What scroll saw for a beginner?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Scrollsawing forum

Forum topic by Underdog posted 01-10-2016 04:24 PM 939 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Underdog's profile


878 posts in 1453 days

01-10-2016 04:24 PM

What scroll saw would you recommend for a beginning scroll sawyer?
And what blades? I hear blades can make or break you.

I’m looking for something reasonably priced too. I don’t need the top of the line.


-- "woodworker with an asterisk"

13 replies so far

View Tsharp's profile


16 posts in 285 days

#1 posted 01-10-2016 04:34 PM

Hi underdog, I’m new to lj. my opinion on the scroll saw is the porter cable, has a nice table well built, with little to no vibration.

-- Todd Sharp

View TheDane's profile


4930 posts in 3081 days

#2 posted 01-10-2016 04:42 PM

Don’t make the same mistake(s) I did … bought a cheap one (at ALDI) and wound up giving it away. Replaced it with a Dremel that was an improvement but had too much vibration and was difficult to keep the blade attached. Gave it away too, and replaced with a used DeWalt DW788 that I bought off CraigsList. I am now a happy camper. I just wish I had bought a DeWalt in the first place.

There are other used, premium saws out there … just keep your eye out for a used Excalibur, Hegner, or RBI Hawk. You’ll pay a little more, but you won’t be wasting your time & money on some of the low end stuff that is junk.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2179 days

#3 posted 01-10-2016 04:43 PM

The TYPE of scroll saw is important. Some have a spring return for the blade, others have a parallel arm arrangement holding the blade. The parallel arm type i MUCH preferred as it allows more tension on the blade. More tension means a stiffer blade that doesn’t bend in the cut making for poor tracking.

I don’t use a scroll saw often, but I have used them for a long time, like 50+ years so I do have some experience with them. The saw I have and like is an inexpensive Chinese made parallel arm type that does an excellent job. So look for a parallel arm type when you buy.


-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View tyvekboy's profile


1307 posts in 2431 days

#4 posted 01-10-2016 04:53 PM


When I got my scroll saw I got the Dewalt/Delta DW788 (20 inch) scroll saw (both are the same specs). You can find them at Rockler in Sandy Springs, GA or Woodcraft on sale with stand and light every now and then. If you don’t need it now, wait for the sale. You can get it (saw, stand, light) from Amazon for just under $600 which I think is better than the Rockler/Woodcraft sale price.

The reason why I got this one is it’s not a super high priced Excaliber and it’s not the lower priced ones. It’s about mid-range and gets good reviews.

Although you say you’re a beginner now, you’ll build your skills and will grow into this tool. The 20 inch capacity is good … not too small.

Don’t forget the light. As you get older, there’s never enough light.


I went to Mike's Workshop for my FLYING DUTCHMAN blades. This site is very informative. Read the ”SELECTING A BLADE” and the ”TIPS & TRICKS” sections. Once you decide what blades you want, get about a dozen of each. Get more of the one’s you think you may be using the most. The price is reasonable and you know you’re getting a good blades.

You can call Mike and see if he’s still in business. His website is still up. I heard a rumor that he was retiring so get all you can while you can if you can.


If you do get this saw, you can may want to build the cabinet I built to hold my saw blades and accessories.

When I got my scroll saw I didn’t think I would use it as much as I do. I don’t do a lot of scroll work but every now and then I need to cut out odd shaped holes in the middle of a piece of wood. I also use it a lot to make router pattern templates.

I also bought a foot operated switch that I use to turn the saw on/off. I heard that it prolongs the life of the built in switch. It also makes it easy to turn the saw off when you’re hands are full of wood.

Hope this helps.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View RogerM's profile


747 posts in 1817 days

#5 posted 01-10-2016 07:36 PM

I have a Dewalt/Delta DW788 (20 inch) scroll saw and am quite pleased with the performance. I could recommend this saw to anyone.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View dhazelton's profile


2283 posts in 1714 days

#6 posted 01-10-2016 08:18 PM

If you feel adventurous you can find the vintage Deltas with a 24 inch throat on CL usually from $100-$150. Even the smaller Delta Homecrafts are nice units for about half that money.

