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Buying A Scroll Saw


fookgub
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This seems to be a popular topic right now, so I'm sorry to beat it to death. I've been searching here for the past hour or so, and, while I've found a lot of good info on operating a scroll saw, I haven't found many recommendations on specific models. I'm looking for a nice on that doesn't break the bank (say ~$200).

From what I've been able to glean, the main features of a good scroll saw are low vibration, easy blade changing/tensioning, variable speed, and accurate blade alignment. I used a DeWalt scroll saw to cut my body out of 1.75" thick mahogany, and it was a surprisingly pleasant experience. I'd like to get as close to that sort of quality as possible, but I can't afford the DeWalt.

Dremel makes a couple of saws that have gotten decent reviews, but I'm a little wary of Dremel since they're not really known for larger tools. The DeWalt and higher-end Delta saws are very highly regarded, but the $400+ price tags are out of my range. Most of the other saws I've read about (Grizzly, Shop Fox/Harbor Freight, cheaper Deltas) have gotten very poor reviews. Have I missed any? Right now I'm sort of leaning towards the Dremel. It seems to have a lot of innovative features, but I'm afraid the overall quality may not be there.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure a scroll saw is the saw for me at this point. I don't own any freestanding powered saws right now, so I want to make sure I get the most versatile tool I can. Space and budget don't allow for a large bandsaw, and the smaller bandsaws have been almost universally panned in the reviews I've read (plus they can’t cut metal, which is something I’d like to be able to do). I feel like the scroll saw is a more versatile (if a little slower) tool than a small bandsaw anyway. Are there any common guitar building activities (besides resawing, which I have no immediate plans for) that you must use a bandsaw for? Also, I was planning to build a small table for the saw that would have an adjustable fence and miter slot. Has anyone here tried that before? Is it a workable idea?

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I have a Ryobi 16" scroll Saw that I bought at Home Depot for about $100.

It has a variable speed from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute. It will accept pin end and straight end blades, and has a very nice blade clamping system. I've used it to cut stock up to 2" thick and it produces a very nice cut.

My theory when buying it was that if I wear it out, I'll then buy a better one. After 2 years and some very heavy use, it's still going strong.

The Dremel and Delta tools are superior, but then you are also paying their price.

For $100 it's an excellent tool for the budget minded.

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I have a Ryobi 16" scroll Saw that I bought at Home Depot for about $100.

It has a variable speed from 400 to 1600 strokes per minute. It will accept pin end and straight end blades, and has a very nice blade clamping system. I've used it to cut stock up to 2" thick and it produces a very nice cut.

My theory when buying it was that if I wear it out, I'll then buy a better one. After 2 years and some very heavy use, it's still going strong.

The Dremel and Delta tools are superior, but then you are also paying their price.

For $100 it's an excellent tool for the budget minded.

Thanks for the advice. I saw that thing in HD last week, but I guess price snobbery kicked in and I kept walking. I'll take a closer look next time I'm in there.

As an aside, have you tried to cut any metal with it? For my current project, I need to cut a piece of 1/2" brass bar stock for a sustain block, and some 1/16" steel for a control cavity cover. It's probably very optimistic to think I might be able to do this on a scroll saw, but I thought I'd ask anyway. I can always do this stuff with the bandsaw at work, but it would be nice to be able to do it at home, too. Besides, any metal cutting ability is better than I'm going to get with a benchtop bandsaw.

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I had a nice Craftsman scroll saw but found that on the upstroke, I had some tear-out on thin wood, like an acoustic top or back and sides. Cutting thicker stuff worked the scroll saw too much.

I have a Ridgid band saw and find I don't use it much. Usually for small stuff.

I should have stayed with my Bosch jigsaw and use my new Ridgid spindle sander for smoothing out the rough edges. Or, at least get a small band saw.

That sander is one of the best tools I have ever bought.

It straightens all the rough cuts from a jigsaw, scroll saw and bandsaw.

Not all saws cut on the 90 degree, so the sander fixes that.

If I could do it over, I'd get a small, table-top band saw and the Ridgid sander.

I straighten everything up with that sander.

Mike

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I had a nice Craftsman scroll saw but found that on the upstroke, I had some tear-out on thin wood, like an acoustic top or back and sides. Cutting thicker stuff worked the scroll saw too much.

I have a Ridgid band saw and find I don't use it much. Usually for small stuff.

I should have stayed with my Bosch jigsaw and use my new Ridgid spindle sander for smoothing out the rough edges. Or, at least get a small band saw.

That sander is one of the best tools I have ever bought.

It straightens all the rough cuts from a jigsaw, scroll saw and bandsaw.

Not all saws cut on the 90 degree, so the sander fixes that.

If I could do it over, I'd get a small, table-top band saw and the Ridgid sander.

I straighten everything up with that sander.

Mike

I just bought a drum sander for my drill press, and it's been pretty good to me so far. I was afraid of putting too much side load on the spindle, so I attached a bearing to the bottom of the drum that fits in a hole in the table I made. I think this setup gets me about 90% of the functionality of a dedicated spindle sander, and I have found it to be a very useful tool.

