My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #76: Fretwork Cross Candle Tray and Charms

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-18-2010 01:32 PM 6547 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 75: Back to the Drawing Board! Part 76 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 77: A Day of Learning »

After the initial delay of the morning yesterday, things went pretty well. The power remained on and as I understand it, it was out all the way to town for the time that it was. Although it remained overcast for most of the day, the misty rain subsided and by the time in needed to do the quick routing on the candle tray, the pavement was even dry. Things went very well.

Since I changed my router bit, I have had little problem with burning. Apparently the dull bit was the culprit, and I learned something new. There is quite a big difference in using the sharp bit and it takes only seconds to accomplish what I needed to. I also don’t have to worry about removing the burn marks later on which saves a great deal of time.

I used a piece of mahogany for this candle tray, as I wanted something dark, but not quite as dark as walnut. I also wanted some of the grain to show through and add to the design. I plan on using a white candle to display the tray, so using a light colored wood would have washed things out completely. This piece looked like a good choice, although I found it quite dry. That doesn’t really make it a problem, but it is quite easy to cut through and I had to slow down the saw a bit while cutting so that I could maximize the amount of control I had.

I used a very small 2/0 reverse tooth blade for this design. I don’t thing a larger blade would have done well with it. When I was drawing it, I knew that it would not be one of the easier designs to cut, but with a little patience and using the right size blade, it was not a problem. I was surprised when I was drilling it as to how many holes were involved. Not including the drilled beading holes, there are 120 cuts. (I usually don’t count, but since coming here to LJ’s it seems that someone always asks me.)

I am really finding that the brand of blades I use make a difference. As I have mentioned before, getting stuff here in Canada which is shipped from the US can be costly. Several months ago, in an attempt to obtain some blades from a Canadian distributor, I purchased some blades and samples from a man here who has been very successful in the intarsia part of scroll sawing. He is quite well known among the scroll saw community, and had sold patterns and books since I have been involved. He was still in business, and when I talked to him he had said that he recently finished building a new shop and was again ready to focus on making and selling patterns.

I have always liked him, and thought that this would be the perfect opportunity for me to try his products and perhaps help him out by recommending his blades this side of the border. I always like to try to recommend distributors from both sides, if you will, as I have people ask me all the time.

I received the blades and was eager to give them a try. Much to my disappointment, they did not perform like the ones I was used to. They tracked to one side or the other and it seemed that when I tried to turn, they had a somewhat delayed reaction. My partner also tried the blades and found the same to be true.

I called the man and talked to him and asked some questions. I have heard about bad stamps of blades or bad runs and was wondering if this was possibly the case. Unfortunately, the man told me that this is part of the characteristics of the blade, and I would ‘get used to it’. I think not.

Last week I had tried again. There is a popular distributor of blades who lives in the United States and people seem to love his blades. I had tried them several years ago (and still had some) and had pretty much the same results. He had some new types of blades that I wanted to try and I thought i would once again give it a shot. I received the blades, and he sent me the same ones I told him I already had that didn’t work for me. I had explicitly told him in an email that that particular type of blade didn’t work for me and he sent two more of what I had a couple dozen of already. I emailed him to tell him, and he told me that he had ‘no record of what he sent me’ and was quite short. I don’t know if he meant no record of what he sent me now or five years ago. In any case, I am done with that too and give up.

I do like the Olson brand of blades for scroll sawing. When I came here to Canada, I had several dozen of each size and it is just now I am beginning to see the stock run out. I do not cut production style, and I don’t go through them very quickly which is why they have lasted me this long. Initially, I thought I would save some money by purchasing blades from Canada, but it now seems foolish for me to try to save a couple of dollars on something that is such an important part of my work.

I don’t know how others use the other brands of blades. I see so many scrollers that are happy with the ones that wouldn’t track worth a nickel for me (OR my partner for that matter). I wonder when I draw these designs if people are going to be able to be successful using the other blades. I don’t want to (and absolutely won’t) bad -mouth the other brands that I tried. I just isn’t right. It is just hard to hear that people are using them and I wonder how much harder it is for them to struggle through the projects. I guess all I can do is recommend the brand that works for me and go from there. If I have someone come to me privately and tell me they are having a problem, I can suggest that they try the Olson blades and see if that helps. I guess that is the best I could do.

