Review By Dean Bielanowski  Delta Website - http://www.deltamachinery.com


Delta 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saw (Model SS250)
By
Dean Bielanowski

 

Quick Specifications

  • Motor: 1/4 HP Variable Speed
  • Speeds: 400-1800 rpm
  • Throat: 16"
  • Cut Thickness: Up to 2"
  • Table: 298mm diameter, 0-45 degree left tilt
  • Additional Inclusions: User Manual, Scroll Saw Safety card, Extra table insert blank.

Delta Machinery is generally well-known in woodworking circles as a company/manufacturer that produces quality tools for all levels of woodworking skill. Their 16" Variable Speed Scroll Saws are no different. The model under the spotlight today is Model SS250 (or similar Model 50-540).

This model is one of Delta's lower end scroll saws, however, it offers excellent value for money for the hobbyist, amateur or established woodworker not requiring a 'production-style' machine.

Assembly
Out of the box, the Delta scroll saw requires only a small amount of assembly on behalf of the user. The table and locking handles come unassembled, most likely to help prevent damage during shipping. The table is covered in a protective grease paper to prevent rust and requires removal of the paper cover and then cleaning of the table with kerosene before use to remove the grease coating. Once this has been accomplished, a nice smooth, well-machined table top was revealed. It is now your choice whether you apply a paste wax film on the table to prevent further rust, which is highly recommended!

Assembling the table to the scroll saw is relatively straight forward and only involves inserting two special screws and locknuts (provided) to secure the table in place. The table/tilt lock knob assembly is then fitted just as easily. Step-by-Step instructions are provided with well illustrated pictures in the accompanying manual, which is really great to see and makes assembly a painless and frustration-free process.

Next the hold-down rod and air blower assembly is fixed to the saw. Again, just a few turns of the hex wrench and this is easily accomplished. Attach the air blower hose to the air outlet on the hold-down mechanism and you are connected and just about ready to go. The inclusion of a small tool holder bracket is a great idea. The tool holder attaches to the rear arm of the saw on the right-hand side and will hold Delta's lower clamp adjustment tool and about 30-odd scroll saw blades in the cylindrical pipe-like pocket.

Overall assembly time took around 10-15 minutes. Quite respectable!
 


Important Scroll Saw Tip

Scroll saws, by nature, produce quite a lot of vibration when in use. They are but
one of many tools that need to be clamped or bolted to a solid workbench or
stand before use. It is dangerous to use a scroll saw that is not properly secured
to a solid stand. Excessive vibration will also damage the saw components
or cause them to wear much faster that usual.
 

Securing/Clamping the Delta 16" V/S Scroll Saw
Delta does manufacture their own Scroll Saw Stand (Model 40-654) however it will only accept the 18" and 20" Delta Scroll Saws, so you will have to find or build your own stand for the Delta if you do not have a sturdy workbench or other location to secure it to.

The SS250 features 4 locations on the base to insert bolts for clamping. Each point also feature rubber soles and upper lips for improved vibration cushioning. These points will take around a 7-8mm diameter bolt comfortably. While I achieved good success bolting the Delta to my workbench, my basement has a solid brick bar with hard pine top. I found clamping the scroll saw to this provided virtually no vibration whatsoever, even at highest saw speed. The perfect scroll saw setup! The location of the clamping holes/points makes bolt-clamping or C-clamp fastening very fast and efficient.

Quickset II Blade Change System & Blade Tensioning
Without a doubt, one of the primary concerns of the scroll saw artist is the ability to be able to achieve fast blade changes to allow inside/fretwork cuts to be achieved efficiently. When you are working on a project requiring hundreds of individual inside cuts, the time it takes to release and re-insert blades into your pre-drilled starter holes becomes essential, unless you have all the time in world that is. Many of us don't, so this is a common question one asks when deciding on a scroll saw to purchase.

Thankfully, Delta have come up with an efficient blade clamping system called the Quickset II system. The system basically entails the use of 2 quick-release levers to release and re-engage the top blade clamp. The basic procedure for this is as follows (please refer to our pictures to the right as well):

1. Release blade tension lever - simply pull it forward (takes less than half a second). Some woodworkers choose to remove the table insert first if required.
2.
Undo the Quickset II chuck-locking lever which releases the blade from the upper clamp. (this is a lever which opens and closes a small clamp-type attachment that holds the actual blade... much like a vise).
3.
With blade released, insert in next hole for cutting.
4.
Insert blade back into Quickset II blade clamp and engage the upper-clamp lever to tighten.
5.
Re-engage the blade tension lever.
6.
Done! Start scrolling.

The upper chuck/clamp assembly also features a small adjustable locknut. Adjusting this locknut allows various widths of scroll saw blades to be used and held firmly in place.

While tension is usually quickly applied and released via the main tension locking lever, further tension adjustments can be made with the addition tensioning knob situated on the top arm of the saw. This knob will generally set the overall tension of the blade and should be used to attain that 'High C' sound woodworkers often refer to when the blade is 'plucked'. This usually indicates correct blade tension.

A blade change for inside cuts can indeed be done in around 10-15 seconds. It will in fact likely take you longer to insert the blade into the next pre-drilled hole!

