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Let The Good Times Scroll

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Nothing beats the thin blade and reciprocating action of a scrollsaw for making intricate cuts in wood and sheet goods. We tasked professional scroller Jenny Boles with testing several popular models. Each has enough variable-speed power to cut easily through 1"-thick hardwoods, as well as a table that tilts to 45° left and right, a built-in blower to keep the cutline clear, and accepts plain-end (pinless) blades.

Jet 22", no. JWSS-22B, $900 (shown above)

800-274-6848, jettools.com
Overall grade: A

This saw runs smoothly with little to no vibration, even at the highest speeds and in the thickest woods. It has the best blade-changing and -tensioning systems, a beefy cast-iron table, and adjustments for cutting aggressiveness and blade tensioning that give it an edge over the other saws. The upper arm raises 10"—the highest of all the saws—making it easier to fit a workpiece over the blade for interior cutouts. For beveled cuts, I like that the arms tilt rather than the table. I found the dust-collection port to be efficient with a shop vacuum, and the leveling feet and rubber washers effectively reduced vibration. And it’s the only saw I tested that comes with a foot-pedal power switch.

Jet 18", no. JWSS-18B, $700

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Overall grade: A–
For about $200 less, you get most of the features of the Jet JWSS-22B, but with a smaller steel table. The dust port needs to be removed to make left-tilting bevel cuts.

Excalibur 21", no. EX-21K, $900

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888-664-0449, excaliburpowertool.com
Overall grade: A–

For interior cuts, I like that I can leave the blade in either the top or bottom arm when making interior cutouts. (Top-mounted is better for large workpieces.) Despite leveling feet and rubber mounting washers, the saw vibrated slightly more than the others at high speed. When tilting the arms for left-bevel cuts, the dust port must be removed.

DeWalt 20", no. DW788, $500

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800-433-9258, dewalt.com
Overall grade: B–

This saw cut smoothly with almost no vibration, but I found it more aggressive than the other saws, which can make delicate or intricate work more challenging. The upper arm does not stay in place when lifted for blade changes or interior cuts, making it more difficult to change blades. 

Delta 20", no. 40-694, $375

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800-223-7278, deltamachinery.com
Overall grade: B–

All of the major controls rest within easy reach at the front of the saw, and I like having  quick access to the on/off switch and to speed and tension adjustments. At the lower and higher speeds, I felt only a little vibration; however, there was a noticeable amount in the midrange.

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