Let’s cut to the chase: You’re looking for the best scroll saw – but is deWalt really the only option? I’m going to look at two contenders in the scroll saw category, and compare their pros and cons to help you to choose which might be better for you and your woodworking style and budget. Below, I’ve included some basic details about the two models I’ll be discussing: the (aforementioned) Dewalt DW788 1.3 Amp 20-Inch Variable-Speed Scroll Saw, and the Rockwell RK7321 BladeRunner with Wall Mount. Two saws claiming to do quite similar jobs, but with some differences that will be extremely important for you to note before choosing one or the other! Let’s start this review with a basic comparison…
Clearly, one product is significantly heavier than the other! The Dewalt saw weighs over 65 pounds, while the Rockwell weighs under 60. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages.
The Dewalt first. Bear in mind that the table alone for this tool weighs about 20 pounds, so that’s where a lot of the weight comes from! But it’s definitely a lot heavier and bulkier than the Rockwell Bladerunner. This is a heavy duty saw, and so not one you’d want to move around a lot (although technically it is portable). Scroll saws by definition have to vibrate, because if they didn’t, then the blade simply wouldn’t move. What Dewalt has done very well here though is to limit the vibration to just the blade – and that’s mostly due to the heavy, solid steel construction of the machine. The extra weight and mass absorbs vibration to the extent that it doesn’t move at all, with the only perceptible vibration occurring when it’s cranked up to full speed. It won’t ‘walk’, and any other tools nearby will stay put and not jump off of the work bench!
Now the Rockwell. This saw is very lightweight and thus extremely portable, which is excellent for anyone who will need to use it a lot on-site. It also has the advantage of being able to be mounted on the wall (and the wall mount is included with the saw). The saw’s light weight also means that it can be easily operated by those who aren’t quite as strong! On the negative side, the Rockwell will vibrate considerably more than the Dewalt because it isn’t as sturdy and heavy – it will have to be clamped down on to the table to stop it from ‘walking’.
Looks like a pretty even race at this stage. Very different products in the weight category, but each with its own benefits. The Dewalt is heavy and sturdy with next to no vibration, but not so portable, while the Rockwell is lightweight and easy to transport, but with considerably more vibration. Depending on your requirements, I’d score each item a point in this category!
The Dewalt’s pinless blades are super-easy to change. Fret work is no problem: it’s just a matter of loosening the knob on the top to lift up the entire arm of the saw, enabling you to pull your whole project up and reinsert it in a new starter hole. From there, you just have to tighten a wing nut in order to connect to the top of the blade, and finish by adjusting the tension lever – you only have to turn it about a quarter-turn to release the tension. The blade clamps, made for plain end blades, make it easy to clamp even the smallest sized blades.
However, it is not spring loaded, so you will have to prop up the arm with something like a small block of wood when you’re getting the blade through the work piece. A hinge to hold the arm up when changing blades would make it perfect in this regard!
The Rockwell Bladerunner also has a quick-change, tool-free blade mechanism, which works well and is easy to use. However, some user have noted that the overhead bar should really be about 1/4″ longer in order to provide enough room to adjust the blade between the rollers – or that the blade should be supported by the roller, stopping it from vibrating from left to right.
Both tools have an excellent blade-change system that requires no tools and makes blade-changing fast and easy, so again it’s one point to Dewalt and one point to Rockwell!
The one major problem with all electric saws is dust, as super-fine wood dust like this is the most dangerous. It can penetrate right through your body’s natural defenses and mix with moisture, becoming lodged in the lungs. A good dust pick-up system is a must!
The blower attachment for the Dewalt saw is excellent. It has an extra-long hose so can adjust the aim to keep a dust-free circle of roughly 2 inches around the blade, allowing you to clearly see the cutting line. It will keep the sawdust blowing away from both you and the cutting area. It is just a blower, though, so you will still find that the dust collects on the floor, under the table, and around your workspace. A face mask is advisable for your protection.
The Rockwell doesn’t have a blower attachment like the Dewalt, but it does have a dust drawer which catches a large amount of the dust generated by the saw. It also has an included dust port which a small shop-vac should fit, and the vacuum will easily remove nearly all of the dust. A quick puff of air will be all it takes to remove any remaining dust in between cuts, keeping your cutting line clear.
Although Dewalt does have the advantage of the blower attachment, I’m going to award Rockwell the point in this category for more effectively collecting the dust instead of just blowing it away.
As a scrollsaw, the Dewalt DW788 is a high-quality, high-precision tool. I have seen virtually no complaints about the quality of cut it produces, and it is easier to use than any of its competitors in the same category. The blades that come with the saw are not the highest quality, however – pretty cheap, and they don’t do the machine justice. Throwing them away and buying top-of-the-range blades is a much better option, if you want to get the most out of this saw. With excellent blades, the Dewalt’s performance is just that: excellent. It has a nice, sturdy, large work area, which can easily be altered if you prefer cutting at an angle.
The Rockwell Bladerunner does not provide the same high level of precision. It’s actually more of a jigsaw, so it doesn’t have the same capabilities as a scroll saw. It can be difficult to get the blade to stay straight while cutting, and it chatters a bit, so you should be prepared to hold your work quite tightly! It can be rather difficult to get a straight cut – you need to go slowly and carefully. The guide arm is unfortunately not much use, as it is plastic and rather flimsy – also, there’s quite a short clearance distance between the arm and the blade, which limits the size of the work piece.
The Dewalt is by far the winner in this category!
As I said, there is a difference between these two tools in terms of who they’re designed for and what their capabilities are. The Dewalt is a heavy-duty saw, without a doubt. It can handle intricate cuts and larger pieces, and is designed for heavy and frequent use. The Rockwell, on the other hand, is NOT a contractor tool. Even for general cross cuts (on 2x4s etc.) for larger home renovation projects, the jigsaw blade is probably not ideal. The blade can become distorted because it’s a long, flexible, reciprocating saw blade, as opposed to a standard table saw’s more stable circular blade. However, for small pieces and wood-working projects, the Rockwell is an ideal saw to have on hand.
Again, depending on what your needs are, each saw has its advantages – but I feel that Dewalt is the superior product in terms of versatility.
The results are in: Dewalt wins with 4 points to Rockwell’s 3!
- Heavy duty
- Easy blade changing
- High precision
- More versatile
- Lightweight and compact
- Easy blade changing
- Excellent dust pick-up
I’d recommend each of these saws – but to different people. The Rockwell is a lightweight, compact, portable jigsaw which can be fixed to the wall, clamped to the bench, and easily moved around. It’s probably not the right tool for professionals, but for what it does it’s good value for money and a useful addition to a home workshop. The Dewalt is a slightly more serious investment, and in general a better quality product more suited to those in need of a more heavy-duty scrollsaw. It seems to be more reliable, precise, durable, and easy to use, and yields better results than the Rockwell. If you require more than a handy home workshop saw, I say go for the Dewalt DW788!
But now it’s your turn:
Choose QUALITY – pick the DeWalt DW788!
Click here to take Rockwell’s Bargain Offer: The RK7321
(Links will lead you to amazon, because it’s the vendor i recommend!)