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advice re scroll saw

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ian weeks10/12/2012 08:40:09
31 forum posts

Could members of the group give advice on which scroll saw to purchase. My wife has asked what I want for Xmas and I have been thinking for some time about a scroll saw for delicate work. Still doing 'big [5"" work] but recemtly due to less mobility back to smaller 4mm P4 stuff at times . Thinking about scroll saw that would handle delicate stuff for big work but mainly 4mmscale/ maybe O guage/s7 nickel silver loco frames etc. There are a bewildering array of scroll saws available . Any experience /advice welcome -regards Ian

Bazyle10/12/2012 08:55:59
6382 forum posts
222 photos

There may be a lot seemingly of choice but are they the same Chinese one with different lables? Couple of decades since I got a cheepo one so tehy probably have got even cheeper. Needed a bit of work on the blade holders and bearings etc to make it cut in a straight line. Still haven't added multiple speeds.
The shows used to be attended by Hegner who were expensive but I wish I'd got one of them.
This is the fella I have but with half a ton of useless extra sheet metal and friparies added and half the price allowing for inflation.

Edited By Bazyle on 10/12/2012 09:01:22

Brian Wood10/12/2012 09:47:32
2579 forum posts
39 photos

Hello Ian

I bought one some years ago from a joiner who was selling up after diagnosis with emphasima [sp?] and in pretty bad shape. It is a Woodwise PM22 dating from 1992, maybe no longer trading,

It has a cast iron base, table and operating arms, it is heavy and sturdy. The whole thing stands on resilient feet and it handles as a solid quality machine. It looks very much like a Hegner and capable of delicate work as well.

To be honest I haven't used it a lot so I can't give you much operating experience but that is the sort of thing I would look out for.

Enjoy your pressie Brian

IanT10/12/2012 10:31:32
2002 forum posts
212 photos

I purchased a chinese scroll saw recently - not unlike the one mentioned above.

I also have a 'vibra' saw (a simple sprung arm type of scroll saw) which I've had for many years and which works very well on small ply parts where I need to cut out shapes/holes (windows etc).. It's more akin to a low-powered fret saw - you can put your finger on the blade without harm.

So why the new saw? Well, I want to cut brass sheet with it - and therefore needed a) a lower cutting speed (mine has variable speeds) b) to be able to use a heavier (metal) cutting blade and choice of blade holder types and c) the ability to modify the machine over time to meet my needs - so a solid base to work with. The machine has a cast iron table which I think is essential when using these machines for metal work (as opposed to wood/ply - where aluminium is OK). My 'Vibra' BTW is all plastic construction and has worn suprisingly well but then I haven't abused it!

I generally do beleive in buying the best you can afford in tools but a Hegner would be too much for my pocket - given this is something I will use only occassionally. If I was a full time "scroller" then this would be different - but my money is mainly in metal mangling machinery!



Brian Wood10/12/2012 10:47:58
2579 forum posts
39 photos

Hello again Ian,

Just a thought while I was cleaning my teeth! For the use mine has had since I bought it, virually nil really, I would be happy to sell it on if you are interested. i think I have some blades for it, a book of projects and I will still have the owners manual hidden away.

If you are interested send me a PM. I live just outside Thirsk North Yorkshire, it is not the sort of gear I would trust in the post.

Kind regards Brian

AES10/12/2012 11:34:15
85 forum posts
1 photos


You'll find a LOT of very helpful and knowledgeable people on "UKW" – see the site http// Although primarily a site for woodworkers, there are several specialised forii (?) forums? there, including a For Sale & Wanted section which has scroll saws from time to time, and another devoted to scroll sawing with loads of hints and tips and machine fettles. You’ll also get a good feel for which machines people are using

As I'm sure you'll appreciate, once one has gone beyond a certain standard of machine, there is more importance in the blades you choose than in the saw itself. But more on blades in a sec.

Like someone above, I bought a "badge-engineered" Chinese scroll saw about a year ago and the best I can say of it is that it's "OK" - after a lot of mechanical fettling I've got it more or less tamed, and it does work, but the blade still waggles from side to side more than I'd like and I don't think it's a curable problem. FYI, although bought in Switzerland where I live, the price was broadly comparable to UK prices - i.e. all these Chinese machines cost around 100 quid plus/minus.

As you'll learn from a quick look at the above UKW site, the better machines go from about 300 to 500 quid new (SH about 40 to 60% of those prices) and it's one of these better machines that I should have bought. Names to look for are Axminster’s own brand; Dewalt (Model 788); Excalibur; Hegner. Hegner is generally reckoned to be the Rolls-Royce and they have several saws in their range from about 500 up to about 1,000 quid (for a “professional” day-long production-capable version). In any case if you’re going to cut metal (ali, brass, copper) or perspex then you need a variable speed version – NOT just a gimmick for non-wood cutting. All the above have variable speed models (as do some of the above Chinese efforts).

