My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #548: Thanks for the Great Responses Yesterday!

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-10-2011 02:47 PM 1495 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 547: How Can I Recommend Something That I Don't Believe In? Part 548 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 549: A Thoughtful Moment »

I want to start off today’s post with thanking all of those who helped out and posted your thoughts and participated in yesterday’s discussion. The responses were quite overwhelming not only here on Lumberjocks, but also on the Sheila Landry Designs page and my Facebook. It just shows what a hot topic picking the right tool is and judging from all the responses and also all the personal emails I received, I think that together we all helped a great deal of people.

Discussions such as this are so beneficial to those who are interested. Nothing is more helpful than reading about others’ experiences with actual use of tools and other items – be it good or bad. No salesman or advertisement could do a better job of showcasing a particular item than a customer review. Personal experiences far outweigh promotional hype when it comes to things like this.

I suppose that is why I wanted to lay things out and see what you all had to say about your own experiences with scroll saws. While I am looked upon as “the professional” there are times when being in that role inhibits my ability to be able to help those who are not. My needs are quite different from many of yours. While I do make my living by designing scroll saw patterns, my actual use of the saw if probably far less than one would imagine. Those of you who read my posts every day can attest to that.

Designing is a multi-faceted aspect of woodworking that includes coming up with the idea, drawing it out, actually cutting it, writing detailed instructions and packaging them as a pattern, and finally marketing the packet (which includes building and maintaining a web site, dealing with wholesalers and contributing to magazines and other publications.) You can see from that list the small percentage of time that is actually spent at the scroll saw. If I were guessing, I would say that I easily spend probably ten times more time at the computer than actually cutting at the saw. (This is just a guess)

As a result, my own saw is used probably far less than someone who is making items to sell or doing other types of production work. I often wonder what my actual ‘mileage’ on my own saw would be in comparison to the average scroller, if there is such a thing. So when people come to me for advice, the best advice I can give them is based not only on my own experiences, but those experiences that I have heard from others. That is why reading and observing what others have to say is so important. And why forums such as this are so popular.

We are lucky to live in this age of communication. With gathering places such as this, we are able to interact with others from all over the world quite instantly and learn from their own experiences and share our knowledge with others. That is huge.

I often suffer from bouts with nostalgia and look back to when times were perceived as simpler, but if I really think about it, they weren’t simpler at all and they certainly weren’t free of problems. And without the wonderful technology that is available to me today, there would be no way whatsoever that I would be able to run my own business from my little place here across from the river in this beautifully remote area of Nova Scotia. I sit here at my “window to the world” (my computer) and network and brainstorm with my friends from England and Denmark and the Philippines and every corner of the planet. And I am a better person because of it.

I truly try not to take these things for granted, and it is times like yesterday when the outpouring of advice and opinions made me realize how fortunate we all are to have each other. I really appreciated every post and I am sure that many others who read the thread did too. I think we all learned a lot.

As you can probably imagine, I spent much of yesterday answering questions and private emails. (If I haven’t got back to you yet, I am still working on it today.) It was an unexpected shift in my planned activities for the day, but a welcome one. I loved seeing the interest and being able to help people out. It is one of the great aspects of my work here and yet another reason I like my job.

I also heard from the magazine that the recent calendar project arrived safely. Kudos go out to Purolator Courier for getting the project to New Jersey in under a week! I now have to get to it and finish up the instructions for the next set of pieces by Monday, as I promised to have them waiting for my editor when she arrives at work. I also have the self-imposed deadline of getting out all my Christmas mailing by Monday too. I have been working on that for most of the week and I am once again getting into ‘crunch time’. I realize that some of the items may not arrive prior to Christmas, and I am resolved to that. There just haven’t been enough hours in the day lately and I can only say that I have done my best. The recipients will understand, though. At least I think they will. :)

With that said, it is time for me to move on to today’s list. It is long and I slept in a bit later this morning for some reason. I was dreaming though so I must have been sleeping deep and needed it.

Have a wonderful productive Saturday, everyone. I know many of you are in “Elf mode” and kicking it into high gear for the next two weeks. Remember to take enough time to really enjoy what you are doing and savor these moments.

“These are the good old days.”

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

4 comments so far

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#1 posted 12-10-2011 04:18 PM

