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My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer #229: Preparation is the Key

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 01-18-2011 02:35 PM 2364 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 228: The Final Pictures Part 229 of My Journey As A Scroll Saw Pattern Designer series Part 230: More Preparation »

No one is more aware of how quickly time passes than I am. It seems as if it was only a couple of weeks ago that we were at the car show on a wonderful road trip in the ninety degree weather. Yesterday though, we had snow throughout the day, with huge, fluffy flakes falling on the six inches that had already arrived during the night.

Although winter is in full swing, I know that spring is just around the corner and before long the snow will be gone and warmer weather will be here. So will the Northeastern Woodworkers Association Fine Woodworking Showcase which I have been invited to be one of the demonstrators at.

I can’t tell you how excited I am getting about this show. There are so many reasons I am going to love it. Not only will I be able to see all the new toys and tools that we woodworkers dream about, but I also am going to be able to see some incredible projects (and learn to be a judge) and meet so many new people from all aspects of woodworking. I am also going to be able to see many of my friends whom I haven’t seen in years. I don’t know when I am going to sleep (probably not a lot) and if I could have one wish, it would be to pack 48 hours into each 24 hour day that I am there.

With the holidays behind me and everything in my shop in order, I think it is high time for me to really start to concentrate on my presentations that I will be giving for the lectures. I want every single person who attends my class to walk away with something positive and I want the experience to be good for them.

I was thinking about it yesterday morning and I began seeing myself get a bit worked up and nervous about the entire thing. I certainly don’t want to stand up in front of a room of people and look foolish. It seems that even though I can easily type out a conversation here on my computer, it is much more difficult for me to stand up in front of a crowd. If I think about it too much, I really can work myself up about it. I am the type of person that likes one on one conversations and have never really felt comfortable speaking up in a group. But I suppose that will have to change, won’t it?

In thinking about things, I find that my best way to overcome my fears will be to be well-prepared for the class. After all, I am not speaking to an angry mob or anything like that. These people are friendly and thirsty to learn about scrollsawing in general. I am finding through answering many questions on a daily basis from people both here and from customers that most of the time the answers to their questions do come easily and I do have a bit of knowledge on the subject. If I don’t know the answer to something, I have several knowledgeable friends that I can refer them to which will help them find answers. Over the years, I have joined a great network of people who are willing and able to help others and give incredibly helpful advice to the new comer. Through places such as lumberjocks and Steve Good’s forum and with the assistance of our computers and Google there is a world of information at our fingertips. It is a great time to be a woodworker.

So I began getting ready for the show yesterday by organizing my thoughts on what I want to talk about. I will be giving two classes each day, and I am understanding that each class is to be different. Since scrollsawing encompasses many different techniques and is such a versatile tool, there is a huge amount of information that can be presented. That in itself can be overwhelming. Add to that the demographics of those attending the class and you can see the need for some clear direction that the lectures need to be presented.

Since there will be all levels of woodworkers present – from beginners to very advanced – I have the challenge of providing information which will satisfy the most experienced sawyer without loosing the newcomer. In order to do this, I feel that I need to move fairly quickly from subject to subject, without dwelling too long on one particular aspect. This way I will be able to touch on a broad range of topics and keep people interested even if they already have some knowledge of what I am talking about. Hopefully, in the process I will include some nuggets of information that will be new to even the more experienced scroll sawyer. That way everyone can walk away feeling as if they got something out of the class.

Of course, there will be a question and answer section at the end of each lecture which will help clarify things to those who may have not quite understood. I always look forward to that, as I like being able to help others and seeing which areas that I perhaps didn’t cover completely. I will also be providing some written material for those who attended the class, so they have something to take home with them to remind them what has been discussed. I think that is a must given that there will be so much information presented.

I began yesterday by taking the time and making an outline of the point that would be interesting and that I would want to cover in the class. I listed the items I felt were important to discuss, and I was amazed that it took three sheets of paper to do so. That was promising to me, as one of my biggest fears is that i would run out of things to talk about in the time frame allowed for the class (OK – you can stop laughing now!)

My next task will be to divide the items into the two levels of classes. Perhaps the more general and basic items for the beginners and the more involved procedures and techniques for the intermediate class. It started to shape up rather quickly and I was quite encouraged after only a couple of hours of working on it. There is hope after all.

