In terms of how the machine is set up, the scroll's base has a 25x10.5" footprint although combined with the table brings the saw's footprint to about 33x16". The saw comes with an optional stand but during operation, we noticed the low center of gravity coupled with its intrinsic weight and a lace of vibration, making bolting down the unit largely unnecessary. Another optional accessory is the work light which can be attached through two screws to the rear left arm.
The saw's blade can be mounted in three easy steps.
- Move the blade tension lever to its full relaxed position
- Mount the blade to the lower and upper arms via the thumbscrews.
- Reset the blade tension lever to its original position.
The tensioning lever is strategically located and locks firmly into place, besides providing a steady feel when using it. The upper and lower blade mounting assemblies both have mechanisms for setting the blades perpendicular against front-to-back, via hex screws situated opposite the tightening thumbscrews.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a scroll saw in terms of operation: noise, vibration, cut, table size, bevel adjustment, weight & mass, fit & finish, on/off switch, upper arm lift, blade tensioning, EVS, hold down, work light and dust blower. We'll discuss each of these in turn with particular regards to the DW788.
The noise produced by the DeWalt was negligible as was the vibration. In terms of cut, the parallel arm units eradicate negligible under/over cut of ordinary C-Arm units. This saw produces an almost polished cut and with a throat depth of 20", it gives you plenty of room to work with. At 16"x24", the work table is sufficiently large enough to handle anything you can throw at it. The bevel adjustment is where we had a bit of an issue. To be sure, there is a large tightening knob and a fully adjustable indexing marker. However, when loosened the table's movement can be a little imprecise forcing you to ensure you don't hit the blade when tilting the table. The DeWalt's weight and mass belie its home based roots, and gives it a more hefty, professional toolkit feel and the fit and finish are both great. The on/off switch is operated by a foot pedal although we would prefer there being an adjustable speed control. While the upper arm lift does make it easier in threading blades through work and it isn't too heavy, you may prefer an arm lift that allows you to make use of both hands during the process. The Electronic Variable Speed controlling system while solid in terms of holding its speed well according to what you've dialed in, it lacks a display to show what the current speed is. Along with the bevel adjustment, we also had slight issues with the hold down and put it down to poor construction and its proximity to the blade and while we acknowledge, it acts as a blade guard, you may be better off leaving it in the box.
The work light operates at a dim 25 watts with its one, and only, advantage being it attaches to the body of the saw. Finally, the dust blower has reasonable nozzle pressure and flexibility to blow away any stray sawdust.
Overall, however, we would rate the DeWalt DW788 Scroll Saw as a great unit for a lower to mid-level unit, rivaling the higher end units like Hegner or the Excalibur.