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on January 21, 2000
The DeWalt saw is designed and manufactured by Sommervile Design in Canada. They make the Excaliber Scroll saw. The Dewalt Saw is very much like the excaliber in that it has very low vibration and having a very smooth operation. I had a dewalt but had to move up to the excaliber because of the work i produced, unless you use a scroll saw for 6 - 12 hours per day, buy this saw. The only problem I had was the motor could not take the beating i gave it, i cut 3/4 to 1 1/2 thickness wood all the time, althought the saw handled that thickness with ease, it could not keep my pace. If your a hobbiest cutting moderately its a GREAT saw. It has a quick release for the blade and you can change blades in seconds, the blade tension is right there in front, the top arm lifts for getting work on and off the table. Fairly quiet operation. Don't waste your money on the light, its not bright at all and does not help. Assembly is a snap upon getting the saw, just put the table on and your ready to go. I have used everything out there, besides the Excaliber, the dewalt is the next best thing. Whats nice about the dewalt, it has the same design as the excaliber in that like other saws that have the full top and lower arms that ofcourse move up and down, the dewalt like the excaliber has only tips of the arms move, the tips that move are only about 4" long, less moving thus less vibration. Inside the top and bottom arms there is a flat rod that move back and forth that moves the tips up and down. When you get your new dewalt and you see how smooth, quiet, and just about no vibration, imagine a saw twice to 3 times better that the dewalt and you have the Excaliber. I think one of the reasons why the Excaliber can take what i dish out is that it is belt driven, this ofcouse increases the power and the strain on the motor, if the dewalt goes belt driven I'll get another one.
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on November 6, 2006
Sometime in the recent past, DeWalt moved the manufacturing for this saw from Canada to Asia. I recently ordered the saw for my father, and the one he got (and TWO replacements) all had problems due to poor quality control or manufacturing or both. I am a woodworker and own and have used many quality DeWalt tools over the years, so I was surprised at these problems.

There are two bolts which hold the table in place, and on ALL THREE SAWS the bolt holes were apparently drilled off-center and mis-aligned, causing the blade to hit the side of the table slot (on the same side all 3 times). We spoke to the scroll saw manager at DeWalt and he was very aware of the problem but didn't offer to do anything to fix it other than return our money. (He even admitted to have several saws in his office that had been returned from customers with this problem.) He said he had "reported the issue to management" multiple times but nothing had been done for several months. Apparently this affects a large portion of the new saws coming from the new manufacturing facility in Asia. Buyer BEWARE.

I am not totally surprised at the fact that DeWalt is having the manufacturing problem. I *am* surprised that they are doing little or nothing to fix it. At the very least I suggested that they put a quality check in place at the factory to check for this problem before they shipped out the saw and reject the ones with the problem. They have NOT done this, but instead tell their support people to ask the customer to "drill out the holes to allow the bolts to move over". Not on a brand new $500 saw thank you! We even asked the product manager if he could have someone in his distribution center open a box to check a saw for us and ship us a known good one; but he declined saying "he didn't have anyone who could do that". DeWalt is a better company than this and they shouldn't be allowing this kind of poor quality.

UPDATE: Several months later after I wrote this review, we decided to give this saw one more chance and ordered a FOURTH one. Luckily this was was finally correct, and my father is very happy with it. The saw lives up to its original reputation. No vibration, precise clean cuts, etc. Now if you can get a good one in LESS THAN FOUR TRYs!!!
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on December 8, 2000
I scroll saw wooden trivets from 3/4" red oak. In 2000 I made almost 1,000. I spend a lot of time at my saw. All of the cuts I make are inside cuts so ease of blade changing is very important. I have owned a Hegner and two Excaliburs before buying the DeWalt in December 1999. The DeWalt costs 1/3 what the Hegner and Excalibur cost. Hegner is by far the hardest of the three brands to change blades and customer support is poor. DeWalt worked with Somerville Designs (the maker of the Excalibur) to design the DeWalt saw. The Excaliburs I have, one 20" and one 30" saw were good but required routine oiling replacement of the many sleeve bearings. Customer support through Seyco was excellant. When the Excaliburs were getting to the point that repairs were going to cost what a new DeWalt cost I decided to try the DeWalt. I have found the saw to be every bit as good as the Excalibur. All of the sleeve bearings in the Excalibur have been replaced with roller bearings which do not require any maintenance. The blade holders are a much better design, they have required no maintenance during the year of use. The Excalibur blade holders would need to be rebuilt and replaced several times a year. The Excalibur tables were made from aluminum and remained slippery, an important feature for a scroll saw. The DeWalt uses a cast table and the surface wears away around the blade hole causing work to drag on the table. DeWalt says this is caused by the red oak which I don't believe. The table requires constant waxing to keep the surface slippery. This is the only draw-back I have found to this saw. If you go to a wood show or fair and see the Hegner or RBI saws demonstrated, consider the price before you buy. I can tell you from experience that the DeWalt is superior to either of these and it costs 1/3 as much! I like the DeWalt saw so much I just ordered a second one because I cannot afford to have my saw down even for a week.
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on June 19, 2005
Hey there fellow scrollers.

