Online Scroll Saw Class - Incredibly Fun Adventures in Scroll Sawing #3: Applying the Pattern for Scroll Sawing

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 07-15-2011 10:28 PM 18611 reads 8 times favorited 50 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Basic Supplies and (EGADS!) Homework! Part 3 of Online Scroll Saw Class - Incredibly Fun Adventures in Scroll Sawing series Part 4: Let the Scrolling Begin - Casting on and Casting Off »

I hope everyone was able to find the supplies that I suggested in the last part. If anyone had any trouble, please let me know, either through a personal message or on the comment section here and between myself and the others here, we should be able to help you.

We are now ready to apply our patterns to the wood in preparation for cutting. But first of all you need a pattern. I have made up a sheet of some simple shapes that you can use as a practice scroll saw pattern. Just click on the link here and it should bring you to the pattern:

Scroll Saw Training Pattern

It is located in my shared Google Documents folder.

Once you are on that page, you can download the page to your own computer as a PDF file and print as many copies as you need to use for practice.

For those of you who are not familiar with how to do that, please follow these steps:

-On the upper left corner of the page, right under the ‘Google docs’ logo, you will see the word ‘file.’ Click on it.

-The menu will drop down and you will see the choice ‘Download Original’.

-Click on it. You will then see a dialog box that comes up to ask you if you want to open or save the file. Choose to open the file with whatever PDF reader program you have on your computer. (Mine is Adobe Acrobat 8.1, as shown here)

When you click on ‘OK’, it should open in your PDF reader program. Then you can save it where you want on your computer and print it out as many times as needed. I would suggest that you make a new folder for all the class materials I will be providing throughout the lessons. That way they are all in one place if you need them.

Now we are ready to apply the pattern.

Cut the pieces apart and loosely place them on your wood.

For practice purposes, I am using a piece of pine that is about 5/8” thick and the piece on the right is some brown maple that is a bit shy of 1/2” thick. As I said in the previous lesson, in many patterns (except the ones that are assembled pieces, such as boxes and slotted ornaments) it really doesn’t matter if your wood is exactly the size suggested. That is the nice thing with scroll sawing – it allows you to use lots of smaller odd pieces you may have around your shop.

I like to use blue painter’s tape on my wood prior to applying the pattern with spray adhesive. The purpose of doing this is so that the pattern comes off easily and also the adhesive in the tape helps keep the blade cool and prevents burning of many hard woods. It also helps prolong the life of your scroll saw blade.

I just tried this method recently when I was in New York for the woodworking show I attended there. Prior to that, I applied the pattern right to the wood, and then applied a layer of clear packaging tape over it to prevent burning. This also worked fine, but sometimes it was difficult to remove the paper pattern, as different types of spray adhesives react differently with different temperatures, wood types and several other factors. When not using the blue tape, you had to be far more careful about allowing the adhesive to ‘rest’ or tack up a bit before applying the pattern to the wood. Otherwise it would be difficult to remove when you were finished scroll sawing. On the other end of the scale, if you waited too long to apply it, it would not stick enough and the pattern would be falling off during scrolling, which was both aggravating and increased your chances of ruining your project. Using the blue tape underneath eliminates the guesswork and makes the process much easier.

Simply cover the piece of wood you are going to cut with an even layer of blue tape:

Use an empty box lid or other large, flat surface (I use a large pizza box) and spray the back of the pattern pieces with an even misting of spray adhesive.

Wait a few minutes until they begin to feel tacky and similar to the feel of masking tape before applying them to your wood. If you don’t wait and they feel slippery, they may not stick well. If you wait too long and they don’t adhere correctly, you can just wait a minute or so and then spray another coat and try again.

You can see what I did here on this piece was to line up the square with the square edge of the wood. Sometimes it is difficult to scroll a straight line and if you have a perfectly straight edge, it is kind of nice to get a head start and have one of them done for you already.

If you want to see a short video that I made last year of me spraying on the adhesive and gluing the pattern directly to the wood, you can watch the video below:

It is the same procedure as with using the blue tape, and it may give you a little better idea of how much spray you need to use.

That is all that I am going to cover in this segment. The next segment we will actually be cutting and we will learn good ways to cast on and cast off of our piece.

I will be using the #5 reverse tooth blades in cutting these pieces, but with these simple designs and depending on which wood you have, you may use something similar. Remember I said that there are a lot of ‘right’ ways to accomplish things in scroll sawing and we don’t all have to use the exact same things. It is what is most comfortable to us.

I hope to post the next segment very shortly, but I want to be sure that everyone understands things up to this point. Please feel free to comment and ask questions if you have any and I will be happy to help you.

Thank you for reading!

As an extra note – please let me know if you have any trouble with downloading the pattern or any of the links. I am new to using Google Docs and I hope this method is going to be the easiest way to get you patterns. The size of the larger circle should be 3”. Hopefully, after downloading it, the size will not be affected. Let me know if it is different please. :)

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

50 comments so far

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 07-15-2011 11:00 PM

Great idea with the blue tape, I will try that next time! I recently did my first scroll project and the pattern did start unsticking halfway through, especially on edge curves.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#2 posted 07-15-2011 11:04 PM

Hi, Elizabeth! I liked this because you could go a bit heavier on the glue without worrying about getting the pattern off. That way it was less likely to come up while cutting. Nothing is more aggravating than that!! I was cutting for 15 years and when I saw this at the show I was wondering why I hadn’t tried this before! You are never to late to learn, I guess. :) I hope you found this lesson helpful!


