Excalibar Scrollsaw Review.
242 National Dr.
P.O. Box 1900
July 31, 2003.
Attention: Mr. Ray Seymore
Just thought I would write to you in response to your inquires. As of February 2003, Sommerville Design and Mfg. Inc. officially ceased manufacturing the Dewalt DW723 scroll saw and related products.
The production of this saw was moved to the far east in order to capitalize on some cost reduction opportunities, therefore you can appreciate the fact that we have no influence on any future models with respect to quality or features. I am also unable to predict what changes, if any will be instituted.
This is going to allow us to concentrate more time on further developing and refining the “Excalibur” line of products. Specifically, we will continue to supply the Ex19 & Ex30 machines with North American made electrical components and local materials whenever possible.
I hope that this brings you up to speed on current events and answers some of your questions.
We are all looking forward to the “new” future.
Some other Comments
Excalibur Scroll Saw by Sommerville Design
Whomever was able to pull the Sword Excalibur from the stone would become King of England. Does this suggest that anyone who uses an Excalibur scroll saw will be King or Queen of scrollers? Perhaps not, but the simplicity of the all black Excalibur, and its name, does suggest a certain sense of elegance -- especially as you look at its 30 inches of throat depth -- the longest in the industry. It is also available in a 19 inch model for those with more modest needs.
The Excalibur scroll saw is among the small group of premier scroll saws in both performance and price. The first thing you will notice is the 30 inch arms. With this saw you could cut to the center of a five foot circle. Not that you’d ever cut anything this big, but you could also swing a thirty inch project under the arm with ease. The next thing you will notice is that this is NOT a parallel arm saw. In fact, you’ll notice a very definite similarity to the very popular DeWalt scroll saw. This is because the DeWalt company contracted with Sommerville Design of Canada to develop the yellow and black scroll saw. The Excalibur makes use of a unique double parallel link drive system. The rear mounted motor is connected to a vertical bar that moves back and forth like a vertically mounted teeter-totter. Each end of this bar is connected to a rod which is about 26 inches long and runs through a very strong square tube to the front of the saw where it is connected to a short articulated arm which provides the up and down movement. I hope this description hasn’t confused you. The important principle is that up and down movement of scroll saw arms is what creates vibration. In the Excalibur the arms are four inches long. In other high-end scroll saws the arms are between 18 and 26 inches long. When you saw on the Excalibur you’ll notice the lowest vibration in the industry because the drive system essentially counterbalances all movement. Have you ever pinched a finger when sawing a thicker piece of wood. This doesn’t happen in the Ex because, (except for the final four inches) the arm doesn’t go up and down.
The Ex motor is also premier. It has a high quality, U.S. made, DC permanent magnet motor with a square wave rectified control. I don’t know what this means either, but the effect is that the motor delivers full torque throughout the entire variable speed range. Even with stroking very slowly, the saw won’t bog down like many others. As with its little brother, the DeWalt, the top arm raises to allow feeding the blade through the top of your project. The first time I tried this feature on a large piece of fretwork, I realized that this would save a LOT of time. Imagine not having to lean over to find a tiny hole under the wood.
Here are some other nice features: A flip lever tensioner at the front for the fastest blade change with no tools. An air pump to blow the sawdust. Table tilts 45 degrees left and right. Includes a nice sturdy stand. Comes with a 5 year factory warranty plus a nice selection of blades. A foot pedal is standard with the Ex. The trunnions (supports) for the table are in front and back (most saws have trunnions only in front). In addition, the table angle indicator is large and easy to see. Blade clamps are machined from steel (vs. others with brittle cast iron). The tip of the blade clamp screw rotates freely so that the blades are not bent as in the DeWalt. One totally unique feature is that the Ex allows you to raise the upper arm and expose a new part of the blade. Here’s the procedure. Start with the rear tension knob turned all the way clockwise to raise the arm to its maximum height. To expose an unused portion of the blade, turn the rear knob counter-clockwise four full turns to lower the upper arm approximately one inch. This will still give clearance for a one inch thick project. No other saw, not even DeWalt, can do this.
So, is everything perfect on the Excalibur scroll saw. There are a few problems, but they are fairly minor and easy to fix. The tension lever is made from plastic to keep from wearing the metal below. A few people have broken the tension lever by hitting it, quite hard, from the side. It’s very easy to replace. A problem common to many saws is that the tips of the blade clamp screws can become polished after several years of use so that they don’t firmly clamp blades. All you need to do for this is to lightly scratch the tip with a fine file or sandpaper. However, note that a major cause of blades slipping out of blade clamps is oil. Never lubricate the blade clamps, and any time you have blades slip out, clean the clamps and screws with some kind of solvent. Aside from the fact that this is one long machine, and takes up a fair amount of room, I didn’t come up with any complaints during the month when it was in my home. The 30 inch Excalibur, assembled and adjusted by the factory (except for the included stand), sells for $1195, and the 19 inch model is $995, including shipping. A very good price when compared to Hegner or RBI. It is available from Treeline 1-800-598-2743 www.treelineusa.com and from Seyco 1-800-462 -3353 www.seyco.com. I recommend that potential buyers be wary of the foot pedal to lift the upper arm. The cable on this mechanism places substantial stress on the saw because the cable attaches to the upper arm and pulls almost straight back. A 2x2 will very effectively hold the upper arm up when needed.