Good morning Sheila. I am glad you made the main topic of today the topic of yesterday. You see, after typing even more than what I wound up posting, I deleted a lot of what I actually said before hitting the “post my comment” button. I done so because I felt it was counter productive to the idea of your post from yesterday. However, since you mentioned it today, I woke up with a strong desire to bring up the part of this idea that I deleted.
I understand exactly what you were saying yesterday. I done mechanic work for years and fully understand the value of quality tools. I laugh because I often see so many people on this forum who hate Craftsman tools. Well I agree with them when it comes to woodworking tools. On the other hand, they are second to none with mechanic hand tools and that was all I used when I was in the business. To this day, when I do pick up a wrench, it’s a Craftsman. Why? Because when it come to mechanic hand tools, in my opinion, they are the best there was, the best there is, and the best there ever was. The best part about them is that if they ever do fail, a quick trip to the Sear store and you come back with a brand spanking new one, no questions asked. If it’s something they no longer carry, they’ll repair or replace it with an item of equal use and value.
All that being said, I want to explain why I don’t try harder than I do to afford that Excaliber I dream of so much. The reason is that I’m not sure I’d even be happy with it. While I see it as the ultimate scroll saw, I don’t see it having the features I enjoy without doing modifications. If I have to make modifications to a saw of that caliber, then I am not going to be a happy camper. This is the reason I didn’t feel right putting my preferences in the main discussion you put up yesterday. What I’m about to explain goes against the point you were trying to make and is not something I would suggest to most people to do.
I am pretty happy with the saw I have now, even though I do have what is considered an entry level saw. I have a Delta Shopmaster SS250. I want to start by explaining the Shopmaster designation. Since I have seen and used this same saw under several different model numbers, I have come to realize that there is a select number of SS250s made from a short span, at a certain factory, with the Shopmaster name, that are a little bit if a cut above the rest. The others look identical, but fall apart if you were to put them through what I have my Shopmaster. Oh, but that’s only the beginning of the story.
Next we have add on accessories. Two of the first things most saws have is a hold down foot and an air blower. I don’t like them. The first thing I do with any scroll saw when I take them out of the box is to remove these items. For the Delta saw, to completely remove the air blower, that even involved partially disassembling the saw because I wanted even the bellow bulb off the top of the upper arm.
Next is the tension. I love the tensioning system on the Delta saw I have. However, over time, the spring gets weak and it moves. This makes you have to retension it. My answer to that is that I removed the spring. Hell, I removed the whole tension adjustment. I replaced it with a machine thread bolt and nut because I enjoy having a positive stop on it that I know completely prevents it from moving until I want it too. Even someone walking by my saw cannot mess with my tension without walking back to the front of the shop and getting wrenches. I like this because that means I can catch anyone (my brother used to be the main culprit) who tries making their own adjustments on my saw and make them leave my saw alone. I have it set up for my preferences, not anyone elses.
Then there’s Delta’s Quickclamp II system. It is my belief that this is the best blade clamp system ever designed. I love it so much that I doubt I’d give two cents for a saw that did not have it. I don’t think they offer it on the Dewalt or the Excaliber, since it is after all a Delta design. There are conversion kits out there, but again, I don’t wish to buy an expensie saw that I have to go through that kind of trouble with just to make me happy.
The mention of the Quickclamp II system though brings up another problem, the fact that as much as I love it on my arm, I can’t stand it on my bottom arm. On the bottom arm, I like the hard holding design of the Delta’s cheaper saws, with some more modifications. You see, I use a lot of spirals and like to run them actually a little tighter than most people would. Because of this, with most bottom blade clamp designs, they are bad about pulling out. It’s hard to explain, but I have removed the block from my bottom blade clamp, done some fileing on it, drilled and retapped the hole in it bigger, and reinstalled it using a better grade bolt that is a tad bigger than the stock bolt that came with it.
So, at the end of the day, I have a saw that I am perfectly happy with, although it is something that started as an entry level saw. The problem though is that is it not something I could recommend to anyone else. For starters, the exact saw I use now is no longer available in stores. You can find them on ebay and various other places, but I have found out (after recommending them to a few people unfortunately) that the quality is a crap shoot, since these saws were made during a transitional period in Delta when everything was being turned over to start making basically crap.
The other things is that I cannot recommend others to take a new saw, no matter what the price or quality is, and immediately start modifying it like I have. I also can’t recommend others to buy more than one saw. You read that right. I have two of them. When I realized the situation I was in and that Delta would no longer be making the exact saw, I bought an extra one just for parts. I plan on using this saw for a long, long time. So I needed to be sure I had spare parts for things such as motor, end links, and such. Some things I know how to replace with other parts or make new ones, but some parts just need to be stock if you’re going to keep vibrations down.
So I hope you understand, that while I agree with the idea you were presenting about buying the best you can afford, I also hope you realize that, even if I could afford an Excaliber right this minute, it still would probably not be a saw I would be completely happy with. I have become very picky about my scroll saw. If it does not have the exact features I want, I won’t be happy with it. So, at this point in time, the only way to have everything I want is to have my cheap priced, although modified saw. I am glad you promote buying the best though. I often hear of scrollers who buy cheap, without the knowledge to modifiy like I have, or enough scrolling experience to know what to modify, and get frustrated with scrolling before they even get started good. I started scrolling with a piece of crap Ryobi. I don’t recommend anyone to buy that saw. If I was not in a situation where I had nothing else I could do at the time, I probably would have never stuck with it long enough on that saw to become the scroller I am today.


View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2913 days

#2 posted 12-11-2011 06:06 AM

Lets see if we could extend yesterdays discussion a bit more. For those of us who have a less than “top of the line” scrollsaw what are the considerations of purchasing a “USED” one. I have contacted my local scrolling club plus searched Craig’s List and found some possibilities. I think I remember someone saying the picked up one off of Craig’s List and goty a fairly good deal. Well then what should a person look for:

Amount of use

I would be interested in replys as I may be in the market to pick one up in the next several months.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#3 posted 12-11-2011 04:43 PM

That is a good topic idea Jerrell. It seems that things have quieted down a bit on this thread, so I will ask it again in the near future. :)


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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#4 posted 12-12-2011 01:18 AM

If I could find a used saw, and that’s a huge if in my area, since I can’t seem to find many scrollers, I would love to get an older model Delta Q3 or Delta P20. These were both great saws from the factory. However, even if they are near worn out, of course this would effect how much I’m willing to give for them, but short of something major, like upper or lower arm or connecting link, they are easily rebuilt to like new condition. For example, the bearings for the upper and lower arms. A lot of cheaper saws have bearings that are odd in shape or size, or both, that make them almost impossible to get if the company no longer makes that particular model. On the two Deltas I mentioned though, they use standard sized bearings that, although with a little searching, can be found at most any auto parts store or hardware store. This, to me, makes them a great deal for buying used, again, if I could find them.
I can’t speak for a lot of the other saws because I’ve never actually seen them besides on my computer screen. I have searched everywhere in Mississippi that I’ve been to and your choices here are Ryobi, Delta, Hitachi, or brands such as at Harbour Freight that I won’t even call a tool, more like a toy.


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