I have only been into this hobby strongly for about 8 months now, but I feel I have some good information for other newbies, or even veterans that may be looking into upgrading to a new saw. Before I upgraded I was looking for answers that I couldn't seem to find so I kind of went out on a limb and bout the "best" I could. So this is to kind of help those who are in or will be in my shoes.

Brief History

I started out with no intention of doing intricate fret work on my saw. I bought my saw because I was building a new medicine cabinet for my parents and I wanted to make a nice scrolled top for it. I bought a Delta SS350LS 16" saw from my local True Value for about $200.00 without the leg set. Funny thing is, I never used the saw for this project. I used my band saw. A friend of mine (whom I never knew was into scrolling) started telling me about all of the awesome things you can make with a scroll saw and brought me over a couple of issues of Creative Woodworks and Crafts. I instantly subscribed to the magazine and picked out a couple of patterns and went to work. I found a new love. 

Now with the help I think I have to offer. First, I'll tell you about my experience with my Delta saw and move up from there.

DELTA SS350LS 16"

I bought this saw without doing ANY research at all. It was close (I carried it home), it was inexpensive (around $200.00) and I thought I needed it. I bought it with a sense of security because of the name. But I instantly had a concern about this saw. So here it is, Pros and Cons

Pros:

Price - Around $200.00 at my local True Value without the leg set. A good value for the money

The Name - Delta seems to strive on customer service. I have a Delta/Milwaukee Band saw that was made in 1948 and I needed parts for it. I could still get it all...., including an owners manual.

Quality - All in all the saw is very well built. It is rather heavy for a 16" saw weighing in at almost 70 lbs. and that helps reduce vibration. It also makes the built in handle a welcome feature. And it's rather handsome too.

Blade Clamps - They are a pretty nice feature, but no real advantage over thumb screws other than there is no chance (as long as the blade is inserted straight) of "tweaking" the end of the blade. But, on the other side of that, it is a cam and lever setup which I can see as wearing out after a while even though the clamps and the levers are obviously made out of hardened steel. Speed of setup is not really any faster then the thumbscrews.

Dust collection - This saw offers a dust collector that can hook to your vacuum system.

Cons:

Forward/Rearward blade movement - This was a big issue for me. Holding a square piece of 2"wood against the blade in the down position brought the blade square with the wood. Bringing the blade up left the top of the blade about 3/16" away from the wood while the bottom was still touching.

Vibration - Not too bad up to ¾ speed, but after that things get a little shaky. Perhaps with the leg set it wouldn't be too bad, but bolted to my small bench (made out of 2x4 and ½" plywood), it vibrated pretty good at wide open.

Tension system - Works great, but when a blade breaks, there's nothing to hold the tensioner from bouncing around like a dog peeing on an electric fence causing the user to deposit something on their stool that wasn't intended to be there when it happens at ½ speed or above. Also, when a blade breaks, the tensioner slams around so hard that it actually deforms it a bit. So I can already see that over time this would be a replacement part.

Table Tilt - 45° one way which never seemed to be a big deal until I bought a saw that tilts both ways. And it's kind of inconvenient because you have to remove the dust collector to get at the knob. Not that I have a design improvement to offer, it just seems kind of awkward.

Quality - I know I said this was a "pro", but it is also a con. The reason is because all of the pivot points use a bushing rather than a bearing meaning that you HAVE to lube it and maintain it and that it WILL wear out faster then permanent lubed ball bearing or needle bearings. But, it is only $200.00. It's still worth the money.

Conclusion:

All in all it's a VERY good saw, but I needed more. It will easily do very (as apposed to extremely) intricate work without trouble, especially after a bit of practice. A heavier bench would have most likely taken care of the vibration issue, but don't be mistaken. The vibration is still much less than some other saws I've seen even on my wimpy bench. After buying the DeWalt, I want to say that this saw is a piece of junk, but I just can't, it wouldn't be fair. It is an excellent choice for the hobbyist or beginner scroller.

