Are the new scroll saws really an improvement over a 50 yr old Delta?
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    Default Are the new scroll saws really an improvement over a 50 yr old Delta?

    I've started doing some wood veneer inlays on my banjos, cutting 1/16" veneers, using my old Delta scroll saw (like in the photo). Wondering if the newer style saws are really that much better than this old relic? I'm mostly interested in the ability to follow a line closely. I realize that is really about the skill of the operator, but do the new saws make it easier?

    If so, which ones do the best job? Don't need much throat, cutting parts under 3" longs.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails scroll-saw.jpg  

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    Damn, meant to post this in woodworking forum. Feel free to move it

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    Blades and ease of changing blades might be more important than the make of the saw. My first machine tool, in 1949, was a second hand Sears jig saw. It took 5" pin end blades. I had it for over 20 years and cut a lot of metal with it before I got my band saws. But I have two modern scroll saws now that take plain end blades held in interchangeable blocks that make blade changes quick. The new blades are available in dozens of sizes and are all much better and finer than the thick blades with three or four tooth pitches that Sears sold. Still, I am more likely to use an antique jeweler's saw and a bench block than the fancy power tools.

    Larry

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    I've used a Delta 700 (the heavier duty version of yours) and currently use a Craftsman saw. I like the 700 better, much more throat capacity and the blade goes straight up and down instead of rocking. That allows you to use a flat ignition file upside down for a makeshift filing machine.

    Changing blades is the same, still have to use a hex key. On the nicer Excalibur saws it's a knob tightner I believe.

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    the big improvement is in blade tension. Because the whole frame moves you are not dependent on the spring in the overhead blade clamp block to return the blade. If you are happy with the performance of your saw in this regard it might not make a difference to you, but if you are cutting gummy stuff that tends to catch the blade the new saws excel in that regard. Some of them use under powered universal motors with varispeed controls that are not able to maintain blade speed under varying loads, so try before you buy....
    tom

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    The old Deltas are MUCH superior to the new scroll saws. The Delta's blade goes straight up and down. The new ones have that crappy walking beam motion,which causes the blades to also go in and out. They sand the edges of cuts that you don't want eroded away. Also making it harder to make accurate cuts. I have the little special chuck that has a tiny hole in it,for automatically centering up jeweler's saw blades. Easily made on a lathe. It only is available for the lower chuck. But,helps get the blade truly vertical as you only have to mess with the top chuck.

    I had A Hegner variable speed scroll saw that cost about $1200.00 new. It was a PITA to change blades on,and had the usual in and out blade motion. I sold it and got a 1960's Delta that someone here had for sale.

    I'll caution you that the Delta has a pot metal part inside the crank case that will distort and self destruct eventually. Delta wanted $275.00 for the new "Historic part",that was worth about $2.00,really. I helped a young man I knew make a new part from steel,which was not that much trouble. It will be much more permanent. My saw works so far,but sooner or later I expect to have to make a new part. It's the part that makes the shaft go up and down. Ridiculous that Delta made so many parts from pot metal. However,the straight up and down motion of the blade is very desirable,and it will be worth the trouble.

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    Powermatic 95 has better innards/bearings and is very much the same machine. i picked up a 3 phase and put a VDF on it and it should hold up to the new ones.








    jack
    English machines

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    Good question - I have two of those older Deltas waiting for rebuild and have been wondering about the same thing.

    Rick

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwilson View Post
    The old Deltas are MUCH superior to the new scroll saws. The Delta's blade goes straight up and down. The new ones have that crappy walking beam motion,which causes the blades to also go in and out. They sand the edges of cuts that you don't want eroded away. Also making it harder to make accurate cuts. I have the little special chuck that has a tiny hole in it,for automatically centering up jeweler's saw blades. Easily made on a lathe. It only is available for the lower chuck. But,helps get the blade truly vertical as you only have to mess with the top chuck.

    I had A Hegner variable speed scroll saw that cost about $1200.00 new. It was a PITA to change blades on,and had the usual in and out blade motion. I sold it and got a 1960's Delta that someone here had for sale.
    I thought it sorta funny the OP said "newer style" considering the Hegner has been around for a quarter century I suspect. Having said that, I've never spent much time on either one. Some users must prefer the walking beam style...if everyone was like you they wouldn't exist. I wonder what the argument would be for the "newer" style ?

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    You are correct,Milacron. They wouldn't exist!!!!

