Monday, December 31, 2007

Time To Run Pattern

Here is a desk clock for all the runners in your life. This clock uses the 1 7/16" mini clock inserts. You can use 1/2" to 3/4 inch stock for this project.

Happy New Year! Be Safe.

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I aint got no rhythm. I can prove it.

Okay here is a home made musical instrument that is easy to build and fun to play. The tongue drum is of Aztec origin. Tongues are cut in the top to give the drum it's tonal range.

The file includes the pattern for the tongues and the sound hole. The top is 17 1/2" x 5" x 1/2". At that point I just used simple butt joints to build a box around the top.

I used 3/8" dowel rods for the drum sticks with round wooden balls drilled and glued on the ends.

This drum turned out more percussive than I wanted. I was actually shooting for a more tonal sound. I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen.

This project is not going to be for everyone but if you are looking to experiment with sound you might enjoy this project. The design needs tweeking to get the sound better.

I have included a video as proof that I have no musical talent at all. I just thought you would want to hear the drum before you invested time in the project.

To hear other types of tongue drums do a YouTube search.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

An interview with Sue Mey. Scroll saw artist and published pattern designer.

Sue Mey is a scroll saw artists and pattern designer from Pretoria, South Africa. Sue has been working with her scroll saw for several years and has been published in magazines such as Creative Woodworks & Crafts, Scroll Saw Workshop Magazine, The Home Handyman, Craftwise Magazine as well as online scroll saw pattern collections. Her first carving project is appearing in the current issue of Carving magazine.

The scroll saw is not Sue's only creative outlet, she also enjoys wood carving, photography and many other crafts. Sue's love of animals shows in her patterns. Please take some time and visit Sue's website to get an ideal of just how creative and prolific this talented designer really is.

Sue has graciously granted me the opportunity to ask her a few questions to give us some insight into her creative process.

(SW)Sue thanks for taking time out of your schedule to talk with us. Could you tell us a little about your artistic background and what brought you to the scroll saw?

(Sue)Hi Steve and thanks for the opportunity!

I’ve always been interested in art & crafts. At one stage I specialized in watercolor painting and pastels. About five years ago I entered the craft market in a big way and did all sorts of crafts for stores – wire, tin, beading, tole painting, decoupage, sewing crafts etc. And wood… there was always wood ~smile~. I saw scroll sawing demonstrated at a show about 14 years ago and decided to try it. My first saw was a Delta and after cutting some stand-up puzzles I was thoroughly hooked. I upgraded to a Hegner soon after that and never looked back. I LOVE scroll sawing!

(SW)You are a very prolific designer. Where do you generally get the inspiration for new patterns?

(Sue)My inspiration comes from multiple sources and I seem to go through stages. Lately I have been doing a lot of Paint Shop Pro drawing. Not every drawing is a success and sometimes I spend hours on a drawing just to shelve it. Others are quicker to draw, so they balance the time lost on the disastrous ones. Up to five months ago my main source of inspiration was photographs and I still use them, especially for animal portraits. I am fortunate to be able to photograph my favorite subject, the leopard, and other wild animals, in their natural habitat.

Certain patterns start as an idea in my head; I get some brilliant ideas just before I go to sleep at night – the frustrating thing is that some mornings I wake up and know it was a great idea, but cannot remember what it was. One starts to look at every object as a possible scroll saw pattern – the reflection in a glass of soda that would make an excellent trinket box lid, the scrolls in a cast iron staircase that would be perfect in a Victorian picture frame…it can become quite incommodious!

I also look at what type of patterns are not yet available on the market and try to take advantage of that. On the other side of the coin, I make my own versions of popular types of patterns that have been made by others, so that I have a variety available on my website, to appeal to a broader customer base. If a certain genre of pattern proves popular, I develop more patterns along the same lines. Then there are also the patterns that are developed on request by customers i.e. “I need a Husky dog” or “Can you make me a BMW R1150GS motorcycle?”

(SW)On average how many hours would you say it takes from the idea, to the finished pattern which you sell on your website?

(Sue)Now and then I will complete a pattern within 30 minutes but most take a lot longer than that. I have been known to work on a pattern intermittently for many months before I was satisfied with the result. It all depends on the success of the process to put the idea into a cut-able pattern – some ideas work straight away and others need a lot more effort.

(SW)Which do you find more difficult, coming up with the idea or actually designing the pattern?

(Sue)Ideas are plentiful and abundant – designing the scroll saw plan is definitely the harder part of pattern making.