Craftsman 20" Scroll Saw

After making some nice projects on my Delta saw, my mother-in-law wanted to get into the hobby. She went out and bought her own saw. I used this saw and it is VERY nice. I must admit to you that I didn't use it very much, but even with my inexperience with this saw, I think that I can give a pretty good summery of it based on my experience.

Pros:

Price - For a 20" saw I think the price is great. It is around $300.00 on the Craftsman site with the stand and the light.

Quality - The saw seems to be well built. It has bearings rather than bushings and it is a handsome looking saw. While lighter than the Delta 16", it seems very sturdy.

Forward/Rearward blade movement - Even though it has the same inner workings as the Delta, Craftsman managed to keep this problem to a minimum. Using the same test as with the Delta I found that there is only about a 1/16" difference. That's a major improvement when it comes to intricate cuts. I did some intricate cutting with this saw and found it very easy to forget about that movement.

Table tilt - The table tilts 45° both ways which I liked. With the motor enclosed within the case, there is no chance of it getting in the way. Weather that would cause an overheating problem during heavy use in hot weather, I don't know.

Vibration - VERY minimal. Mounted on the stand I could open it up wide open and it was VERY smooth. I was able to cut at wide open most of the time with ease.

Blade versatility - It takes both pin and pinless blades. Don't matter to me, I use only pinless anyway. But it might matter to someone. Point is, there's nothing to change to go from one to the other. You can just pull out a pinned blade, and stick in a pinless.

Blade change - When blades break, the arm has a much stronger "spring" than in the Delta which makes for much less noise when a blade breaks. In fact, it's not much worse than when the blade is intact. BUT, that also makes for a con..., see below

Dust collection - This saw offers a dust collector that can hook to your vacuum system.

Cons:

Blade change - When you loosen the blade clamp, the top arm springs up about 2". That's nice for keeping down the noise when the blade breaks, but it's kind of a pain to thread the blade into the clamp, hold the arm down and tighten the screw all at the same time. I found that by wedging a piece of wood between the case and the arm, it could be held down leaving both hands free to make sure the blade was in there right.

Light - I know why they gave it to her, it's virtually worthless. Unless you saw in a pitch black room, this light just seems to enhance shadows rather than help. Also, unless it was the way it was mounted at the factory, you have to practically twist this thing into a knot to get it to shine on the work. Like I said, useless.

Table tilting - The table tilts left and right 45°, which is good, but the detents did not line up at 90 and 45° like they are supposed to. When I started using this saw I noticed that the pointer was not adjusted properly from the factory. I set the table 90° to the blade and reset the pointer, but now the detent doesn't line up.

The foot - I found out almost immediately (after about 10 minutes) after using my Delta that I wouldn't use the foot. But the Craftsman is worse off because they've decided to mount the blower flex tube to the bracket for the foot. So if you loose the foot, you loose the bracket. Not too big of a problem, but the tube is sooooooo long that without the bracket the tube vibrates like crazy when the saw is at full power. Like I said it's not REALLY a problem, but kind of annoying. I wonder though how bad it will be after that tube wears in a little and gets loose trying to hold all of that length up.

Conclusion:

To me it's a very good saw for the money. In fact, if I had it all to do over again, I would have just spent the $300.00 on the Craftsman rather than buying the Delta in the first place and wouldn't have upgraded. I like it that much. But since I've decided that I needed to upgrade and I like the hobby, I decided to get the Cadillac of the "budget" saws.

DeWalt DW788 20"

I chose to make a wolf clock (the mirrored one with the shelf and the pendulum) out of a pattern from Scroller LTD. As soon as I got the pattern I said to myself, "There's NO WAY I can cut this on my Delta." The detail lines were that intricate. I wanted to do it nice and right the first time, so I put it aside until I could afford a good saw to cut it. I would have probably have gotten the Craftsman if it hadn't been for the friend that I mentioned at the beginning of this review. I asked him if he wanted to buy my Delta when I bought a 20" saw and he said that he wouldn't because he'd rather save the money for the DeWalt. He had told me that he had used the DeWalt before and that in all of the years that he's been doing this, it was the best saw he's ever used. He told me about all of the things that he liked about it and basically sold me on the saw. Well, it just so happens that True Value also carries DeWalt tools. So I walked down there and carried home the DeWalt for $479.79 with the stand. I've been using it for about a month now almost every day, so here's my opinions based on that experience.

Pros:

Forward/Rearward blade movement - None! And if there is, it's not detectable with the naked eye. I have read that with the blade not moving forward and backward, it could cause wood burning, slower cutting and more frequent blade breakage. I haven't burnt ANY wood yet, it seems to cut just as fast as the Delta, and I actually break LESS blades (weather that's the saw or me getting better with experience, I'm not sure. But it seemed to get a LOT better after I bought the DeWalt). So if you've read any of that, don't buy into it because I don't think it's true. Reading information like that almost deterred me from getting the DeWalt. I thank Mike for selling me on it.

