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  HOME TECHNIQUES SCROLLSAWING Best Scroll Saw:Features

Best Scroll Saw?
What features to look for when buying a scrollsaw.

Here is a shopping list of features you may want to ask about, in your search for the perfect scrollsaw tool.....enjoy and spend well!!

Physical Characteristics:
Motor: What size is it? Is it variable speed and if so what is the range? It is measured in strokes per minute. Does the variable speed dial give the actual speed setting or just a relative position? Slower speeds will increase accuracy, especially when you are new to the craft. Try cutting the type of wood you will in fact be using at home.

If all you intend to cut is 1/4" pine don't buy a power beast. On the other hand, if you really like to work with exotic woods, get all the power you can find! Turn a sharp corner and listen to the motor. The twisting of the blade and extra pressure put on the blade will demand more power. If the motor sound like it is bogging down, then it probable is. An under powered machine will not last long.

Switch Location:
Try cutting and then reach the off button. Is it in a convenient location? This is a big deal if you get caught in a tight corner! Is the dial for variable speed part of the same switch? Does it hold its setting? ... or creep to a slower speed as you cut?

Throat Size:
This is the measurement from the front of the blade to the back of the machine, inside the arms. It is a measurement of the largest board you would be able to cut, front to back. If all your work is to be small ornamental projects, this may not be relevant. Also ask what is considered the maximum thickness of wood that this machine could handle.

Table:
What size is it? Is it a cast table? Does it tilt in both directions or only one? Has it been machined smoothly so that it does not leave scratch marks on your work? Is there a replaceable insert where the blade goes through the table? This can both save your blades and also allow you to custom make your own inserts for situations where it is important to have support right up close to the blade.

Floor Stand:
Some machines come with a stand, so it doesn't take up any critical work bench space. How about it? Some stands are designed to absorb vibration. Run the speed up and down the range, put your hand on the table, and feel how much vibration is flowing through to the work surface. Warranty: How long, and on what? Often the tool warranty is different than the motor warranty.

Dust Removal System: Usually there is an arm that shoots air at the blade to keep the dust away from your pattern line. Does the mechanism stay in place, when you change its position? Is it powerful enough to be positioned high enough above the wood that it will not interfere with your line of sight? Is there an under table vacuum port to attach to your workshop's collector system? This is particularly important if you see yourself getting into production cutting.

Blade Setup: Can the saw use both the pinned and flat blades? Most cheap scroll saws can only hold the pinned blades. The type of blade that has a small pin perpendicular to the blade, at the top and bottom, that catches on the rocker arm of the saw. Often, if you are trying to cut out very small holes, these blades will not fit through the small pilot holes in your project. This can limit your capabilities.

Many saws have an adapter head that will allow you to use both. Often they are referred to as "quick change" heads. They will allow you to remove and insert blades with no tools. They use a spring loaded lever. Make sure to ask for a demonstration of blade changing techniques. Observe the upper AND lower holders. If you are planning to do a lot of internal cuts as in fretwork, faster is better!

Remember that the saw you are buying is for you, not your neighbor. Listen to other's advice, but make a decision based on what you want this machine to do. Not everyone's projects and needs are the same. Try, before you make the ultimate decision.


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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007