I'm on the hunt for a scrollsaw...

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Forum topic by Jonathan posted 10-21-2010 05:16 PM 8431 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3079 days

10-21-2010 05:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: scrollsaw scroll saw dewalt 788vs rbi hawk 220vs

I have been doing a bit of research and trying to educate myself on scrollsaws over the past couple of months. It has not been my main focus, but is now starting to float to the top of the “to procure” list.

I find that my tool acquisition list is not static, mainly due to the fact that I tend to snag most of my major tools off of Craigslist when I can. For instance, although a drum sander was on my “wish list”, I never would’ve bumped it up ahead of 5-other tools, except for the fact that I was able to find one for $375. Having said that, I’ve seen several scrollsaws of interest come up on Craigslist lately at good prices. Ideally a solid router table combo, with lift is the next thing on my list, and has been for a while now. I have now missed out on 2-good deals, the first of which, I’m still upset at myself for not immediately jumping in the car and heading to the guy’s house that night. Oh well. I digress.

To get to the point, and after reading many reviews on here and several elsewhere, I had pretty much decided that I was going to go with the DeWalt DW788 Variable Speed Scrollsaw. I’ve seen these on CL, supposedly “almost new” or “barely used” for $300-400, with the stand. A bit pricey, but I tend to be in the camp that says buy it right, buy it once. I don’t know how many times in the past, (mostly on home renovation projects,) that I just didn’t have the right tool for the job. I’d rather have a bit of a built-in cushion, rather than having something lacking on a tool, whether it’s power, capacity, etc. With that being said, the DW788 might be a bit of overkill for my first project or two in using it, but I doubt I’ll have to worry down the road that it’s just not enough tool for the job.

One day, a couple of months ago, while looking at scrollsaws on CL, I came across an RBI Hawk G4. Hmm, I didn’t really know anything about this saw. So, I started a Google search and began reading up on it. Sounded good… very good. Virtually unanimous praise across the board. The only issue is that they have since gone out of business. My main concern is in trying to fix or replace anything if it breaks. With the DeWalt, it’d be relatively simple to find whatever I need. I’m not sure if that’d be the case with a Hawk?

I sort of let the Hawk idea go and had mainly been focusing on DeWalts, until today. I came across a Hawk 220VS on CL. They are asking $400 for it. I don’t want to pay that much for a scrollsaw at this point in my woodworking. However, if the price were closer to $300, I’d be much more likely to purchase it.

This has been a bit of a run-on post, so sorry for that. I guess I’m asking, if you found a DeWalt 788VS and a Hawk 220VS for the same (or very similar price, within $25-50 of eachother), which one would you choose, and why? I’m not saying I’m going to buy a scrollsaw right now, as I’d really like to put the money towards a nice router table package, but if the right deal on a scrollsaw comes along, it might land in the shop before the router table. And narrowing it down to just 1-saw would make things easier anyway.

Thanks for your input, opinions, and comments, in advance.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

22 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3103 days

#1 posted 10-21-2010 05:23 PM

If you own a ShopSmith, I have the scroll saw accessory that I would gladly sell because I just don’t like scrolling. This is considered a very good machine by those who have evaluated it.

If you have any interest, send me a PM.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3079 days

#2 posted 10-21-2010 05:26 PM


I don’t have a ShopSmith, just a shop with standalone tools. Thanks though.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3362 days

#3 posted 10-21-2010 05:45 PM

Hi Jonathan. I am lucky to own an Excalibur scrollsaw, which I believe is the best all around scrollsaw on the market. Having said that, I did have to pay a bundle for it. The closest cousin to the Excalibur is the DeWalt which sells for consideraly less and has essentially the same arm system and by all reports is a great saw. You can read about it on the net. The only negative thing about the DeWalt is that they had some technical problems after transferring their production to China, a couple of years ago, I think. They might well have ironed out these problems by now, so It might be worth your while to do a little research on the net and read some customer reviews on it. I believe the performance of this saw would be pretty close to the Excalibur.

