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 2015
Norm and Denis provided numerous
valuable tips for anyone interested in the fine wood working art of
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
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
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:
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
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
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”
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
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.