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Meeting Doug Woodward

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Gill

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Today I took His Lordship and my Diamond fretsaw to Hinkley to meet Doug Woodward, the designer and manufacturer of the Diamond fretsaw. It was an absolute treat.

Doug is now an elderly but sprightly gentleman who works from a newly built timber workshop at the back of his semi-detached house. If the shop is 20' square, that's all it is. It's crammed with metal machining equipment including a Myford lathe. His wife started kidding him about how untidy the place was, but like all dedicated engineers, he knew where everything was in that shop.

We discussed fretsaws for quite a while and he had a quick look at mine before suggesting that I should leave it with him for a complete refurbishment. He couldn't say what was wrong with it at that moment, but he'd have a look and phone me later. I asked him if he could let me have a circle cutting jig and a Type 7 blade holder while he was about it. The Type 7 blade holder is particularly interesting because it was designed to meet the needs of blind scrollers!

Doug is now effectively retired and only produces a couple of saws a month. The days when he had a three storey factory producing the machines are now gone. He did try to take on a couple of apprentices so that he could pass on his skills to them, but they weren't successful. In fact, he described them as light fingered. Neither of Doug's sons are interested in taking over the business from him, both having careers outside engineering, so it looks as if Diamond saws will pass into history when Doug eventually shuffles off this mortal coil.

One tip Doug gave me for use with his plywood tables was to dust them with French Chalk, such as you get in bicycle tyre puncture repair kits. He says it helps the wood to glide more easily over the table whilst you're cutting it. I doubt this tip would work with most other scrollsaws which have metal tables, but I thought I'd pass it on in case anyone is working with a home-made wooden sub-table.

Doug also asked me to point out that details of his saws are online here.

It was a delight to meet an engineer who is so knowledgable and enthusiastic about his saws even after 30 years of making them. I learnt a lot about scrolling from him and I'm sure readers of a woodworking magazine would be fascinated if he was to be interviewed by a proper journalist (hint, Nick Gibbs :) ).

Gill
 
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Anonymous

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Sounds like my kind of engineer Gill. Such a shame that we don't get apprenticeships these days - the last time I finished training an apprentice was about 18 years ago :roll:

Let us know when you hear about your saw's problems
 

Chris Knight

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Gill,

It sounds like an interesting visit. I must have missed or forgotten that you had acquired a Diamond saw. Is it yet possible to say whether it's an advance on your Hegner, or does it really need attention from Doug first?
 

dedee

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Gill, those fretsaws (scrollsaws?) really look the business. Looking forward to you comparison with the Hegner.

Andy
 

Gill

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The Diamond fretsaw arrived last week, courtesy of eBay. It's the first time I've ever bought anything off eBay and found it didn't work on arrival :x , so I haven't had a chance to compare it with my Hegner yet. When it's up and running, I'll post a comparison with the Hegner. Incidentally, Doug reckoned the Diamond is about ten years old, so it's roughly five years older than my Hegner. He's going to upgrade it where possible, but anyone who's thinking of buying a new fretsaw should be aware that neither machine I'll be comparing is a current model. That said, I don't think there's much difference between my Hegner and the latest model.

One of the interesting points to compare will be tear-out on the underside of cuts. That's because the Hegner (like all other saws that I know of) brings the point of the blade into contact with the timber on the reverse stroke, hence the possibility of using reverse tooth blades to minimise tearout. The Diamond, on the other hand pulls the blade slightly back from the workpiece on the reverse stroke so there's no contact. In theory, this means the Hegner should give a cleaner cut whereas the Diamond will give a smoother action with no risk of the piece lifting off the table. So I'd expect the Hegner to excel when it comes to cutting plywood, whereas the Diamond should be better for cutting brittle or delicate woods, such as burr veneers. Which is ironic when you think that the Diamond is designed to cut wood 4" thick :) .

Another aspect I'm looking forward to examining is the blade clamp. As you may recall, I've found the Hegner has a propensity to bend blades forward each time they are repositioned in the top clamp for piercing work. The No 7 Diamond blade clamp is a different beastie altogether and it's supposed to guarantee accurate blade repositioning every time.

Gill
 

Losos

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Gill, Very interesting postings, it's a real pity that manufacturers like DW are not able to 'pass on' their knowledge and skills these days. I don't own a scroll saw right now but I am thinking about getting one so will consider the Diamond if it's still available. Thanks again for posting.
 

Gill

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Woo hoo! Doug just phoned - he's working on my saw and asked if I wanted a new balance mechanism installed. I agreed to this and it's looking as if the saw will be ready by the end of next week, if all goes according to plan :) .

One point he raised was that the bearings on the motor and various other parts of the machine were in such a state that the saw couldn't have been in working condition when it was sold to me :x .

Hopefully, I'll be able to let you know a bit more about this machine in the very near future. Hang on... there's a timber auction coming up at Pugh's - what an opportunity to get some more raw material to work on (hammer) :D !

Gill
 

herbert

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Hi Gill, just poking my nose onto the website. you haven't said how you are getting on withe your Diamond yet...oh and did the other half comandeer the second saw yet?
 

Gill

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Hi Paul

The saw's great now that Doug's sorted it out :) . I may have alluded to that elsewhere on the forum, but perhaps I should have mentioned it here too, just to resolve this thread.

His Lordship may have expressed a desire to commandeer a saw, but what he says and what he does are often two different things! To be fair, he hasn't had an opportunity to get into his workshop for months because it's (still :roll:) being used as a general dump whilst we're waiting to have the new kitchen installed. That's scheduled to arrive on 5 June, so perhaps there'll be some action after the installation's finished, but I'm not holding my breath.

Gill
 
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