Did you ever have a day where everything just falls into place and things turn out the way they are supposed to? I love those days. It isn’t that the other days are a disaster or anything, but looking back I can honestly say that it was definitely a good one. Not only did I accomplish what I set out to do, but unexpectedly, I liked the result much better than I thought I would.
After writing yesterday morning, I set out to fine tune the patterns for the two Christmas candy dishes that I wanted to cut. I was getting ready to glue up the patterns and head to the saw, but I just felt that they were ‘blah’ and needed something a bit more. I knew this would throw me off my self-imposed schedule, but what’s the point of designing something if you aren’t really happy with the design anyway. I was never one to cut corners (no pun intended!), so why should I begin now?
I spent the next couple hours at the computer, adding in and taking out elements and making things right. By the time I started to prep the wood it was already after 11 am. But sitting on the table were the two printouts of the designs, one set from the previous night when I thought I was finished, and the new set. In my mind there was just no comparison. So onward I went and got everything moving.
I still had a nice piece of 3/4” maple that I wanted to use for the dishes. I like maple so much because of its strength and also because it is such a pretty color that photographs well. I love darker wood such as walnut, but many times I go with something lighter because when I try to photograph it, it is difficult to see the details. I also don’t like things quite that dark when my customers have to print out their own patterns, as it would suck up a lot of ink from their printer. I try to take that into consideration, but I do use if from time to time when it is really important to have a certain look.
I guess I did have some issues with cutting. In order to make the candy dishes, I cut a spiral on a four degree bevel. For this I purposefully use a larger blade, both for stability and also because I want a wider kerf so that the bottom of the dish drops down adequately. I used a #9 reverse tooth for this and even though it is quite slow going, it went fine. I cut the spirals first on both dishes, because if something happens to them and they don’t go just right, not much time is invested if I had to start over. So far this hasn’t happened, but with working with different shapes, there are weigh issues and support issues and it is important that with these kind of designs that the bottom piece that is left is able to support the rest of the shaped dish evenly. Now with the tree, I knew there wouldn’t be a problem, but the sled had the danger of being top heavy and when I still had the waste material attached along the top, it tipped in that direction. I trimmed the waste closer to the cutting line and was really happy that it no longer seemed to be an issue. But it was better to check.
In beginning to cut the designs, I started with a #2 reverse tooth blade. Even though the maple is thick, I wanted to be able to do the details without problems. The #2 worked, but it was more of a struggle than it should have been. After a couple of holes, I switched to a #3 reverse, which was a little larger. Now this blade was from a different company than I usually used. When I came to Nova Scotia, I brought with me several gross of my usual sizes of blades to work with. I don’t do production work and rarely break them so they last pretty long. I did, however send for and try some blades which were a different brand that everyone raves about. I thought it would be great to find a source that everyone spoke so highly about and I knew the customer service with them was great. When I received the blades several years ago, I immediately tried them to see how they would go. I hate to say, but they are horrible. I can’t control them if my life depended on it. I called a friend who was an expert on blades and saws and he said that they tend to turn this way or that and not follow and you just had to get used to it. I tried and tried, but I just couldn’t. So in the drawer they sit as ‘emergency’ blades.
Well, things were going OK yesterday and I was on my mark so I thought that maybe it was me and I would give them another try. I pulled them out of the drawer and started cutting with them and I immediately felt like I was on jell-o again. They had a mind of their own, meandering wherever the grain wanted them to go and after a couple of holes I just gave up on them. I still don’t understand it. I have tried different sizes of that same companies products and have had just about the same results. I know sometimes you get a bad batch, but after trying many different styles and having the same thing happen, I am baffled. I think I will have to check it out if I get to that show next year and talk to some others. I just can’t help but wonder how people work at all with these blades and they have such a huge following that I don’t understand it. Maybe I just don’t know how to cut!
So it was back to my old tried and true blades. This time I went to a #5 which is a little bigger, but I was still able to pull off doing the details very nicely. They are big enough to do all the curves and keep dead-on splitting the line as you cut. They even did the straight bottom of the sled very nicely and didn’t want to pull with the grain. So all in all things worked out well. I just think I have to figure out what is going on with these blades. I have also tried another company’s blades from here in Canada. I wanted to try to get them on this side of the border to avoid all the extra costs involved with importing them. I was sent several samples of different types and sizes and neither myself or my partner finds them to be as good as the ones I have been using.
I am thoroughly puzzled as to how people cut with these other types of blades. Are the ones I am using that good? I know I am very picky and wonder if that is part of the issue. I just can’t see how people make anything with these other types. I know from the forums I am in that the one type in particular is very popular and people swear by them. I find myself thinking ‘is it just because they don’t know better?’. Hummm . . . . .
In any case, here are the preliminary pictures of what I accomplished yesterday.
First of all, the Sleigh Candy Dish:
|From New Scroll Saw Work|
The finished dimension is approximately 8” in diameter. The bottom drops down and locks into place to hold small candies. It is mainly for decorative purposes, but a nice little gift or table centerpiece.
The other one is a Christmas Tree Candy Dish:
|From New Scroll Saw Work|
I think they are both kind of fun and easy to do and very forgiving designs. I will be posting better pictures later today in my gallery, but the sun wasn’t quite up and I finished them at about 10:30 last night. I have more drawing to do today too, for another project that I am working on and hopefully I can get at the saw later today and get started on it.
At least I am making some progress, it seems. :)
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts Magazine, If you like reading my blog, come visit at Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"