Woodworkers Club of Houston

December 2015 Projects



November 2015 Projects    All Projects   January 2016 Projects


(Click on thumbnails to view larger images)



Denis Muras and Norm Nichols presented their “Everything You Wanted to Know About Scroll Sawing But Were Afraid to Ask” program to club members during the December meeting.  Norm and Denis provided numerous valuable tips for anyone interested in the fine wood working art of scroll sawing.  READ MORE



Chuck Graham took a welding class and made a metal end table. He didn’t think the table was very attractive, so he made a wooden top to dress it up. The top is walnut with maple string inlay. It’s finished with polyurethane, and will be a gift for his great granddaughter..

Lon Kelley presented two Christmas ornaments he made from salvaged wood from a laminated beam. He sawed the ornaments together and then swapped the cutouts and glued the ornaments together.




The hand tool splinter group has been working on building tool boxes, and Mark Bolinger presented this beautiful tool box he made for that group project. The box is made from quarter sawn sycamore and walnut for the trim, and the lid folds down over the saws to reveal a removable tray with an open com-partment beneath it. Mark salvaged magnets from old speaker and installed them in the box to hold the saws in place.

Charles Volek presented an intarsia shepherd with his sheep and several intarsia bird ornaments. Both the shepherd and the ornaments are from Kathy Wise patterns and are made from various woods including cherry, aspen, maple, oak, walnut, and others. The shepherd and sheep are three dimensional intarsia, which means they are fitted together like puzzles so that the intarsia shows on the back as well as the front. Charles noted that fitting all of the pieces to-gether was quite challenging!

Jenny Joseph was welcomed as a guest to the meeting, and she brought show and tell. The fish is made from an offcut of sycamore from the sawmill splinter group. Jenny painted the fish with acrylic paints.nny Joseph

Mike Turner showed the group some push blocks that were made on the CNC router during the last splinter group meeting. Mike noted that using this type of push block
with your table saw is very important. If you are using a stick type pusher to feed your wood through your saw, it is not safe and you should throw it away

Brandon Rathke decided to make his own block planes. Brandon is active in the hand tool splinter group, so in the spirit of the group he made the planes all by hand with the exception of grinding the steel for the blades. The block planes are made from mahogany.


Chuck Meeder found the pattern for this Santa’s Sleigh on toymaking-plans.com. The sleigh is made from various woods, including cherry, walnut, maple, holly, and oak. Chuck used Watco natural Danish oil to finish the pro-
ject except for Santa’s coat, which he finished with Watco red mahogany Dan-ish oil.

 Chuck also showed this penguin orna-ment that he carved and then painted. Chuck noted that he rough cut the shape on his scroll saw first to save time on the actual carving. The ornament is made from basswood.
  Bob Wink showed two tramp art pieces he recently completed, King Kong and Big Wheel. King Kong has an airplane that circles around the building. Bob claimed that he used Pam Kelley as a model for the character that King Kong kidnaps, eliciting a chuckle from the audience. Bob was inspired to make the Big Wheel piece by the big metal wheel which he found at a salvage yard. Bob was speechless for several minutes when asked if he used himself for the model for this project. Woodsmith magazine had a pattern for a Christmas tree that Ron Kuennig decided to build out of Wink wood. Ron noted that he installed the ornament balls after assembling the tree, and it was difficult to work in the interior ones.
The keepsake box is from a pattern in Wood maga-zine. Ron used a variety of woods, including mahoga-ny, black walnut, cedar, and bodark. The bottom is made of Wink wood.
Andy Anderson showed the group these knives. He picked up the blades for free at a garage sale several years ago, and decided to make handles for them recently. The handles are made from oak and black walnut, and Andy used steel rods as pins in the han-dle assembly.
 Denis Muras showed the group a Noah’s Ark he made from various woods including maple, mahoga-ny, walnut, mesquite, and pecan. The ark is filled with animals Denis cut on the scroll saw. Denis used addi-tional types of wood for the animals, including zebra wood, wenge, and other woods. The ark and animals are finished with a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil that it is child safe.  Lisa Sessions showed a dog toy and a two Christ-mas ornaments. The dog toy is a gift for a friend’s granddaughter, and it wags it tail when you pull it. It’s made from walnut and red oak and finished with the beeswax and mineral oil finish used by the toy group. The tree ornament is made from red oak and finished with natural Watco Danish Oil, and the snowflake is ash and stained with Minwax stain. Lynn Cummings pre-sented a lazy susan that he has made as a
Christmas gift. It’s made of cherry and finished with mineral oil. Lynn had the engraving done by a com-pany with a laser engraving machine.
Lynn also showed coasters he made from various types of scrap wood pieces. The inspiration for this project was a video on You Tube. Lynn glued the scraps together in a block of wood and added a cher-ry border as an accent. He then cut the block into coasters and finished with lacquer.
Several years ago, Peter Doe made a plaque to rec-ognize Eagle scouts for his local Boy Scouts Troup. That plaque has been filled, and the troop asked Pe-ter if he could make another one. Peter made this new plaque from cherry wood and finished it with wipe on polyurethane. The plaque is 36 inches high by 30 inches wide and has space for 100 names. Pe-ter hand carved all of the details on the plaque, in-cluding the lettering, eagle, and flag.

