Scroll Saw & Intarsia

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
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