My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #692: The Understudy

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 05-05-2012 11:32 AM 6991 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 691: A Wave of Mini-Disasters (It Will Only Get Better From Here!) Part 692 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 693: Drawing »

After the rocky start yesterday morning, the day didn’t turn out to be all that bad. I truly do believe that attitude plays an important part in how we live our lives and that taking things in stride and moving on made a big difference in how I felt all day. One by one I was able to right all the things that went wrong and in the process, it gave me some time to think and reflect on all the other good thing in my life that are going well. Either I could have been crabby and spent my day being upset, or feel accomplished as things were put back to right. It is easy to guess which path I took.

Keith is feeling a bit under the weather. In the over three years I have known him, it is rare that he is sick, but it appears that he has caught a nasty cold. He is tired, achy and his head is stuffy. Last night it seemed that it was turning into a deep chest cough too. That isn’t good and I am encouraging him to lay low and rest. He is taking some meds for the symptoms, some which make him sleepy and I hope he takes the weekend off and rests up so he can feel better.

I suppose that is one thing about working from home – you are rarely able to put it aside completely and are always ‘at work.’ While taking off when you have an outside job usually means staying home and relaxing, it is often very difficult to be here and in our normal work environment and keep it completely out of mind. While he did take it a bit easy yesterday, he also spent an hour or so at the saw, finishing up cutting his latest project. He said he felt bad not working when there is so much to do, but I reminded him that there is always lots to do and he needs to take some guilt free time in order to heal. Whether he listens or not remains to be seen.

I went out yesterday and did the rounds. I needed to pick up a package from the post office, the saw from Keith’s parents, some medicine for Keith and also fill the propane tank that I let drain. It was a beautiful day outside and I actually enjoyed the time out. I drove along the ocean and while I toyed with the idea of stopping and spending some time on the beach, I was anxious about the saw and hearing back from Ray from Seyco so I just stuck to my errands and headed home.

When I arrived there, Keith had already spoken to Ray about the problem. As always, Keith said he was great to talk to. Apparently the problem with the bolt was due to some bad casting on the part and there was a short production run of saws that had this problem. Ray assured Keith that there was nothing that he or I could or couldn’t have done to make this happen. He was surprised that we had the saw torn down to the point that we did, where we were able to remove the defective piece, as it wasn’t an easy task. (We both could attest to that) But Keith is pretty competent at building things and I actually was relieved to have someone around that knew how to do it.

Keith told me that Ray gave us two choices – send us a new saw or send us the part. He was checking on the availability of the part when I arrived home and was to call back with our decision. In talking to Keith, we both decided that replacing the part was sufficient and that getting a new saw wasn’t necessary. After all, there was nothing else wrong with the saw and we are both pretty confident that we will be able to get it together properly and it will be fine once it is fixed.

When we opened the saw up, we looked for wear on the parts and it looked really good. There was very little dust in it and no signs of metal pieces wearing and we both feel that it should be good for many years of service. While Ray offered to ship the new saw first, and then have this one shipped back after the new one arrived, we both felt it would be wasteful and costly and thought we would give the new part a try first. We very much appreciated the offer though and it felt good knowing how good Seyco was about standing behind their product.

People ask me frequently about the saw and sometimes I hear stories about others who have had bad luck with their Excalibur saws. When I looked for the schematic online, I came across the drawings for the Excalibur 21 inch saws from Carbetec and also Axminster. While they were quite similar, there were slight internal differences in them which could be where some of the problems are in these markets.

Unfortunately, Carbetec has a very bad reputation for customer service. It seems that these saws are also the most trouble when it comes to performance, too. I have heard many tales from unsatisfied customers where Carbetec has washed their hands of the saws the minute they leave the store, leaving people angry and frustrated. Not knowing what is available in Australia, I find it difficult to recommend anything.

I have also heard of a couple of problems people in the UK have experienced with their saws, but most of that seems to be initial adjustments. Axminster, the main distributor in the UK, seems to have a good reputation with helping their customers after the sale though, which is good to hear. It seems that they at least try to pinpoint and rectify any problems that occur and work with the customers until they are satisfied.

To me, customer service is as important as the item itself. While purchasing something at a big box store may be cheaper, without good customer service it is like you are rolling dice. If you have a trouble free machine, it is great, but from my experiences with the big stores, there is little knowledge among the personnel regarding mechanics and adjustments. It could be very frustrating if things go wrong.

Since scroll sawing is kind of a specialized area of woodworking, there isn’t a huge market for these saws. There aren’t very many models to choose from and it seems that the prices jump from the really cheap saws to the DeWalt/Delta counterparts to the high end saws that cost over $1000 with few choices in between. The Excalibur is one of the few saws available in the $500-$800 range. That said and having owned both a Hegner and RBI (both higher end models) the features and performance and ease of use makes this saw my first choice. Even with this issue that we are having with it, I still think it is the best saw of the nicer saws and I wouldn’t have any need to ever ‘move up.’

I realize that everyone can’t always afford this saw though, and the DeWalt I had prior to this is I feel the next best thing. The only problem with that, as I have said many time, is that I have the Type 1 saw and it is no longer made. There are issues with the Type 2 DeWalts that are now on the market, as well as the Deltas that I prefer to not deal with (including the customer service departments). To each their own.