    I know the Hegners have been around for perhaps 35-40 years. The one I got was bought by a shop in Williamsburg and seldom used. When the shop was sold off,I got it very cheap,still in great shape. It ran quite smoothly,but the in and out was a great bother,and changing the blade was a HUGE PITA.

    The Deltas have been around a very long time. Since the 30's in one model or another,I suppose. If you are doing inside cuts,where the blade has to often be taken loose on one end,the Delta is infinitely better. So is its vertical only blade movement. The old Powermatics may well be better.,as someone said. I have not had one of them apart,only the Delta. I used to have a Walker Turner,which was probably better than all of them.

    I don't recall how I got the Walker Turner,but I very seldom use a scroll saw,and I sold it off. I got this Delta because I thought I was getting a young apprentice,and it is safer than a bandsaw. All the intricate work I have ever done was with hand tools. Being older and creakier now,I think I might find the scroll saw easier on me. We'll see.

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    The answer to your question depends on a few factors:

    1. How skilled is the operator.
    2. Is the 50 yr. old saw in great shape and in spec?
    3. Are you comparing the 50 yr. old saw to a new quality saw or a HF pos?

    To sum it up, my newest power tool is 40 years old. The quality of work will depend on how well i maintain it and how carefully I use it.

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    I'm surprised, I was expecting to be convinced to buy a new saw!

    In reply to the above post:
    1. Quoting Popeye, "I yam what I yam"... That dates me more than calling a 40 yr old machine "new". I'd probably be considered skilled, but it shouldn't matter comparing saws.
    2. Saw is in great shape, likely fewer than 100 hours since new (I'm the second owner)
    3. If I were to replace it I'd get the machine that would give me the best accuracy. Don't care which side of the tracks it comes from.

    I'm using the saw to cut fairly simple shapes from .040 - .050" exotic sawn veneers, that must fit together perfectly. Would also like to use it to cut .050 mother of pearl. It works pretty well for the first task, wondered if walking beamers might be better. Not so good for the pearl - would be nice to have a longer stroke and utilize the entire length of the jewelers saw blades. And maybe more tension.

    There is an interesting saw made by Lee Marshall of Knew Concepts, who I think posts on this forum. Knew Concepts Precision Power Saw - Fine Metalsmithing Saws Designed for Artisans - The Red Saw - Santa Cruz, CA
    This is probably what I should have, but for now totally beyond my budget.

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    The Knew concepts stuff is so expensive.

    You won't find a scroll saw that uses the whole blade. I have a large book about marquetry. It shows some French craftsmen sawing marquetry with a foot powered up and down wooden machine. It looks like a window frame running in vertical tracks. There is a saw blade in the center. I suppose they can pull the blade up and down as far as they want. That seems to be a standard type of marquetry saw,as opposed to the horizontal "marquetry donkey" they used in the 18th. C..


    Newtoll,I have never seen a more beautifully prepared scroll saw!!!

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    Long long ago I had the use, but alas not the ownership, of a Walker Turner, and my recollection is that it was quite nice, and very reliable. These days, for occasional use, I have a modern variable speed one, and it's not too bad. I think the main virtue of the newer type is that it's less likely to break blades if you're impatient.

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    I believe one ancient iteration of the Walker-Turner saw had the Craftsman name affixed.

    My current scroll saw is a "newer" 20" Delta/Rockwell with walking beam and variable speed universal motor. Other than the slanted cut, the real aggravation comes from the very touchy combination on/off/rheostat which has a tendency to rev-up unexpectedly, breaking the blade and worse yet, blowing the spring-loaded quick-change chucks apart, throwing the small parts about the messy shop.

    Have to wonder how a classic Oliver compares to these smaller machines?

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    Richard-

    I had one of those Deltas and "permanently loaned" it to the EAA chapter for sawing aluminum parts.

    My primary use for a jig/fret/scroll saw is rough cutting out wood plane totes. So need some good tension and somewhat aggressive cutting for the thick, dense wood.
    I lucked into an Ideal Duplex Die filer a few years ago. It serves the little bit of scroll sawing I do in small parts. The blade goes straight up and down (once everything is aligned on a used machine), the stroke length is adjustable, and there is an inner frame, not a spring, to tension the blade. I did not realize that design feature before buying it, but noticed the top link going up and down when cranking over without a blade in it. As can be seen from the pictures, it is easy to use any length blade in it, too. The OEM holders are a bit clumsy since they were designed to hold files as well as blades, but they will hold small blades well once cleaned up.