Tom Sevy <sevy99@MSTAR2.NET>
Scrollsawing & Fretwork <SCROLLING-LIST@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU>,
In the USA there are two dealers for Ex: Treeline in Provo and Seyco in Texas. Of course you can also go to Canada to try one. Ex has not been very active on the Wood Workinging Show circuit, so there haven't been a lot of places to see them. I have it on good authority (the owner of Treeline) that you'll see more of Excalibur at the various shows. Maybe even at the SAW Convention in California.
I can certainly understand why Warren likes his DeWalt better than the Ex If my Hegner started vibrating and I couldn't get it fixed, anything would be better. The problem which he describes can usually be fixed by replacing the bearings at the front of the arms. This is easily done by a moderately handy person. Call Treeline or Seyco and describe your problem. Ex is guaranteed for (I think) five years. Hopefully you didn't let the guarantee period slip by. They can ship the parts fairly fast. The Ex is made in Canada by Summerville Designs. Guess who makes the DeWalt. Well, DeWalt is owned by Black & Decker. But the DeWalt scroll saw is made by, guess who, Summerville Designs in Canada.
I have logged lots of hours on the Ex doing demos for Treeline. It's a great saw, and the 30" model allows you to easily turn a 30" project under the arm. Of course it has the ease of threading the blade for interior cuts, the same as DeWalt. There are only three saws made which are designed to make it easy to do interior cuts in larger pieces of wood: Ex, DeWalt and Hegner. So why should a person get an Excalibur rather than a DeWalt. Well, black or the new plum color is more elegant than yellow and black, but
that isn't really a very compelling reason. The Ex motor alone sells for almost as much as a DeWalt saw, and will outlast the DeWalt by a long ways, especially under heavy duty use. Of course the 30" arm vs. 20" is a great advantage. The mechanism is basically the same, but Ex has much higher quality bearings. Another nice feature of the Ex (that many Ex owners don't know about) is that, after your blade is dull, you can use the knob in back to move the upper arm and expose a new section of the blade for cutting. No
other saw can do that. Many saws have low vibration, but I really believe that Ex has the advantage in this area. Not by a whole lot, but better. One more substantial advantage. If you have a Mercedes, BMW, Lexus, Audi, you probably have it because it makes getting from point A to point B more fun, and maybe even a little faster because you are excited to use it. I believe that the same concept applies to Excalibur vs. DeWalt. It is simply more fun to use. In summary, I think the Ex is one of the two best scroll saws made in the world. However, I hasten to point out that I think that the DeWalt is the best scroll saw for the money. Do you want top Quality or top Value? Hegner/Excalibur or DeWalt. So, why am I pushing Ex if I own a Hegner. I didn't know about Ex when I bought my Hegner in about 1990. If I wasn't retired, or if a rich uncle left me a fortune, you can bet that I'd get a 30 inch Ex.
Salt Lake City, Utah (only 35 miles from Provo where Treeline is located)
PS: The reason I don't place RBI in my own list of top quality scroll saws is because: 1. My favorite scrolling is making intricate fretwork clocks which requires lots of interior cuts in larger pieces of wood; and 2. RBI, although of good quality, is not designed to allow the simple blade threading that the Ex, DeWalt and Hegner allow. To see what I mean, get an 18 inch square piece of plywood or cardboard; drill a 1/16" hole in the center; and then install a #2 blade on an RBI and try threading it through the hole. Then try it on my top choices. If you try it, you'll understand why, for my favorite scrolling, the RBI design is less efficient.
Another Remark :
Carol asked why I didn't address the issue of the tension lever in my review
of Excalibur which is available on Rick Hutcheson's web site. The reason is
that I didn't address this point is that, at the time, I didn't see it as an
issue. Having a tension lever at the front is an obvious benefit. After
reading the comments about the Hegner tension lever, I went to my Hegner
which I upgraded with the new upper arm. I agree that it is LITTLE harder
to move than the lever on the Ex or DeWalt. Quite frankly, it never
occurred to me that it was difficult to move the lever -- and after trying
it very critically, I would still say that I consider it to be well within
the acceptable range. I do a lot of intricate fretwork which requires
frequent use of the tension lever. I don't recall EVER thinking that the
lever was difficult to move. In fact, when I had a 30 inch Excalibur on
loan from Treeline for about 6 weeks, it was sitting right next to my Hegner
so I could alternate between the two and compare them. At the time I really
didn't notice the difference. I also borrowed a Delta P-20 for a month. It
has a front tension lever, but I have no memory of how easy it was to use
the tension lever on this saw. Of course, the DeWalt, has a totally
different way of tensioning the blade, and it is quite easy to use.
" I recommend that potential buyers be wary of the foot pedal to lift the upper arm. The cable on this mechanism places substantial stress on the saw because the cable attaches to the upper arm and pulls almost straight back......."
signed by: Tom Sevy
The cable (or presently stainless steel lift rod) does not pull
back at all, it pulls straight down. The arm pivots to allow lifting of
the top arm for threading the blade from top down for inside cuts. Pulling
straight back would not accomplish anything. The cable and pedal places the
exact same stress on the saw as the factory designed knob you twist on the back
of the arm to adjust the tension on the blade.
As designer of the PAL-01 and owner of the only company that sells and services it, I might add that according to our records, the failure rate with this item is less than 1/10th of 1 percent! This has allowed us to keep the pricing for this option at a very reasonable rate considering the labor involved in the installation. As a business man, I will take all the items I can get with this type of record!
Rick, I appreciate the fairness you demonstrate in the management of your website and the wealth of information you present to the scroller!
Ray Seymore, President
SEYCO, The Scroll Saw Specialists, INC.