My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #27: I Love When That Happens

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-30-2010 12:54 PM 5812 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 26: Back to Making Some Saw Dust Part 27 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 28: Another New Project in The Works »

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. :)

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

7 comments so far

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 06-30-2010 01:54 PM

I really like those :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3548 days

#2 posted 06-30-2010 03:02 PM

Very nice bowls. Would you mind sharing the brand of blade you like? You can pm me if you don’t want to share it in public. I know that I am a little picky on my blades. With the types I have tried I have a clear favorite.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2942 days

#3 posted 06-30-2010 03:19 PM

MrsN – I don’t mind talking about the ones I think are good – they are Olson blades. I just don’t want to bad mouth in public the ones I don’t like. As I said, many others like them a lot so I am wondering if it is me or not. But my partner says the same thing. When he tried either of the new brands, I would hear a stream of ‘naughty words’ coming from him because they weren’t following the lines. I would just cringe and try to blend into the background. I must admit, I was glad it wasn’t ‘just me’ but I still don’t know how others are so successful with them.

What are your favorites?

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View MrsN's profile


986 posts in 3548 days

#4 posted 06-30-2010 08:34 PM

I actually like useing the Olson blades as well. I have a feeling that I know the ones you speak of, I have never actually used any of those. I was planning on ordering some earlier this year, but my in-laws gave me blades for my birthday so I didn’t need to stock up. I can buy Olson blades locally, and the idea of ordering a gross of blades is a little over whelming, like what will I do with that many blades.

View OttoH's profile


891 posts in 3032 days

#5 posted 07-01-2010 01:32 AM

What can you do with a gross of scroll saw blades? Lots and lots of Christmas oranments!

-- I am responsible for how I respond to everything in my life - - Deadwood SD

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2942 days

#6 posted 07-01-2010 12:10 PM

You are right, Otto – it IS a lot of blades. Because they are so tiny though for the most part, you do tend to go through a few, depending on what you are cutting.

Because I design and don’t really do production work, I don’t really go through that many. However, if you are using wood that is very hard, like some of the exotics, you can easily go through many blades on a single project. Cutting with a dull blade is very tedious and causes many inaccuracies. It is somewhat like driving a car through the mud. You have to work harder and the results isn’t as good. It is best to throw out the blade before you either break it or make a mistake so it is good to have extras on hand.


-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3496 days

#7 posted 10-28-2010 06:02 PM


Got a few things for you.

First, Taking pictures of your Crafts/Projects. We’ve had an artical while back we’ve found here on the web about Taking photos of your Work. There is a Little Booth you can craft out of 2×4’s and White cloth and hang clamp lamps on 3 sides of it behind the cloth, this will dampin the direct light so no Reflections of Glaired Surfaces. So you should be able to Photo your smaller projects with ease, but mind you this will only work for the smaller projects, unless you build something simular in a bigger scale for furnature and stuff, but then you will basically need to have an extra room just for taking photos.

Second, Blades. The reason I’m going to guess why the new blades you are trying out. It’s most likely because the tentsion isn’t correct on the blades. If the blades follow the grain and wonders off, it means your blade is too loose and you need to up the tentsion on the blade. Also your Thinner Blades are made for smaller Stock. So think of it this way, the 3/0 and 0/2 are for cutting like 1/8” and possibly 1/4”, your #1 – #3 are for thicker stock 1/4” to 1/2”, 4 and above are for thicker, 3/4” to 1”

I use Blades from and I’ve never had any problem with them at all and shipping is pretty reasonable. I bought only a Doz and it cost me bout 3 for the blades and 2 bucks to ship I think it was, you might go check them out.

Anyway, hope this information helps out a bit for your photos and your blades, I love the Dishes btw, they are great looking, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone spiral cut to make a telescope bottom.


-- Jimmy "Handi" Warner,,, Twitter: @Handisworkshop, @HandisCreations

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