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Monday, July 19, 2010

My Hegner scroll saw

I've now been using my Hegner 18" scroll saw for several weeks. I'd used the DeWalt 788 for several years, so I expected some period of adjustment. Since the Hegner is a much more expensive machine, I was curious as to whether I would really notice a difference. The answer is a definite yes!

The Hegner blade clamping system is completely different from the DeWalt. I was never able to tighten the blade clamps on the DeWalt without my little homemade device that slipped over the knobs, so using a tool for blade changes was not a big deal. Although lining up the blade for the Hegner clamps does take practice, once clamped, the blade holds beautifully. And there's an accessory that lets you release the upper clamp, so bottom feeding, which is what I do, is no problem.

The biggest change I noticed was in the accuracy and smoothness of my cutting. Doing the same project with the same blade, the difference between the two saws was remarkable. My cuts are definitely smoother with the Hegner, with less distortion on thick wood. Cuts that were problematic are no longer difficult, and my "remedial sanding" has been reduced dramatically.

Lacking an opportunity to "test drive" different high-end saws, I chose the Hegner because of its small size and extremely helpful and responsive customer service. I ruled out the Excalibur from the start primarily because I wanted the photos in my books, articles, and posts to show a saw with a tilting table, not a tilting head.

I knew I could not go wrong with the Hegner, but I was not prepared for the tremendous difference a quality tool makes.


  1. I agree Carole. I use DeWalt for several years before going to the Hegner about 9 years ago. I really like cutting on my 22" Polymax. It is belt driven for the different speeds (very fast change), but I have it the fastest speed and do not change it..I just slow the feed rate down. I do have the 18" VIR speed for other projects, but find I use the 22" most of the time. I did find there are some table tilt degree's I can not do on my Hegner for larger bowls. I would trade it for any other saw.

  2. Carole I also used the DeWalt in our community center. I always had problems with the tilting keeping the cut from pulling on the blade and all the problems that caused. So when I got my own saw I went for the Excalibur and haven't been sorry. I also found the saw much easier to use and the no tilt table is a blessing. And there are so many other things I like about it. I will say that the customer service at General isn't the greatest unless you call the American Rep. They are very helpful and prompt.


  3. Doug, if I had room for a second saw, I'd probably go with an Excalibur just for the tilting head. One turnoff for me was that when I approached Ray at Seico suggesting that partnering my bowls with the Excalibur would be a great match, he gave me the bum's rush. Most vendors will accommodate authors who promote their products. But the biggest reason for not using it was that I didn't want my readers to think that they needed a tilting head to do my projects. And I agree that the DeWalt is a decent tool, but there's good and then there's really good . . . .

  4. Wow, I wouldn't have expected that response from Seyco. I also talked to Ray before purchasing my saw and he was very patient with me. Most of the folks that deal wth him have had positive experiences.

    Thats' too bad as Excalibur could have used the exposure. If I were General, I would have donated one.


  5. Carole,
    It is interesting how people interact with their tools and can have opposite experiences, although I have a theory on this one. I was using a DeWalt scroll saw for about 4 yrs and then was offered a used Hegner 18" var. speed saw at a great price. I know it is an expensive machine with a good reputation. I found it very difficult to get used to the loose lower blade holder when bottom feeding, especially when cutting fret projects. Having to repeat that awkward procedure over and over was frustrating. Having only 3 1/2" of table surface to the right of the blade forced a change in hand positions just to balance the workpiece. I can see how bowl making might not encounter those design differences as "deficiencies" since you have relatively few holes to feed through compared to a fretwork project and bowl projects don't have an 11" (or greater) dimension to balance on a 3 1/2" surface for the duration of project. You commented on needing your homemade device for the DeWalt blade holder, but I needed to make an "overknob" for the Hegner... I've never seen such small knobs with such sharp points. My take on the Hegner is that it is workable for projects requiring few inside cuts and for working with smaller workpieces... basically anything except fretwork. (I know a larger auxiliary top can be added, but we're talking about a $1300 machine... and that doesn't fix the mechanics of the blade holder or the knobs.) (BTW, I agree the DeWalt's major design deficiency is it's blade holder screw, but it's a different problem altogether.)