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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #314: More on the Excalibur Scroll Saw

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 04-19-2011 01:56 PM 4240 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 313: My New Excalibur EX21 Scroll Saw! Part 314 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 315: Two Short Videos for You »

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!

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



20 comments so far

View patch's profile

patch

16 posts in 1442 days


#1 posted 04-19-2011 02:12 PM

pull the side cover off and look at the way the saw is made you will see bearing in aluminum I am a tool maker by trade if you are going to make a comments on a product I think you should be looking at the hole picture not just what is on the outside

-- patch (Graham) Moama Australia http://patch2731.dotphoto.com

View Dennisgrosen's profile

Dennisgrosen

10850 posts in 1868 days


#2 posted 04-19-2011 02:14 PM

this is deffently has become one of the best rewiew I have ever seen or hear about :-)

thank´s for taking the time Sheila

have a great day
Dennis

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

323 posts in 1673 days


#3 posted 04-19-2011 02:37 PM

Geez Patch, how may people disassemble their tools to do a review on this site?

Even if this saw isn’t as sturdily built as you would like I am expecting we will get a great many years of use with very little upkeep. I would like you to please present the alternative… What would you recommend?

-- Scroll saw patterns @ http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6704 posts in 2732 days


#4 posted 04-19-2011 02:49 PM

Hi Sheila;

In spite of not having dismantled the saw to make your review, (lol), I think you did a pretty good job of presenting the saw.

Sounds like you’re both very happy with it.

Nicely done.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View hairy's profile

hairy

2109 posts in 2285 days


#5 posted 04-19-2011 03:26 PM

New tools make it all fun again.

-- in the confusion, I mighta grabbed the gold ...

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

15337 posts in 1942 days


#6 posted 04-19-2011 04:32 PM

Very well done and detailed. Your Blogs are always so interesting to read and your writing style flows well..

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#7 posted 04-19-2011 05:50 PM

I think it was such a good review Sheila that I now want an Excliber more than ever. Of course, I’ll prbably never afford one in this lefetime. I think they are worth the cost, I’m just on a shoestring budget.
Also, please don’t let certain people discourage you. I have said this many times. The perfect scroll saw for anyone is a matter of personal choice. I use a cheap Delta SS250. While it isn’t my dream saw (Excaliber), it fits my needs. The scroll saw is my hobby, nothing more, nothing less.
Sometimes, certain people just have problems with scrolling, and in their minds, it must be the saw.
As for explaining the concept of blade movement, front to back, go to Rick Hutcheson's site, scroll down on the left side of the screen to where it says “types of saws”. He has a real good pictorial explanation of front to back blade movement between the different types of saws, parellel arm, C-arm, and the Excaliber and Dewalt, the parellel link arm.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7902 posts in 1673 days


#8 posted 04-19-2011 08:43 PM

Hi again! Yes, Rick does have a wonderful comprehensive site which will explain in detail all the blade movements of the various types of saws. His website is a great source for all scrollers, (and he has a load of good information on turning now too!) If you get a chance, go over there and see what he has to offer.

I know the EX-21 is not a cheap saw. It was also a big step for me to get one. I did do a lot of reading and research and saw what many others thought of it before taking the plunge. I think that for me, this is really a great tool that will enhance my designing and make my job more fun. It is one of those things we occasionally treat ourselves to, and that is part of what makes it so special. I don’t take it lightly and hope that it is all that it seems to be. I will continue to let you all know how it works out for me as I use it.

In the mean time, I am happy to let you know how I like it and about its features. Thank you all too for your valuable input – both before and after I got it. I think that by talking to and helping each other, we learn so much!

Sheila

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

View stevebuk's profile

stevebuk

57 posts in 1437 days


#9 posted 04-19-2011 09:01 PM

i personally dont think anyone would base their choice on inwards components, i have never taken the back off my tv to see whats in it, lol !!
Things are manufactured and built by several countries now days, and unless you want to pay really high end prices, this type of saw would still be better than most.
Thanks for the incite sheila into the new saw, looks like it could be the one for you and keith, and also look forward to the “video” when completed.