I couldn’t help but think as I was cutting though, how frustrating it would be to do that design if I were using either of the other two brands of blades. I always try to think globally when designing, as I want everyone to be successful. I am thinking of putting a stronger statement in the instructions that I “highly recommend” the particular type I use. I don’t want to have to not do my best design work because of a blade situation.

In any case, here is a picture of the finished candle tray pieces:

From SLD327 Fretwork Cross Candle Tray and Charms

I know the picture isn’t good, and I will be taking better pictures when it is lighter out and not quite as foggy. I found because of the dark wood color, it really blends with the shadows and it is difficult to photograph under some circumstances. I will have to play with it a bit this afternoon and hopefully it will be brighter out than yesterday and I will get some decent light for some good pictures.

As I said, I kept the design pretty simple, I didn’t want the snowflake effect and I wanted the crosses to show up as crosses. I like the design of the crosses, and they really aren’t bad to cut. You do have to be careful though and you definitely have to cut the inside cuts prior to the perimeter of the designs. Overall, I think it came out decent.

I am going to be working on another design today and keep rolling. Every time I get back to cutting, I realize how much I like to do it. There are other miscellaneous things that I need to do (including applying several more coats of oil on this tray and doing the photographs), but for the most part I can take the day to draw.

“Barring all disasters” :)

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

10 comments so far

View bigDan7Magog's profile


28 posts in 2865 days

#1 posted 08-18-2010 01:40 PM

WOW splendide work,you have a lot of patience for that projects

-- French guys in Magog Quebec

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3327 days

#2 posted 08-18-2010 03:53 PM

wow shelia…this is just amazing…you never cease to show amazing desgns and fantastic cutting…three cheers to you my lady….very well done….....

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#3 posted 08-18-2010 04:32 PM

Thank you both so much. I know the pictures are crummy. I ma going to retake them soon, as the fog has lifted and the sun has finally come out. :)

I also wanted to mention that if you PM me with your email address, I can send you an Olson Blade Chart. It is very helpful in choosing the right blade for what you are working on. I really love the Olson blades the best and if you need a listing of where you can order them, I will get that too. After trying many different brands, I find that they are my favorite.


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

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3042 days

#4 posted 08-18-2010 07:02 PM

Hi Sheila, The cross pattern is very beautiful, and looks too delicate but (that is just my opinion) I guess that is what lends the beauty to the piece.

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#5 posted 08-18-2010 07:17 PM

Naw, Erwin! You could ‘throw it like a frisbee’ and it would be fine! It is tougher than it looks. That is the COOL part! :)


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

View mmh's profile


3677 posts in 3746 days

#6 posted 08-18-2010 07:20 PM

You do such incredibly intricate work and one has to admire the accuracy of your execution. It’s almost machine accurate and I can only imagine the intense level of focus and steady hand needed for your work. Very, very impressive. There are some things I am willing to spend hours to do, and other tasks that won’t even catch my eye. I don’t think I could do the symmetrical intricate patterns here so this is quite remarkable. Keep up the excellent work and great blogging.

BTW: The photo is not bad at all. Just love to see more!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View Leldon's profile


67 posts in 2897 days

#7 posted 08-18-2010 08:42 PM

Sheila, the crosses are just amazing. I must say that would be up there as one of my favorite crosses. I hope you make a free standing or wall hanging cross that looks similar to this!

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2944 days

#8 posted 08-18-2010 09:48 PM

I am so glad you like them Leldon! I don’t know why, because they aren’t anything ‘special’ but I really liked them too. I guess that is why I just wanted to leave them simple.

As far as the ‘free standing’ one – my partner suggested that to me and I think I am going to offer it as a kind of bonus with the pattern. I can make a little pedestal and cut the cross out of the same 1/2 inch material as the tray except add a couple of more details because it will be a bit larger :)

Great idea! (from both of you!) I am putting up the pictures into my gallery soon. It took a while to get them right with the dark wood, but I think they are finally acceptable.

Thanks so much you guys! :)


PS – I posted the project in my Gallery with better pictures! :D

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

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3149 days

#9 posted 08-19-2010 02:50 AM

OMG Sheila – that is so delicate and so detailed! I just don’t know how you do it! I only ever used a scroll saw once in my life and I can’t imagine taking the blade in and out so many times. That’s really really beautiful!


View Handi75's profile


377 posts in 3498 days

#10 posted 11-05-2010 01:47 AM


I really like this one.


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

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