    These pictures are _not_ mine. Mine is ugly and un-painted. (but works well )



    Photo Index - Ideal Tool & Die Co. - Duplex Die and Punch Filing Machine | VintageMachinery.org

    From what I've seen, they tend to sell for around ~$100 - $250 when they come up. I paid $150 asked (might actually have only been $145, but what's the difference) for mine as soon as it came up here on PM a few years ago. Mine is missing the rear CI cover for the pulleys and needed some small parts made to make the blade holder function, but works well otherwise.

    smt

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    I have one of those Duplex die filers,in the same condition. They are a marvelous bit of machinery. I end up using my Butterfly the most because it is easier to set up. But,the Duplex can also file downwards,as into the mouth of a hollow casting that has a bottom on it,so that it would not be possible to file with the ordinary type of die filer.

    However,on the up stroke on mine,there is a bit of slack in the mechanism that pulls upward,before it kicks in and starts pulling the file upwards. If I were to use a thin saw blade with it,the blade would probably break due to the moment of slackness on the up stroke.

    I hope I have been clear about this. I'm not sure if the moment of slackness is found on all of these Duplexes,or if mine has a bit of wear that is causing it.
    Last edited by gwilson; 11-30-2014 at 09:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by richard newman View Post
    I'm surprised, I was expecting to be convinced to buy a new saw!


    There is an interesting saw made by Lee Marshall of Knew Concepts, who I think posts on this forum. Knew Concepts Precision Power Saw - Fine Metalsmithing Saws Designed for Artisans - The Red Saw - Santa Cruz, CA
    This is probably what I should have, but for now totally beyond my budget.
    Greetings,

    I'm Brian Meek, #1 Minion at Knew Concepts. Lee does watch PM, and will probably chime in here at some point, but he's been on vacation.
    The KC power saw started out as a powered jeweler's saw, so it is capable of extremely delicate cutting. It'll take jeweler's blades down to 10/0. (.005" kerf), or larger skiptooth woodworking blades. (Fret saws and jewelers saws are the same thing by different names. The blade lengths are the same: 130mm. (5.125"))

    It has a couple of advantages over the standard scroll saws as well.
    (A) true vertical motion. No walking beam rig. Wouldn't work with teeny little blades like that.
    (B) fails safe. The blade is held in tension, and moved by a cable rig. If the blade snaps, the cable goes slack, and the motion dies. No worries about it slamming a broken sawblade into your fingers.
    (C) slotted carbide blade guides. The blades are backed up by grooved carbide posts that support them just above and below the cut Can't get much lateral support on those sorts of blades, but it does have back support right close.
    (D) variable speed. It does use a universal motor, and with a standard foredom foot pedal, can be varied from 0 to 120 strokes/min. The foot pedal we stock for them (separately) is capable of very fine low-end control, so you can get the thing to just crawl along if you need to. (The foot pedals are separate because most folks who'd pop for a $2K saw already have a few spare foot pedals kicking around, and probably have distinct opinions on which style they prefer. The one we stock is made in the US, and has the best low end of any pedal available. ) (It's a Lucas 'Lo-Boy' pedal. No, not *that* Lucas. These guys are out of downstate NY, and have been around the jewelry biz for years and years.)

    (E) It's optimized for cutting thin material. (Sub 1/8") and is set up to use the entire available stroke of the blade, rather than jackrabbiting along with just a 1" stroke like most scroll saws, which wears out the center of the blade without ever touching the ends. It does have extra holes in the crank arm to adjust the stroke for thicker material, but it ships set up for maximum stroke.

    I realize they're expensive, so this isn't much more than a basic explanation about them. They're entirely made in the US. The parts machining is mostly me, and Lee does the final assembly. They're pretty much entirely custom parts. Other than the screws, the motor and a couple of plastic guide wheels for the cable, we make everything else.
    If anybody has more questions, PM me and I'll answer directly.

    Regards,
    Brian

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    +1 for the old machines. I have a W-T (shown here)
    Looked after it will see me out & probably the next owner.
    A smaller machine would be nice, something decent not one of the cheapo pos, but I don't have a spare £1000!

    Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by old-biker-uk View Post
    +1 for the old machines. I have a W-T (shown here)
    Mark
    Like Mark I have that same W-T. Great saw - I do not use it a lot, but when I do she just purrs. And as I have been telling my 6 year old assistant it will be the first power equipment he will ever be allowed to run. Trouble is I told him that and now he wants to know when he can alone. I keep telling him I'll have him trained by his 8th birthday. That will be a big one - saw and tractor driving. Scratching my head, but at that age I was also doing both.

    Dale

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