As some of you may know, I have been asked to do a class on scroll sawing to present it here on Lumberjocks. I think that this will be a great way to introduce people to scroll sawing and get involved. Many of you that I have talked to already have a scroll saw sitting in the corner of your shop that is seldom used. I have had many requests as to instruction on how to use it properly, as well as blade choice, etc.
As with many things that I do, in thinking about the class it is sometimes difficult for me to keep things simple. Probably the biggest challenge that I will have will be to sort things through and put them in an order that everyone can understand and follow. It isn’t that it is rocket science. It is simply that we need to learn to walk before we run and I want to be sure that I am not going to jump ahead too quickly and lose people.
With anything such as this, there will certainly be many different correct ways to accomplish things. I like to think that whatever feels comfortable for people (and is safe) is what is right for them. Just because it works for me doesn’t necessarily mean that it will feel comfortable to someone else. Comfort is important because in order to relax and have fun, we need to feel comfortable.
Another thing that I have been thinking about is the use of videos in teaching. I think they will be very helpful and important in the learning process. However, I do need to respect that there are many people who are still on dial-up and have trouble accessing videos. I don’t want to leave them out. This is probably the most difficult part to sort out in my mind regarding the classes. I want others to be able to jump in at any time (perhaps even years later) and still learn from what I am going to teach.
I also have some concerns as to how teach the preparation issues such as tensioning the saw blade. There are only two models of scroll saws that I have direct access to – the Dewalt and the Excalibur – and there are many other brands out there. One of the basics of being able to cut correctly on a saw is having the proper blade tension. The other main problem I hear from people is proper blade installation. Again, my resources are limited here so I will only be able to demonstrate on these two models.
I do have an idea about those issues, however. I have a friend in Iowa who owns literally hundreds of scroll saws (some people collect stamps, Rick collects scroll saws) and he has a wonderful, comprehensive site explaining a lot about many many of the scroll saws on the market, as well as older saws. I think I am going to ask him if I can refer people to his site if they have questions regarding their own saw. It may seem like I am passing the buck, but I find that has been one of the biggest mental blocks that I have and would definitely solve that problem.
Since there are so many different techniques and details that I want to show, I have decided that the best way to teach them is to do a random mix of several different ornaments. In essence, each ornament will be a little “mini-project” and will focus on a different technique. That way, people will be able to use small pieces of wood and scraps that for the most part will be laying around their shops. Also, if mistakes are made and the pieces don’t come out just right, the risks and investment is rather low and people can just try again.
There are many other benefits to doing things this way too, as opposed to all of us making one big project. If someone is already competent in a particular skill, they can just skip that week’s lesson and wait until the next. This is also true for anyone who doesn’t really enjoy a particular type of cutting. We all have our favorite types of cutting and it will be easy to opt out of doing something that we aren’t particularly fond of without having to leave the entire class. You will be able to jump right back in on the next lesson and not miss anything.
I always say that designing and creating is 99 percent organization and 1 percent execution. The same will be true for this class. I want to think it through properly and have a plan that will make sense for everyone to follow so we aren’t just jumping all over the page and confusing everyone. Unlike with most woodworking where the cutting is quite straight forward and the trick is usually in the assembly, in scroll sawing it is quite the opposite. On many pieces made with the scroll saw, the cutting is the art itself.
I enjoy the scroll saw so much because it is such a versatile tool. There is much more that it can be used for besides making fretwork plaques. I hope that people can find it to be an indispensable tool in their shop and that working though these classes with me will inspire some wonderful ideas to enhance their every day wood working.
In teaching this class, I believe that I will also be inspired. I have been wanting to do some sort of book or set of instructional videos for quite a while now, and getting my thoughts organized in order to teach this class may be just the push I need to go ahead with those plans. I think it will be good for all of us.
So look forward to hearing more about it in the weeks to follow. I expect that I will officially begin another blog sometime in the first couple weeks of July. I have some heavy deadlines before then and I need to get them done so that I will be good for the autumn catalogs (remember the “Ant and the Grasshopper?”)
I will also be looking forward to working with you all and hearing from you during these sessions. I think it will be a fun way to share some knowledge with each other and hopefully we will all come out of it learning something new.
Have a great Sunday! (Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there, too!)
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"