I’m generally not one to join the “China gear knockers” (I have a Chinese Mini Lathe) but as above, I wish I had saved the pennies and bought one of the above 300 quid plus machines.

Now blades, the most important part. Strongly recommend a visit to both:




Both will teach you a lot about blades (FAR more than you’ll ever see in any dealer) and both can supply without problems. Although they’re both in the USA I particularly recommend Mikes Workshop (usual disclaimers) – good prices and excellent service on blade sales. And the Steve Good site will teach you a lot too – not just “airy-fairy wooden art” stuff! I’ve been cutting wood and ply plus all the above metals except copper (so far) plus a bit of perspex on my saw and in all cases I’ve found the various blades from Mike’s Workshop good for all these materials – just a case of a bit of trial and error on a bit of scrap to start off with to find the best blade that suits you and the material/job.

Hope this helps, all the best, good luck



Sandy Morton10/12/2012 12:27:13
104 forum posts

I bought a Hegner quite a while ago and it is probably the best and most used machine in my workshop - I can totally recommend it.

Geoff Sheppard10/12/2012 15:19:46
80 forum posts
1 photos

A few years back, I was offered a single-speed Hegner at a sensible price. The original owner just couldn't get the hang of it. After using it a few times, I found out why - it was just too fast for metal cutting. The blades would overheat and break, then all hell was let loose before I could switch it off. I didn't fancy the end of a broken blade through my hand.

The solution was to remove the motor and substitute a simple jackshaft running in a bearing block. The original 'crankshaft' was fitted to one end and a pulley to the other. A second-hand small three-phase motor under the bench which could be plugged into the Eurotherm drive which powers my milling machine completed the ensemble. Now, a wide-range variable speed. Perfection!

Regards, Geoff

magpie10/12/2012 17:06:37
498 forum posts
98 photos

I have a single speed chinese job and would not attempt to cut metal with it, as it is far too fast. If i have delicate jobs to cut in metal i use my trusty 60 year old fretsaw with a suitable blade. I agree that the choice of blade for the job is MOST important.

Cheers Derek.

AES10/12/2012 17:27:49
85 forum posts
1 photos

Agree 100% with both the last 2 posts above - the only way I've been able to cut brass, etc is with the saw set to its very lowest speed (my saw is Chinese but does have electronic variable speed).


NJH10/12/2012 19:26:20
2314 forum posts
139 photos

A piercing saw is very theraputic...............wink

( I agree about the scroll saw - bought cheapish variable speed one - no good for metal)


Edited By NJH on 10/12/2012 19:27:11

peter walton10/12/2012 19:56:17
84 forum posts

Best one I had was a treddle Hobbies machine, variable speed, wish I still had it as the Delta I have is way to fast for my brain these days!


Sandy Morton10/12/2012 21:06:41
104 forum posts

My Hegner was variable speed and for cutting brass it worked very easily with black vinyl insulating tape underneath the line of cut.

magpie10/12/2012 21:19:45
498 forum posts
98 photos

Norman, I ca'nt remember when i last used my piercing saw, i find i have much more controle with the fretsaw by resting the back of the frame against the inside of my arm. It is also possible to work on much larger pieces wiyh the fretsaw.

Cheers Derek.

NJH10/12/2012 22:24:31
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Hi Derek

I'm thinking quite small and fiddly here.......


This is about 2 1/2 times size

hour hand.jpg

Edited By NJH on 10/12/2012 22:26:31

magpie11/12/2012 08:20:13
498 forum posts
98 photos

Norman, I surrender !!! that WOULD be the piercing saw.enlightened

Cheers Derek

P.S. If you are a clock man you may like my fibre optic clock that i am part way through building if you are interested i will start a new thread and post a pic of build so far.

NJH11/12/2012 10:04:40
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Yes Derek - I would certainly be interested. ( Although I really can't class myself as a "Clock man" I have some interest and have dabbled a bit. .)

Now, when I come to think of it, "interest" and " dabbling" might well describe my whole life! I do admire those who can single mindedly persue some elaborate project for years and years but I guess I'm too much of a butterfly.




Edited By NJH on 11/12/2012 10:07:06

ian weeks11/12/2012 16:28:43
31 forum posts

Wow thanks guys, A lot to think about in your replies,Will digest it all over the next couple of days . Certainly agree re blades with my hand piercing saw it is true you get what you pay for in blades. Only other thought I been given is to consider a proxxon machine but I have absolutly no experience of these.

Thanks again Ian

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