Please recommend a very inexpensive saw for a beginner

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Forum topic by lumberjoe posted 01-15-2013 02:47 AM 2183 views 0 times favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2899 posts in 2244 days

01-15-2013 02:47 AM

My wife caught the bug. First it was turning, last weekend it was cutting boards. At the woodworking show she was captivated by some of the scroll saw work that was done and wants to get one. This is an area I do not know much about. I’d like to steer her in the right direction with a decent little saw. I really want to be in the 200.00 or under range. I saw a few interesting looking saws with favorable reviews from Rikon and Grizzly.

I already have too many new skills to learn on my to-do list this year (trying to get into hand tools a lot more), so it is likely I won’t be touching the saw much for a while. What do you think?


51 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 01-15-2013 03:59 AM

From my small experience with scroll saws, there is not much difference between the saws in the $200 price range down to the $80 price range. Once you get around $500 things start changing and you are in a different world at the $1000 range.

I would not have any trouble recommending the little Ryobi 16in saw at the lowest end of the market. It uses plain and pin end blades. I actually have one I bought for my mother. No, it is not anywhere near a quality saw but if your budget doesn’t allow a high dollar one, it is not a bad little saw to use while waiting on a nice one.

If she enjoys the quiet and is patient, a manual saw can be quite fun as well. Good quality blades in in a manual saw will cut faster than you would think. Good work support and a comfortable position can make it a quite pleasant experience. A bit more elaborate but also take a look at the marquetry chevaliers that people are building.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View runswithscissors's profile


2751 posts in 2021 days

#2 posted 01-15-2013 04:25 AM

Don’t be a cheapskate. Get your wife a nice saw.Tell her it’s her valentine. A lot of people like the Dewalt (no personal experience here.) in the intermediate price range

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Rick13403's profile


256 posts in 3501 days

#3 posted 01-15-2013 12:48 PM

I tell anybody who asks, to buy the best saw that you can afford. I don’t have much experience with a lot of saw, I went from a 16” Sear to the DeWalt DW788- a 20” type 1 saw. I do a lot of fret work so the tool less blade change and no jig for the pin less blade was what I needed. So look for a saw that can use either type of blade without the hassles of special jigs for the pin less blades. Just my opinion.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

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2899 posts in 2244 days

#4 posted 01-15-2013 01:12 PM

Thanks for the tips! We are trying to “go cheap” now because my wife is not even sure it is something she will like doing, so she just wants to get exposure. If she ends up taking to it I’ll have no problem selling the cheapo on craigslist or keep it around for trimming custom cast acrylic pen blanks.

Out of curiosity, what makes a good scroll saw better than a cheap scroll saw? This is one aspect of woodworking I have no experience with at all.

David, one day I’d like to build a chevalet. That’s not in the cards this year though.

Alternately, what used/older saws should I keep an eye out for on craigslist?


View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2919 days

#5 posted 01-15-2013 01:41 PM

I had a DeWalt 788 that I started on and it was a very good saw until the motor burned up.(200+ to replace) I bought a PC at Lowes that is acceptable for what I use it for. I am not a scroller but have occasion to use one.
Ease of blade changing and vibration is two things to look for.

-- Life is good.

View johnstoneb's profile


2914 posts in 2169 days

#6 posted 01-15-2013 01:59 PM

I bought a Skil recently. It looks a lot like the Ryobi. It is Ok for what I do with it. It supposedly uses pinned and plain blades. The plain blades are dificult to get in and from what I have read if your wife is going to get into scrolling seriously you want a saw that takes plain blades. The pinned blades take a larger hole to access internal cuts. The Skill or Ryobi are about $100 dollars and would work for a beginner just be prepared to buy a better saw soon if she find she likes to scroll.
Sheila (scrollgirl) publishes a daily blog she may be able to give you some better recommendations.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View jim454's profile


35 posts in 2409 days

#7 posted 01-15-2013 02:14 PM

+1 on what Kirtley said. Here a website you can go to to get more info for scroll saws and scroll work

View me5269's profile


43 posts in 2163 days

#8 posted 01-15-2013 05:54 PM

I picked up a cheap craftsman about 25 years ago, used it maybe a dozen times and decided i hated scrolling and packed it away. I got it back out when I moved and started playing with it again, then went to a demo at Lowe’s on the PC and liked it. Settled on the DW788.
Try craigslist, I see a lot of them in my area anywhere from $50 and up. my nephew got a dw788 type 1 on it for $200 with stand, light, blades.

-- Mike

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2244 days

#9 posted 01-15-2013 06:00 PM

I’ve been doing a little craigslisting today. Is this a good deal?


View Bernie's profile


422 posts in 2833 days

#10 posted 01-15-2013 08:27 PM

Lumberjoe – your link was deleted by the poster – maybe he sold it or you bought it. Sounds like you’re in a pickle. If you buy a cheap saw your wife may have a bad experience and not like scrolling because of the cheap saw. Cheap means hard to change blades – cheap means a vibrating saw resulting in poor cuts and frustration – cheap means no blower for the dust – small throat capacity limiting the quality of the projects.

Like Rick said – buy what you can afford and buy once. She will have a better experience with a decent saw and a good saw will give her the capacity to do very nice projects. A good scroll saw is an asset to a woodworking shop. When I was installing my allure flooring, I was able to cut pieces to fit around the cast iron radiator legs. Scroll saws lets you add flare to wood projects and I’ve accomplished some difficult cuts made easy with my scroll saw.

Buy her a good saw and if by some odd chance she doesn’t like scrolling, you can sell it on craigslist and probably take less of a hit on the wallet then if you buy her a cheap one and have to upgrade. She will love you for buying her a good quality saw even if she doesn’t like scrolling. At best, she will feel guilty for leading you on to wasting your money and will want to make up to you (did I think that?).

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2244 days

#11 posted 01-15-2013 08:32 PM

I got sniped! It was a 2 year old DW788 with a stand for 350$. All great advice. I understand what you are saying, I just need to make a decision. I don’ want to spend a lot on a saw because I will be stuck if she hates it. But on the other token a cheap saw is not really going to give her the best user experience or first impression of scrolling.

There are a ton of turning clubs in my area, but no scrollers. It would be awesome to take a few classes before committing to anything.


View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#12 posted 01-15-2013 08:36 PM

I will be stuck if

If it’s a good saw it will maintain its value (especially if you buy used at a decent price). if it’s a low quality saw – then you’d really be stuck with it.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)


19620 posts in 2671 days

#13 posted 01-15-2013 08:37 PM

If you find a good deal on a great saw, Like the DeWalt 788, you can always resell it if she doesn’t like to scroll. I, for one, would consider taking it off your hands!!! I will be looking for a scroll saw in the not so distant future, so you go ahead and scour CL, as I may be the one to repurchase your saw!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View oldnovice's profile


6845 posts in 3364 days

#14 posted 01-15-2013 08:38 PM

IMO, stay away from Ryobi as their quality is questionable!

Rigid, Dewalt, Craftsman, and some others …. would be my choices!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3645 days

#15 posted 01-15-2013 08:38 PM

post to see if there are any scrollers in your area that would be willing to let you come in for a test drive. I would if I was one… but I’m not ;)

just make the title self explainable so local scrollers would actually check it out.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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