I am going to spend the next couple of weeks detailing each point that I wrote on that outline and I am sure at that time I should have the necessary information that I will need to compile a couple of comprehensive classes. I think it will be fun to do and I will probably also learn a bit more about things in my own research. It really amazed me that just by outlining things and writing them down made a huge difference in the level of anxiety that I was feeling toward doing this. I know that with the proper preparation, things would be fine and I would hopefully have lots of information to share with others to help them with their scrollsawing. It will really be fun after all.

I would like to invite you over the next few weeks for your input. Since I have been scroll sawing for over 15 years, I find that I may take some things for granted regarding the process of scrolling. If you have any thoughts on the subject, please feel free to submit your questions or suggestions as to what you would want to know about if you were to attend a lecture or class on scroll sawing. You can either PM me or email me (sheilalandrydesigns@gmail.com) or ask a question here of what you would like to know about. This would help keep me in a good direction for the class and make a better class for everyone. I really would appreciate your input a lot.

On other things, my editor accepted the Bee Candle Tray for the magazine, so I need to prepare the project and instructions for travel. He already accepted another of my partner’s projects (a wonderful segmented welcome sign for spring or summer) and I would like to sent the two items together. I also have until next weekend to submit any new stuff to my major wholesaler for the next catalog, so I had better get my butt moving again and get designing.

It is good to be back at work again on this stuff!

Happy (snowy) Tuesday

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



15 comments so far

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2327 days


#1 posted 01-18-2011 02:49 PM

Shelia, I’m so new to the scroll saw I don’t know what the questions are yet :-)

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View rivergirl's profile

rivergirl

3198 posts in 1489 days


#2 posted 01-18-2011 03:25 PM

YOU WILL DO A GREAT JOB!! No worries mate. Wish I could be there to participate.

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

View Rick13403's profile

Rick13403

213 posts in 2155 days


#3 posted 01-18-2011 06:25 PM

Good morning Sheila. I am looking forward to meeting you at the show. It is only an hour from home so I will have no trouble making it. I hope you plan on a segmentation class. I am still leary of it even though I have been scrolling for years. Rick Smith www.thescrollerandtoler.com

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 - www.thescrollerandtoler.com

View BritBoxmaker's profile

BritBoxmaker

4367 posts in 1687 days


#4 posted 01-18-2011 10:23 PM

I have always been nervous about presentations so here’s a few things I use that might help. I’m probably telling you things you already know but here goes. You might find them useful.

1. Find one or two friendly faces in the audience (the ones showing attention and/or interest) to address points you want to get over to.

2. Be wary of the over-enthusiastic one. Don’t let them railroad you through things you want to go through, later, in order. Don’t piss them off though they can be an ally if things flag.

3. When presenting pictures, diagrams etc on a screen.

Touch, Turn, Talk.

Look at the picture, Touch the point you want to highlight. Turn to (or look up at) the audience. Talk to them about it. A bit formulaic but it works.

I learnt this with overheads but it works with the cursor on a powerpoint presentation just as well.

4. Remember even the best of the best make a fool of themselves sometimes.

Above all I’m sure that someone with your breadth and depth of knowledge in your subject is ever going to be short of things to relate about it.

Good luck and remember to enjoy yourself.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging. http://www.theartofboxes.com

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile (online now)

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7649 posts in 1571 days


#5 posted 01-18-2011 11:27 PM

Thanks, all. I go from moment of knowing it is going to be great fun to moments (only moments) of terror. Thank you Martyn for your advice. It IS useful. I found that there will be someone who can take video while I cut on the saw and it will be shown on a big screen. (High-tech this show is!) I think that the unknown is the scariest part. I plan on coming a couple of days early so I can scout out the place and really get my bearings as to where I will be holding the seminar. I hope that once the people arrive and things get rolling, it will be like talking to all of you here. I will just need to have my ducks in order and not think about the scary parts. The excitement and learning will be great, I am sure.

