My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #247: More on Saws

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-05-2011 02:31 PM 4141 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 246: Time For a New Saw (???) Part 247 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 248: Assessing Information »

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 ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

11 comments so far

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 2946 days

#1 posted 02-05-2011 03:39 PM

I think, we must venture on the new technology. It is also good to treasure what we really have at this time however nothing to loose in buying a new one. We can call it…. expanding business trends….

-- Bert

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#2 posted 02-05-2011 03:53 PM

You are correct, Bert. There is really no urgency in this venture. So many times people get caught up in the ‘wants’ versus the ‘needs’.

Although it would be nice to have a new saw, my current DeWalt is for the most part working well. It has a couple of issues, but nothing that I can’t deal with.

I am in no rush to get a new one. It is sometimes difficult to suppress the excitement of getting something new. Especially when window shopping at these high-end saws. But I am trying to be quite level headed in this venture and I am not going to rush into getting something I can’t afford or will regret later on.

Worst case – I will have a DeWalt in my booth and come home to my own. And that isn’t a bad thing. :D

Thank you for your thoughts.


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

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3550 days

#3 posted 02-05-2011 04:59 PM

I got a hegner about a year ago, it was a great deal. Most of the time it gathers dust. I used a few times and liked the way it cut but, as you said, the blade changing was annoying. I just couldn’t figure out why people thought it was amazing. A few weeks ago the switch went out on my hitachi saw and I thought it was fully dead. I don’t have the finances to replace the saw right now so I would have to use the hegner. I found and bought the quick change clamp from advanced machinery, I have only used it a couple of times since I got it (crazy busy week, no time to play) but I think it will make the difference and I may fall in love with the hegner.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#4 posted 02-05-2011 05:03 PM

That is really good to know, MrsN! That is why I don’t want to make a hasty decision about the saw. I have to do some phoning next week and I am going to see what I can find out about the quick change adapter. I just wonder though that when you are spending $1,200 for a saw why it isn’t included with it in the first place? It amazes me that you would use the Hitachi over the Hegner! Please keep me posted on what you think because as I said, I am going to think long and hard about what I will decide.

I really appreciate your post. :)


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

View smw6442's profile


25 posts in 2813 days

#5 posted 02-05-2011 07:37 PM

Hi Sheila, i have the DeWalt 788 type 1 i bought it used on ebay and it was working great for a couple of years and then broke down..I bought the parts and fixed it and now it works great…I also have a PS Wood Machine that i bought used..when i bought it the guy said he only used it for an hr..and got busy with his job and he put it away and never used it again..I got a great deal on it when i bought it even though it was 6 years old it was in brand new shap..i the saw is belt driven and has only 5 speeds but overall its a nice saw very smooth cutting… have pictures on facebook…Blade change is something you have to get use to but is fast…I’m going to buy the excalibor ex 21 in a couple of weeks..I”ve been wanting one of them for a couple of years now….Steve

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3074 days

#6 posted 02-06-2011 01:51 AM

I got sick and tired of my cheap Ryobi not doing what I wanted it to do and eventually it just collapsed (probably due to over use!) So I bit the bullet and bought the excalibur 18 months ago and have never looked back. Like all things it takes a while to get used to what it can and cant do but I would not be without it now. It is a machine that is so nice to use that it can sit there for a bit until in need, then I find myself wanting to use it more after I have finished with just using it as a saw. And sit there and cut out a fret work pattern.

-- Theresa,

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3700 days

#7 posted 02-06-2011 09:53 AM

Sheila, If an internationally known designer tells them that is the only thing about their saw you don’t care for and how much of a pain it is on intesnive projects, they may very well change that feature to someting more servicable. It’s probably worth a phone call since yi know them.

Now, off to google to find out what type 1 and 2 are? ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#8 posted 02-06-2011 12:43 PM

Thanks again for all your input. I certainly do appreciate it a lot. I am going to have a discussion with Hanns from Hegner, Topamax, just to see what he says. I also need to look into the quick blade kit that was spoken of. I also have heard nothing at all bad about the Excalibur, which I understand used to make the Type 1 DeWalts (all owned by General International at the time).

It will be good to see everything at the show and compare them head to head. :)


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

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2905 days

#9 posted 02-07-2011 04:10 AM

I suppose rebuilding the saw is not an option? What goes wrong with it that you can’t rebuild it? Just curious.

I googled type 1 & 2 and learned ”The type 1 are better machines. Made in Canada. The type 2 are made in the far east. ” which still has me wondering the difference, if any?

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3700 days

#10 posted 02-07-2011 04:37 AM

Lots of things coming out of the far esst have serious quality control issues even if they are attempting to make the exact same thing. I googled it too and was surprised to see that was the diff! I expected to see different something besides manufacturing floor lacation.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18286 posts in 3700 days

#11 posted 02-07-2011 08:19 AM

WOW!! I just googled Hegner!!!! Makes my little $45 Crags List Delta look awefully pitiful:-((

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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