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Scroll saws advice

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after a long time thinking and going back and forth , my first power tool I want to buy is a scroll saw.


I can use this for scratch building in the future , but also for cutting out scroll saw patterns (which I have heaps off)


I had a look at the cheap models but beside worrying how accurate they would cut they all have pinned blades which cant be used when you have very small interior cuts.


so I have narrowed it down to 4 which are available in Oz :


1)  proxxon DS 230/E : the cheapest which also comes with a fence and mitre guide. no tilting table but not sure if I would use this feature. it has the smallest throath size and needs a tool to change blade.


2) Makita sj401 : pinned and pinless blades, need  tools to change. but seems there a lot of negative comments about this model


3) carba-tec 18" scroll saw : cant find much about this one and it seems to have all the features I need


4) carba-tec excallibur 16, 21 or 30" : seems a very good one and the saw tilts instead of the table . easy to switch blades because the arm swings up , very handy for interior cuts. but at over $1000 its a lot of money to invest.


i haven't included hegner because just too expensive for what i need


any info comments would be appreciated :)


Current builds : HMS Bounty, Constructo Pilar

Next build : undecided

On the Shelf : AL San Juan, Mamoli HMS Victory

Builds on hold : Ochre Gorch Fock, Hachette/Amati Black Pearl

Previous Builds Gallery : Virginia; King of Mississippi

Previous Builds logs : AL King of Mississippi 1/80

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Do not worry about blade changing That is a fact of life and WHATS the rush 

The quality of blade makes all the difference A very big differance good money is NOT wasted on good blades  

As for the rest I have had to make a good cutting surface as mine had a very large hole by the blade and suck through was not good

the upper arm keeps the top arm so high vibration not good the better base you can bolt it down too the better

I have spent a lot of time improving mine but still not a $1000 tool, $1000 is a very big nut to swallow to think that the next thing you will be doing will be running up against a $200 Dermal sander!!!!!! Some saw a 1/64 from the pencil line some saw a 1/32 what ever is said you still end up sanding 

Up down up down the blade goes 


Current Build

HM Granado CC

Past builds

 HMS Chatham CC, HM Convulsion CC,  Duke William German Kit, Fair American LSS, The Wright Flyer MS

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A tilting table is a useful feature at times. Have you checked out the DeWalt 778 (assuming it's available in your part of the world)? Mine has given years of trouble-free service.

Be sure to sign up for an epic Nelson/Trafalgar project if you would like to see it made into a TV series  http://trafalgar.tv

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thanks Andy , yes a sander would be great but one tool at a time ;)


thanks Bob and Druxey, yes I have checked out the DeWalt , but although they do seel the tools here no mention of the scroll saw


Current builds : HMS Bounty, Constructo Pilar

Next build : undecided

On the Shelf : AL San Juan, Mamoli HMS Victory

Builds on hold : Ochre Gorch Fock, Hachette/Amati Black Pearl

Previous Builds Gallery : Virginia; King of Mississippi

Previous Builds logs : AL King of Mississippi 1/80

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I have the Excalibur 21", purchased through Carbatec and have been delighted with it. If you pick your timing right, you can get it for about $200 or so less than their regular retail - they go on sale periodically. The only issue I had with mine was a breakage in the upper drive link assembly. It seems that since I bought mine, they changed the design and "designed out" the part that failed - which is a long way of saying, you won't have the same problem! Carbatec were excellent in their support service and helped me to identify the new parts I needed and then sent them to me very quickly. In short, it is an excellent machine and well worth the money. Best of luck with your shopping!

Edited by gjdale
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Are these online prices or have you checked any local home improvement stores?   I got mine at a home improvement/hardware store for <$200 US.  Hitachi with a 16" table and it takes both types of blades.   I would hope you have something similar over there in Oz.


BTW, no matter what saw you get, you'll need to make a zero-clearance plug to replace whatever the saw comes with.  The holes in the plug from factory are always huge.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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Hi Adriaan


I have the Excalibur 16 inch and couldn't be happier with it.  I don't think a larger bed is required for ship modeling, so a little money can be saved with the 16 inch.  It's very smooth, quiet, and virtually vibration-free, and the body tilts, not the table.  Blade changing and tensioning is very simple.


I've found with power tools we need to get the best we can afford - otherwise we'll likely spend more money replacing a 'bargain' choice.



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I narrowed my searches down to the Dewalt or the Excalibur. I too was looking for a saw to assist in scratch building my next ship. The Excalibur has such high reviews and the table was steel and larger than the Dewalt. The other factor was the tilting head rather than table. Since holding the work against the table with it flat is easier than with the table tilted. I am still finishing the Connie so I have not had much of a chance to work with the saw. However, what little chance I have had to work with it has been great. I really like the saw and would recommend it. I know it is a lot of money, but good tools last forever.


