Thursday, January 28, 2010

Easy candle cup and how to get thin wood for projects.

I am always looking for ways to use up small scraps of wood. This project fits the bill. A couple small pieces of wood and a candle purchased for $2 and you have a quick and easy project.

I use a lot of thin wood in my projects. I receive email all the time asking where to get thin wood. The best answer is usually not what they want to hear. If you plan to make the occasional project then its fine to buy thin lumber online. There a several places that sell wood for scroll sawyers.

However if you are going to enjoy the hobby as more than the occasional gift for someone then there is really only one answer. You need to have the tools to dimension your own stock. It's cheaper to buy rough lumber and make it into what you need.

Here is what I suggest. Start with a planner. A planner will let you take a piece of rough lumber and make it any thickness you need. Sounds great problem solved. Not really. The rub on planners is that they are very wasteful. If you need a 1/8" piece for a project and you start with 3/4" stock then most of that board ends up as saw dust.

Let's solve that problem. A band saw that is powerful enough to re-saw lumber is the answer. Re-sawing lumber means taking a board, standing it on edge and making two boards. These two boards will now be what ever thickness you need. Okay if the band saw will make the boards any thickness we need then why start with a planner?

Re-sawing lumber is considered a rough cut and the board will need to be either sanded or planed flat to remove the cut marks from the band saw. You can use a flat bed sander for this but they tend to me more expensive than planners on the low end.

The best combination is to re-saw with the band saw to rough thickness then plan the board to the desired final thickness. This is the most economical technique in the long run and the tools will pay for themselves. Depending on how much scrolling you do they can pay for themselves rather quickly.

Ryobi makes a serviceable planner in the $200 dollar range. It's not built for industrial use by any means but most scrollers will find it adequate. DeWalt makes a very nice planner but you can multiply the cost by 3.

The band saw is going to set you back a bit of cash and that's one reason I say start with the planner. The band saw you buy needs to be powerful enough to cut through six inches or more of wood. That really rules out all the low end band saws. It's best to be able to re-saw up to 12 inches but that is a real wallet buster. Jet and Grizzly both make band saws that are capable enough to re-saw 6 inch boards. You are talking about spending $400 to $600 for an acceptable saw.

I know this is a bunch of cash and not everyone wants to invest this much in a hobby. Perfectly understandable. If you are planning to sell your projects at craft shows or online then the economics just make sense to keep the costs of supplies as low as possible. The only way I know to do that is to dimension the stock from rough lumber.

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