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.

Scrollsaw Patterns on Wood

Free scrollsaw patterns can be discovered on the web. Some patterns online are for sale and others are free. You may also buy them in pattern books. Some are available in books targeted around a theme, such as vacations or youngster’s designs. Print out the patterns you like as you find them, even if you are not planning to use them straight away. Free sites change frequently and the pattern won't be there when you want it. Employ a binder to store the patterns until you are ready to use them. You can photocopy your favourite patterns out of your books and add these to your binder too. This can help you build an in-depth, arranged collection of patterns for use in the future.

You may use either carbon paper or graphite to put the pattern on the wood. Another possibility is to photocopy the patterns and trace heavily with a pencil on the front and back. Then, you can transfer your pattern to the wood. This is an easy alternative choice to sloppy carbons. Carpet tapes or spray adhesives can be employed to glue patterns to the wood. Carpet tape doesn't leave a residue and is a sensible choice. You may employ a hot iron transfer. If you get an adhesive residue that will not come off, use mineral spirits to get rid of the adhesive.

Learning to Use and Make Scrollsaw Patterns
You can regularly find demonstrations or sawing workshops in do-it-yourself centers or through professional woodworkers in your neighbourhood. A workshop is a good concept for a novice woodworker. Begin with less detailed patterns and move on to more complicated designs as you learn. Books and videos offering instruction are also available, if you cannot find a workshop or do not have enough time to attend one when one is offered. Novice woodworkers must use something to hold down the pattern when starting with wood working patterns. These are made to help you keep the design straight as you are sawing. A foot control on your saw will help you by allowing you to keep both hands free to work with the wood. Don't forget to begin slowly and to increase both the speed and difficulty over a period of time.

Starting Intarsia for Fun and Profit

 Intarsia has been around in various forms for hundreds of years. It is one of the most beautiful and creative ways of combining art, woodworking and finishing. The very means of making (or in many cases just puirchasing) a pattern, deciding what woods to use throughout the work, then cutting, glueing and finishing the pieces is truly a time consuming pains-taking work, but when a good jog is done the results are outstanding.

 Most people start off with either a scroll saw or some sort of a bandsaw. In either case, they both have their pros and cons. The next step is laying out the wood and deciding which piece will go where in order to blend the shape of the project and provide for shadows and highligts to bring out a three dimensional look to the piece.

Finding wood is easy, finding the right wood can be a challenge and finding the right wood in the right shape (or at least in a block of wood that is large enough) can be whole new experience. It is preferianal that the wood NOT be stained, but in many cases it simply is not feasible to find enough different colored woods to build a project and not stain at least a couple of pieces to really make the work stand out.

The Types of woods used are as varied as the woodworkers who use them. They can be hard woods, soft woods, scrap woods, I have even heard of people buying peices of wood from thrift stores and garage sales that are knife blocks, old burl clocks, old and broken chairs or other furniture that contain reams of valuable wood for the artisan and CHEAP prices. What a great way to re-cycle wood.

 My prefered tool is a band saw, but only because I can use it for so many other things in my workshop. I do have to use a very fine blade in the saw, which is not perfect for very tight cuts. this meany I need to do more hand work than I would like to do but that is one of the drawbacks.

 I guess soon I will need break down and purchase a proper scroll saw so I can progress along with my work and help me use up even more of the tonnes of scrap wood I have been holding on to for 20 years.

Copyright Colin Knecht




Choosing Scrollsaw Blades

 There are many different blades on the market therefore it is not always easy to know which blade to use:

First thing to consider is what type of wood you are going to use, hard or soft wood?

Second is, what thickness is the wood?

Third, what are you going to make: just scrollsawing or more detail work with many inside cuts, which by the way is called "fretwork". When doing just outside cutting, which no longer can be done by a bandsaw, it is called "scrolling".

Most companies use the following number system, from 3/0 to 12. Metal and jewelry blades might start as low as 10/0. The lower the number the finer the blade. For thin wood use the lower numbers, use a low feed rate and remember, they break more often.
For thicker and harder wood, use the higher blade numbers. The blades with less TPI (teeth per inch) will cut more aggressively. For example, a blade with 8 TPI cuts faster than a blade with 12 TPI, however there is more control with a blade that has 12 TPI.

Then there are the blades with reverse teeth. Some of the Flying Dutchman blades have reverse teeth. Blades with 12 rev. teeth will burn the wood more easily and do not clean the kerf as well as blades with less rev. teeth. They create friction and heat the blade, therefore you don't get the use out of the blades.
Some blades have double teeth, with and without rev. teeth. There are people who prefer them over the single teeth blades. You might have a little more control.

   Click on the image above to order your Olsen Scroll Saw Blades and other accessories from Rockler ...

Now we have the straight teeth blades, most of them are called skip-tooth blades. Here again it is up to people and what they get used to. They will leave enough fuzz on the bottom so that you will have to sand it off. They might follow the line easier while sawing. They clean the kerf very good and therefore less chance of burning. The blades with two teeth down and one up are maybe the best for splinter free cutting and might be one of the best to use with plastic but you should use 2" clear packaging tape over the pattern for burn-free cutting and so that the plastic does not melt back together.

Everything depends on the level of experience and what project you are making. Also, it depends if you do any stack cutting. The best way is to experiment with some different blades. When working on a project you might start with a #3 FD-SR and find that a #5 or #7 might do a good job for you. The higher the number the less breakage you will have in the end.

Article provided by Mike Moorlach o www.mikesworkshop.com

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