Quality - This saw is very well built. It is heavier than the Craftsman, but still lighter then the Delta. But it is all bearing rather than bushing which means long life. The drive system is used only in this saw and the Excalibur (made by the same company). I again was almost deterred from buying it because of the "more moving parts, so bound to be more problematic" theory. But everything is bearings, no bushings.

Vibration - Virtually NONE. I stood a nickel on edge and turned the saw on full bore and it stayed!! It is quieter and smoother than any saw I have seen (no, I've never seen those shiny red and aluminum $1,000.00 saws). And with only the tips reciprocating, when a blade breaks, it's not much different than when it's not broke.

Table - It has a very small hole in the table. It's very nice as far as I'm concerned because that means you don't have to mess with inserts. That makes for a con, however. Read more about that in a bit.

Lifting top arm - At first I didn't think that this would be that handy after being used to my Delta. But it IS handy. In fact, I find myself lifting it every time I put the blade into a new cut no matter how small or large the project. But this too has a con, more in a bit.

Blade tensioner - It's the best I've seen. With it you can adjust the tension while the saw is running. That is very handy for the really fine blades I use sometimes. By being able to adjust the tension while the saw is running, I can get the blade just tight enough to do the job without snapping the little bugger.

Blower - This thing has a VERY strong blower. Strongest of the three I'm talking about here. It will defiantly keep your lines clear and visible.

Cons (yes, after all of my ranting, there ARE some cons):

The motor - The motor is above the plane of the table. So if you're cutting something curved that goes past the throat capacity of the saw, it will ride up on the motor causing the piece to lift off of the table. Nothing major, I could have just turned the piece around and come in from the other way, but if they could design it with the motor a little lower...

The table - When I got the saw, the table was extremely rough ground. I had to sand on it for quite a while to get it smooth. Using a full sheet of sandpaper on a straight 2x4 and using long, even strokes I had it smooth in about an hour. I've done some reading on this. Some people have bought it with a rough table, others with a smooth one. I think they were probably all delivered about the same, but I like my table like glass. Another thing about the table is the small hole. Even though it means no inserts, which I like, it has taken some practice to easily insert a blade into the bottom clamp because it's hard to see in there. I'm going to rig a small light on there so that when I want to change the blade I can just flick a switch and see what I'm doing. It could be easily mounted to the stand. Maybe I'll ask my mother-in-law for that worthless light off of her Craftsman. *scratching head*

The lift arm - It's an awesome feature. But DeWalt should have included a way to hold it up rather than with your hand. I have seen an add-on in Wildwood that uses a metal bar and a spring to hold it up. I almost bought it, but then I remembered the Craftsman. It would be the same thing, try to thread the blade, hold down the arm and tighten the screw all at the same time. I designed something better.

Dust collection - This saw doesn't have it. I wish it did. If anyone knows where there's a kit, let me know. If not, I'm going to design something. I just got done plumbing my shop for dust collection, and now my scroll saw port is useless.

Price - While I feel it's worth the money, it is expensive enough to be out of the budget of many (ALMOST myself included).

Conclusion:

After using this saw I feel that the only advantage over the Craftsman is the lift arm, I can see where on a very long project that would use up the entire throat depth the lift arm would be most desirable, but I don't feel that this justifies the almost $200.00 price difference. Don't get me wrong, I like the saw..., VERY MUCH. But I feel it's a little over priced. If you're torn over the hype of the DeWalt and the price of the Craftsman, get the Craftsman.

I hope this helps someone. I wrote this because of my inner conflict I was going through looking for an upgrade and I couldn't seem to find the answers I was looking for. I don't feel I made the wrong choice, but only more time and experience will really tell.

