I want to start out today by saying that I didn’t get the video done yesterday. There was just too much going on with things and my partner Keith and I were both kind of taking turns on the saw. We both have projects to submit to the magazine for the Holiday issue and it is kind of ‘crunch time’. as we were away for a while and need to really get our projects done.
I did, however save a piece from my own arsenal to cut in hopes of making a couple of small clips today. Hopefully I can put something together so that you can get a feel for how things work on the saw and see the way the blade is re-threaded and such. My problem here is that I am not as versed on the movie software as I would like to be and even though the clips are short – five minutes or so, it takes me quite a long time to get them formatted and edited and together enough to make a decent little production. I ask your patience in this matter and I promise that it will come as soon as I am able.
I truly appreciate your comments regarding yesterday’s blog. It is good to hear not only about the positive experiences others have had with the saw, but also what may be considered negative experiences. As with most other tools, I am certain that there is a degree of give and take on features and such. Seldom is there something that is suitable for everyone in every scenario and I don’t for a minute think that this is a “magic saw” that will fill everyone’s needs equally. What I am looking for is something that will fill my own needs, and perhaps the needs of my average customer.
Of course there are going to be others that will not fit into that category. There are the occasional scrollers who need a saw only a couple of times a year to perhaps fill in and make some cuts while working on other projects. This saw would be quite an overkill for them, and the price would in all probability be prohibitive.
On the other end of the scale, there is the sawyer who does a lot of production work and will need a machine that will fill that need, running constantly several hours per day on a daily basis. Perhaps for them, it would be better to look into purchasing a industrial grade tool, which is specifically made for that type of wear and tear.
The Excalibur line of saws is considered a mid to upper line of scroll saws for the scroll saw hobbyist. Now many of us serious woodworkers don’t like that term “hobbyist” because it seems that in some ways it may demean our passion and ability to make fine woodworking projects, but the way I look at it, I don’t agree. I think that it encompasses anyone who is passionate about scroll sawing and who spends as much time as they can at the saw, but doesn’t necessarily support themselves fully by their work on the scroll saw alone. (This is only my own personal interpretation of the term, and I don’t want to start an argument on semantics please.)
As for myself, I believe that a saw geared for a scroll saw ‘hobbyist’ is a good fit for me. Yes, I do earn my living using the scroll saw, but that is just a small part of the many other aspects of my job which include designing, writing, finishing, painting, etc. You get the point. I am not sitting in my kitchen cranking out 532 pieces a week of production work. Naturally that would wear any saw of this type to an early death. What I am looking for is a comfortable and reliable machine that will do the job I need it to do with little or now muss and fuss. I believe that is what most woodworkers are looking for.
With that said, I did get some time at the saw yesterday, as did my partner Keith and we both were very happy with how it performed. Could it be because we were used to using a 14 year old saw? Maybe in part. But overall there were little things that I felt were a large improvement over the DW788.
I actually read through the manual to make sure that I was using the features correctly. I had received a message from someone on my Facebook account that told me that she had the same saw and that by dialing up the tension knob at the back of the saw, you were actually raising or lowering the upper arm and bringing the two arms out of parallel, which caused problems with tension and cutting.
In examining this further, I realized what she was saying could truly happen, but if the saw was set parallel prior to inserting the blade, there should be little problem, as the ‘fine tune’ adjustment that would be required by turning the knob after the blade was in and the front tension lever flipped was so minute that it wouldn’t make a real difference. At least it didn’t in my saw.
I made sure the two arms were parallel, inserted the blade (top first) as I showed yesterday, flipped the front tension and the blade was about 90 percent as tight as I wanted it to be. I then slightly turned the rear knob probably 1/16th of a turn to gently give the blade that extra tightness I like to saw with and it was good to go. From that point on, I never had to touch the rear knob again. I don’t know if her saw was out of whack from shipping or just not set properly, but I honestly couldn’t see any problems with mine or any need to further adjust. It is at times like this when I wish I could be there to physically look at her saw and see what was going on.
The actual cutting session was very pleasant and I was able to cut dead on the lines. The control was something that was noticeably better. I thought it was only me, but when Keith was cutting, he mentioned to me that he felt that his cutting had “stepped up” being on this saw. That comment was unsolicited and I had not yet mentioned to him that I had felt the same way. I think I attribute that to the fact that the front to back motion of the blade is next to nil. That is probably the biggest difference that I noticed from the DeWalt.
In my lectures and classes, the way I described this ‘front to back’ motion characteristic of scroll saws is somewhat like when you picture train wheels moving. With every turn there is the front to back circular motion (although very slight). This can cause the blade to jump from one place to another when you are diving into the piece and turning, and when it is more severe, it also can cause the piece to be grabbed by the blade and chatter on the table. For someone who is new to scroll sawing, this is startling to say the least. The blade jumping from one place to another is also very frustrating, even to the seasoned scroll sawyer and is a clear indication of the unwanted front to back motion being present. There are ways to adjust the saws to minimize this, but usually people don’t realize that it is the cause and many times just get frustrated.
As far as cutting went, I found the saw to be smooth as silk. When scroll sawing, maneuvering is accomplished by a series of pivots and I tend to lean to one side of the blade or the other, depending on which way I am going. The movement of the blade was really smooth and I was able to go exactly where I wanted every time. Overall the control on it was as good as I could have asked for. I was able to cut spot on every time.
The saw ran much quieter than the DeWalt too. Perhaps that added to the feel of smoothness when cutting. It just felt good to cut on it.
I realize (again) that I am getting long here, even for me. I am truly trying to give a fair review of the saw and point out my observations. I appreciate ALL your input – positive and negative and I do like you to keep your questions coming. I am also learning more about the saw with answering these questions.
Hopefully I will get to doing a short video today. I did draw the other two companion pieces for my submission to the magazine and as I said, I saved a piece to cut today which I will hopefully film for you to see the saw in action. I want to share my experiences with you all regarding this tool so that you can decide if it is something that you may want. I realize it is not for everyone, but I must say that so far I am very impressed with it and happy with my choice.
Have a great Tuesday!
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"