In my last post I talked about securing your pattern to your stock. In this one I will talk a little bit about where to drill your blade entry holes and some basic info about cutting out your pattern.
Getting your holes drilled would be best done with a drill press. But if you don’t have one (I didn’t for a long time) then a hand drill or Dremel tool will work just fine. Sometimes if your work piece is fairly large you will have to drill it by hand anyway.
You first want to use a drill bit that is just big enough for your scroll saw blade to fit through. Going with a really big bit can tear out the back of your work and if you are not drilling straight down the hole will be crooked and can alter the path of your saw blade when you are scrolling.
Secondly you want these holes drilled into the waste area of your pattern. That sounds like common sense but on an intricate pattern you must be careful and make sure of this. I know from experience how much grief this mistake can cause.
You next want to drill these entry holes fairly close to the lines. Drill these entry points right on or in corners and very close to the outline of circles if there are no corners. This serves two purposes. First it makes your sanding easier later on because you will not have small jagged pieces of wood hanging out from where you sawed over to your line and where your cut ended at that same spot. Secondly by drilling close to your line you reduce the wear on your saw blade by not having to saw as much.
The project shown here is fairly complex. On a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say it’s a 6. Scrolling any type of fret work like this is a little time-consuming because of the number of times you have to remove and reinsert the blade into your work piece. I believe I was cutting three of these at a time. Each one a quarter inch thick. You do not want to cut too many or any one piece thicker than this because you want to be able to control the blade in the wood. By that I mean you don’t want to have to put a lot of pressure on the blade. You want the blade cutting at a 90 degree angle on these intricate pieces. You want to make sure the piece remains in firm contact with the table to avoid excessive vibrations on the piece as this could cause the delicate cuts to break.
After you are done scrolling you will need to carefully remove the tape and pattern from the piece. I usually cut along the edge to separate the individual pieces then work on the top one to clean it up. Lay the work flat on the bench and work slowly. If small pieces of tape tear off and stay stuck to the work gently pick them off with an Exacto knife or similar tool. I have ruined an hours worth of work by pulling a piece of wood out of the work along with the tape.
After the tape is removed you can lightly sand the work while it lies on a flat surface. I usually only sand it once with a fine grit paper. You can finish it however you like. I found with these intricate portraits I like a high gloss spray finish. I typically cut things into an 8×10 size because the frames are readily available. Maybe in a future post I’ll explore how to make tour own picture frame. It’s easier than you think.
Most of all have fun doing this. It is frustrating when you break a piece you worked on for a good chunk of time but in the end you get to spend more time in the shop redoing it. And that isn’t a bad thing.
Thanks for reading. Be good. God bless.