Sheila

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

View William's profile

William

9018 posts in 1493 days


#6 posted 01-19-2011 02:51 AM

Sheila, I have never taught a class on scrolling, but I have helped several people get started at it. There is one thing that seasoned scrollers overlook that needs to be addressed. It is something that we don’t think of, but will scare a potentially new scroller away from the hobby.
It is blade breakage. Most beginner scrollers are going to get started on entry level saws that make an awful noise when the blade breaks. Anyone interested in learning to scroll needs to be made aware that a blade breaking on one of these machines startles anyone, even longtime scrollers. It is just something that is part of scrolling on most saws. It does not mean you done anything wrong. All it means is that you need to cut the machine off promptly and change blades.
I know this sounds stupid, but not telling people (two that I found out about personally) sets them up for failure in some cases. In the cases that I know about, I showed the people what I knew in my shop. Later, when I found out they hadn’t touched their saws much, I prodded for answers until I found out why. It turns out that every time the blade break, it scared the hell out of them. They finally got over their fears after I explained to them that even as much as I scroll, I still jump every time my blade breaks. I guess it’s something you never get completely used to, probably because you never know when it’s going to happen.
That leads into another topic, blade usage. Should I say, amount of blade usage? Most beginning scrollers tend to go through an unusually high amount of blades. It just takes practice to learn the proper techniques like tension, cutting speed, and cutting pressure to keep the blades from breaking so much. Beginners, in my opinion, need to be reassured that this is normal, for some people, and that with practice, they will start to see their blades last a lot longer. It is discouraging to change blades every two minutes of cutting, but for some, this is a reality until they get used to it.
One of the things I wished someone had told me in the beginning was that there is plenty of scrolling help out there. When I first started scrolling, I had never even met anyone else who scrolled. As a matter of fact, I am still the only person within driving distance that I know of that does the amount of scolling that I do. When I had questions or problems, I felt like a child who was lost in a department store. I had no idea where to go, what to do, or who to trust. It made me feel silly. I just about gave up on the scroll saw until, by chance, I stumbled upon a couple of places on the internet (like Rick Hutcheson’s site) where I could ask questions and watch videos for guidance.
Scrolling, in some parts of the country, is almost like a dying art. Therefore, the serious scrollers out there (including myself) are more than happy to help anyone who truly wants help with the craft. Without help from people who know, scrolling could very well become a long lost art.
I don’t know if any of those suggestions are of help or not. They seem kind of silly, I know, but I just think that someone starting out scrolling needs to know that there is a learning curve to it just like any other form of woodworking. These things I mentioned though are things that all of us probably went through at one time or another. It may not apply to everyone. For example, the blade breakage noise is almost eliminated on some saws. Everyone needs to be aware of it though just in case. Even if it sounds silly to me, these things may instill enough confidence into someone as a beginner to stick it out long enough to call themselves a scroller.
Every used scroll saw I’ve ever bought was from someone who bought a scroll saw and gave up on getting good at using it because of one reason or another. Some of them are for the same reasons I mentioned above. By the time they put their saw up for sale though, noone has ever told them these things and there is no talking them out of parting with a tool that could become their best friend if they had known about these things before the aggrevation set in.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile (online now)

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7649 posts in 1571 days


#7 posted 01-19-2011 02:58 AM

Those are very good points, William. They are just the things I was looking for. Sometimes after doing something for so long we tend to forget our early fears and hurdles that we had to overcome when just starting out. I will certainly mention the things you said in my class and I do intend to have written material which will offer many resources for scrollers of all levels (like here on LJ’s, Steve Good’s Site, Rick’s site and many other sources) I think it is important that new people know that there are many others willing to share information and help them be successful. I find it is one of the best parts of my job – helping others – as it allows me to get to know new people and it is more satisfying than any paycheck to see someone achieve success. It may seem corny, but nothing comes close to that. :)

Thank you so much for your input. Anything else you (or anyone else) would want to add will be very welcome. We have a great network here, don’t we?

