Scroll Saw recommendations

My wife told me to go out and get a scroll saw. Why can't she tell me to go out and buy a morticing machine?
I've read the archives on google and some of the stuff goes back to 1992. There's newer stuff, but I thought I'd post a new message anyway as I had more questions than answers. The more recent threads mention the Dewalt 788 as being a good choice. Normally I would jump on this kind of a recommendation but I don't want to put a lot of money into this tool as I am getting it to make things for the wife. She has this notion that I'm going to cut patterns and she's going to paint the parts. Not sure how long that idea will last so I don't want to put a lot of money into a tool that I will use once in a while.
That being said, does anyone have a recommendation for a decent get what you pay for scroll saw that's between $100-200 dollars? I've read some stuff about variable speed, how important of a factor is it? Seems vibration would be more important to me and possibly the quick change feature.
How often do you replace the blades on the scroll saw? Is it because the blade breaks or just changing materials and thickness?
Thanks Thomas
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Some key things I've learned in my scroll saw journey:
1. Make sure it takes unpinned blades. Make sure that blade changes are easy - if it requires an adapter to turn unpinned blades into pinned blades, you won't like it. DAMHIKT.
2. The best setup is a quick-release blade change with a quick-release tension system. Go to a store and try taking the blade off and putting it back on a few times. For some patterns, you'll do this dozens of times, to it had better be easy to do.
3. Variable speed isn't mandatory, but it sure is handy. My kids use the lower speeds, I tend to use middle or high depending on the blade. The thing that kills blades the most is HEAT and high speed means friction and thus heat, which lowers blade life.
4. Vibration. There should be NONE. Put a coin on the table (on edge if you can) and slowly go through all the speeds. There should be no sign from the coin that there's any vibration.
I switch blades a lot when I need a different size. I use 2 or 0/2 for fine work, 5 for general work, and occasionally 12 for "rough cutting". I don't break them often - if you break them often, it means you're doing something wrong (speed too high, cut too agressive, wrong blade). But they do wear out on their own. Treat them like sandpaper - they're useful to a point, but expect to replace them as needed.
Having said all that, I own a Grizzly 22" and the Dewalt 788. The Griz takes pinned blades and is a "monster" as far as cutting goes - I can cut metal, 2" oak, etc with it. But it vibrates a lot and won't do fine work (#5 is the smallest blade the adapter takes). The 788 is great for fine work, but won't take pinned blades and due to the way the arms are designed, the blade moves horizontally more than average (back to front, not side to side). The design has positive aspects that outweigh this, though. My second choice for fine work was the Delta variable speed 16" - it has (well, the one I tried had) slightly more vibration, but the blade doesn't move horizontally as much, and it was far cheaper.
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Exactly what I read in the archived threads.

Don't remember reading this in the other threads. Interesting point.

I would expect that from a higher end model, but I'd expect some vibration in the lower end which is what I'm after.

Amazon has the Delta 40-570R 16" VS for $159. It's reconditioned and I have never bought reconditioned, but am considering it this time. I do recall reading several threads about this saw having considerable vibration though.
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So I take it you aren't recommending Grissly...? :)
DJ Delorie wrote:

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I didn't have the bandsaw then, but you still can't cut in *inside* hole (mortise) with a bandsaw. At least, not without cutting and welding the band. It's easier to just drill a hole and scroll saw it, and in 2" thick oak you need a beefy blade.

Right. The Grizzly I have is for the "non-intricate" details ;-)
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For your price range, look at the Delta. I have the 16" 2 speed model with quick blade release. I think it goes about $120 now. I've used it for lots of hours of cutting. I don't have a vibration problem but others point to that repeatedly as being a problem so I figure I got lucky. Do get something with a quick blade release system. Any amount of inside cuts makes this a handy feature. Using hex keys or twisting knurled knobs to change blades will cause soreness after a while. For one or two inside cuts that isn't an issue. For a dragon with 300 inside cuts, that's a major issue. On mine after initially setting the tension, blade release is simply flipping two levers (blade clamp and blade tension), rethread the blade through the next hole, and flip those same two levers and you're good to go. A matter of 15 to 20 seconds compared to a minute or more. That dragon took 10 hours as it was
How often you change blades depends on a lot of factors. Your technique is probably the biggest factor. Until you get the hang of proper tensioning and proper cutting, you will break more blades. The type of wood will make a difference as well. Some feel that the quality of the blade makes a difference. Sears blades are looked down on and most of my cutting has been with Sears blades (simply because that's the closest place with any kind of selection) and I don't go through an inordinate amount of blades.