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#10 posted 04-19-2011 09:09 PM

I think Rick is so good at detailing the differences in the saw is because he ownsthe largest collection of scroll saws in America. I’m not just saying that. His collection has been featured in several magazines more than once. I forget now exactly how many hundreds of them he owns dating back into the 1800s at least. You are correct though, if any of you have the time, go check out his site. It is of interest even of you’re not a scroller.
If you have time and enjoy old tools, check out the scroll saw collection. Go down on left side of the page and find “scroll saw collection”. After you click on that, he has them broken down into categories, like motorized saws, hand saws, belt driven saws, foot powered saws, homemade saws, hand crank saws, even toy saws.
Also, for anyone thinking of getting into scrolling, on the left side, in big letters, is the heading, “free scrollsaw videos”. When I first started scrolling, this is where I first saw a lot of the techniques I still use today.
I hope you don’t mind Sheila, I’m going to post a photo of a newspaper article that was written about Steve.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View patch's profile

patch

16 posts in 1442 days


#11 posted 04-20-2011 01:43 AM

come back and tell me this saw is good in 12 months of constant work and I don’t mean cutting 3mm stuff I mean cutting up to 50 mm( 2’‘) most of my work is 25mm ( 1’‘) word art that is what I sell most of it will not stand it I am replacing each par that breaks with steel if you just tack the inspection cover of the side you will see what I what I mean

-- patch (Graham) Moama Australia http://patch2731.dotphoto.com

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#12 posted 04-20-2011 02:00 AM

I wish you would tell us what kind of saw you recommend. I would take out a loan to buy a saw that would consistantly handle 2” material. That is the maximum cut thickness of most all scroll saws. If you push anything (I mean ANYTHING) to it’s maximum every day, it’s going to wear out.
Actually, if you cut 2” material every day for as many hours as you claim on any scroll saw, Then wish you would come back in 12 months and tell us how your steele bearings are holding up.
I’m sorry my friend, but I think you need an industrial saw. With an industrial scroll saw, you will be giving up some of the conveniences that hobby type saws offer, but I think that is the only way you are going to get a saw that will last (maybe) without doing what you are doing now, replacing parts as they break with better parts.
I have to say though, now that I know what you’re cutting, your experience with any scroll saw will not be the same as that of Sheila, Keith, JT65 (I think she has an Excaliber), or myself. It’s like comparing apples to oranges.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#13 posted 04-20-2011 02:02 AM

I had to update my last response with verified information. I just went and pulled out the owner’s manual on my Delta. The maximum recommended cut thickness for a Delta SS250 (according to the manual) is 1 7/8” Being a hobbyist saw, I wouldn’t think the Excaliber is too much more.

EDIT
You can go here to the Woodcraft site and see the ad for the Excaliber EX-21 saw. If you read down towards the bottom of the description, it says the maximum cutting depth (that’s wood thickness) is 2”.
That’s the maximum. I think of a tool like a car. Cutting 2” on this saw for hours every day would be like driving your car a hundred miles per hour every day. How long before parts start to wear out from abuse? Now I’m not saying the car won’t do a hundred (well, some people like me have build their cars to go a lot more, but that’s a different story), but doing so on a regular basis is not good for parts longevity.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View patch's profile

patch

16 posts in 1442 days


#14 posted 04-20-2011 04:41 AM

Try reading my post again I quote (most of my work is 25mm ( 1’‘) word art that is what I sell most of it will not stand it )

-- patch (Graham) Moama Australia http://patch2731.dotphoto.com

View William's profile

William

9287 posts in 1595 days


#15 posted 04-20-2011 05:25 AM

Ok, still though, is there a better saw out there? I think that is the point of this whole discussion. If the Excaliber is such a let down, then what is the alternative? I really want to know of any and all options because one day I hope to have the money to upgrade from my entry level Delta.
At this point in time I truly believe that if the chance ever arises, my saw of choice is going to be the Ex-21. Why?
Because someone who’s opinion I highly respect (Sheila), has answered my only concerns with this saw based on my research. You sir are the only person I have ever heard of that has had any problem with the Excaliber line of saws at all that were not quickly resolved by Seyco. Usually, any problems with these saws, according to the people I have spoken with are handled directly by a Mr. Ray Seymore, who, again according to the information I have, is the president of Seyco, or Patrick Magro, who is the product manager of General International, the makers of the Excaliber. If I’m wrong about any of this, please I hope someone will tell me so I’ll know.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

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