Denis Muras and Norm Nichols presented their “Everything You Wanted to Know About Scroll Sawing But Were Afraid to Ask” program to club members during the December meeting.  Norm and Denis provided numerous valuable tips for anyone interested in the fine wood working art of scroll sawing.

For affixing the pattern to the wood, Denis and Norm highly recommended placing blue painter’s masking tape on the wood first. Don’t use the smooth non-masking tape.  Spray the pattern with an adhesive such as 3m 77 and place on the blue tape.  After the cutting, the tape peels off easily and leaves no residue.  There is also some sort of a lubricant in the tape that helps to reduce wood burning from the blade.  Norm prefers to first lightly trace the outside outline of the pattern on the wood with a pencil and then only tape the area where the pattern will be.

When creating the pattern, a pattern drawn with lines in a bright color (especially red) is much easier to see where you’ve been and where you are going. Cutting with a black blade following a black line is more difficult.

For drilling the holes Norm and Denis use a variety of drill presses, for example, Dremel, Seyco and even a regular drill press.  This is a decision of convenience so they don’t have to change out bits every time they want to do something.

There was considerable discussion about what size and type of blade to use.  Each blade will have different characteristics and will cut differently but with a tendency to follow the grain. Blades will drift – they aren’t designed to cut in a straight line.   It also depends on whether you are working with hardwood or plywood.   Blades with more teeth per inch will cut smoother but slower.  You may have to experiment to find what blades work best for you.  Olson is a web site you can visit for advice on what blade may be best for you.  Follow this link for a list of blade recommendations at the Olson web site:  http://ep.yimg.com/ty/cdn/yhst-16765698503918/2015-scrollchart.pdf

How do you know when your blade is dull?  Experience, but basically when you are pushing the wood rather than guiding the wood.

There were questions about spiral blades.  Denis calls it “carving”.  Those blades are great for making numerous twists and turns.  Denis recommended a video by Jeff Zaffino, “Mastering the Art of Scroll Sawing with Jeff Zaffino”, which is available in the club video library. 

Scroll saw blades cut on the down stroke and you need to hold it down so you can control it.  The finger guard is to help you keep your fingers away from the blade.  If you lose focus and control the wood will jump. Longer strokes of the scroll saw doesn’t bring faster cutting.  Many factors are involved such as the blade itself and the speed of the saw.  If he isn’t cutting fast enough Norm will opt for a blade change.

Blade tension is very important. Without proper tension the blade will waver.  A Rule of Thumb is when the blade is installed securely it should, under finger pressure, and with power OFF, move forward and backward no more than 1/8 of an inch. If you have a “musical” ear the blade should sound off with a clear note when you ping it – then you can hum a happy tune.

For convenience and safety, a foot operated dead man switch (not a variable speed control) is recommended, especially the kind that turns on when you depress it with your foot and turns off when your foot is raised.  This is preferable to having to reach down or up to find the power switch.

What scroll saw should I buy or invest in?  Many serious scroll sawyers have started with low end machines and later ended up with high end units.  One feature to explore is the ease and speed in changing out the blade.  When you have to change out a blade dozens of times to make your cuts you don’t want to be wasting time or getting frustrated with blade change out.  Typically the low end saws cause a “blur” in the cutting and don’t cut precisely up and down which makes it harder to follow the line.

Blade change out.  Denis is a bottom feeder.  He’ll feed his blade through the hole from the bottom.  Norm is just the opposite, he is a top feeder, stating that he grew tired of standing on his head to find the right hole through which the blade will go.  Rick Hutcheson’s web site on scroll saw information has a wealth of video tips on scroll sawing.

Norm and Denis talked about “finishing” up.  To remove the fuzzy aftermath of the cuttings, they use small files, especially half round files, and even beauty salon style emery boards to clean up the holes.  Norm's opinion is that sanding blades are a waste of money – they wear out fast.

Norm told of a work of art that he submitted for judging at a show in Branson, Mo.  Norm spent hours cleaning up the fuzzies and was so proud of his work that he was expecting a ribbon award.  Instead he received Honorable Mention. He was devastated.  Norm asked the judge , who happened to be Rick Hutcheson, who told Norm that he had too many fuzzies – and after Norm asked where they were, he pointed them out leaving Norm a tad embarrassed.  Because of this experience Norm doesn’t use plywood.

Norm and Denis will be demonstrating scroll saw techniques at the WWCH booth in the Woodworking Shows scheduled for the last weekend in February at the Pasadena Convention Center, Pasadena, Texas.  Come visit us.

Photos & Presentation:  Gary Rowen,  Show n Tell Captions: Lisa Sessions                   


Back to Top of Page