But for now, we brought in “the understudy” :

I am very happy we decided to keep it when we got the new saw – “just in case.”

We dusted her off and she seems to do the job, although it is quite an aggressive saw compared to my Ex21. The front to back blade motion is almost 1/8”, which means that it cuts quite a bit faster than the Excalibur. It is something that we need to readjust to, as if we are driving a different car, but it is certainly workable and thank goodness we have it for a back up. Keith was right in the middle of finishing up his ornaments for the holiday issue for the magazine and it would have really put him in a bind not having a saw.

As for me, I am OK. I worked on finishing up a personal project for a friend yesterday and I have nothing really pressing at this time, so I can spend the majority of the next several days drawing up new designs until our part comes and we are back in commission. In the mean time, “old yeller” will be fine to work on if I have the need to cut.

So all the disasters are pretty much under control. I even came home to find that Keith re-spliced the wires to my charger for me. (What a guy!) Coco is forgiven (of course!) and all is well again.

As each item got checked off the list, I felt better and better about things. So often when something bad happens we ‘react’ rather than think it through. I am finding that usually by the time we are done reacting, we could well be on our way to resolving the problem. By staying calm and thinking things through, we save ourselves the unnecessary anxiety and are able to channel our energy into a positive direction – fixing what went wrong in the first place. And overall, it seems that makes life just a little better.

I hope you all have a great Saturday. Keep a good and positive attitude and you will be amazed what a great day you will have.

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

5 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2800 days

#1 posted 05-05-2012 12:49 PM

I was thinking of that part being bad. Since most of the parts for pretty much everything we buy is made overseas now, seems like the quality has been long gone. It, the quality, has gotten better, I will say. I just had a bearing sieze up on my mower deck yesterday. It happens. You & Keith are down to earth people. More of the other type/s would have opted for the new saw. Good that you had a backup to keep makin some dust till you get the new part

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2915 days

#2 posted 05-05-2012 01:17 PM

Yes, Roger – it would have been nice to have another brand new saw. The powder coating on my table is a bit worn (by my own doing!) and it would have been nice to have a pretty new one again. But really – everything costs money. We live in a day where everything is ‘disposable’ and people don’t want to fix anything – just throw it out and get new. I wasn’t raised like that. We were poor and learned to appreciate and take care of our stuff. And fix things that are broken if we can. It has to start somewhere. In the long term, by returning the saw, the company would take a loss and then next year the prices will go up (again!) There was a thread here a while back about people who got tools and used them for the job and returned them to the big box stores when they were done. That just makes me sick. Those are the people that gripe the loudest why things cost so much. If need be in the future, we will exchange the saw. But for now, I think we can fix it. We have a back up so it really isn’t a crisis beyond a little inconvenience on our part. It really is the right thing to do. :)


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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3111 days

#3 posted 05-05-2012 03:07 PM

well even a RollsRoyce have a bad day from time to time
so we can´t exspect less from the tools we use but none the less its still very frustrating
since many powered tools isn´t made to be repaired on and you can´t get spareparts to them :-(
I´m glad you are able to fix the excalibur

you better watch out and react hurry if you want to avoid too many tewed wires that have to be
or worse a dead cat
our cat was a monster to it when he was young …. once I came home with a brand new boringmaschine
and had to make some DIY work inside the house
usualy the cat hides when I use powertools becourse of the noise but this time I had to go down in the basement after something …. it took only two minuts … but the damage was done :-(
a brand new maschine not used ten minuts was unable to work
that was only one of many wires I have changed the last ten years … he used them as chewing gum :-(

but they can learn not to come near any wire you just have to respond in a splitsecond
with the no sound a real catmother wuold use

tell Keith he is ordered to be very lazy on the couch untill he is fresh a springcough can easely
settle to a pneumonia

take care

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2915 days

#4 posted 05-05-2012 03:44 PM

It seems like she goes in stages, Dennis. She did this in the middle of the night so it would be very hard for me to catch her in the act. I did plug the cord in by her bed. Maybe she thought I was baiting her and couldn’t resist the temptation. Most of the time we wrap our multiple cords together, as they don’t seem as appealing to her in bunches. She likes the low voltage thin ones (thankfully!) and doesn’t chew the regular power cords. Next time I charge the keyboard, I will have it in my room with the door closed, and not give her the opportunity to munch on it.

That’s a sad story with your boring machine. Maybe she thought if she ate the cord it wouldn’t make noise anymore. Perhaps she was right – smart kitty! I feel your pain, as when I got my new Wacom Mouse Pad it didn’t take her a week to chew that cord. Grrrrr! It was tricky to do but I was able to fix it.

Keith is so far laying low today. He slept in and just awoke a little bit ago. He is coughing and sniffing though and I am hoping the germs stay on his side of the couch and I don’t get sick. I can only hope.

I hope you have a good day. Tell you little lady that I said ‘hi!’

Take care, Sheila

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

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10096 posts in 4048 days

#5 posted 05-05-2012 08:51 PM

I’m glad you’re back in Business… even though your technique may have to be modified a little until the other saw is ready to go.

Sounds like a Great Cust. Service dept. on the Excalibur… that is GOOD!

Hope Keith feel better FAST!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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