My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #375: I'm Starting to Plan the Scroll Saw Class

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 06-19-2011 01:14 PM 4228 reads 1 time favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 374: My Turn for a Tool Gloat Part 375 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 376: Goin' To The City »

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 ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

14 comments so far

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3934 days

#1 posted 06-19-2011 01:23 PM

Sheila, I will look forward to following along with these classes.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3095 days

#2 posted 06-19-2011 02:57 PM

Sheila, I really like this idea, especially using videos that I can use as my time permits, as I am still putting together my workshop and do not yet own a scroll saw. I’ll put this on my winter’s “to do” list

-- John from Hampstead

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6856 posts in 3978 days

#3 posted 06-19-2011 05:05 PM

I’m looking forward to it.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View majeagle1's profile


1426 posts in 3495 days

#4 posted 06-19-2011 05:34 PM

Fantastic Sheila, I’ll be watching for the first lesson!
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

-- Gene, Majestic Eagle Woodworks,,

View Hacksaw007's profile


613 posts in 3188 days

#5 posted 06-19-2011 06:10 PM

Can’t wait, I am that person, have a scroll saw setting, not being used. Intimidated by it I guess! Bring it on and make it able to be used by dummies!


-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View horsefly's profile


35 posts in 2793 days

#6 posted 06-20-2011 12:05 AM

What timing!! I have been doing woodworking for some time and just today put together my first scroll saw, a DeWalt. I’m interested in doing some work on it that I can then apply to some of my clock cases to appear to be carved in relief.
Looking forward to your class, and thanks much for taking the time and putting the effort into it.

-- Bob, Maine"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not". Thomas Jefferson

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2883 days

#7 posted 06-20-2011 03:16 AM


I look forward to your classes and the information provided. I have learned that the more stuff (information) I can pour into the old brain of mine the better I get. I have two suggestions.

1. First of all I think learning a scrollsaw is a simple as using a scrollsaw. Now it does take months of using and practive – plus lots of different types of instructions (books, videos and the like).

2. Now all of us own a DeWalt or Excalibur so I do think some lessons should be on the “lesser” models. Not details of how to use one but just some patterns cut with say s $200 (retail) saw – that would be more prastical for lots of us.

Just my thoughts.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 2614 days

#8 posted 06-20-2011 05:05 PM

Looking forward to the classes . Just because Shelia mention Dewalt and Excalibur does not mean people with other type of saw will be left out . I’m sure you will get some usefull tips here and also you can alway ask and sure someone else maybe able to help also

-- David ; "BE SAFE BE HAPPY" Brockport , NY

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2919 days

#9 posted 06-21-2011 01:04 PM

I just want to say again that even though I will be using a certain type of saw, what I will be showing will be possible on most saws. I am sorry if I didn’t make this clearer to people. I only meant that I may not be able to help with putting in the blade and stuff like that on models of saws that I am not familiar with. My goal here will be to help people learn more cutting techniques and other basic information about scroll sawing so that they can use their own saw to its fullest potential. :)


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

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 3030 days

#10 posted 06-22-2011 10:47 PM

Sheila…I’ve had an old P20 for about five years now, and have yet to do anything with it, ‘cept to dial it in…I am looking forward to the class. Do I need to bring an apple for the teacher?

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View Randy63's profile


252 posts in 2891 days

#11 posted 06-22-2011 11:15 PM

Sheila, I would like to participate in your class. I used to have two scrollsaw, a Hegner single speed Multimax and a RBI Hawk that I sold last year. I several years back used to cut items for decorative painters. The Hegner I now only use occasionally to cut some parts and or inlays for my boxes. My woodworking love has taken a back seat to other things for the last couple of years but I think this is something I could find time for. Do you received notices as to when the lessons are? Will a single speed work ok for your projects?

-- Randy, Oakdale, Ca.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2919 days

#12 posted 06-23-2011 02:18 PM

Hi, Mickey and Randy –
I will be starting a new blog that will pertain specifically to the lessons in about two weeks. Just kind of look for it on the blog board and you will see it. You could always check my regular blog too, as I will probably be talking about it here.

I think that you should be fine with a single speed saw. Although there may be times when you would want to change speeds, I find I leave mine the same for the most part. If any issues come up, you can just ask and we will figure them out. :)

I hope it will be fun for everyone!


(PS – I love apples!)

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



53 posts in 3797 days

#13 posted 07-05-2011 07:15 PM

Sheila, firstly I would like to commend you for taking on this task in order to help fellow Scrollers. I know it will not be easy but your dedication to the Scroll Saw community will make it a success. You are very talented and I look forward to following your blog. Count me in.


-- never enough time in a day so use it well

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2919 days

#14 posted 07-05-2011 07:18 PM

Thanks, Mike:
I started the blog on it here and you can follow it and join in. I am looking forward to having a great time with everyone! :)


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

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