegner saw in his booth for me to use, but that Hanns told him that if I wanted one in mine, I would be welcome to it. I have used the Hegner before and I actually owned one when I lived in the States. I liked the saw, except I had one problem with it – the blade holder.
On my DeWalt, the blade is held in with a thumb screw. There are no tools needed at all and all you do is turn a wing nut and loosen/tighten and you are done. This is very helpful when you have a piece with say 500 holes to cut (or even 100 for that matter). With the Hegner saw, you need a little key and there is this small chuck that you need to put the blade in and then the assembly is placed in the saw. To me, this is sometimes awkward and I just don’t like it. It may seem like a small thing, but if you think of how many times you need to play with it in the course of the project, you may be able to see my problem with it.
Why couldn’t they have a more convenient system?
I am afraid that if I have that saw in my booth, I will look like an oaf trying to figure it out in front of all those people. I want something there that I am comfortable working with, as I will be nervous enough with everyone watching my every move. There is part of me that wonders if I am just being silly about it and if I should buck it up and learn something new or if I should just go with what I am familiar with. After all, perhaps a national show isn’t the time to break in a new saw anyway. I know that I can have a DeWalt there in a second if I choose to do so. But knowing they are dying off, do I really want one?
The other alternative I have will be to use the Excalibur. It is the other saw that I am seriously considering for several reasons. I have had several friends who have moved up to the Ex from the DeWalt and haven’t looked back. The blade change is very similar and the saw has a very similar feel to it I am told, although it is much better everyone says. The Ex is now made by General, which has a good reputation for service and repairs.
However, it is proving more difficult for me to find someone to talk to regarding providing me with a saw for the show. General is, as many of you know, a huge company that has a large number of different categories of tools that it sells. Getting through the process of finding the right person to talk to is quite a challenge. I am familiar with a distributor of these scroll saws in the States that has a good reputation and I have sent them a letter inquiring their policies as to providing a saw for me for the show. I don’t know if this is the proper channel to go through, but it will be at least a start to get me on the right track. If the company decides to help me out, they will be compensated by being represented at the show, which they otherwise wouldn’t. Since the show is expecting over 5000 people to show up, I feel that it would be a good thing for them.
I would love to be able to have some time working on both of these saws before I make my final decision. It is difficult to tell what would work the best without actually using them for a bit. Perhaps I misjudged the Hegner and the blade change is easier than I remember. I would like the opportunity to give it a go again and see if I feel differently.
Both of these saws are a bit more expensive than the DeWalt. I supposed that is why I liked the DeWalt so much. I did think in its heyday it was the best saw for its money. I didn’t mind recommending it to people because when I did, I thought that would be the last saw they would need or want. But now with the company issues that DeWalt is having, it seems to be more of a risk than anything. And at over $500, it isn’t a risk I think that most people want to take.
We will see what happens over the next couple of weeks. I still have time to make a good decision. I also have the luxury of knowing that if I don’t have my own saw there, the people putting on the show will provide me with any saw I wish. So I am really not taking any risk at all by being careful and weighing all my possibilities. I just think it is a great opportunity to move up to a better saw and also to maybe establish a good contact with a company who I will be happy to recommend.
I have almost finished my pattern writing and will be ready to update the site perhaps sometime today or tomorrow. Things are on schedule and moving right along. They are predicting more snow in a couple of days and we are all cleared out from earlier this week so everything will be fine. I like these winter days of concentrating on work. It is a great feeling to get so much accomplished.
Have a wonderful Saturday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"