Thanks for joining us for the third installment of “Intarsia Basics” and this is where it starts to get really fun. Cutting out the pattern is one of the best parts of doing this kind of art. It takes a little practice to get used to using your saw. You can look up some practice patterns or just make some zig zags, loop the loops, straight lines, gentle curves, and circles on a piece of paper and glue to a practice board. Cut out some of these and you will start getting used to the “feel “of your saw.
You can start out like I did with a Porter Cable or Hitachi from Lowe’s or Home Depot for less than $180. After a couple of years and a few saws that I wore out I took the plunge and purchased an Excalibur for upwards of $1000.
Yes, it has some advantages (straighter cuts, faster blade changes) over the less expensive models. Make sure this is what you want to put a lot of time into before spending that kind of money. No matter what saw you have I suggest a foot petal on an off switch. It makes it easy to start and stop your machine without having to remove your hands from your project. You can purchase one at Woodcraft for $25 or go to Harbor Freight and they have the same thing for about $8.
After that, blades come next. I use the Olsen Double/Reverse PGT (Precision Ground Tooth) in a .049” wide X .018” thick X 6/9 Rev. TPI for most of the work with thicker or harder woods.
Your blade selection is COMPLETELY up to your personal preference. I suggest you purchase a few different kinds and play with them to find out what will work best for you and your scroll saw. I started with the Double/Reverse blade and that is what I am most comfortable with, it might be a different blade for you. Make sure to clean your blades before putting them in your saw if your using pinless blades. There is oil on them and if you clean it off it will prevent your blade from slipping.
The next thing you need to do is check to make sure you table is square and DO THIS OFTEN. With scroll saws that the table tilts the vibration of the saw will cause the table to shift during cutting. Do not depend on the scale on the saw to adjust it to 0, use a square.
If your table is off just a little while working with the thicker wood, it will cause you pieces not to fit together when you’re done.
Here is a quick video of me cutting out a piece and it will show you some methods I use for some cuts that will make your project look better and save some time.
Note: At the end of cutting out a piece I will check to make sure it slides easly back and forth. If it does not then your table is not square and your cutting at an angle.
As you can see when I have a 90 degree outside cut I prefer to cut past the pattern and turn your blade around in the excess wood, then continue your cutting.
This all takes practice and I will not tell you there is a right or wrong way to cut out your pattern. Here are some examples of how I will tackle an angle that is too tight to just turn your piece.
There are going to be some areas that require you to drill a pilot hole and do an inside cut when one piece is surrounded by another. Most commonly this will be in eyes and nostrils. This might require a smaller blade than what you’re using on the rest of the project.
After each piece is cut you can see each piece individually.
Poplar to be stained
After everything is cut out you can put your pieces together and see how your project is starting to look like. At this time, check to make sure you have a good fit with all your pieces.
One tip that will help if your pieces are not matching up perfectly is to TIGHTLY hold the two pieces together and run you blade between them on a slower speed and shave off small sections to make pieces match up better. Practice this because this is really easy to mess up if you get off just a little. If it is just a minor gap you can sand out the difference.
Next time we will start looking at shaping and adding shims to give your project some depth, hope to see ya there.
-- If you not making sawdust, your probably wasting your time. Kory