Chantilly, VA


Its not the size of the ship, but the bore of the cannon!


Current Build: Scratch Build Brig Eagle


Completed Build Log: USS Constitution - Mamoli

Completed Build Gallery: USS Constitution - Mamoli


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Ahoy Adrieke :D 


I bought my saw used on Craig's list. Not sure if they exist in AU but there are always outlets for used tools where ever you live.


I build kits so I hardly use it, For me it is one of those "nice to own tools" and why I went used. I waited for a deal and did my homework which really paid off. 

 On with the Show.... B) 




“If you're going through hell, keep going” (Winston Churchill)


Current build:  MS Rattlesnake (MS2028)



Side Build: HMS Victory: Corel



On the back burner:  1949 Chris Craft Racer: Dumas



Sometime, but not sure when: Frigate Berlin: Corel









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I bought my Dewalt 588 off of Craigslist as well.  Guy who had a full workshop to make furniture had bought it on a whim, turned it on once at home to see if it worked, bought a bunch of blades, and never used it.  Paid a very low amount for it.  


I see lots of scroll saws on sites like Craigslist.  A lot of scroll saws are used for one project like building a kid's science project and then are never used again.  



Current Wooden builds:  Amati/Victory Pegasus  MS Charles W. Morgan  Euromodel La Renommèe  


Plastic builds:    SB2U-1 Vindicator 1/48  Five Star Yaeyama 1/700  Pit Road Asashio and Akashi 1/700 diorama  Walrus 1/48 and Albatross 1/700  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/32


Completed builds :  Caldercraft Brig Badger   Amati Hannah - Ship in Bottle  Pit Road Hatsuzakura 1/700   Hasegawa Shimakaze 1:350

F4B-4 and P-6E 1/72  Accurate Miniatures F3F-1/F3F-2 1/48  Tamiya F4F-4 Wildcat built as FM-1 1/48  Special Hobby Buffalo 1/48

Citroen 2CV 1/24 - Airfix and Tamiya  Entex Morgan 3-wheeler 1/16


Terminated build:  HMS Lyme (based on Corel Unicorn)  


On the shelf:  Euromodel Friedrich Wilhelm zu Pferde; Caldercraft Victory; too many plastic ship, plane and car kits


Future potential scratch builds:  HMS Lyme (from NMM plans); Le Gros Ventre (from Ancre monographs), Dutch ship from Ab Hoving book, HMS Sussex from McCardle book, Philadelphia gunboat (Smithsonian plans)

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Scroll saws are very handy for the hobbyist. Get one that takes pinless blades for sure. Much more variety in blade types. You'll find that there are a lot of projects beside ship models that can be done with a scroll saw. If the wife and kids have any interest at all they'll be able to do craft projects galore with a scroll saw.BILL

Bill, in Idaho

Completed Mamoli Halifax and Billings Viking ship in 2015

Next  Model Shipways Syren

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Scroll saws vibrate- the blade moves up/down - the work wants to vibrate with it. 


As an alternate way to get to your goal - consider a 9 inch bench top band saw.   With an 1/8 " blade - pretty tight turns can be cut ( the 1/16th" blades seem to have disapeared from the market ).  The cut is a constant down.

 Which saw?

There are many brands avialable.

If the saw uses 59 1/2 inch blades, replacements are easy to find.

To get the needed tracking a Carter Products "Band Saw Stabilizer Guide System for Scroll Cuts" is almost a requirement, so a brand that can fit a Carter stabilizer is almost a requirement.

RYO1 - For use with Ryobi 9" saws.

STD2 - Fits many common 9" and 10" band saws with 5/16" shaft.  (I have one that was sold by MicroMark with larger shaft, that I was able to retro fit using telescoping K&S brass tubing as bushings.)

STD1 - Fits most stock OEM guides with block configuration


A 9 inch band saw is a fairly light duty tool.  I would not depend on doing very thick resawing with it.  The motor is not powerful enough to take a load much over 2 inches (I am guessing here.)  Highland's Wood Slicer blade does not come smaller than 70".

NRG member 45 years



HMS Centurion 1732 - 60-gun 4th rate - Navall Timber framing

HMS Beagle 1831 refiit  10-gun brig with a small mizzen - Navall (ish) Timber framing

The U.S. Ex. Ex. 1838-1842
Flying Fish 1838  pilot schooner -  framed - ready for stern timbers
Porpose II  1836  brigantine/brig - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers
Vincennes  1825  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers assembled, need shaping
Peacock  1828  Sloop-of -War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Sea Gull  1838  pilot schooner -  timbers ready for assembly
Relief  1835  ship - timbers ready for assembly


Portsmouth  1843  Sloop-of-War  -  timbers ready for assembly
Le Commerce de Marseilles  1788   118 cannons - framed

La Renommee 1744 Frigate - framed - ready for hawse and stern timbers


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