Looking to buy a new scroll saw, suggestions?

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Forum topic by PyNCy posted 10-11-2012 06:29 PM 2642 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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99 posts in 2507 days

10-11-2012 06:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

My tired old 16” Tool Star has seen better days, I’m afraid. I think the arm is bent or something, because I have learned that I have to tilt the table almost 2 degrees to get the blade square. My work always came out with an angle when the table was at 0, and it was a lot harder to work. Now, it’s a little easier. The packing tape on the wood doesn’t help to lubricate the blade much. The wood and blades still burn when I cut 1/2” stuff. I think the tension spring is almost shot. About 2 months after I bought the saw, the original broke. My dad took a wire hanger and bent it to the shape of the spring, fixing it. Maybe it’s getting stretched out, because the tension doesn’t stay as tight as it used to.

So, after using my beloved scroll saw for almost 13 years, I suppose it might be time to get a new one. I’ve been looking into the new Delta 20” that just came out. But I don’t know. For starters, I don’t think any stores around here have them in stock. Do I go ahead and order one through the mail, trusting it to get here alright and that I will like it as much as my Tool Star?

What I’m looking for in a new saw: a 20” throat depth. If I’m going to go ahead with a new saw, may as well upgrade. I’m a little short on one end, so if I get a longer saw, it’s mandatory that the tension knob be in the front. In fact, having all the “bells and whistles” in front would be nice. Right now, the Tool Star has the blade conversion kit, which makes blade changes really easy. Use the wrench and clampy thingie for the blades. Tool-less blade change on the new saws would probably make things go faster. But do the blades stay tight? And is it really that easy to insert the blade into the bottom? The saws I’ve looked at have the table insert deal, where you can’t see if the blade has gone into the bottom. As far as variable speed and table tilt goes, I’m not very particular. The Tool Star tilts one-way, and is only 2 speeds. I have used the low speed ever since I bought it, because the high speed makes the saw vibrate too much. Being able to cut up to 2” or so would be awesome, I think! I make a lot of ornaments out of 1/4” wood. Now, I can only cut 2 at a time, since the saw complains when I cut more than 1/2”. So, cutting 4-6 out at a time sounds wonderful!

Any ideas about a new scroll saw will be welcome :)

-- The Sawdust Fairy ~ Making Magic with Wood

16 replies so far

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 2984 days

#1 posted 10-11-2012 08:23 PM

I dont know if you have a budget in mind and/or if it would be a mandatory budget, but I kinda like the rbi hawk. Mine is the 20 inch and is very smooth at all speeds. I do see them on craiglist occasionally for 400-600 bucks. (even the 22 inch). Considering that new price is /was near 1200 bucks thats not a bad deal. If I was buying new again I would probably take a better look at the excaliber. I never got to exited about the hegner although thay are renowned saws. The big three as far as I know are rbi hawk, hegner and excaliber. Anything else is , well ,less saw. That does not mean it wont do all you need it to do. You stated you have been using yours for 13 yrs. Consider giving yourself a real treat and watch for a quality used saw. JB

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 3701 days

#2 posted 10-11-2012 08:46 PM

when I buy a new saw it will be an excaliber.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3460 days

#3 posted 10-11-2012 08:53 PM

I had an rbi hawk and really liked it, but will have to admit I never did much of that type work so no expert advise here, just a satisfied owner. Check with Scrollgirl (Sheila Landry) here on LJ’s.

-- John @

View Bagtown's profile


1739 posts in 3905 days

#4 posted 10-11-2012 10:45 PM

I bought my DeWalt when they first came out years ago and I’ve never looked back.

