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Scroll Saw & Intarsia

A Scroll Sawing Introduction

scroll saw I can see now why Scoll Saw woodworkers refer to scroll saws as "arguably the most versatile woodworking tool". I have not done a lot of scroll saw work with the exception of some small rudimentary projects. Since we have received quite a number of requests and queries over the past couple of years on Scroll Sawing, I decided it needed at least a novice's look.
To start off with I went to the computer, opened Google and typed in Scroll Saw Patterns, then clicked on the link "images" as at Google menu option.
What I was greeted with was overwhelming. I had no idea there were so many different things that a woodworker could do with a scroll saw. The screen was filled with brilliant ideas with so many different kinds of woodworking projects from Intarsia (which is like a wooden puzzle), to small figurines like chess boad pieces, to pictures, signs, bird houses, quilt racks, boxes, accent pieces for doors and furniture, the list just went on and on.

The first thing to remember about a Sroll Saw, is that it is a saw! I saw that can cross cut and rip, just like any other saw, but that can also make very tight turns, and this sets the scroll saw apart.

Quick Tips for Using Scroll Saws Effectively

scrool saw tips1) Cutting

When cutting, only use dry wood particularly air-drying boards and carefully study grain patterns, identifying grain direction and using only those pieces in your collection that most closely match that pattern. Also ensure that when you cut, check the cut and square constantly and ensure the pattern line is visible.

One of the most important parts of the scroll saw is the foot operated on/off switch: it provides unparalleled control during cutting. By using double side tape and sanding shims during contouring, this ensures smooth transitions between pieces.

During finishing, try to avoid using worn out sandpaper on the wood as this can burnish it. While used sandpaper can be used, it should be only during sanding sharp or fragile bits.

2) 90 Degree Cutting Angles

One of the most important things to ensure during stack cutting is whether the blade is cutting straight up and down by making a short cut in a piece of wood. How?

  • Pulling the wood back from the blade, followed by
  • Placing the blade before the wood and positioning the wood piece so the cut is facing the blade.
  • Sliding the cut into the blade; if it fits, the blade is at a 90 degree cutting angle to the table. If it doesn't, the table will need to be readjusted.

Selecting Wood for Intarsia Patterns

Intarsia WoodThere are three essential things to keep in mind when buying wood for Intarsia: grain/figure, machine ability and color/species—all of these are interrelated. It may be that you are looking for an exotic redwood only to realize too late that your saw won't cut it and when planning an intarsia pattern, the two most crucial points are wood color and grain relationship. That is you will need to balance the technical problems of dealing with different species against the artistic flow of the wood.

Grain / Figure

Use grainy as opposed to figured woods since the latter tend to be a money pit. For the parts of your project where you want to depict direction or action, go with grainy woods like ash and oak and for any metallic surfaces, opt out for non-grainy wood like maple or basswood.

The only exception for opting for a figured wood is when you're looking to feature interesting knots or other defects, as it were in a unique position in your pattern.

Creating Pictures With Wood - Intarsia

intarsiaOne of the most relaxing and enjoyable woodworking areas is creating pictures with wood ... better know as Intarsia. Those that do get into Intarsia find out very quickly that it is far more complicated than first thought. It is not just a matter of cutting out different shapes of wood from different species to give the effect of different colors, it also involves understanding the grains of the wood and how to best cut it. This is AFTER you have figured out how to get the piece of the pattern you are working with on the wood.

Then there is the wood. Some of the most stricking Intasia pieces I have seen have incorporated special grains, or wood anomolies in the wood pieces that lend themselves to enhancing the Intasia piece. Perhaps it some figure in the wood, the way the grain runs or maybe where a branch connected when the tree was alive. All of these are features of Intasia.

To enhance a piece of Intarsi even more, requires the use of carving tools. When wood is carved the gouges cut by the carving tools are what give the piece a three dimensional look which is highlighted by the way the light strikes the highs and lows creating shadows and highlights on the work. A simple piece of Intarsia can be brought to life by a skilled carver who has the ability to add a few cuts here and there and make the piece more than a 2 dimensional looking pictures.


Copyright - Colin Knecht

How to Make and Use Scrollsaw Patterns

ScrollSaw PatternsScrollsaw patterns enable you to make designs in wood, from straightforward to complex. If you're planning on making many woodworking patterns, you will ultimately need these. You can purchase patterns on the web, but it is also possible to find them for free. Start with easy designs and move on to tougher ones as you gain experience while using a saw.

Tips for Scrollsaw Patterns !
  • Wood must be completely dry before cutting.
  • Be very careful when measuring if you are enlarging or shrinking patterns. Being off even a touch can make a massive difference in the finalized product. When working with thin wood, place a scrap piece of plywood under the wood to help avoid splitting.
  • Cut correctly, continue checking across the cutting process to be certain your cuts are accurate.
  • Drill holes from each side to avoid chipping the wood and this will create even holes.
  • Always use new sandpaper for finishing for most impressive results.
  • If you're new to using scroll saw patterns, kick off with an easy pattern. Take it slow and do not try to rush the method. Rushing may lead to mistakes that are not simple to fix.
  • As you are shaping the wood, keep the pieces next to one another to be certain the method is working well.

Scrolling sawing 101

 Scroll sawing is generally divided into two basic areas, 1) Intarsia which is like "painting with wood", that is, wood is used as a pallet and cut into various shapes like a large jig saw puzzle then glued into the shape of something in a way that the wood forms the picture ... and 2) Fret work, where a piece of wood is has internal pieces cut out to form a patter or picture.