Monday, June 25, 2018

Decorative Weather Vane Welcome Sign.

This decorative weather vane welcome sign is ~14 inches wide. 

What species of lumber works well on the scroll saw?

I get this question all the time and it's both easy and difficult to answer. I have used dozens of species of wood on the scroll saw. I have used both domestic and exotic species. Here are a few thoughts on my experiences.

Almost any wood can be cut on the scroll saw. I have cut Ipe which is extremely hard and basswood that is extremely soft. I was able to cut both but I needed to adjust my saws speed, feed rate and blade to get good results. I would not want to cut two inches thick Ipe. The stuff is like cutting hardened steel. Likewise, it would be difficult to cut 1/8 inch basswood. It's so soft that control would be difficult.

Hardness and thickness of the board will play a part in how easy it is to cut but there are other factors also. The grain of the wood can make a big difference. A wood like Red Oak, for example, has a very open grain. I find it difficult to cut because the blade has a tendency to follow the grain. On fine fretwork, this is not good. I avoid Red Oak just because of the grain. 

Some woods have big changes in density throughout the board. Some Pine boards will have soft pockets that play havoc when trying to follow a pattern line. When the blade hits that soft pocket there is a tendency for the blade to run away. You have to pay careful attention when cutting these species.

I have my favorites. I love to cut walnut, soft maple, cherry, poplar, purple heart, mahogany and yellowheart. These are favorites partly because I can find them easily in my area of the country and partly because they just cut easy. 

Of this list, cherry is the most difficult to cut. Cherry has a tendency to burn the edges from the heat of the blade. This is easy to minimize by using tape under the pattern and slowing the speed of the cut. It's worth the effort because Cherry is one of the most beautiful domestic lumbers.

Of this list, Walnut is my favorite to cut but it can sometimes be difficult to find clear boards. There have been years when the Walnut harvest was terrible. It was very hard to find nice clear dark walnut. Lately, that has not been the case. I use Walnut and Soft Maple for many projects. I love to cut both species and they contrast extremely well. 

When you choose boards for furniture projects you are often most concerned by the grain. You want a beautifully figured gran in many cases. It just makes the furniture piece special. On a scroll saw project we don't always have large areas of grain showing so color is often more important than grain. When I choose boards for a project I pay attention to how the color of the wood adds to the project. If the project calls for two different species I like to choose woods that compliment or contrast depending on the project.

There are a few species of wood that I cannot cut because I have an adverse reaction to them. If I cut Bubinga I will cough and sneeze for a few days. If I get a splinter from Leopardwood it is like getting stung by a bee. It will swell and cause pain for a couple days. Even though I love the look of these woods I avoid them. Always wear a dust mask. There are some woods that you just don't want to breathe. 

Alternatives to wood can be used for some projects. Baltic birch plywood is a great option for ornaments, boxes, portrait style patterns and more. I do not recommend MDF but I have used it for a few scroll saw projects. The dust from MDF is terrible stuff so be very careful when you cut it. MDF can be used for large letters and other craft type projects. It can be easily painted. It is also heavy. 

I have cut Acrylic with good results. Corian can make beautiful projects. Corian can be difficult to find and you have to use the right blade or it will melt while being cut. I have cut copper, silver, thin craft metals, leather, paper, dense foam, and rubber. 

Your choice of woods can be determined by your location. It can be very difficult and expensive to buy certain species of wood if they are not common to your part of the world. If you do not have a workshop with the tools to mill the lumber into boards then you are stuck with what you can buy pre-milled to the thickness you need. Look for local hardwood lumber yards in the yellow pages. (Do we even still have Yellow pages?). Goold local hardwood lumber stores. :) If you are lucky they will mill the lumber to the thickness you need. Unfortunately, this is not often the case but it can't hurt to ask.

If all you can get your hands on are boards from the local Home Depot or Lowes, they will work fine for many projects. Desk name plates, clocks, baskets etc.. can all be cut from off the shelf boards. 

What are your favorite woods to cut? Email me and let me know and I'll do a follow-up post with your favorites.

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Email Newsletter Readers: Remember that the Newsletter is just a copy of the daily blog post. To see the post in it's proper formatting click this link. If you ever misplace a pattern or any item you see here you can always find it on the blog. Everything stays on the blog forever. 

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  

Every Scrollsaw Workshop Pattern from 2007-2017 in DVD
Purchase the entire Scrollsaw Workshop pattern catalog for offline access.

This DVD has 2,300 patterns published from 2007 thru 2017.
The DVD is $20 plus shipping. Ships to 60 countries around the world.

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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Support the businesses who support our community.
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This is the end of the daily posts. Keep scrolling for lot's more scrolls saw fun!
Bear Woods has been around since 1987 serving our hobby. They offer a wide range of craft products including Pegas scroll saw blades, clock inserts, toy parts, workshop supplies and much more. In my ten years of writing the Scrollsaw Workshop blog I have never received a complaint about Bear Woods. I get thousands of email a month so that's saying something about their customer service and quality products. Please support the people who support our hobby. Click now and visit Bear Woods.

Heritage Wood Specialties. Scroll saw ready boards!

Heritage Wood Specialties is a nationally recognized supplier of superior quality hardwoods to fine woodworkers across the US and Canada. Novice hobbyists and experienced enthusiasts alike can enjoy the high quality woodworking materials and kits available from Heritage Wood Specialties. Great source for scroll saw ready boards.