Bill Bierl
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on December 5, 1999
I am a beginning scroller. I read a number of product reviews in wood magazines and saw several of the models I was interested in demonstrated (and tried them too). I was interested in ease of use and dependability. The Dewalt has lived up to my expectations in every way. Set up was easy, and blade changing simple. Cuts are smooth. There are better, and more expensive, saws out there, but for the money, the DeWalt is a GREAT deal.
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on September 12, 2000
This thing is so well designed and assembles so easily (2 screws), that I was cutting parts with a big smile on my face within 10 minutes of opening the box! The controls are where they should be, the air hose is just strong enough to do the job. Blade changing takes less than 30 seconds and the tension adjustment is superbly designed (turns the correct way and is even labeled!). FURTHERMORE, THE SAW IS WHISPER QUIET!!! It purrs.... The table is solid. The base is well designed and encloses all the moving parts (keeps the dust out and makes it EASY to clean up). Beveling is a breeze. The saw is so much fun to use that I wish they would have shipped it with a pair of extra motor brushes. Now..if they could just make an attachment to the work-clamp (little plastic pieces or something) that won't scratch really delicate work... Life is too short for cheap tools. I'm not rich (just barely out of school), but I'm glad I scrapped together the money to buy this saw rather than wasting my time and getting frustrated with the other junk I have seen on the market.
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on December 7, 2006
After purchasing this saw, I read a review written recently by Jay. I had the same problem with the table screw holes not tapped in the correct location causing the blade to hit the table(only off by about 1/8th"). I called Dewalt and the service rep. told me that he wasn't aware of any problems with this saw. After speaking with the rep, he told me that I could file the holes that support the table. I asked if this would void the warranty and he said no. I filed the arm screw holes, however I am not happy with Dewalt. The saw seems to run good, but I just can't recommend it to anyone until Dewalt does something to resolve this issue. The only way I would buy it is from a local store so it can be checked out. Sorry for the lengthy review..GOOD LUCK!
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on January 9, 2006
The Dewalt DW788 is my first scroll saw. Haven't even used someone else's before. So I would really like to thank everyone who took the time to write a review on it and the other scroll saws at amazon. It was the primary reason I chose the Dewalt.

I make boxe's, all kinds, shapes and size's. I have pretty much quit using metal fastener's, hinges, knobs, catch's, etc. I really enjoy making my own out of wood. Have been using a multitude of power and hand tools to make my own, but thought a scroll saw would allow me to make even smaller, more intricate pieces.

Assembly was very quick and easy. I added rubber feet to the base of the saw as it will sit on a workbench not on its own stand. Have a small shop, every thing has to be mobile. I also purchased a foot switch as everyone I talked with about scroll saws seems to feel it is a necessary safety feature. With a combination of the rubber feet and a rubber pad, the machine doesn't move at all, even on speed 8. Vibration is very minimal, and luckily the saw is at the perfect heighth when sitting on the bench. The dust blower works adequately, but I am going to rig a vacuum source up somehow. Changing blades is a bit of a challenge at first, but I think with time and practice it will become much easier. I also have rigged a swing arm lamp to use with the saw, old tired eyes ya know, need all the help I can get.

I mostly use hardwoods, and thickness's up to 1" so blade selection and speed are going to be critical items. So far I probably have spent 10-15 hours just practicing, using differant woods, blades, speeds, feed rate, etc., and taking a few notes to help later on. I am very happy with the results so far. Have made two sets of decorative hinges out of mesquite and am very pleased with the small kerf I was able to achieve and how well they fit and function. They took a bit of time to produce, but I know that will change as I become more practiced and comfortable with the machine's ability and of course my own.

I spent a lot of time researching scroll saw's before purchasing the Dewalt. It will not be used everyday, but hopefully will be used a lot for a long time. So I wanted a machine that would last a long time and I believe the Dewalt will do the job for me.

Recommend it highly.
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on December 30, 2007
I used to demo these seven years ago and was really excited about getting my own. They were very close to Excalibur then and were more than half the going price. After taking it out of the box I noticed the extremely poor job of milling on the table top. I was going to deal with it latter but after setting it up the variable speed control was not variable at all. No matter what I did it would not change speed (it looked to be stuck at at the low setting) and it is going back. On closer inspection the seam of the casing also seemed to be off and I could see clear gaps (1/32 to 1/16). The box was not dented and was in perfect shape so I don't believe it was done while shipping. If the next one is milled in the same manner I am going to go with an Excalibur, I have seen Dremel and Craftsman with better milling and finishing at half the price. Very disappointed and would never buy over the internet or without examining it at the store first, including turning it on and playing with the variable speed dial..
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on January 29, 2003
I recently upgraded from a craftsman to the Dewalt. I have been happy with the almost vibration free operation, easy blade changes, and large 20" bed. The only problem I have had is the hold down foot. Dewalt uses a large hold down foot that is constructed of a bent rod that attaches to one side of the upper saw arm. The attachment of the foot is not very solid. The foot interfears with the view of your work piece and tends to fall down into the cutouts when doing fretwork. This causes your work piece to bind up and then suddenly jump free as you apply more preasure to move the piece. It can be frustrating when working on an intricate piece. Also, the size of the foot makes cutting small pieces almost impossible without removing it all togehter. My old Craftsman had a small V shaped hold down foot that worked very well. If Dewalt would fix this one problem, they would have a great saw.
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