Regardless of which you choose. It is more than worth the extra money to get a good scrollsaw as I believe you will find this to be an incredibly useful all-around tool in the shop that can precisely cut wood, metal, plastic, etc and besides typical scroll sawing it can also do perfect dovetails, box joints and a whole host of other woodworking chores. Whichever one you decide on, I hope you get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4055 days

#4 posted 10-22-2010 02:09 AM

I would side with stefang in buying the best unit you can afford if you think you will be doing a lot of scrolling. If you are not planning on lots of intarsa etc., check out others such as Delta, Craftsman and Dremel. Good luck!

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#5 posted 10-22-2010 02:47 AM

I haven’t had much experience with the Hawk, but I can tell you that I LOVE my DeWalt 788. If I had to buy another saw today I would purchase exactly the same thing. I love the ease of the blade change, how all the controls are right there (tension and speed) and the large sized table. It is virtually vibration free and the only problem that I am aware of is that sometimes the switch goes out (which you can replace for about $12) I think it is the best saw for the money around. I know the Ex and the Hawk are good saws too, but I don’t think I would ever consider anything else. From the other people I hear from, most of them agree. I think you could use this saw whatever level you choose to aspire to in scroll sawing and you would still be happy with it. Just my own opinion.


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

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2948 days

#6 posted 10-22-2010 02:58 AM

I haven’t had much experience with the RBI Knucklenut, that’s all. I take your word for it too that is it good and reliable. It does have a good reputation. I guess they are both good saws! :)


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

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3079 days

#7 posted 10-22-2010 03:36 AM

Hmm, some food for thought. Thank you for all the replies so far. I have been leaning towards the DeWalt, mainly because of the ease of getting replacement parts if necessary.

I’ll have to continue to do a little more research before investing the money, unless I can find one of them, or something of similar quality, such as an Excalibur, etc.

I do have a bandsaw, but I still haven’t gotten it set-up! If I could do that, it would be helpful. I’m having trouble getting the motor mounted properly. Maybe I’m doing something incorrectly? It’s a 14” Harbor Freight bandsaw, so the instructions are less than adequate. Maybe I should call the Harbor Freight help line and they can walk me through my issue?

I’m thinking a scrollsaw would be helpful with one or two holiday gifts I’d like to make. I don’t think the bandsaw will allow me to make the cuts I need to for one of the planned (and my first) inlay project.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4055 days

#8 posted 10-22-2010 03:42 AM

just my opinion but, return the bandsaw, just my opinion…

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3079 days

#9 posted 10-22-2010 03:50 AM

Unfortunately, I bought the bandsaw, NIB from Craiglist. Everything was still wrapped in the plastic and all stuck in the original styrofoam pieces.

Maybe if I call the help line, they’ll offer to replace the defective part(s)? I’ve never dealt with Harbor Freight at this level before, so I’m not sure? One way to find out, I guess.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View shipwright's profile


7995 posts in 2826 days

#10 posted 10-22-2010 04:18 AM

I did the research too Johnathan. From all I was able to glean from the net you’re leaning the right way. I’ve gone as far as I believe I can with router based inlays and am about to launch myself into marquetry. My DeWalt is supposed to be delivered tomorrow. Can’t wait. New project with marquetry coming soon.

Paul M

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Chiefk's profile


163 posts in 3799 days

#11 posted 10-22-2010 02:46 PM

I have an RBI 26” Hawk. I too was concerned when I learned that the original company went out of business; however, the company was eventually bought by a new company. I believe they are in Kansas. I spoke to one of their sales reps who was very knowledgeable of my saw. I was able to get a part for my saw from them. pkennedy

