The Shopsmith Scroll Saw works great, and I mean very well for everything it does. The upgraded tool-less blade change system is actually better in my opinion than the Excalibur. The table is aluminum and I do need to keep it waxed to prevent black marks, but I wax it regularly so not a big deal. The table is also very large and heavy duty, so that is a big plus. The ability to stow away the scroll saw in a small area is a huge plus, even if its heavy as all can be to place it back on the Shopsmith. However, that's a great trade off for a smaller shop like mine. I also really like the quality of the cut with the Shopsmith. It does great with the lack of an orbital action you find in a lot of scroll saws with nearly straight up and down motion. It can do very intricate patters without it being a crazy aggressive cut, you just slow it down to what you feel comfortable with.
That being said, I do dislike the blade tension lever at the back, because even with the quick release at the front, I find myself often reaching back to fine tune blade tension to prevent deflection from a less than tight blade (It also moves up and down like crazy while on). I also find it has a moderate amount of vibration due to the larger motor in comparison to the stand alone Excalibur (but to be fair, the standalone Shopsmith scroll saw all gray that my father has, has much less vibration, but still more than the Excalibur). My biggest issue has to be the noise with the Shopsmith. It is just loud when using the headstock, and yes I mean loud in comparison because it uses a large motor compared to a DC motor. The stand alone Shopsmith 20" gray model is much quieter, but still louder than the Excalibur. As for the speed adjustment, I got to say while its there, I just hate the position of it on the headstock rather than on the scroll saw itself. I use a pedal with it and just deal with the speeds I am on rather than adjusting it (primarily because I have a floating table over the headstock to rest either long pieces on, or additional work pieces if I am doing work in bulk.).
- A great scroll saw with amazing results that beats out most low end saws by far.
- Easily stored (although I recommend the SPT Mounting Base due to weight)
- Great table size
- Low-Moderate vibration (better than low end brands for sure)
- Great tool-less blade change system for fret work
- low orbital cutting action
- Loud as the Shopsmith mountable model
- Blade tensioning system located at the back seems to be needed to fine tune more often than I would like.
- More vibration than the Excalibur.
- Speed adjustment is not ideal, but necessary for how the mountable model is used.
The Excalibur model EX30VS is older, but definitely does a fantastic job worthy of the reputation the brand has. The cut quality is fantastic to the point where that was one of the first things I noticed when making sharp turns. This may be due to the speed settings being less noticeable on the Excalibur (you can go to max speed and it is not noticeable at all except for the blade moving faster, while the Shopsmith starts to sound like a jet engine warming up. Ok not that bad but side by side there is noticeable difference). So with that I will say the speed adjustment is super easy in comparison, and leads to more natural speed changes for the needs of the cuts. The EX30 is whisper quiet compared to the shopsmith (both mounted and stand alone version). Its like a quiet sewing machine where I can have it running and easily talk over it without effort, while the Shopsmith mounted version i must wear ear protection because of the noise. The vibrations of this model are nearly non-existant, and the only reason I say nearly is because the last 5% near top speed is where I see even the slightest vibrations, but even that passes the nickle on its edge test with ease. The other 95% of the variable speed setting matches my Sawstop cabinet saw's vibration level (ie. ZERO).
The blade change system is a bit less ideal, but does the trick fairly well. The lower blade holder is just garbage in comparison (a metal round knob compared to easily held rectangular knob), but the upper works similarly to the Shopsmith and tensions very well. With the blade changes as well, the shopsmith has a spring to lift up the arm when disconnected from the blade, but the EX30 uses a foot pedal on the stand to hold it up which is useful, but slightly a pain if doing a lot of fretwork. The table is much smaller in comparison to the Shopsmith, thinner too which I am slightly disappointed in (especially since it has a 30" throat rather than the 20"). Now the biggest, yet unfair, argument about the Excalibur EX30 is the size, its MASSIVE front to back due to the 30" throat and the rolling stand. To place it against the wall you need around 42+ inches from the wall to the front of the table making the small workshop nearly impossible to use it in. I say its unfair because We are comparing a 30" throat to a 20" throat, but to be honest its a big difference that I must address. The 30" throat is nice, but the extra room needed compared to the storage space of the mountable Shopsmith is significant. Oh one last negative, you are encouraged by the manual to oil 3 pivot points after every long time use (just a few drops of 3in1, but still its more than the Shopsmith)
- Amazing cut quality
- Zero vibrations
- Super easy speed control
- Whisper quiet operation that you could use inside without anyone complaining.
- Massive 30" throat meaning there should never be an issue with work piece size.
- Small table to work on
- Blade change system isn't as nice on the bottom holder, but still a good system since i rarely do fret work threading blades using the bottom blade holder.
- Foot pedal to raise upper arm during blade changes rather than spring loaded used in the Shopsmith.
- Size is massive and hard to find a home for in a smaller shop unlike the easily stored Shopsmith mountable version. (and yes this is unfair to make this a con since you get 30" of throat)
- Having to oil the pivot points regularly.
Overall, both are fantastic machines, but for long term use I do prefer the Excalibur due to noise, speed control, and vibration. During fret work using that pedal does make me reconsider it a bit, but the pedal also gives me more space to work between the blade top and the upper arm during threading. That being said however, I doubt I can ever get rid of the Shopsmith one. It does a fantastic job and has its uses, but the speed control, noise, and vibration make all the difference. I will say however, the stand alone Shopsmith is very close to the Excalibur and I would take a stand alone 20" model over the 30" Excalibur just because of the size requirement.
That is my experience with the two and I almost feel compelled to use a lower end model to really show how much difference there is on the market, but alas I wont buy a low end model when I have two high end models. Well I would call the Shopsmith Medium to high end range due to the full arm design, compared to the high end Excalibur shorter dual cam design. Now both these have rotating tables rather than heads that the newer high end models feature, but I have not had any issues with either currently and didn't feel it necessary to include that.
Let me know if I left anything out of this or if there are any other questions, but I hope it was informative.