The bottom (under the table) blade chuck is open and closed using a special blade chuck tool provided with the scroll saw. This long hex-wrench type tool includes an elongated hew-end wrench which is attached to a parallel guide pole. When the pole is located into the lower blade holder, the hex wrench will automatically align with the blade holder screw which is used to pen and close the lower blade check. Fairly simple operation and the tool means you don't have to reach under the table to adjust the lower blade chuck/clamp.

The Delta SS250 In Operation
I have been using this scroll saw for over 18 months now and so far, the saw has performed very well. An important factor in maintaining acceptable results with your saw and extending the life of the motor is to use quality scroll saw blades and change them over before they become too dull or blunt. There are a number of good blade manufacturers around, but I personally prefer Olson Scroll Saw Blades. They are high-quality blades and available locally to me at a good price. Flying Dutchmen blades are also highly recommended by others and available in the USA.

Let's take a look at a few of the operational features of the Delta SS250 itself. The variable speed control dial and power switch are located on the front left side of the machine. If you have the scroll saw sitting at hip level, and are a tall person, the table can sometimes get in the way of the controls. This is no big deal really, it just means you have to reach down and under a little to access the machines controls. One well-noted issue with the variable speed knob, is that it is a little inaccurate through its physical range in controlling the saw speed. What I mean by this is, that you can reach full speed (1800rpm) on the knob when it is only about 60% of the way through its physical range, so trying to judge a specific speed by using the knob and gauge around it is difficult. After a little bit of use, it is not too difficult to set your desired speed and be pretty accurate in doing so. A recognized safety feature of the ON/OFF switch assembly is that a special padlock can be inserted to prevent the machine being switched on or used when you are not around. great if you have curious young ones that sometimes sneak into the shop on occasion.

For angled cuts, the table itself tilts left from 0-45 degrees and is fastened with a standard lever-type fastening system. Not too much excitement there. The dust blower is a little disappointing on the Delta SS250. It is really only effective at full speed. Anything lower, and it doesn't have enough 'puff' to effectively clear the dust away. A simple, cost-effective solution is to buy a small fish tank air blower motor (or other similar device) and rig it up to the Delta. While it is a minor inconvenience and an additional expense, the extra 'puff' this addition will provide will blow all dust away from your work quickly and efficiently allowing you to enjoy a continuous clear view of your blade and cutting line.

The Delta performed well with a wide variety of thickness cuts. Its maximum cut capacity is 2" high, which is pretty much standard for machines of this size. One must remember that the throat size (16" on the SS250) is something to consider if you plan to scroll saw larger pieces.

I have only ever cut plastic on the Delta once before (I haven't really had a need to cut much else other than wood), but with the appropriate blade and speed settings, no problems were encountered. The Delta performed satisfactorily on hardwoods as well. As a test, I attempted to carve through some Ipe, a known dense hardwood, and managed to do so successfully, although feed rate must be reduced in order not to strain the small motor and Ipe has a tendency to dull blades really fast as well!

The SS250, when properly clamped to a vibration-proof surface is very quiet as one would expect from a small induction motor. With the proper tensioning, a quality blade in place and a little wax/lubricant rubbed on the blade, cutting through most woods is also a quiet affair.

Lubrication of the machine is necessary to maintain good performance and to prolong the life of your machine. Delta's manual states this should be done after each 20 hours of use. As a personal rule, when starting to use any new piece of machinery, I usually let it run for a minute or two and then give it a little 'lube' right from the start. I have found this to work well for many tools. I then usually cut 25% off the recommended lubrication intervals. So if Delta says 20, I will lubricate the required components every 15 hours of use. Lubricating the Delta SS250 is fairly simple and involves the removal of the plastic side plate on the "C" section of the saw. It is then a matter of lubricating four points on the machine, 2 of which require the removal of pivot bolts. It is no drama and provides a little 'therapy' knowing that your extra care will earn your machine a healthy lifespan.

There really isn't too much more to say about the Delta SS250 short of actually giving you some scroll saw lessons!

Conclusion
For around US$99, The Delta SS250 is a great scroll saw for almost all non-production purposes and even for some small production purposes as well if suitable for the task. It is an ideal saw for the beginner, and despite the small issue with the air blower and a need for an external light source, it offers excellent value for money. Recommended!

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Delta 16" Photos
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Nicely machined round and flat working table.


Powered By a quiet
 1/4 HP induction motor.


Left tilting table: 0 - 45 degrees.


The handy tool caddy.


Table angle gauge and
adjustment lever.


Rubber feet shown here front and back (and more on other side) help dampen vibrations when saw is clamped or bolted down to a table.


Quickset II System:
A - Global Tension Knob
B - Tension Release Lever
C - Chuck Release Lever


The integrated dust blower is only really effective at full motor speed.


The ON/OFF Switch and variable speed control. You may even notice the holes in front of the switch to attach a special padlock for additional safety.


Scroll Saws are great tools and can be used for a variety of purposes. Here is a quick scroll saw project I am part way through, cut on the Delta SS250 Scroll Saw.

 

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