I used 1/4" Baltic birch plywood for the portrait and 1/4" thick cheap ply for the backer board that is painted black. Both boards are 16.75" X 13.5". I made a custom frame and painted it black also.
If you have not cut portrait style pattern before here are a couple of tips. The size of this pattern makes it much easier to cut with spiral blades. I cut most of this pattern with a #3 spiral. I used a #5 for the large interior cuts just to speed thing up a little. If you need a source for spiral blades check out our monthly giveaway sponsor, Bear Woods.
When you get ready to cut this portrait plan ahead. Save the largest interior cut until last. If you cut them early the strength of the board suffers and can make it more difficult to handle.
If this will be your first time using spiral blades make sure you practice on scrap wood first. Enven if you occasionally use spirals you should warm up for a few minutes before you start cutting on the final piece.
Remember that the pattern lines can be altered on the fly. If you come to a place and think that the cut is too difficult then cheat the line until you are confident in the cut. The lines in this pattern are just representations of the contrast between the highlights and shadows of the original image. If you wander off the line a little don't panic. No one will notice in the final piece.
I enjoyed the two portrait patterns I posted this weekend. I was able to practice a new design style and using spiral blades that I rarely ever use. That's enough of a good thing though. Because I am not that proficient with spiral blades the Beatles portrait took me a few hours to cut. Because I was not as comfortable with the spirals I built up tension in my body. My neck and back hurts. When I am cutting relaxed I can cut for hours with no discomfort.
There is a good lesson here. Any time you feel pain try to analyze the reason. If you are not normally prone to pain then you are probably using poor technique at the saw. Watch your posture. No hunching over the table. Make sure the seat is at the proper height. Use good light and take frequent breaks.
Watch for signs of tension in your body. Are you grinding your teeth or holding your breath? Do your neck muscles feel tight? Do you have a death grip on the wood? All of these can be signs that you need to relax. Take a break then come back and figure out what was causing the tension. Eliminate any physical stress you can or you will end up feeling the results. Prolonged physical can cause permanent damage and end your hobby. Take it serious.
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