What would make you choose a small bandsaw over a scroll saw if it was your only benchtop saw?

Edited by fookgub
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The scroll saw would push the thinner wood up on the upstroke and it was limited to cutting thin wood.

Try cutting an acoustic guitar top with a handheld jigsaw and see the problems you might face.

The chatter of the wood slapping against the saw, used to split the top joint.

Most table-top band saws cut thicker wood.

I think my band saw would have been better if I was doing cutting on a professional level.

The scroll saw is only limited to about 1" thick sizes, is that correct?

I used a sanding drum on my drill press too. I was worried that I might be putting pressure on the chuck, as it wasn't designed for side pressure.

The problem I faced was that I was making a mess at the drill press area of my "shop".

Sanding just a bit, required a whole shop clean up because of the amount of dust.

Lungs, watchout!

Now, I take the sander outside and the machine is flawless.

The good part of the sander is that it oscillates, so you don't get grooves on the guitar sides where grooves exist on the drum.

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DELTA

DELTA

DELTA

DELTA

DELTA

DELTA

If you buy a Ryobi, you will be extremely sorry(I had one and returned it within 24 hours, God what a piece of worthless junk), the difference between the entry level Delta ($120.00 USA) and the Ryobi ($120.00 USA) are LIGHT YEARS DIFFERENT.

BUY THE ENTRY LEVEL DELTA, IT'S A GREAT MACHINE (and that's with 12 years using one now)

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If you want the best, get a Bosch. The Delta, DeWalt, etc. are also good tools. Of course those are probably all over your budget. Don't buy a cheap one ... you will regret it.

Personally, I hate scroll saws, and only use them when absolutely necessary (I have other options available to me). Be sure to cut wide enough of your lines that you have plenty of room to clean up.

If it were me, I would get a small band saw instead. Yes, the bench-top band saws have their problems, but there are some decent ones, once properly set up. They would do a much nicer, faster job on guitar bodies/necks than the scroll saw. But if the scroll saw fits your uses better ... go for that.

And yes, you can cut metal with the scroll saw (with the proper blades). You can cut both ferrous and non-ferrous metal, and lots of people use them for cutting sheet-metal.

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BUY THE ENTRY LEVEL DELTA, IT'S A GREAT MACHINE (and that's with 12 years using one now)

One question for you, Drak. Have you checked out the new entry level Deltas? I've been reading a lot of "they don't make 'em like they used to" comments about Delta lately.

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There's an article online from some wood magazine that put 5 to the test. The craftsman, the Delta, the Dremel, the Ryobi, and one other I didn't know. These were the models out like 2-3 years ago now though. So they have changed (the craftsman in particular... which now costs 2x as much and isn't as good). HOWEVER that older Craftsman won hands down according to them! So I ebayed around for said older model about 2 months ago... bought it... love it. I just cut through a laminated 1/2" claro top on a 1" flamed anigre back with NO issue what-so-ever. And that was with Ryobi blades!

As for "why get a benchtop bandsaw over a scroll saw". Simple. More power, all down-stroke (good for thinner woods like said above) and last but not least, my fav. reason: YOU CAN CUT THICKER STOCK. I can't do scarfs OR rear neck profiles like I wish I could. However, Carrying a bandsaw outside every time I wanna use it like I'd have to isn't an option... the jigsaw I can.

Chris

PS: That craftsman ended up costing me only $100!

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One question for you, Drak. Have you checked out the new entry level Deltas? I've been reading a lot of "they don't make 'em like they used to" comments about Delta lately.

Yeah, the ENTRY LEVEL one I had for TEN YEARS finally snapped the upper blade hinge assembly one day, so I bought the Ryobi (vomit emoticon please), couldn't believe what a piece of junk it was, returned it the next day, and ordered another Delta...

TRUMPETS BLARE!

:D:DB)

...just like my old one, which was within the last year I think. I had bought my first one from Home Depot, but they no longer carried it, so I had to find it online (which was pretty easy) and had it in 5 days or so.

Happy camper once more, and I cut EVERYTHING with it, 2" stock all the time.

For portability and versatility, they rule. If you want big 1000lb. standalone machines, more power to ya, but I don't want -anything- like that.

And the people who say they suck, or don't do anything worthy, or break easy, I just laugh my ass off at those people, since I use my $120.00 entry level model almost every day for over 10 years, I just laugh out loud I tell you, out loud.

I say it's operator error, not faulty equipment, if you break them that fast. No patience maybe, dunno...

...Oh, BTW, I probably broke mine the same way postal broke his, I had changed blade sizes and forgot to readjust the tensioner, which snapped it, which is admittedly...

...OPERATOR ERROR, no fault of the machine. If you read the intructions it tells you that very clearly to readjust the tensioner every time you put a different size blade in it, I was just in a hurry and forgot that day to do the correct thing, so don't blame the machine if you don't/can't follow the proper directions, which goes for -any- piece of equipment. :D

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