(SW)What tools do you use to design your patterns? Could you tell us a little bit about how you use each tool?

(Sue)As I get those ideas from things around me, I make rough drawings in a note book. I then use a drawing board, drawing pad, sharp, soft pencil and eraser to put them on paper. Once I am happy with the result, I use a fine-tipped drawing pen on the lines and then I scan the image into my PC at 300 dpi, with the “unsharp mask” setting ticked. The image is imported into PSP or Photoshop and modified into a pattern as described below.

Some patterns are drawn in Paint Shop Pro, combining preset shapes, picture fonts and text. Since these are vector based images, one can enlarge and scale to suit before turning the finished result into a raster image. I like to do my basic drawings in PSP and then open the image in Photoshop for modification and manipulation.

For photographs I use mainly Photoshop. Obviously there are many tools and actions one can use to make a pattern, but it can get quite lengthy and complicated so I will discuss some basic procedures here. Good quality, high resolution images work best. The digital image is opened in PS and turned to grayscale. The first thing I do is to duplicate the image and save it using a new file name, so that the original remains unaltered. I then change the image size/canvass size to a standard dimension i.e. 8” x 10” and the dpi to 300. The next step is to adjust the brightness/contrast to see which lines and areas need to be added, thickened or erased. Undo the brightness/contrast and work on these areas with the pen tool, using black to add and white to erase. Sometimes you need to draw in certain areas and add your own lines to make the pattern work. Be careful not to leave too many “squiggles” on the edges of black (cut) areas, rather smooth out the edges using black or white. This makes for a neater pattern. The smallest pen tool sizes I use are 3 for vein lines and 6 for areas where a blade entry hole has to be made. Use the brightness/contrast adjustment at regular intervals to see the result, but undo the adjustment each time until you are satisfied with the results of your modifications to the image. Make sure that there are no “floaters” (white areas surrounded by black) anywhere in the pattern. At this stage I print the pattern to see how I’m doing and make more adjustments. For some photos the Filters>Sketch>Photocopy adjustment also works quite well.

Parts of the pattern can be moved, skewed or rotated by encircling it with the lasso tool and then using the move tool or the edit>transform actions. Certain elements or portions of other images/photos can be incorporated in the pattern by using copy>paste. Each ‘paste’ action places the image portion on your pattern as a separate layer, where you can make modifications. Once you are satisfied with its position, use layers>flatten image to merge the image bits into the main pattern.

(SW)Let's change the focus here just a little bit. An interesting thing that I have noticed since writing my blog is the large number of women that enjoy scrolling. Do you have any opinions as to why so many women are attracted to this form of woodworking?

(Sue)I think the scroll saw is a much safer tool than many other woodworking tools and therefore less intimidating to female beginners. Many female scrollers have expressed the opinion that they find it easy because of the correlation in working action between a scroll saw and a sewing machine. At a woodworking show, more women are inclined to try a scroll saw, than for instance, a router. However, in my experience, it normally does not take very long for the ladies to move on to learning other tools like the table saw, disc/belt sander and router.

Another reason may be that because scroll sawing demands a certain amount of patience and persistence, women generally do well with this form of woodworking.

(SW)I know you also teach scroll saw classes. What are your two favorite tips for people just getting started with their scroll saw?

(Sue)Most people have not yet bought a saw when they do the class, so to them I always advise to buy the best saw they can afford. I have seen so many prospective scrollers throw in the towel because they did not find it a pleasurable activity. In all cases the reason for conceding defeat was an inferior, low-end scroll saw. One cannot enjoy using a saw that vibrates excessively or that will not hold a blade properly…Or working with a saw that restricts you to cutting profiles with a quarter inch wide pin-end blade, when you’d really like to cut delicate fretwork. Furthermore, the quality of the scroll saw is reflected in the end result of the project and people are often disappointed with their completed projects.

I guess the second tip has to be “practice, practice, practice” – as with any new activity one starts… be it driving a motorcar or using a new software program, one gets better at it with practice. Do not be discouraged if the circles are not perfect or you have a problem staying on the pattern lines; just keep at it and every project you undertake will be better than the previous one.

(SW)I read on your website that you use a Hegner scroll saw. I get questions every week asking which scroll saws I recommend. Would you recommend the Hegner saw? Could you also give us some of your likes and dislikes about the saw?