-- Mike - In Fort McMurray Alberta

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 4071 days

#5 posted 10-11-2012 11:37 PM

I bought a DeWalt and love using it. With that said I would really enjoy an Excaliber. If I did more scrolling I would not hesitate buying it. However, if you are only doing a moderate amount of scrolling you will not be disappointed in the DeWawlt.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View Tenfingers58's profile


96 posts in 2853 days

#6 posted 10-12-2012 05:30 AM

I’ve read (on the net) that the DeWalt 788 has been discontinued recently. You may be able to find one not yet sold in a store though. If it’s the saw you want you better get shopping, or you’ll be in the used market.

Not always a bad thing. Good deals are out there.

I have a DeWalt (older Model 1) that I’ve been using a while, I would get an Excalibur if I could afford it, based on a friends saw I have used

View shopdog's profile


577 posts in 3661 days

#7 posted 10-12-2012 12:00 PM

Another vote for the Dewalt. I’ve had mine for over 15 years, and it’s never given me a problem. It’s considered mid priced, at around $500, but you can turn out quality work with it.
As tenfingers said. it has been discontinued. However, the new Delta 40-695 is modeled after the Dewalt, and even has new features. It got a good review in in the new SSW&C magazine.
As others have said, there are better, high end saws, for twice the price…but after what you’ve been using for 13 years, the dewalt/delta will seem like a new experience.

-- Steve--

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2467 days

#8 posted 10-12-2012 12:38 PM

General Tools Excalibur. See:

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

View HorizontalMike's profile


7770 posts in 3089 days

#9 posted 10-12-2012 12:47 PM

I have had my Delta 2 Speed 16” Scroll Saw #40-560 for 21yr and it is still going strong. As a matter of fact I just did a search and a number of these are still on the market. I recall paying ~$50 NEW, back in 1991 and they appear to now sell for $75—$100 USED. Only you know how much you want to spend, however you may want to at least take a look at these:

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3284 days

#10 posted 10-12-2012 12:54 PM

You are obviously going to get a list of favorite brands out here :) I started scrolling with a craftsman and found myself pretty frustrated with the amount of vibration on the aluminum table. I bought a Dewalt a couple of years ago and the difference was like night and day. Whichever brand you get, I would advise looking for a cast iron table as adverse to the aluminum tables that are more common in the lower priced market. As you already know, the cutting action on a scroll can really shake the table and that extra heft and solidity of cast iron makes a world of difference.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2684 posts in 3097 days

#11 posted 10-12-2012 01:45 PM

IF you are doing fretwork easy blade changing is important. I do not do fretwork. I use me scroll saws for inlay work and lettering so blade changes are no where near as often as they are with fretwork. I had a DeWalt but it died just out of warranty and I bought a Hegner. I then bought a another used Hegner on Craig’s List. Blade changes are not a quick but Hegners do last. They have a seven year warranty. My 25” Hegner is a 1986 model and still goes strong.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View PyNCy's profile


99 posts in 2507 days

#12 posted 10-12-2012 06:05 PM

Thank you all for the wonderful ideas! I’ve looked at many of those you’ve listed. I looked at the Excaliber a lot. The major thing is that the tension is in the back. Besides that, and the price, it’s looks like a good saw. But I guess most saws have the tension in back. Since DeWalt, Delta (tension in front), and Porter Cable are all owned by the same people, I’m sure the Delta I’m thinking really hard about would be great. I’ll do some more homework. Thanks again :)

-- The Sawdust Fairy ~ Making Magic with Wood

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2467 days

#13 posted 10-12-2012 07:33 PM

The primary tension is in the front with the nylon lever on the Excalibur. The back tension is a set up adjustment and should only need to be adjusted during set up to assure the arms are parallel to the table.

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

View AandCstyle's profile


3170 posts in 2432 days

#14 posted 10-12-2012 11:59 PM

FWIW, General is having a Fall/Winter sale. Scroll down the page to download the flyer. I wish I could justify getting the 21” model.

-- Art

View dhazelton's profile


2789 posts in 2472 days

#15 posted 10-13-2012 12:51 AM

Vintage Delta 24 inch, two speed. I got mine for a hundred dollars. Just keep watching ebay and CL.

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