Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Delicate Love You Heart Scroll Saw Pattern. Technique Discussion.


 Download Below

I received an email yesterday asking for tips on cutting delicate fretwork. I made up this Love You Heart pattern to show some of the techniques I use to help prevent breakage while cutting.

This piece is just over six inches tall. The top curl on the Y, the end of the e and the end of the u are all potential breaks. The heart is only 1/16" thick so that takes some care also. It is cut from 1/2" thick soft maple.

My first decision was to choose a wood with a relatively tight grain. Something like red oak with its open grain breaks way too easy for this pattern. You could cut this pattern in red oak but I would not choose to.

Next, I decided to use a #1 reverse tooth blade. The small blade will turn easily in a small space. This helps prevent chatter while turning and minimizes the chance of grabbing the wood with too much force to hold it down. A lite touch is important.

Interior cut order:

The image below shows the order that I made the cuts. I am starting with the small interior cuts that do not have fragile pieces. If I were to cut 7 first I have a greater chance of breaking the top curl of the Y while I make the next cuts. Same with 8. I am just trying to plan the cuts to keep as much material to hold on to as possible.


Don't remove the waste if it can be helpful:

In the picture below I have cut #7 but I am not going to remove the waste. Leaving the waste in place will help keep the fragile top curl of the Y from breaking while I continue to make cuts. Simply remove the blade and go to the interior cut for #8.


The last cut will be the exterior cut. I am going to leave the waste from 7 and 8 inside the cut to protect the Y and the e.

Starting the exterior cut with the waste from 7 and 8 still in place.

You want to be as accurate as possible to keep the thin parts at least as thick as the pattern. If you cut inside the pattern line then when you make the opposite cut at that point cut just outside the pattern line to keep the thickness.  

I said earlier that a lite touch is important. It is easy to grab a fragile part of the wood while you are making a turn and break the piece. Pay careful attention to only hold the large areas of the wood when possible. 

Sometimes you can use your first finger of one hand to support a fragile part while you cut. Just lightly lay your finger on the fragile piece while you cut around it. You have to get your finger right next to the blade so learn to not be afraid of the blade. At worst you may get a nick or small cut. This machine will not do major damage. 

Of course, the saw you are using can make a difference. This is one area where a better saw will make your life easier. I have nothing against entry-level saws but if the vibration is bad then your chances of breaking a fragile pattern are higher.

The aggressiveness of the saw can also make a difference. Most modern saws have a front to back movement of the blade. The more the blade moves front to back the more aggressive the cut. Fine fretwork is easier with a less aggressive cut. Some saws like the DeWalt are aggressive and do not have an adjustment to minimize the front to back movement. Other saws like the Excalibur class saws do have some adjustment to change the front to back movement.

You also want to double-check that the blade is 90 degrees to the table before to start to cut. If the blade is at an angle you are in trouble with very thin cuts. Make sure the blade is centered in the clamps and the table or head has no tilt.

The blade is also more important when cutting fragile fretwork. You should always use high-quality blades but delicate fretwork will show the disadvantages of poor quality blades quickly. Good blades are cheaper in the long run so don't cheat yourself.

If you practice good technique you will have much better results and less breakage. 

Sorry for the long-winded post but I hope a few of these tips will help you feel more comfortable tackling more advanced projects. 

Marathon Micro Motor Winner!


Bear Woods sponsored a giveaway for their Marathon Micro Motor and Starter kit. This is a fantastic tool. I recently got one and am having fun learning the ins and outs of power carving.

The Winner Is..... Jerry Hundley of Atlanta Georgia.

It's almost time for the Klingspor Woodworking Extravaganza:


This is a reminder that I will be attending the Klingspor Woodworking Extravaganza, October 25 and 26 2019 in Hickory NC. The event is held at the Hickory Metro Convention Center. Click the information link for all the details.

I will be hosted by the Carolina Scrollers group in their booth. If you have the opportunity to attend I would love to meet you and talk shop. I have not attended this show before but I understand they do a great job. If you visit the Carolina Scrollers web page you can see some past year's events photos in their gallery. 

Hope to see you there.


Personalized Christmas Ornament Patterns:

I am still making good progress on ornament patterns. I should be able to get caught up today. If you have orders in the queue, keep your eye on your email inbox.



The price is $1 per name with a 5 name minimum. I keep the price as low as possible
because I want everyone to have a chance to make these ornaments for family and friends.

You only pay after you have received the order and are 
100% satisfied with the patterns. Invoice included with
the pattern email. Pay by credit card(secure Paypal), check, or cash.

The patterns will be emailed to you after they are completed.
Please allow up to a week for delivery. 

You can use last names on the ornaments if you like but remember that the more letters the more
difficult they are to cut. Ten letters and up gets pretty small. If you need to you can enlarge the patterns by 10% to make the interior cuts larger. No special characters are supported. I can get a hyphen in there but it looks odd. It has to connect the two letters so it does not just fall out.


$12 per sheet of 12 coins plus $3.50 shipping
Inlay with a 1" Forstner Bit.
The perfect way to sign your work.

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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:


Every Scrollsaw Workshop Pattern from 2007-2018 in DVD


Purchase the entire Scrollsaw Workshop pattern catalog for offline access.

This DVD has over 2,600 patterns published from 2007 thru 2018.
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.

Now Available on USB Thumb Drive

Don't have a DVD drive on your new computer. No problem. Buy the catalog on a USB thumb drive.
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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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