View tomsteve's profile


392 posts in 637 days

#7 posted 01-10-2016 09:22 PM

flying dutchman blades.

scrollsaw i cantrecommend. “reasonably priced” doesnt give a price range.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2340 days

#8 posted 01-10-2016 10:40 PM

I have used scroll saws for over ten years now. I started with a Harbor freight model that did not last long at all. I then got a DeWalt 788. I used it to do double bevel inlay and cutting out toys for toddlers. This means I was cutting 3/4”- 2” soft wood. The DeWalt cut it very well and changing blades was easy but it literally fell apart after 20 months. My friend had his DeWalt five years and replaced the motor in it five times. He finally tossed it, like I did mine. Many folks have DeWalt saws for many years with no problems but they are cutting 1/8” plywood doing fretwork. DeWalt and cheaper saws are fine for that. I Bought a Hegner Polymax-3 in 2008 and have used it seven days a week 3-5 hours a day cutting this thicker wood. Still going strong. Problem is: that Hegner costs $2900 today. Look for a used Hegner if you want to continually cut thicker wood but if fretwork is what you want to do a DeWalt or Excalibur will suit you fine. Flying Dutchman blades work well and are cheap enough. If you do a little research on scroll saw work you will find many type projects to do other than fretwork including: Double bevel inlay, Compound cutting, bowl and basket making, Intarsia, Segmentation, toy making, lettering, and making puzzles. Be careful….scroll saw work is addictive…...

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View johnhutchinson's profile


1170 posts in 1047 days

#9 posted 01-10-2016 11:32 PM

It all depends on what you want to do with it. I’ve used one similar to the one in the attached image for five projects that I’ve published with Scroll Saw Woodworking. Mine was a $40 Craigslist purchase, is single-speed, and only accepts pinned blades. I use it primarily as a precision band saw—no minute interior cuts—so pin-only is not a problem. I’d highly recommend something like this as a “starter” saw. There’s no substitute for big chunks of cast iron when using a scroll saw—vibration is the #1 enemy. And for a new user, I believe that pinned blades are the only way to go.
I use it from the side, just as it’s shown in the photo. I made a zero-clearance table skin for it out of 7/16” white marker board (Home Depot) with a hole in the center.

-- John - Central Ohio - "too much is never enough"

View Planeman40's profile


788 posts in 2179 days

#10 posted 01-11-2016 02:41 AM

Yep, Vibration is a REAL problem. Be sure to bolt it down to a sturdy bench or vibration will drive you crazy.

-- Always remember: It is a mathematical certainty that half the people in this country are below average in intelligence!

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1710 days

#11 posted 01-11-2016 03:28 AM

Agree with TheDane and tyevkboy; and, I would add for blade selection offered in sample packs. I’ve done business with both Seyco and Flying Dutchman, and both are great to deal with. My preference are the Olson Precision Ground blades, but that is just me and every one is different.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View rwe2156's profile


2110 posts in 898 days

#12 posted 01-11-2016 02:09 PM

As a starter saw if you can afford it, the DW788 is a good saw. I have one that I picked on up used on CL for $200 and had to repair some worn parts works great.

You can peruse the tool reviews that are out there. Besides the premium saws, I think the DW and Dremel get good ratings.

Searching CL is a good place to start. This is a tool pretty easy to find.

A word of advice: with any power tool, don’t just listen to it run, actually cut some wood with it. Lots of things happen under load. The scroll saw I bought sounded fine but when I got it home and put wood in it, sounded like a machine gun. Turned out to be broken screw in the lower arm. Easy fix, but could have been worse.

I use the Olson blades seem to work fine for me but I’m not a prfessional scroll sawer.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View CharleyL's profile


190 posts in 2782 days

#13 posted 01-11-2016 04:30 PM

If you don’t buy something at least as good as a DeWalt 788 you will probably get frustrated quickly and quit using it. The smaller and very old scroll saws have many problems that will frustrate a new user to the point that they will never want to scroll saw. Get a good one used off of Craigslist if you can’t afford new, but get one with easy blade changing, variable speed, and a saw with both the upper and lower blade clamps powered. Avoid the old saws with the pin blades and the pull up spring on the upper blade clamp. If you are buying used, take some blades and wood with you and make sure the saw cuts properly before you buy it. DeWalt 788 saws are available in very good condition from craigslist in the $2-300 range. Don’t settle for less.


Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics