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What is the Best Scroll Saw for the Budget Conscious Consumer's Workshop
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Chris Marshall Uses a Scroll Saw in His Shop Fretwork and intricate cutting don't have to be expensive, there are some very affordable scroll saws on the market.

The late Rodney Dangerfield probably would have felt a solidarity with scroll saws because, among all other woodworking machines, these seem to get the least respect — or more fairly, the least amount of press. When we need to cut curves, we tend to head to the band saw, and that’s a logical choice. It does that task and much more. Still, nothing beats a scroll saw for incredible accuracy when cutting out intricate patterns and complex curves. These machines literally take blades thinner than a pin, and you can feed them through tiny starter holes easily for making inside cutouts. Try doing that with a band saw blade!

Fine Cutting with a Scroll Saw The scroll saw doesn't get much press in the shop, but it's incredibly useful, especially if you're doing fine cutting or intarsia.

You can spend a small fortune on a professional scroll saw, but we felt the wiser choice would be to review machines priced at under $300 — some of these are well below that figure. That way, you can invest in one of these scrollers at an affordable cost for occasional use and still benefit from its precision and convenience.

I set these 16" models up with a new reverse-tooth No. 5 blade and turned them loose on a trivet pattern mounted to 1/2"-thick red oak blanks. I considered it to be a good “real world” cutting trial. After steering my way through many little twists and turns, all of these machines were sufficiently powerful for the cutting test. I bolted each one to a piece of MDF and clamped it to my bench, so vibration wasn’t particularly objectionable on any saw. So, three make-or-break aspects separated the pack for me: ease of blade changing, clarity to the cutting line and other unique user-friendly features.

Porter-Cable PCB370SS
Shop Fox W1713
Rikon 10-600VSK
Proxxon DSH-E
Skil 3335-01
Craftsman 21602
Ryobi SC164VS

For a bargain price, both Craftsman and Skil offer good buys, but my “Best Bet” tool honors go to Porter-Cable. The saw leaves nothing much to be desired, and the stand is a welcomed convenience. User friendly features, ample power and task lighting made for a pleasurable test drive. I found myself cutting more than I even needed to, which is exactly the experience you want from a good scroll saw.

posted on October 1, 2011 by Chris Marshall
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8 thoughts on “What is the Best Scroll Saw for the Budget Conscious Consumer's Workshop”

  • Rob

    Well, I saw this, and thought I should share. I bought the Porter-Cable saw, and ended up returning it, but it was defective out of the box, with a serious electrical contact exposure. This is my first scroll saw, so I have little to compare to, except doing things by hand, which is night and day.

    Up side:
    1. For the price, I think they give you quite a bit, in comparison to other saws a similar price range.

    2. It seemed to cut well, for my needs, and I also liked the stand.

    3. Changing the blade, or moving it to an internal cut, was not bad, again, no personal experience on other saws yet to give a real comparison. For the little time I had it, I really liked how it worked.

    4. The mechanics of the saw, it self, seemed nice, it seemed to run pretty smoothly, it cut well for my needs, which is cutting RC plane parts, etc. Some pretty basic cuts, but accuracy needed cuts.

    Down side items:
    1. The little air poofer does not work, and was really cheap, and annoying. In comparison to the rest of the saw, this seemed like almost an after thought, or that they ran out of funding on this, and went with a cheaper part than they could have. I took mine apart to see if there was something amiss, but it is just very cheaply done, and gave minimal air. Spent a lot of time blowing myself, as it was not able to keep the blade area clear.

    2. Note most other saws in this saws class do not come with lights, so, it was nice to have a light build in, or so I thought. The light would not stay tight, and I feel was pretty dim to work with. I would have been nice to have a brighter light, and a variable control on the light might be nice also. There should be a lot of cheap LED type options they could have used. Personally, I Could not keep the light on the project, kept working away, and the housing around the light kept working lose, and moving, etc. Again, a frustration, for an otherwise nice saw.

    3. The main reason for the return is it was packaged poorly, or poorly constructed plastic control box on top of the saw, that holds the variable speed adjustment, and the on off switches. Mine came out of the box broken, an fell in half, exposing the electrical wiring, etc. I work with computers for a living, so this was not a show stopper, if I could get parts to fix it, but that did not happen. When I returned it to the store, the person I returned it to stated this was a common problem they are seeing with the saw. If it had not been for this, I would not have returned the saw, as other than the two struggles, I liked the saw. I will be moving up to the 20" Dewalt from this one.

  • Charlie

    All scroll saws suck the best one is the Rockwell table type saw the blade comes up from underneath its a thick strong blade it uses jig saw blades lot stronger then them stupid flimsy blade in all the other scroll saws that constantly brake and the flex way to much when cutting throwing you off the line I tryed 2 different types porter cable that saw sucks and then I tried dewalt and that saw sucks the blades flex way to much I returned both of them and got another Rockwell this saw sucks also I'm on the third one but at least I never broke a blade and the blades don't flex at all I can stay directly on the lines with this cheap peace of **** but works the best so all scroll saws suck every single one of them

  • Ernest Brown

    Why is their nobody in business to fix scroll saws ? I'VE GOR 4 SCROLLSAWS BROKE !

  • Jetten Jimmy

    In beginning to research scroll saws, I must agree to some degree it looks as if there is no one saw doing all that it should, for a fair price. Plus, there are a lot of mechanically- minded people needing income. Minus one plus one equals a modify- to - better kit on the market, or a modified- to- better saw. Ask Carrol Shelby.

  • ernst boergers

    Doing my home work on what scroll saw to buy.
    Right now I'm confused on who to believe. One group of people loves the particular unit , the other group is so disappointed , angry and frustrated their tossing the new unit in the garbage. I've had a old Dremal for over 42 years, a toy compared to todays scroll saws. (sat for maybe over 35 years)And now is finally not working properly. Still looks fairly new. So? who do you believe?

  • Bubba1962

    Save your money and buy a DeWalt 788, or the Delta version. Scroll saws are a bunch of fun, if they are smooth, and you have the patience to do things right.
    I've been scrolling now for almost ten years, but only because I spent the money on a good saw, and kept/keep challenging myself.

  • Ron May

    I had a Dremel saw when I first starting scrolling. Could not work more then a hour or two at the most before my hands were sore. At the wood club I belonged too at the time, had a representative from from Advanced Machinery, put on a demo of the Hegner Scroll Saw. After seeing this inaction and how smooth it was I knew that was the one for me. I brought one in 2001 and have have had nothing but success with all of my projects. There are other scroll saw that I have looked at and they all have some features that would be nice to have on one machine, but that ain't going to happen. So if you are thinking of buying a scroll saw, my suggestion would be try as many different one that you can. In fact the best place would be a Wood Show or at a Woodcraft Store, Rockler Store. Get scrolling and have lots of fun.

  • Bill Wattum

    why do the scroll saw manufacures sell a saw and have no replacemant parts? Sears doesn't sell any parts for the blade adjusment nor does Delta and porter cable, the parts that don't wear or brake are all available, but the parts that wear are obsolete on even a brand new machine. I would advise any one buying a new scroll saw to look up the part manule for the machine and see how many parts you won't be able to replace should they wear out.

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