(Sue)I enjoy my two Hegner saws tremendously. I have never worked with an Excalibur, Hawk, Dremel or Diamond so I cannot compare, but have had the opportunity to put a DeWalt through its paces for a week. I have also used Proxxon and Delta saws. My one Hegner saw has been running for 14 years now and I have not had a moment’s trouble with it. The only maintenance required is lubricating the upper and lower arm bearings from time to time. The one part that can be improved upon is the dust blower which is not very effective – I replaced mine with a gooseneck-type blower tube. The Hegner runs quietly, cuts smoothly, and has an easy blade change system as well as the added ease of a quick blade clamp for use in making multiple inside cuts.

(SW)The other question that everybody always asks is which brand of scroll saw blade I use. Which brand do you use and what are your favorite types of blades?

(Sue)Over the years I have imported various brands of scroll saw blades. Now I use Mike’s Flying Dutchman blades exclusively. My favorites are the FD-SR skip tooth reverse blades in all sizes and I also like the FD-HD no 2 heavy duty blades for cutting thick material. I will be trying the two way blades with my next order. Here is a small tip for getting a bit more use from a blade, if you don’t want to go the auxiliary saw table route: Once a blade is worn, I snip a quarter inch off each end, using a side cutter. Adjust the saw tension accordingly and reinsert the blade. Now you get to use some brand new teeth on the blade!

(SW)Okay here is an important one. Do you listen to music while you saw and if so what kind of music?

(Sue)Yes, all the time – the type of music I listen to depends on my mood and the type of project I work on. It varies from Mozart’s piano concertos to 60s and 70s rock like Jethro Tull, Toto, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. The selections are balanced with contemporary varieties such as Seal, Nelly Furtado and Michael Buble. I also enjoy Latin American music from Cuba, Brazil and Argentina.

(SW)Sue I really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on scrolling with my visitors at the Scrollsaw Workshop. Is there anything else you would like to add before we wrap up?

(Sue)I would just like to say that for the most part, the scroll sawing community is a wonderful group of people and many have been generous with their feedback and praise for my work. I appreciate this sincerely and hope that I will be able to continue to make my small contribution to this industry that I take so much pleasure in, for a long time to come.

I have some free patterns available for download on my website and will be adding new ones on a regular basis. To be kept updated of special offers or new patterns added to my site, join the mailing list by dropping me a line. Thank you!



Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Picture from Frank

Hi Steve,

Thanks again for the patterns and info on 3D ornaments. They are very popular, so much so, that I will be busy for the next wek or so to make some for folks not on the original list.

Happy New Year.

Frank Mackell

Everyone seems to love Christmas ornaments. Every time I make some they always disappear quick to family members. Thanks for sending me the picture.

Happy holidays.


Email from Jack in France

Hello Steve
My name is Jack. I'm a French man. I've begun to use my scroll saw with yours patterns.
I like your blog and your patterns are really beautiful for a beginner like me.
You can see 2 projects I've done with my saw

Good bye from France



Nice to hear you are enjoying the blog. Looks like you are off to a great start. I try to keep the patterns easy to cut because I don't have enough patience to work on one project for more than a day :).


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Clock for the cat collectors.

I made this clock for a family member who loves cats. This clock is 10" tall and 21" at the base. I used four different species of wood for a nice contrast. The base has a routed detail around the front and sides but the back of the base was left flat. The clock body is attached flush with the back of the base.

This clock is a little big for a novelty clock but the person I made it for really loves cats. She was thrilled with it when she open it so I thought some of you might like to have the pattern also.

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Email from Pasi

Click image to see full size.Hello!

I just had to say thanks for the work and effort you make at your scrollsawblog.
Here in Finland, this hobby is not very popular and I have to dig deep into the internet to have tips and some knowledge for the hobby. So thanks again and I hope you continue your site.

I send a picture of piece that I sawed. I gave it to my sister for a christmas present. She was very pleased :) . It's the reindeer sledge that you have drawn. It's made off pine and is 18 millimeters thick. The pattern was very cuttable (if that's the right word). Take me about 4-5 hours, but I am slow and accurate ;) .


p.s. my english is not very good so try to bear with me, please.

Hi Pasi, first your English is very good. I wish I could speak a second language that well.

I normally shrink the images on this blog to save space. I left this picture at the original size. If you click the image you will see the original. The reason I did that is to show others how accurately you cut. Your cutting style is exceptional.

Thanks for sending the picture and I'm glad you enjoy the blog.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all the scrollers around the world a very merry Christmas. Over the last few months I have had the opportunity to talk with many of you. You come from Spain, Australia, Great Britain, Brazil, Canada and many other countries as well as every state in the U.S.

It has been my pleasure to learn from and share with each of you. Enjoy the holidays an be safe.


