Tips & Samples
have always enjoyed working with wood. While my wife and I were waiting
for our first son to be born I made a beautiful crib,
and my wife dressed it all up. When we returned to America and got
our first house I finished off the basement for a shop area. I bought
a small table saw with no motor, which I fixed up with an old motor I found
and an old fan belt from the garage. When people see my shop today,
they can't believe how I started out. It seems to me that today everyone
wants to start out at the top.
Anyway, I started out making windmills, first small,
and then with a wing span of 12 feet. When I found out I had cancer
I sold my lawn spraying business. By then I had some additional woodworking
machines and started to make more windmills, which was not always easy
while taking chemo. My mother-in-law, who lives close to Minneapolis,
started to sell them for me. At that time I had a scrollsaw from
Sears, but never could do too much with it. It had 3" blades and
no way of adjusting the tension.
I now live in Brandon, South Dakota, where I have a 12'
x 24' shop area attached to my garage. In it I have a Delta 12" planer,
Hegner 18" Scrollsaw, table saw, radial arm saw, 14" band saw with height
attachment. I also have a 6" x 48" belt/disc sander (one of
the most used machines next to the scrollsaw), a Penn State 2 1/2HP Dust
Collector with remote transmitter, air cleaning system, self-built router
table with 1 1/2 HP router, brad nailer (which is one of the best investments
for stack cutting), plus many other hand tools. When building my
house I should have made my shop twice as big.
The main reason for the height attachment on the bandsaw
is that I buy thicker lumber, 13/16", mostly oak and some walnut and then
resaw it with the bandsaw. I then plane it down to the thickness
I want, mainly 1/4" and some 3/8". By the way all my shavings go
to an auto repair shop for use as a floor cleaner for oil spills, etc.
There is only one other machine that I really would like to have . . .
a drum sander!
Like many others, my first projects on the scroll saw were
country designs. But I quickly decided that painting the projects
just wasn't for me. I couldn't wait until one color of paint was
dry before starting on the next one. So . . . in search of
other ideas . . . I was in a book store one day when I came across
the book "Scroll Saw Fretwork Techniques & Projects" by Patrick Spielman
and James Reidle. It is still the "bible" in the scrollsaw business.
In my opinion, everything you need to know is in this book. Here
are some tips I'd like to share with you beginners:
If you are going to copy patterns at a copy store like Kinko's,
you need a release form.
One nice thing about buying pattern books is that you get
many free patterns (compared to buying them separetly).
1/8" thick Baltic Birch is great for stack sawing.
I go as high as eight pieces using a #7 R Flying Dutchman blade, or four
pieces with a #3 R. (I almost always use reverse tooth blades.)
When stack cutting three pieces of 1/4" thick solid oak I
use the #7 R, except for very small cuts I might switch to the #5 R.
When cutting one piece of 1/4" thick oak I use the #3 R, like on the Grandfather
clock (see photo). I have tried about every blade on the market
but I always come back to the Flying Dutchman blade.
Also, when you're stack cutting, make sure you put plenty
of tension on the blade. It's better to break a few, than to not
have enough tension which allows the blade to flex. This flexing
will cause a variation in the size and shape of a cutout from the top to
bottom pieces in the stack. Also, if the blade gets too dull it will
wander away on the bottom side like a chain saw when it's dull.
Check your table from time to time to make sure it is square.
(It does move sometimes.)
To assemble my projects, I use Aleene's Tacky Glue.
You can use it after you've stained your project.
I glue the pattern to the wood with Super 77 glue from 3M.
I like to put it on a little heavy, because I hate to have the pattern
come lose while sawing. If it does, I use Scotch Tape to hold it
in place. Tape is also handy to use when working on delicate patterns.
Two of my favorite scroll saw attachments are a foot switch
and a magnifier with light.
For anyone wanting to get started in scroll sawing, start
by buying some good books with some easy projects. Learn how to saw
straight and make some 90o corners. Buy Creative Woodwork
& Crafts, and Wood Magazine . . . read and read. Find other people
who do scroll sawing and you'll be surprised how many tips you'll learn
from them! Don't be afraid to alter the patterns you get. For
example, Berry Basket patterns are too big in this area, so I reduce them
to a smaller size. Also, you can sometimes create a new pattern by
combining parts from other patterns, Once, I took a rabbit from a
pattern and added a cross to it to make an Easter project. It sold good.
Be sure to check out my "Favorite Sites" page for many ideas
and good advice.
If you get a pretty good business going, get yourself a tax
number. Then you will not have to pay sales tax on the supplies you
purchase. I also recommend getting acquainted with more than one
supplier, if possible.
There are many ways to save money on the materials you need.
For example, I know a nearby cabinetmaker who has lots of small pieces
of oak scrap. I make apples and other small items from them.
A friend makes crosses.
Finally, when I go to a craft show I pack my "Scroller Plaques"
in pizza boxes. I get them from a friend who manages a Pizza Hut.
It's great advertising for them and I have fewer broken plaques.
Sample of Pedro's scrolling craftsmanship using the
FD-SR#5. See his website for other samples
One of the things I like about the Hegner scrollsaw is that
you can remove the round insert and replace it with a no "zero" insert.
You can buy them, but I make my own from old plastic letters which I get
from a restaurant.
One of the latest best tips is to eliminate burning in hardwood
with reverse blades. After you have mounted your pattern on the wood
as you usually do, cover the pattern with a clear packaging tape or carton
sealing tape. Make sure that this tape in tight on the pattern so
no saw dust can get between the pattern and the tape. This also works
great cutting plastic Corian. If doing thick plexiglass just be sure
to put the tape on both sides. It works like magic. The theory
is that there is something in the tape that lubricates the blade and prevents
and to buy his patterns - www.finescrollsaw.com
This is the bridge made with Pedro's pattern by Mike Moorlach
from Brandon, and Duane Genzlinger from Sioux Falls, both in South Dakota.
They got a blue and Best of Show prize in the scroll saw category in the
2006 Empire Fair of Sioux Falls.
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