Scroll Saw versus Jig saw

Rob Keeble

GTA Ontario Canada
Ok after the initial excitement at finally getting hold of a scroll saw i am back with both feet on the ground.:D

Yesterday i tried using my "free" and refurbished 24" delta rockwell scroll saw to cut out some holes in a piece of 3/4 MDF.

Now this sheet i wanted the holes in is about 28x28 so i figured hey this 24" scroll saw should work well. NOT.

I dont get it quiet frankly i dont see how this saw was really used back in the day or nowadays unless you married to old iron.

To change the blade or rather to even get a blade set up on this saw is a mission. Worse when the part is large. I fiddled and faddled and eventually gave up after breaking upteen blades and then went inside.

After cooling down i thought of another way to do what i wanted and hauled out my cheap junkie Skil jig saw. Then remembered (luckily) that i had purchased some new Bosch blades for jig sawing and put one in.

Well it turned the really crappy jig saw into a sweet cutting machine, well at least by comparison to trying to use the scroll saw to do this job.

This morning i woke to think i must have been doing something really wrong in the operating technique for this saw. I mean to get a piece over the blade you got to lift the whole blade guide support mechanism with air blower and all. Yes its a thumb screw but in numbers of operations to get a blade fitted its more than i think should be the case on a scroll saw. When i see u tube videos of guys changing blades on a dewalt man its like greased lightning.

Add to that in order to secure the balde in the blade clamp you need a allen key. Then you need three hands one to pull down the spring loaded blade holder bar, the next to hold the blade center in the clamp area then the other hand to tighten the blade.

I gotta be doing something totally wrong or this is really just old iron and i gotta part with this thing. Its a huge machine in terms of length sticking out and if one cannot work a large piece without all the hassle i dont see the point of keeping it.

This was not even fine scroll sawing. I was just wanting to cut rough rectangles. Then i have a template to clean em up with my trim router bit. But using a jig saw and a standard drill bit was way way quicker.

Can anyone shed light on this topic that would make me spare this machine and keep it.

I am guessing that back in the day (yeah way back) this was all there was but today heck i could have done what i wanted with a coping saw quicker than the delta scroll saw. Also the thin pinless blades i got from the flying dutchman well they work but broke repeatedly. When you add that to the process time man i wanted to do my task not play scroll saw all day. So i took a coping saw blade knocked out the pins and put that in to work it and it was better but still no bonanza when you gotta go through hoops and jumps to get to the next hole.

I dont get it.
When i see u tube videos of guys changing blades on a dewalt man its like greased lightning.

Yes, it is. One of the criteria on my short list was ease of blade freeing for fretwork. I added on the $20 "Jim Dandy Easy Lift" (in place of my prop-up block of wood) and things even got better. Don't judge scrollsaws too harshly. Like Jig Saws, some are Black and Decker and some are Bosch; design and form-factor make all the difference in the success of how they are used. I'm not familiar with your saw (or many scrollsaws at all for that matter) but, a tool-less and rigid clamp at both ends of the blade and variable speed are pretty much a requirement. A quick tensioning mechanism and the aftermarket doo-hicky to hold the arm up (on my model anyway) also make doing awkward fretwork on thick stock very doable. None of this is really helping you except to maybe not sour you on scrollsaws. I know I used to think a jig saw was for maiming wood, not cutting it; then I got a Bosch 1591. Presto! The jigsaw becomes a tool :thumb:. The same effect occurs the first time you cut on a scrollsaw designed to do what you are trying to do. Perhaps other old-arn owners have found some methods and modifications for your model? I know you know about the OWWM site but, I don't know if they offer a knowledge share environment like our wonderful forum. Good luck and let us know how it goes.
It seems that you are trying to do things with a scroll saw for which it is not designed let alone not intended.

Much like a band saw cannot cut inside holes, a scroll saw cannot handle big pieces. The jig saw is the saw of choice to cut holes in big pieces.

I use a scroll saw a lot to make small projects with small detailed, internal designs.

The length of the throat on a scroll saw is of little concern since most scroll saw designs, plaques, nick nacks and shelves are made up of many small pieces.

I have cut many puzzle type items of 3/4 inch thick Oak so MDF is no problem. Most scroll saw items are made with thiner wood.

The changing of blades procedures for your saw sound problematic. My saw has only two thumb screws and I am done. The scroll saw goes thru blades pretty quickly depending on the type, thickness of wood and the speed of the cut.

Walt in CT
Well, Rob, you finally found the right tool for the job. Scroll saws have a function and certainly the newer models have paid a great deal of attention to blade changing. I have an older one and if scroll sawing was my thing, I'd get a new one in a heartbeat. What it does, it does well. What it doesn't do well, it is not supposed to do.
I've got an old Delta 24" scroll saw and a Bosch jig saw. I enjoy using them both, but for different things. I'm sure the newer scroll saws are more convenient with blade changes, but my 1940's saw takes me about a minute or less. If i were scrolling all day that would probably drive me nuts. For what i use it for (and i do use it pretty often) the blade changes don't bother me. The saw runs super smooth and does a great job.

But for bigger pieces i definitely break out the jig saw.