Light House Shadow Box Clock

This shadow box clock stands about 6" tall and 5" wide. It requires a 1 7/16" mini clock insert. Choose some nice contrasting woods to make the scenery stand out from the background.

This project is very easy to make. I was able to use some wood from my scrap bin and I had it completed in less than two hours. Be careful when you cut the palm tree. Stay well to the outside of the line to give it as much strength as possible.

I hope everyone has had a good weekend. It's the last day of my vacation so it's back to the grind tomorrow for me.

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Napkin Holders From Ray

From Ray

About a week ago I contacted you about some Christmas Napkin rings.

I came up with some on my own and here is the finished product. Thought you might like to see what I came up with.

Love your site.

Thanks for all your help

Thanks for sharing Ray. These look great.

Scroll Saw Coin Cutting Jig

Cutting coins on the scroll saw for jewelry is an art that can be fun and profitable. Check out the listings on ebay to get an idea of what is possible and current prices.

You can select coins with special dates like birth year or an anniversary date. These make unique gifts

To cut coins on the scroll saw you need to make a jig to hold the coin while you cut it. I have made this video to show you how to make that jig.

You will get questions about the legality of cutting coins. It is not illegal to cut coins for jewelry. You can do a google search on the subject if you are concerned.

I hope you enjoy the video. Please send me pictures of the jewelry you create with this jig. I would love to see them and share them with all the readers.

Part One

Part Two

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cutting metal with the scroll saw.

The scroll saw is a more versatile tool than many woodworkers believe. One of my plans for this blog from the beginning has been to expose people to projects other than fancy fretwork that is so common.

I have put together a short video that show how I use the scroll saw to cut metal. Using these tips you can make jewelery, ornaments and small decorations from silver, copper or other metals.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Dave wants to know the best ways to finish pine.

Steve, I've attached a picture of one of your patterns. It's a little rough but I'm new to this cutting of wood. This is pine of course and I was wondering what you might suggest for finishing it with stain or what. Thanks for your videos, patterns, etc. I don't know how you do it except you must love doing it. Your generosity is appreciated.

Thanks for the email Dave and the kind words. Actually pine is one of the most difficult woods to finish. Pine varies in density so much that stains soak in unevenly and cause a blotchy look.

If you choose to use stain you should use a wood conditioner first. The conditioner soaks into the softer wood and helps prevent the stain from penetrating that area as well.

Make sure you buy the stain and conditioner from the same manufacturer. They are designed to work together. Really soak the wood with the conditioner. Apply the stain while the wood is still damp. Be prepared for several hours drying time.

I almost never stain pine because I don't like the finished look.

There are a couple other options that I use. Occasionally I will paint the project made from pine. If you want the project to look like wood you can use a diluted acrylic paint as a color stain.This works okay but you need to practice to get the amount water/paint to get the look you want.

Another option I sometimes use is to just dip the project in lemon oil. This slightly darkens the pine and I think it looks fine. I will then add protection to the wood with a spray lacquer.

The picture you sent of the basketball pattern looks fine. The more you practice the cleaner your projects will get.

4 x 6 Scrolled Picture Frame

Here is a pattern for a scrolled 4 x 6 picture frame. The outside dimensions of the frame are 6.5 x 8.5. This frame is made for portrait oriented pictures. You could use 1/4 to 1/2 inch wood for the frame. The backer board could be wood or cardboard covered with felt or painted.

I've been on vacation this week so I have tried not to spend too much time with the blog. I'm a last minute Christmas shopper so I needed to work on that and stay away for the workshop. I hope to get back in the swing of things and get some time in the shop the next three days.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wooden Gear Clock Video

This is not my video. I found it on YouTube and thought you guys might like to see it also. I have never completed a wooden gear clock. This video just might inspire me to try again. This gentleman from Australia does a great job with limited tools. The finished clock is beautiful.

Road Racer

I had an email request for a bicycle road racer clock. I thought others might be able to use this pattern also. Use the 1 7/16" mini clock fit ups for this pattern.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Email from Fritz

From: Fritz

Hi Steve,

I have just finished another of your beautiful designs – and I could not resist the temptation to add to it: You can see my first attempt at marquetry, a Fleur-de-Lis made of three kinds of veneer on walnut. My wife liked it, but added the very practical comment “You’ve ruined an otherwise perfect pedestal, because now one can’t put anything on it without hiding your artwork!” My reply, that the great country manors of England are full of useless but precious pieces did not wholly convince her.

Thank you, Steve for your continuous inspiration!


