Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quick release levers for the Excalibur EX21 and the DeWalt DW788

I have written in the past about the problems with the thumb clamps on the DeWalt and Excalibur scroll saws. If you don't have good strength or have issues with pain in your hands then the standard thumb clamps are often trouble. I have shown two different replacement clamps that were okay but not perfect. I have even shown how to modify the standard thumb clamps to make them better.

In this post I want to talk about another replacement clamp that I purchased from Mike over at Mike is the guy I buy my Flying Dutchman blades from. On his web site in the accessories page he has these quick release levers for the Hegner scroll saw. The screw size and thread pattern is the same as the clamps for the DeWalt and the Excalibur. They are 6.95 per lever plus shipping.
I received the set today in the mail and gave them a try. The last time I ordered a set of quick release levers from they had to be modified before I could use them. The screws were too long. These do not have that problem. They are already the correct length. The build quality is good so I think they should last with reasonable care.

One point to carefully consider with this type of clamp replacement is that you have considerable more leverage to tighten the clamp. This can be a problem. You don't want to over tighten the clamp and break the clamp holders. I have talked to people who have had this happen. There is no need to apply extra force. If the blade is slipping out of the clamps it's not because you are not clamping hard enough. Something else is wrong. DO NOT brute force these clamps.
Look at these two pictures. In both the clamp is tight. As you can see the lever is pointing down in one and up in the other. I know this sounds obvious but I have had questions about this. The lever is re-positionable after it has been tightened. Just pull out on the lever. It will detach and allow you to move it to the up or back position out of the way. 
Another issue to consider when replacing the standard clamps. The original thumb screw clamps are special. The actually have a bearing in the blade contact point. This bearing rotates as the clamp is tightened. This prevents stress on the blade. Look at the next picture. We call this hockey sticking the blade. This bend is caused when the replacement clamp is tightend on the blade. Because it does not have the special bearing it can have a tendency to slightly bend the blade at the contact point.

This issue is some what random from my experience. With this new set the bottom clamp has the problem but the one I installed in the upper clamp does not. I suspect there are a few causes for this including where the clamp contacts the blade at install and how flat the end of the screw is. I'm going to spend some time trying to find a way to minimize this when I get time. Actually aside from being a minor inconvenience this damage has never caused me to have to replace the blade early or caused any premature breakage. It's not a deal breaker for me.
Like the other replacement clamps I have written about these are not perfect. The only perfect replacement would have to include the bearing in the tip. You also have to be careful with the extra leverage you can apply to the clamp housing. The good news is that they do get the job done and are priced reasonably low. They fit right out of the package without modifying and they are comfortable to use.

If you have been looking for a better solution to the standard clamps these might be a good choice. You almost have to try them for yourself to make a final decision but for under $20 it's not a huge cost if they don't work out.

This is not a paid endorsement. I purchased the clamps myself and have had no discussion with Mikes Workshop about this review.

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