Sheila

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

View William's profile

William

9018 posts in 1493 days


#8 posted 01-19-2011 04:10 AM

I think the one “problem” I’ve been asked about the most from people learning to scroll is pattern application. There’s many ways of doing it and I truly believe that several should be presented so the beginning scroller may try more than one and choose what works best for them.
Most scrollers recommend 3M Super 77. I do as well. It is a tried and true spay glue. This point doesn’t need much discussion besides anyone should use whatever works best for them. There is no right ot wrong. Padt that, I think that is about the only thing most scrollers agree on.
Some spray the back of the pattern and apply it directly to the wood. After that there’s a vast number of removal tips from heat, to paint thinner, I’ve heard a lot of them.
Some apply painter’s tape, then apply the pattern to the tape. The tape is peeled off after cutting, removing the steps of heat, paint thinner, and such.
Some apply packing tape over the patter, regardless of how they apply the pattern before that. It is a claim that the packing tape “lubricates” the blade for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong. Once, again, personal choice.
There are these three methods along with many others. You could probably have an all day discussion on this topic if you got together enough scrollers. I prefer the pattern on top of painter’s tape method, but have been told that I was doing it wrong. I mean I had another scroller actually get angry with me that this was my preferred method and that I would stick to it.
In my opinion, there is no right and wrong way. It is a personal choice situation as to what works for each person. I know for a fact why I choose my method, but that isn’t the point. I recommend you present several methods and make it clear that there is no wrong way as long as the job gets done. All you are doing is appying a pattern that has to be removed. Some people find this easier using one method or the other. What works for some may not work for others.
While I don’t suggest giving reasons why one method may be better than another, I will tell you why I choose my method over others. I do this so you can that my reasoning has nothing to do with the method being wrong, but more because of my problem with doing the other method right.
I have a tendancy to overspray the glue on the back of my pattern. I use painter’s tape on my wood because if I don’t, the fact that I sprayed too much glue to start with makes the pattern almost impossible to get off of bare wood.
Also, since I mentioned patterns now, I think it’s a good idea to mention the subject of staying true to a pattern. I think that something too many people worry too much about, especially beginners, is trying to cut a pattern “perfectly”. Now this, in some ways, is my own opinion and you may or may not see fit to even mention it.
While some patterns simply will not work unless you cut at least pretty close to the cut lines, there are other patterns that are open for plenty of interpretation. Portraits are a perfect example. Very seldom do I cut a portrait pattern EXACTLY according to the pattern. The way I usually explain this is to compare a pattern to a road map. Just because a road is on that map, doesn’t mean you need to go down that road. Sometimes there are other ways to get to the same diestination. If you get off the line a little, sometimes it’s better to stop and look at what you’re working on. In some cases it’s better to leave the cut where it is, off the cut line on the pattern, than to go back and try to “fix” it. If it looks good and the scroller is happy with it, then there isn’t nothing that really needs fixed.
I am so sorry if it seems I’m going on and on. It’s your class, but HEY! You sort of asked. Didn’t you?
Anyway, if I think of anything else I will come back later. These were just things that some of us who have been doing it a long time over look. I think it’s important to stress that while we can teach someone the basics, that a lot of scrolling is up to a scroller’s personal choice of how he or she prefers to do things.
I started to send all this to you through a personal message, but decided that it may be of interest to other members here as well. I hope you don’t mind that. You are welcome to let me know if my ramblings are getting on your nerves yet. You, I am sure, know a lot more about scrolling than I.
However, if you are compileing a list of resources for your students for places to get help after they complete your class, I am always more than happy to help people with scrolling in any way I can. I check my personal email at least every other day and sometimes have people email me for help question. If you wish to include one more source for help, my email address is greasemonkeyredneck@yahoo.com

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14742 posts in 2327 days


#9 posted 01-19-2011 04:47 AM

Lots of good options there Wiliam. As a new scroll saw owner, I know many times more than I did a couple minutes ago! Definitely keep you in mind.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile (online now)

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7649 posts in 1571 days


#10 posted 01-19-2011 04:55 AM

Thank you again so much William. Lots of good points here. I was planning on a demonstration on applying the patterns. I was probably only going to show the way I do it, but after reading your post I think I should follow your advice and show several different ways. That was one of the hardest things about the process of scrolling I felt. Either the pattern would come off and flap around while trying to cut or else it was as if I cemented it on. It took me quite a while to get the proper touch and get the process down properly. I get lots of questions regarding applying the pattern from customer too and I think that will be a great topic to spend some extra time on.

