My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #248: Assessing Information

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 02-06-2011 02:08 PM 3304 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 247: More on Saws Part 248 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 249: One More Day of Instructions »

I want to start out today by saying that I really do appreciate the comments about the scroll saws. I think that one of the best ways to decide which saw to go with is going to be by listening to others’ experiences with the different saws. I am sure that there are several saws that would be suitable for my needs, but with the number of choices out there, I think I will be able to find one that will work best for me and perform as I require it to.

As I said before, the worse case scenario would be to get another DW788 and continue on. I do like this saw and even though there were some problems with some of the newer models that are produced in Taiwan, it doesn’t mean that every saw out there is bad. In further reading I have noticed that many of the problems were when production initially changed over, and since then there has been an improvement in quality. I only worry because of the recent turnover(s) of DeWalt and the near non-existent customer service that many have complained about, not only with scroll saws, but with DeWalt tools in general. We were also eying a DeWalt planer for the future, and we will need to look long and hard before making that decision also.

I am leaning toward the Excalibur saw at this point, but the final decision has not been made yet. The Excalibur is very similar to my saw in the way it operates, and I have heard nothing bad whatsoever regarding performance and service. I have heard from many others who have graduated from the DeWalt to the Excalibur and not one person has regretted it. It also has the tilting head feature, which means that instead of the table tilting for bevel cutting, the head pivots. This allows you to cut on a bevel while still keeping your work piece on a flat table, making it much easier to maneuver and turn your piece. For myself, when I try to cut anything at more than a few degrees angle on my saw, it feels awkward and uncomfortable because the table is angled. I bevel cut all of my candle trays and self-framing plaques and this is a feature that I will be using more of in the future.

I also like the fact that the Excalibur saw is made by General International, which has a good reputation. Since they are located here in Canada, I am thinking that customer service and repairs will not be a problem. Sometimes it is very difficult to get service on tools bought from the US here in Canada.

All in all, it is going to be an exciting venture, I believe. As I said before, I am in no hurry and my own saw is still functional and working. It would just be really nice to treat myself to an upgrade in the future.

I did get the pattern writing finished yesterday. I was happy about that. I don’t know what is more difficult sometimes – writing each pattern from scratch, or using a kind of template for similar items such as the candle trays and going from there. It seems that there are lots of distractions and no matter how closely I proof read them, there always seems to be a little error that sneaks by. Most of the errors are inconsequential, but once in a while I leave out something that is somewhat important. Perhaps that is why I like using a template. It reminds me of all the pertinent points that need to be focused on when creating the instructions.

I do have a friend who offered to proof read the patterns for me and that has been a great help to me. Leldon has been scrolling for many years, and I have known him for a long time. He is a wonderful proof reader because he really knows the processes of scrolling and sees stuff that a layperson would miss. I have been sending my patterns to him for proofing for several months now and it has made a big difference in them I think. If he finds an error or omission, he always seems to apologize to me for pointing it out, as if I would be angry. However, I am always relieved that he finds them, as I think it is very difficult to proof read your own writing. The fact that he is an excellent scroller also helps because if I don’t explain something clearly, he has the ability to ask intelligent questions about the process that someone making the pattern would ask. What a great asset he is to my company. He certainly makes me look a lot better!

After I finished the patterns, I did actually have time to cut out the 24 Easter ornaments that are going to be a bonus that I am giving with the Easter Eggs and Bunnies candle tray pattern, and I also finished (finally) cutting out the large snowflake for my next painting design. This was the same snowflake that I cut out a few weeks ago for the painting designer to work with for her magazine submission. I want to design on the same surface because I am going to be offering the wood pieces to other painters who will be able to order them from Sheila Landry Designs if they don’t cut. It may turn into a nice little side business. Making my own painting design available on the same surface just makes sense to me, as the wood piece is my own design. I can maximize my own return on the time I put into designing this surface for her and benefit myself from it also.

I haven’t painted in a while and I really want to do so. I plan on spending at least part of the day working on something new in that department.

I also have to finish the stuff for the site update today. I need to make a notification for the email customers of the update and finalize the information and addition of the new patterns there. My partner just finished compiling our Spring/Summer catalog and he did an amazing job on it. Even though it is early for Spring, with the show coming up at the end of March, we realize that our time will be focused in that direction and now seemed like a good time to do a full overhaul of things. I am up to 23 candle trays now (which really did shock me when I saw them all together on the same page!) I would have thought that I had perhaps 15 or so.

I did a custom order this week for someone who wanted a variation on the Sweetheart candle tray pattern. He wanted it to be more like the original dresser tray I did, with a wider area in the middle and a more narrow border. I modified the heart design and it really came out nice. I didn’t cut it out, and it is only the line work, but I am thinking of doing it up in Photoshop and making a quick pattern that I can offer free to my mailing list customers. I like to give them extra discounts and small incentives in appreciation for their loyalty. I didn’t charge the original customer, as it didn’t take me very long to do and I wanted to be able to hold onto all the rights to do what I wanted with the design. I suppose that is one of the ‘perks’ of being my own boss. I will post a picture of it later on after I finish up with in in Photoshop.

So that is the order of business for today. It is going to be a full day, but a good one. If I run out of things to do, I can always work on the Easter ornaments too, as I want to have a nice picture of them to add to the site. I don’t really need them done, but it is something relaxing that I want to do more for myself than anything. It will give me an opportunity to play with some new paint I got from DecoArt a couple of weeks ago. It should be fun (and isn’t having fun what it is all about?)

I hope you all have a good one!

-- 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


9906 posts in 2266 days

#1 posted 02-06-2011 11:59 PM

From what I have heard, I don’t think you’ll go wrong with the excaliber. I dread your problem though. I know giving up your saw of choice would be like giving up on an old friend. If you get this saw, I will be very interested for you to send me a PM and give me your honest opinion of every detail of it. I say in a PM, because I think you and I are a lot a like. You may be overall happy with the saw and not wish to put it down in any way publicly. I think you know what I want to know though. I want to know what is good about the excaliber, but I also want to know what needs improvement. I’ve had people in the past tell me the excaliber is perfect in every way. I know this is not true, so they aren’t giving me what I need to know. Even your Dewalt is a good example. You love the saw. We all know that. In this post though, you listed the tilting table as a drawback. That’s the kind of info I like to know. It doesn’t take away from the overall saw, but it is a drawback nonetheless.
I’d love to know if the Delta Quickclamp II system can be adapted to that saw. They make conversion kits for other saws, including the Dewalt. I have studied clamping systems on many other saws. I have found no other that stands up for me like the Quickclamp II. I tend to run my blades on the tight side, and most blade clamps either won’t hold tight enough, or wind up breaking in time because of my continued overtightening of them. I understand this is partly my own fault, but since the Quickclamp II system has held up so long for me, I’d like to stick with it.
My other requirement for any saw is the ability to quickly release and apply tension. After using the Delta for so long where tension is simply off or on with the flip of a lever, you couldn’t pay me money to go back to a method that requires turning knobs on every hole in a fretwork pattern to tighten a blade. Once again, I know this is a personal preference, but I know you understand, I cut pieces with thousands of cuts sometimes. That is a lot of knob turning, and if that knob is at the BACK of the saw, well…..
So I would love an honest assesment of the Excaliber. I probably couldn’t afford one till all my kids are grown and left home, but would love to know anyway. I am lucky right now that I have a good saw that I paid very little for, and a decent backup. In the event they both played out though, I don’t know what I would do.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

8991 posts in 2344 days

#2 posted 02-07-2011 12:49 PM

I will certainly keep everyone up to date on things. :)


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

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