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Thomas, I would look to the Dremel 16" variable speed saw. I got a hand-me-down from my father, he used it about 2 years. I have since moved up to a DeWalt. The Borg stores used to carry it, I'm not sure if they do anymore. That would be a nice general purpose machine to use.
Don't worry about blades, they are the cheapest thing you will encounter when scrolling. You can get a gross (144) from Sloan's Woodshop for less than .25 a piece, depending on what blade you use. I scroll a lot using Baltic plywood, 1/4". That seems to really dull the blades up fast, the glue ya know.
Whatever you try, have fun.
Blake

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Thu, Jul 24, 2003, 9:58am snipped-for-privacy@askmeforit.com (ThomasMitchell) says: <snip> She has this notion that I'm going to cut patterns and she's going to paint the parts. Not sure how long that idea will last so I don't want to put a lot of money into a tool that I will use once in a while. <snip>
No, what you do is have her try it, and she gets hooked, and she does her own sawing. Hehehehe
Well, I have a Craftsman. Works great. Variable speed. Cost around $35-40, new, in the box. Apparently the little franchise store about 10 mles down the road had a close out, or something. Few days later, they had a bit different model at around $170-180, or so. Don't know who made it, but is has worked like a charm for some years now. Takes pin or pinless blades.
The first blades (came with the saw) broke very fast. Don't know if they were that cheap, or just a learning curve. The one in there has lasted I don't know how long, and has cut doubled up 1/2" plywood, no prob, just a bit slower. I like the variable speed too.
I don't have a major vibration problem, because it is solidly bolted down. Sits on a bed bolted to the second shelf down, just as sitting height. Had a brace under it, which also helps a lot, but apparently the kid kicked it out. Gotta find it and put it back.
I have no idea who made it for Sears, but seems to be well made, and I use it pretty often. Lot of times use it instead of my bandsaw, even on straight line cuts. And, of course, it does curves so nice, cuts a bandsaw couldn't come close to.
Only real recommendation I have is don't get one with the little stamped steel table. Had one of those long ago, not happy with it at all. Mine has a table plenty big enough for me, but it has four holes in it, so you can bolt down a larger top if you want.
JOAT Always put off until tomorrow something which, tomorrow, you could put off until, let's say, next year. - Lady Myria LeJean.
Life just ain't life without good music. - JOAT Web Page Update 23 Jul 2003. Some tunes I like. http://community-2.webtv.net/Jakofalltrades/JOATorJackOfAll/page4.html
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    Greetings and Salutations.
On Thu, 24 Jul 2003 09:58:16 -0400, Thomas Mitchell

    Because the "honey-do" list does not include enough things that involve mortise and tenon joinery?

    One thing you might seriously consider is the used (or as I like to say - the PreTested) market. Ebay often has large (24") Delta cast-iron scroll saws for that range of cash. SHipping is a bit of a consideration, of course, but, overall it is a great saw for not too much money. Now...the older, cast-iron jobbies usually use a spring to tension the blade. This is not really a "problem", although it does take a bit more skill to use, as it is easier to push too hard and cause the blade to deflect. The big benefit is that they often are run with a pully drive that is nice and slow, and, has a good, smooth cut, and, is easy to change speeds on.     I have to admit that I do lust after the higher end saws (hegner, etc), although I have not been able to pry the $1200 or so for one out of the wallet. They are going to be the "best" deal in terms of smoothness of cut and ease of changing blades and such.

    I replace the blade when I find that I have to start pushing the wood through it. A good, sharp blade, fitted to the wood thickness I am cutting, will slice through with almost NO effort. As the teeth dull, though, the pressure needed increases. The more pressure, the more likely the blade is to bow, and twist, causing friction, heat, and failure.     Now...I find that when cutting thinner materials (1/2" or thinner) I can lengthen the life of the blade quite a bit by putting a spacer somewhat thicker than the stock under it and using the upper section of the blade first. When I start feeling that cut getting harder, I simply pull out the spacer, and, drop the stock down on the table to continue cutting with sharp teeth.     Regards     Dave Mundt
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