Sunday, June 17, 2018

Folding Pocket Comb Scroll Saw Pattern. Happy Father's Day.

This little folding pocket comb is four inches long and fits nicely in your pocket. It is cut from 1/8" thick Baltic birch plywood. You could also use a hardwood just make sure you pay attention to the direction of the grain when you cut the teeth. The will break easily if the grain runs across the teeth.

You notice that I used my laser engraver to add the graphics to the comb. If you have the patience to learn how these laser engravers work they can add a lot of potential to your wood projects. More information about the laser below.

I am using a 1/8" diameter dowel for the pivot shaft. Inset the dowel through the body and comb while the glue is still not cured. This gives you some wiggle room to make sure the comb rotates freely. A dab of glue on the end of the dowel is enough to hold it in place. 
It's kind of difficult to see but you want to sand the teeth of the comb to a blunt rounded point. It also helps to sand the bottom of the gullet to ease any sharp edges that may catch hair. Look at a real comb if you want to see what works best. 

Laser Engraver: Warning. Not for the technology challenged.


I have received several emails asking how my laser engraver is working for me. I thought I would give an update for those who may be interested.

Let me start with a warning. These super cheap Chinese lasers are inexpensive for a reason. The one linked above is just over $400. That is a fraction of the cost of a US based laser. They start at around $3,000 and quickly go up from there. My laser is nearly identical to the one above but I paid slightly less when I bought it on Ebay. 

I decided to purchase one of these inexpensive lasers after many hours of study. I knew what I was getting and was prepared for the work it would take to get good results.

That work involved a few hardware upgrades. I added an air assist pump to control the flames, I added a red dot laser to show where the laser was aiming. I added an external camera so I could watch the progress while sitting at my desk. I added an adjustable z-axis to better focus the laser for different height projects. I probably spent another $200 for the upgrades. 

I ditched the software that came with the laser. The included software is, to put it mildly, terrible. I use a third party software package named K40 Whisperer to control the laser. The laser also came with a stripped down version of Corel Draw that was useless. I also ditched that in favor of my full version of Corel Draw and Inkscape. K40 Whisperer is free and you could get away with the free Inkscape to design the graphics. 

The picture above is my laser tucked in the corner of my office. These machines might surprise you with their size so be prepared to find adequate space near a window for venting. You may also notice the orange bucket below the table. It is filled with distilled water. The water is pumped through the laser tube to keep it cool. 

These Chinese lasers come with no safety features. You can run the laser with the door open. You can run the laser when the cooling water is empty. Both of these are bad ideas. The laser also does not come with safety glasses. These lasers are plenty powerful enough to blind you. Take safety seriously. Either develop a process to be safe or add safety circuits to the laser.

So with all this negative crap why would anyone buy one of these lasers? Because for very little cash and some extra work they run fantastic. I am very happy that I purchased this machine. I have used it for several projects that turned out really nice. As I learn what settings work for different materials I can get the laser zeroed in to make engraving and cutting almost flawless.

Should you buy one? Only if you are a tech head or willing to become a tech head. You need to have above average technical knowledge in hardware and software to get the best out of this machine. It will quickly become a doorstop if you don't have the skills required to run it.

There are much more user-friendly Laser engravers on the market. You just have to spend the big money to get them. Plan on around $3,500+. And by + I mean several thousand dollars.

Here are just a couple of scroll saw projects that I was able to embellish with the laser engraver.

The next picture is today's pattern cut and engraved on the laser. This 1/8" thick BB ply is just about the limit of what my 40-watt laser can cut. It is rare that I use the laser to actually make cuts. It is just not very effective unless the material is very thin. This was fast though. It cut and engraved this pattern in about five minutes.

I'm happy to answer general questions about these lasers if you want to send an email. Some subjects are too complex to answer through an email so don't be surprised if I reply with sources for extra reading.
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Products for your consideration:

Scroll Saw Pattern Design Tutorial: DVD
Let me teach you to create a beautiful wooden portrait pattern. I will show you everything you need from start to finish. The video will show you the free software program you can download for Windows or Mac OS. I will show you how to install the program and configure it for best results. 
Then I will show you the technique to take your photograph and make a pattern from it. When the pattern is complete we will go in the shop and cut it.
The DVD is $10 plus shipping. This is a data DVD that you will use on your computer to watch the video tutorial  

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If you use the DVD on a Windows PC there is a simple viewer program to browse through the patterns.

The DVD also works fine on a MAC. The viewer program is not MAC compatible but there is an included PDF with all the patterns shown as thumbnails for easy viewing. 

Unique Wooden Vases:
Want to create beautiful wooden vases on the scroll saw?
My two "Wooden Vases on the Scroll Saw" books make it easy.

The books are $12 each and available for instant download after purchase. Click for Video Demonstration.

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