Are scroll saws safe for youth?

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My boys started using scroll saws at ages 7 and 9. At that point they used Hegner and Dewalt saws under close supervision. Now, at 8 and 11, they work on a Dremel scroll saw while I'm in the room but not hovering. They are very good about following safety precautions (safety glasses, fingers away from the blade, don't put fingers in the path of the blade) and have gotten quite proficient at cutting out puzzles. They've also cut out 3D figures and names.
I've also had them working with hand saws, planes and chisels... even doing hand cut dovetails and resawing boards with a rip panel saw. If you can explain and demonstrate the processes well and the kids are attentive and relatively coordinated you can take them through a skill building process with good results.
ALSO, a KEY thing to remember is don't give them sub-standard tools to use... my kids use my L-N dovetail saw, finely honed chisels, L-N planes, good taper ground panel saws, marking gauges, etc. If you give them junky tools to work with they'll become frustrated and end up with poor results.
With those things in mind I don't have any serious concerns with the scroll saw. Seems to me I was about 8 when I started using my father's Shop Smith scroll saw. We were joking the other night that his scroll saw has lasted about 50 years so far... course I was the last one to use it and that was probably 40 years ago. ;~)
John
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The scroll saw is probably the safest stationary power tool in a wood shop. But, it can still hurt you. When my daughter was 8 I showed her the basics of SS operation and safety rules. At that time I told her she could use it as long as her mom or I was with her. She is now 10 and I feel OK about her using it without direct "standing behind her" supervision but she has to notify one of the adults in the house & tell us what whe is planning to do, and let an adult check out the saw vicinity for hazards before she turns it on.
Now, she was going into the shop and using hand tools on her own from a fairly young age, and I have been using the scroll saw for several years. If I was just staring out with the scroll saw myself, I would not feel comfortable letting her work with it until I had a good working knowledge myself, to share with her.
One thing about having kids in the shop, remember that when their friends are around, they sometimes have a lapse of judjment in an effort to impress or show off. There's a boy the same age as my daughter who she plays with pretty often. Apparently he did not believe her when she told him she was using the scroll saw, I don't need to go into details, nothing bad happened, but she did violate one the rule about not operating the saw without telling an adult first.
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bf wrote:

I'm pretty sure that when I was 10 I used a scroll saw frequently without supervision. By 7th and 8th grade, I was doing intricate Christmas ornaments. No incidents that I remember. The scrollsaw was much less intimidating than the bandsaw. I seem to remember always using the blade guard because it helped keep the piece down on the table. I would actually be less worried about the blade than getting hit/pinched by the other moving parts.
At one of the woodworking shows, I saw the Excaliber guy actually put his finger directly on the blade (on purpose) to show that it would not cut him. I'm still not clear on why he didn't get cut.
One thing to keep in mind is that a scroll saw is really not good at making straight cuts. For that, I had a hand-powered miter box similar in design to this one: http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.aspx?c=2&p2927&cat=1,42884,43836
With those two saws and an egg beater drill, you can make a lot of stuff.
I would get the scroll saw first because there are so many things you can do with it that don't require any other tools.
Mark
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Maybe it was a ScrollStop prototype???
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ugh, someone already beat me to a scrollstop joke... :(
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We never tire of it. In fact, it keeps getting funnier every time we trot it out -- kind of like that excorsist movie :-)

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snipped-for-privacy@nospam.net wrote:

BTW, Franco is still dead.
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FF


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Locutus wrote:

It didn't cut because the short stroke simply moved the skin up and down with the blade. If he'd bent his finger and placed the middle joint against it, it could have cut, but it still wouldn't have been deep before hurting a LOT.
Experience counts!
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I've seen this done several times. I think the finger is placed midway between the table and the top blade clamp with light pressure on the blade. The skin then tends to be moved up and down with the blade, rather than being cut. I suspect that bracing the finger on the table and/or applying more pressure could cause a nasty cut. In other words, I can think of no reason to try this at home.
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bf wrote:

wasn't high end, and it wasn't dear, but was just the thing for kids and for light work. The blade was a standard scroll saw blade but it had a very short stroke. You could put your finger on the blade and cut a piece of 6mm ply at the same time. It cut like a hot knife through butter ;). The blade would just catch the skin on your finger and the skin would move with it without cutting. Took me a little sweat to test at a wood show but I did and it never ;) Actually new some people who purchased the machine and an arts class at a Primary school purchased 6 of the. Haven't heard about them for ages, but they may still be available.
Regards John
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On Tue, 05 Dec 2006 12:42:55 +0000, John B wrote:

I remember when I was a kid I got a little toy scroll saw for Christmas one year--I think it was from Kenner but wouldn't swear to it. Don't know what happened to it, I think it disappeared in a move. Blade had no teeth, just a series of rounded indentations--it cut plastic foam and the like like gangbusters and even managed balsa if I recall correctly. Very safe little tool and fun besides. Battery powered so it didn't have much power--you could stall it by grabbing the blade. At the time foam for it was hard to find and expensive--I suspect that today it would do wonders with foamcore board.
Another fairly safe tool, by the way, is a Fein Multimaster--cuts almost as fast as a Bosch jigsaw but you can put your finger on the edge of the blade with it running at full speed and nothing happens (yeah, I'm dumb, I tried it, it works). Really needs a shoe of some kind to be able to do any kind of precision work though. One of these days I've got to see about rigging one.
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Thanks everyone for the input.. I'll continue to read. I like the advice of learning to use it myself first, and then teaching him. I think it will be safer and less frustrating for him as well if I know what I'm doing. The last thing I want to happen is for me to be fumbling in our first experience and for him to decide it's "boring" LOL.
I ended up buying a used Excalibar. (Seeing the ad in Craig's list gave me the idea). Got a nice deal, but it was kind of sad. The guy had to sell it because his health no longer allowed him to do woodworking. Just another reminder to enjoy life while you can and not take things for granted.
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bf wrote:

To reinforce what others have already said: my son, now 9, has been using the Delta scroll saw for a couple of years at least, has become quite adept at it, and now does it without problems and without much supervision. I think it depends much on the maturity of the child and whether he will "try" inappropriate materials or holding techniques . He now can operate the drill press safely (not the winged bits, just the fluted ones, in wood, slowest speed) and a couple of the power sanders (Porter-Cable half-sheet and orbital sanders), but not the belt sander. He has started on the Fein sander, but he's not yet proficient at it. He is not yet allowed to touch any other saw (probably the next one is the jigsaw). Under close supervision, he will use the drill press with winged bits. He has held the hand-held drill in a pocketscrew guide on a couple of occasions.
The rule of thumb was "how much damage would the tool do before he could realize he is getting hurt and moves his fingers away?". For the tools he is not allowed to touch, the answer is "more than just skin." No chisels, but the handsaw. No belt sander, but the finish sander. No the jigsaw but the scroll saw. When he becomes more mature, he can progress.
I am also afraid that, should he get hurt, even slightly, he will turn away.
My $0.02.
Pierre
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