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Eclipse Scrollsaw


A revolutionary drive system gives you super-fast, super-smooth cutting.


by Dave Munkittrick and Patrick Spielman






The story of the Eclipse scrollsaw is a classic American tale. Like the Wright brothers who invented man’s first flying machine in their bike shop, Ernie Mellon designed and built the revolutionary Eclipse scrollsaw in his garage. What makes the Eclipse unique is the lack of pivoting arms or parallel links that give motion to the blade. Instead, it uses a revolutionary “oscillating-loop” drive mechanism (Fig. B, below). 


The Eclipse is a professional-quality saw that retails for about $1,500. That puts it in a class with other high-end saws from Excalibur, Hegner and RBI. 





- Oscillating-Loop Drive Advantages


The oscillating-loop drive mechanism in the Eclipse makes it unnecessary to have pivoting arms or parallel links to give motion to the blade. This unique drive gives the Eclipse many advantages:



- Low Vibration


With no moving arms and fewer moving parts, the oscillating-loop drive greatly reduces vibration (Photo 1).  



- On-the-Spot Vertical Blade Travel 


The oscillating-loop drive eliminates the back-and-forth blade motion found on parallel-arm and parallel-link saws. The Eclipse is the only scrollsaw on the market with true, on- the-spot, vertical blade travel. This is a plus when making tight cutting turns in delicate stock and for those perfect 90-degree inside corners needed in intarsia.



- Longer Blade Stroke


Most scrollsaws are forced to keep their blade stroke around 7/8 in. to control vibration and minimize the back-and-forth motion of the blade. The oscillating-loop drive frees the Eclipse from these constraints and allows a full 1-1/2 in. of blade travel. A longer stroke extends blade life because it distributes blade wear over a larger portion of the blade and also does a better job of eliminating sawdust from the kerf for a cooler cut. 



- Faster Cutting at a Slower Speed


The top speed of the Eclipse is 1,350 strokes per minute (spm) yet it cuts faster than scrollsaws running at 1,750 spm. That’s because the long blade stroke uses more of the blade in each stroke. The slower speed has a couple of other benefits: It reduces vibration and keeps your blades running cool for longer life.





Other Great Features


The Eclipse comes with a host of great features (Photo 2) including an adjustable but sturdy three-point stand. The blower is powered by a piston air pump designed to outlast a bellows blower (Fig. B). The 20-in.-deep throat allows large projects to be swung around the blade. A true, double trunnion and cradle table tilt mechanism, like on a bandsaw, locks solid and has a scale that’s readable from above the table.





Safety Features


The Eclipse is a very safe scrollsaw because there are no exposed moving parts, other than the blade and the blade holders, to pinch fingers or catch clothing. The biggest safety innovation on the Eclipse is the auto shut-off for blade breaks. 





A Few Things We Didn’t Like


We wish the Eclipse had dust collection and a tool-free lower blade holder. Also, the oil reservoirs for the ceramic bearings that surround the metal blade-holder shafts seem a bit archaic. But we’re told they take little oil; a few ounces last a lifetime. The halogen lamp gets hot and could cause a burn if contacted.  Finally, the 1-1/2-in. thickness limit may be a problem for scrollers who are used to the more typical 2-in. thickness limit.




Photo 1: The lack of moving arms greatly reduces vibration. The total weight of all the moving parts in the Eclipse is only one pound two ounces.






Photo 2: All the essential operating controls are up front and on top of the Eclipse, including power and electronic variable speed. A quick-release blade-tensioning lever plus a large, finger-friendly upper-blade clamp make blade threading for cutouts a cakewalk (see inset). The oversized cast-iron table tilts 45-degrees to the left and right. A built-in halogen light really lights up the cutting area and a fully adjustable air blower with a 90-degree head blows dust off your project and away from you. There’s even a timer that records time spent on your project. Oil reservoirs lubricate the high-tech ceramic bearings for the blade holder shafts. 












This story originally appeared in American Woodworker November  2003, issue #104.







Ernie C. Mellon Inventor/Supplier 11700 Lock Lane New Kent, VA 23124 (804) 779-2478 Current Price: $1,500.





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