Thanks again. ;)

Sheila

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

View BertFlores58's profile

BertFlores58

1646 posts in 1573 days


#11 posted 01-19-2011 06:55 AM

Thanks for the information I got here… very interesting topics. I believe that each one of us has a trade or skill’s secret to unveil based on the experience… Well that proves… The best learning is thru experience. All of you are really a very good source for this kind of expertise…

Maybe, I just can suggest to Sheila in the way how to face the audience … which can easily be improved by using a video … make a rehearsal on a video then replay it to make improvements..

Don’t be carried out by the audience much. Stick to your outline as time is very important.

What the audience would like best are new techniques and learning tips. These will always be the interesting part…. there is only one source for these… YOUR SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTISE.

-- Bert

View William's profile

William

9018 posts in 1493 days


#12 posted 01-19-2011 06:02 PM

I’m back to aggrevate you some more.
After I got offline last night I thought of something that I wished I had been to a class to learn when I first started scrolling, blade tension.
I read the description of proper blade tension online and in several magazines.
I tried about five different techniques of getting proper blade tension that was mentioned online.
I even listened to a sound recording on one website of the proper “ping” sound a properly tensioned blade should make.
All these and more only seemed to make me more confused as to the proper blade tension. While it is true, like so many other things in scrolling, that blade tension varies between different scrollers, it makes things much easier to have a basic starting point in mind. Then, all scrollers that I know of, will only go a little tighter or a little looser, but very close to that proper starting point.
I really wish, when I first started, that there had been some where close enough, with an experienced scroller, that I could have actually physically felt the proper tension of a blade. Larger blades are much more forgiving, but on small blades, improper blade tension can make it impossible to cut even relatively striaght if too loose, or snap in seconds if too tight. It would have taken a lot out of the learning curve of learning the scroll saw.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile (online now)

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

7649 posts in 1571 days


#13 posted 01-19-2011 06:17 PM

You are NOT aggravating me William! I appreciate your thoughts.

As far as the tension goes, it will be difficult to pinpoint it during the lecture because I will only have one saw there and every saw is different as to how you tension it. However, during the rest of the show, I will be in my own space and be doing demos (as will my partner) and we can show people one-on-one how to properly tension the saw. I have made a note to mention this to them in the lecture and invite them to come by and see at the booth.

Thanks so much again! :)

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

View MrsN's profile

MrsN

939 posts in 2177 days


#14 posted 01-19-2011 09:01 PM

hmm… some how I missed this yesterday.
I recently added a scrollsaw unit to my woodshop class. I really need to get the photos up to show you, I am pretty proud of some of my students.
William has some really good points. The blade breakage and number of blades used can really suprise people. I had a number of highschool seinor football players come up in a slight panic over breaking a blade. I tried over and over to explain to them that I buy blades by the hundred (the gross really but they didn’t know what that was at the time) and that it happens. I also don’t know how many times that a student would be cutting and I would stop them to re-tension the blade. They were always suprised how much better it cut.
Another thing that I noticed my kids doing is cutting like they were using a big band saw blade. If you were going to cut an intricate cut on a bandsaw with a larger size blade you would cut small parts at a time and use relief cuts and such. It took a few kids a while to get used to starting at one part of a cut and cutting all the way around. I don’t know if this would be an issue for other people or not.
You will do great! I wish I could make it to the show.
MrsN

-- ----- www.KNWoodworking.com ----- --

View William's profile

William

9018 posts in 1493 days


#15 posted 01-19-2011 09:32 PM

How you tension it wasn’t exactly what I was talking about, but rather, the amount of tension. In the beginning I would either have my blade too tight or too loose, until I found that happy medium that cut just right. Just having the right tension makes such a difference in the way a saw cuts. I realized quickly, though I wish now I had been shown somehow at first, that a scroll saw blade really can take quite a bit of tension. In the beginning I was afraid to really put the tension on the blade it really needed. Of course, I was using locally bought blades at the time. After finding out that I got better quality blades by ordering them twelve dozen at a time from an out of state supplier, I found out through trial and error that even small blades are a lot tougher than people think. They can take quite a bit of tension and last longer when tensioned correctly.

-- http://wddsrfinewoodworks.blogspot.com/

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