Thank you Fritz for sending me this picture. All I can say is WOW. If this is your first try I can't wait until you practice a little. Great job. Makes my humble pattern look great.

By the way my wife always keeps me grounded in reality also. Seems they are gifted in that way.


Automata Scroll Saw Pattern. The Piano Man.

Part One.

Part Two.

This is the most fun I have had designing and making a scroll saw project in a long time. Watch the videos above to see it in action. This might not be everyones cup of tea but I found it a blast to make. This is a very basic auto matron but I wanted to keep the first one easy.

The assembly will be a little bit of a challenge. Take your time and concentrate on getting the movement smooth and accurate before you start gluing everything together.

The videos show some construction tips but are not a step by step tutorial. Watch the videos until you are comfortable with the mechanics before you start. Take your time and it should come together nicely.

The music Box is optional but it adds to the fun of the project. Look online to purchase the movement. usually has good prices on the 18 note movements.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Large Nativity Display

I had a request for a Nativity display the other day in the Shout message board. I designed this one yesterday and cut it out tonight. The figures are 4 to 5 inches tall. The base is 18 inches long and 10 inches deep. I cut the figures from Peruvian walnut. The base and manger are oak.

I wish I had used more contrasting woods for this project. The Peruvian walnut and oak are too similar colored for the figures to stand out. I should have used walnut for the figures.

I know it is getting a little late to start on Christmas projects but this Nativity display can easily be finished in an afternoon or two.

If you decide to try this project send me a picture. I would love to see what you guys can do with this one.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Scroll Saw Chess Set and Board Pattern

This project has kept me busy for a couple days. This pattern has a set of chess men and the instruction to make the chess board. The chess set is very easy to cut. This would be a good project for those of you with pin end scroll saws. There are no interior cuts to make.

The King stands 2 3/4" tall. I used walnut and oak for the chess set. For the board I used maple and walnut. The contrast of the maple and walnut looks great.

The board will require some basic woodworking skills. You will need to be able to dimension and joint the wood accurately. The more accurate to prepare and clamp the board the less sanding that will be required in the end. I used simple butt joints to trim out the board to keep things simple.

Hope you enjoy making this project. It's really not as difficult as it might seem at first. You can easily make the chess men in one afternoon. The board will take a couple days to make. I think this would make a great Christmas gift for someone.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

Email from Geno

From: Geno

My wife gave me a Christmas present early. she gave me a new Excalibur EX-21. the first project I cut on it was your Merry Christmas. This is a wonderful pattern. I have cut a second one this morning and will more than likely be cutting more in the following weeks. Thank you for such a great pattern. the sleigh is cut out of 3/4 mahogany and the base is pine. I am making a second one now with both being mahogany. thanks again for the wonderful job you do with these patterns.

Hey Geno, that is a nice Christmas gift. You are a lucky man to have such a great wife. She certainly knows how to pick out Christmas presents that's for sure. If you have time how about a short review on the Excalibur EX-21.

I'm happy you liked the pattern. Thanks for the kind words.

Grape Vine Shelf

This shelf is 7 inches wide and 5 inches deep. I cut this pattern from walnut. You could optionally carve the grapes and vine or use a wood burner to bring out the details.

Those of you that have not used walnut should give it a try. It is one of my favorite woods to work with. Walnut cuts like butter and will hold nice detail. Walnut does have a tendency to burn if your blade is not nice and sharp. Cover the pattern with clear box tape to reduce the burning.

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Santa's Sleigh

I'm getting in the Christmas spirit already. I thought I would do another Christmas pattern tonight. This pattern is 10" long. I will use 1/2" thick wood to cut this desk plaque but 3/4" would be fine also.

There a many people who collect Christmas items so if you plan doing a show this holiday season make sure you have a nice selection of ornaments and holiday items.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Scroll Saw Blog

I got an email from Travis. He has recently started a scroll saw blog that looks like it will be a good resource. He calls it "Scroll Saw Goodies". You can find it at the following link.
I like the concept he has. He searches the web looking for interesting scroll saw resources and writes a post about what he finds.

Lets support Travis and let him know we appreciate his work.

Thanks Travis for telling me about your blog. Good luck.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A few more Ornaments

Here are a few more Christmas ornaments to cut. I usually stack cut 3 or 4 at a time from 1/4" wood. Use different species of wood so you get a nice mix of colors.

Christmas ornaments make nice Christmas gifts. Make the four ornaments in this set and wrap them in a small gift box. You will be surprised how much a hand made gift is appreciated. Remember to add your certificate of authenticity.

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