Tool shopping

Iíve been woodworking since high school Ė a very long time Ė and Iíve managed to do it without a particular tool. Iíve finally decided I need to get one.

I donít (at the moment Iíve writing this, although facts my change by the time you read this) own a scroll saw. There are plenty of times I could have used one over the years to cut smallish openings inside solid stock or sheet goods, but those times never seemed to come often enough to buy one.

In their place Iíve cut those openings by other means: jigsaw, plunge router, using a combination of Forstner bits and jigsaw or coping saw, etc. Iíve sometimes cut things in two, created the opening, and glued the two pieces back together. I even used a reciprocating saw once. All of these methods work fine Ė well, Iíll never try it with a recip saw again Ė but they all take longer to accomplish and sometimes require a lot more finish work than if Iíd used a scroll saw.

As I wrap up my current book Iíve been looking back over the manuscript, and I realized that when outlining ways of accomplishing a particular task Iíve listed using a scroll saw several times. I did the same thing in my last two books. But in each case, Iíve used one of those other methods (not the recip, though) because I donít have a scroll saw.

Well, Iíve decided itís been long enough. Before I turn in the finished book, Iím going to buy a scroll saw, then reshoot and replace a couple of the project step photos to illustrate how a scroll saw can be used. This will better server the reader, and make for a more complete and accurate book.

So, itís not like Iím going out and getting a new tool for myself. No, Iím doing this for the reader. Itís kind of like a sacrifice Iím making, so Iíll take no joy in buying one.

Nope, no joy at all in getting a shiny new tool. Shiny. New. Tool. Itíll be a chore really. Just a task that has to be done. Iím sure Iíll hate doing it.

SighÖ What we woodworking writers do for the cause of journalistic excellence.

Till next time,



  • Gene Kelly says:

    I always find a way to justify my “necessary” tool purchases too. Hey, someone has to buy that tool.

  • Brian Burns says:

    Hello A.J.,

    I’ve used a Dremel Moto Shop for 52 years– they are virtually indestructible, and go for $60 or so on ebay. Blades are easy to change, and are still available in several styles from Dremel. I worked in a shop with a Hegner, and prefer my Dremel.


    Brian Burns

  • A.J.

  • Doug Turner says:

    Be careful – it’s addictive.I’ve had a scrollsaw since the mid 1980’s. I’ve upgraded twice and bought the Dewalt 788 when they first came out and have enjoyed it very much. I use my wood lathe and scroll saw more than any other tools in my shop.

    Steve Good has a web blog with free patterns that will keep you busy. I’ve made christmas ornaments, jewelry boxes, jewelry, toys, puzzles, portraits, bowls, clocks,signs, birdhouses, moving scupltures, and the list goes on and on.

    I would recommend getting a good scroll saw to start because it will be easier to use, more accurate, and save money in broken blades and wasted material(not to mention the cost of upgrading and repairs).

  • Chuck says:

    My wife uses a scroll saw all the time. I have a love/hate relationship with the damned thing – mostly hate. It has a mind of its own more often than not. So, what I did was buy myself a nine inch bandsaw with an eighth inch blade – now that is a real scroll saw!!! ūüôā

  • Mike says:

    A.J., I’m not a “scrollsawyer” but I do have a good scrollsaw in my shop. I usually use it for all of those items you mentioned, because I have one. But I also find it most enjoyable for the small projects that don’t take a lot time but make my family and friends very, very happy. You know, small puzzles, trivits, little kids things and being the enthuasist about woodworking that I am, I find it a great way to introduce people to woodworking (in a small way). I just bought a very inexpensive used scroll saw ($30) so that I could take it with me on vacations and do a little project or two, it’s just fun to use.

  • Kirk Breakey says:

    It was only 2 days ago that I felt the same “required” need to purchase a new shiny tool. We have , in our small backyard shop, 2 perfectly fine stationary 12″ planers, but when a great deal on a Powermatic 15″ spiral cutterhead planer came along…well. I just couldn’t resist. Now I’ll be putting 2 12″ planers on Craig’s List very soon.I feel your Pain…

  • In my opinion, you cannot have too many different type of tools. I think anything that can take the tedium out of a particular task is worth having. And when you can sell the things you make for good prices it becomes even more worth it. Just know that if you don’t buy the right tool you will have to continue doing that task the hard way.

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