-- P Kennedy Crossville, TN

View TedAGTG's profile


28 posts in 2797 days

#12 posted 10-27-2010 03:43 AM

Hello Jonathan, Reading your original thread, it amazed me the similarity in our quest for the right tools at the right prices. I wanted to share a recent expeience I had with a Porter Cable scroll saw – model PCB370SS – that I bought from Lowes in August 2010. I started scrolling arond 3-1/2 years ago and bought a Craftsman 18” saw on eBay for $25.00 plus shipping. That saw sells for around $210.00 new right now so I got a great deal. I basically wore it out and instead of replacing the upper and lower blade holder assemblies, I decided to pick up the new Porter Cable (PC) at Lowes for $189.00. Scroll Saw Woodworking Magazine had given the PC their blessing as the best low cost saw offered. When I got the saw home and assembled, I was really pleased with the lack of vibration compared to the Craftsman. I was building inventory for upcoming art shows and spent almost 5 hours a day and 10 hours a day on the weekends for a solid 4 weeks on projects. The saw lasted about 4 weeks and the blower died. Since it was a brand new saw, I returned it and got a replacement. That saw lasted around 6 hours and shook the motor loose from the frame. I again returned it and the third saw lasted until a week ago. The third saw had mis-aligned upper and lower arms and basically destroyed two attempts to cut a very intricate portrait of a lion’s head into a Cherry box top. Lowes was great and gave me a refund. I am now planning to buy an RBI Hawk 220VS from a local source. I looked at the Excalibur long and hard and I just don’t have the funds right now. I had wanted a Dewalt DW788 mentioned in several of the other responses here. Black and Decker owns Dewalt, Porter Cable, Delta and several other name brand tool lines. The PC saw I bought was made for PC by a company called Rexon in China. I understand production of the Dewalts has also moved there from Canada. It seems to me that Black and Decker is only interested in the financial benefits of these tools and not in their actual quality. Just a word of warning that the old Dewalts and the recent ones may only have the name in common. If you are looking at a used Dewalt, ask where it was built. Good Cutting!

-- Ted@AGTG WoodCraft

View RalphBarker's profile


80 posts in 2798 days

#13 posted 10-27-2010 06:47 AM

If you scour Craigslist, another older option to look for is the Hegner MultiMax-2. I bought mine about 30 years ago. At that time, it was considered among the best.

View Verna's profile


202 posts in 2802 days

#14 posted 10-27-2010 07:24 AM

I own 3 DeWalt DW788’s. I bought one new about 12 years ago, and I’ve purchased the other two as used. The original and one other are the “Type 1” models, made before the scrollsaws’ manufacturing was moved. The one “Type 2” doesn’t seem to be as “tight” as the other two, but it is still so much better than the other scrollsaw’s I’ve owned. The DeWalt has no vibration, a feature that is not found on lesser priced modesl. The DeWalt can be “top fed”—threading the blade from the top through the wood—this makes inside cuts so easy that 3-D objects are so much easier to create. The blade holder takes no tools—no more trying to find the correct allen wrench. We all have our preferences, but obviously I’m very satisfied with my DeWalts.

-- Verna -- Indianapolis, IN

View Jonathan's profile


2608 posts in 3079 days

#15 posted 10-27-2010 03:59 PM

I have pretty much only been searching Craigslist. Being in a relatively large metropolitan area such as Denver is an advantage in this case, as there tends to be a fair amount of tools that get listed. Sometimes I have to drive a ways to an outlying area, or even into the mountains, but it’s worth it in monetary savings.

I have seen a couple of Hegners lsited, as well as the occassional Hawk, and the DeWalts are obviously on there the most since there are far more of them out there than the other two brands.

I did just find a DeWalt that was listed in “like new” condition for a very good price. If I can meet up with the owner and it is in good shape, I will purchasing it, even if it doesn’t come with the stand. I just can’t pass up this particular deal. If I find myself really getting into scrollsaw work (and for some reason am not happy with the DeWalt), then maybe down the road I’ll look at other options, but the DeWalt seems like a very good overall scrollsaw. I will actually be even happier if this turns out to be a bit older model (not made in China).

Offhand, does anybody know the rough timeline on when the DeWalt began being produced in China?

Thank you to everyone on here that has provided information and personal insight. I will continue to update this thread as I find other saws, or when I purchase a scrollsaw. Either way, I look forward to this new tool. I was cutting out an intricate little piece of wood the other day and it would’ve been much faster and easier with a scrollsaw, I can tell you that much!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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