Vintage SFS scrollsaw - how it works

Hi all.

Just started as a school design and technology technician - resistant materials.

Tons of good tools and equipment, quite a lot Axminster.

Tons of old gear, too, some working, some not.

We have three Axminster SFS scrollsaws, vintage unknown. One is fine, one the motor runs but nothing happens and the other the controller is missing off the motor, presumably faulty or cannibalised.

Need to get one of the two US machines working (they weigh a ton, so moving them isn’t trivial).

Quick question: the machine that runs but the arm doesn’t oscillate, although it did once, briefly, when I tried it just now: is there a centrifugal clutch between the motor and the arm, so it only starts to move when the motor is up to speed and to disengage the motor in the event of a stall? There’s a housing on the output from the motor, so I can’t yet see what’s in it.

Otherwise, is there a cam arrangement linking motor to arm and maybe a part has broken or come loose?

Can I get a manual and/or exploded parts diagram for the machine?

All help and suggestions appreciated.

Many thanks.


I think you need to speak to Richard Beer who’s head honcho in the Axminster maintenance workshop; he ought to be able to give you a definitive answer or point you in the direction of someone that can. Hope of some help.

Can you provide us with some pictures @thorpetechy? It might be easier to guide you with an image or two.

Hi there.

Yes, here is a pic - hopefully - only allowed one as a newbie.


I think I’ve fixed it!

There’s a grub screw on the lobe that sits on the motor shaft. It was very loose.

Tightened it up with an allen key and all seems to be well.

Couldn’t see a flat on the rotor shaft to clamp down more securely.

Wait and see if it survives a lesson!

Glad you got it working @thorpetechy! Keep us updated!

Is this a new role for you entirely or a new job in a new school? What does the life of a D&T technician entail these days?

Thanks Tim.

Totally new role. Last job was community transport minibus driver, local schools and colleges.

Career has been mostly PR and marketing, with a strong technical bent. Largely self taught, once ran own CH & plumbing business, pretty handy at most things in DIY, power user of IT.

This is totally out of my comfort zone, in terms of the ‘audience’ ie school kids and quite intimidating, but never a dull moment in this, my first week.

As well as all the usual resistant materials tools and eqpt we’ve got laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC milling machines, vacuum formers, pewter casting gear and more. I like tools and gadgets, so it’s very interesting.

Quite a lot of Axminster gear too, some of it years old and still going strong. The scroll saws are built like tanks and weigh about the same!


For my sins, I used to be a HoD of a D&T dept in a secondary school during the 80’s and I seem to recollect that my technician would occasionally be on the receiving end of some flak from the kids…so have a care!

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Thanks Woodbloke - forewarned is forearmed!

Behaviour here isn’t too bad by modern standards, the school having an ‘Outstanding’ rating. There are some real ‘sweethearts’ by all accounts and the regular troublemakers are well known. Year 11 engineering contains quite a few - I meet them on Monday - but their teacher is new and is determined to crack down on them.

Wish us luck!

OK, the saw is working again but is more ‘vibey’ than its neighbour and blades are breaking more frequently. On the end of the motor output shaft is a balance weight and it was the grub screw on this which had loosened.

Presumably the balance weight damps down some of the vibration inherent in the arms, so I’m wondering if there isn’t a relationship between the weight and the arms that I haven’t got right. I now have the manual for the saw and there’s nothing about it in there.

There is a linkage between the balance weight and the lower arm, but there is only one way to connect it; the motor is entirely rotary of course, so I can’t really see that it’s possible to link get the relationship wrong, but happy to be corrected.

Any ideas?


Don’t rise to any baiting or abuse but go straight to the HoD or the class teacher at the first sign. My advice would be not to reply or to provoke a situation to make it any worse. Once the little ‘darlings’ know they’ll get a reaction, they won’t stop and your life could become hell.

Noted. Thanks for the tip!

Hi, I have just purchased this model. Are instructions still available?