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

View CherieLee's profile


60 posts in 2547 days

#3 posted 07-15-2011 11:15 PM

I found just after a year of scrolling myself that many people use the blue painters tape. I have also found within the past few years that people still use the method of applying to the wood itself, but as I say; “so each they’re own.” or “his own” or “her own.” LOL.

I have used the blue painters tape for many years now and will not back away from it, no matter the cost. I have also found it to stay on for prolonged periods of time when I cannot cut yet, but have everything ready to go. In my honest opinion, applying the pattern to the wood itself is a long process in which takes time away from cutting. U apply the blue tape, adhere the pattern, then the packing tape for blade purposes. Then I am ready to go.

I really like how the class is going so far Shelia!

-- Cherie Lee

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#4 posted 07-15-2011 11:27 PM

Thanks Cherie. :)

I find too with using the blue tape that you don’t even have to apply the clear tape over it most of the time. Only if the wood is particularly dense or hard. The adhesive in the blue tape is sufficient to prevent the burning lots of times. But if I see a problem, it is easy to add a layer on top.

Thanks for your input and I am glad you like the post!


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

View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 2644 days

#5 posted 07-15-2011 11:50 PM

Shelia well done . I sand my boards with 220 grit then I use the blue tape method also and use the clear packaging tape when cutting hardwood or stack cutting.

I keep a glue stick near my saw if the pattern starts coming up it is easy to fix .I also use it for small patterns to


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

View northwoodsman's profile


242 posts in 3775 days

#6 posted 07-16-2011 12:37 AM

I use the 3M 77 spray adhesive. I spray the pattern and then apply it directly to the wood once tacky. When finshed, or even days or weeks later, I put some mineral spirits on a paper towel then apply it to the pattern. I wait about 1 minute and the pattern peels right off in one piece. You can actually use the pattern over again if you want. I then take a little more mineral spirits and wipe any residual adhesive off the project. I’m going to try the blue tape method. I have never had a burning problem, maybe I throw the blades away too often?

-- NorthWoodsMan

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#7 posted 07-16-2011 12:42 AM

I like the 3M 77 also. I just don’t seem to see it much here in Canada. I don’t think that the burning (or lack or) means you are changing blades too soon. There are a lot of factors that affect if wood is going to burn or not, like moisture content and density, etc. I just found that with the way I used to do it, where I put the clear tape over the pattern after applying it directly to the wood, if it stuck to much, the clear tape would inhabit the mineral spirits from penetrating to the pattern to help get it off. With the tape underneath the pattern, it is no guessing and you can stick it down good without worrying if you will get it off or not.

Let me know how you like the blue tape if you would. As I said, I never tried it either until March. Now I wonder what took me so long. :)


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

View rkevins's profile


78 posts in 2959 days

#8 posted 07-16-2011 01:57 AM

Sheila, do you have to wipe the wood down with mineral sperits to remove the tape residue like you do for spray glue, I will have to try the tape on my next project.

View NH_Hermit's profile


394 posts in 3125 days

#9 posted 07-16-2011 02:04 AM

Sheila, I’ve a question. When I bought my saw, I also bought a package of assorted spiral blades. Did I waste my money? (H9030 from Grizzly)

-- John from Hampstead

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#10 posted 07-16-2011 02:09 AM

I don’t usually have to wipe it down afterward. There are several types of painter’s tape on the market and I suppose that you have to experiment and see the type you like the best. Some are made to stay on longer term than others so I would experiment to see what works the best. .

I have prepared patterns and left them aside for several days without negative consequences. The brand I am using is Scotch Multi-surface blue painter’s tape. It says 14 day Clean Removal on the label. As I said, I have only used it for a couple of months. Perhaps some of the veteran scrollers who have used it longer have some thoughts on this. Feel free to respond everyone if you have some additional information for us.


-- 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 3555 days

#11 posted 07-16-2011 02:13 AM

John –
The special thing about spiral blades is that you can cut from any direction (sideways, backwards, whatever). That is really handy when doing some portrait patterns, but when trying to cut a long smooth curve if you twitch a bit to the side you have a bump that you have to smooth out.
Most of my high school students prefer to use spiral blades when ever they cut, they love being able to cut in any direction and not have to turn the wood.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2949 days

#12 posted 07-16-2011 02:16 AM

Hi, John:
Spiral blades are mostly used for scrolling portraits and larger pieces that are too big to turn in the saw (if you have a 20” throat on the saw, any pieces larger than 20” would be impossible to turn completely around to cut) The spiral blades are actually a blade that is twisted so that the teeth are facing all directions, allowing you to cut in any direction without turning the piece.

However, they do tend to leave the edges a bit more ragged than regular blades, and they are more difficult to control when you are new to them. I honestly have not had much experience with them. My partner, Keith has used them and really likes them for certain applications though, such as when he does his portrait patterns and trees and such. I will try to convince him to do a lesson later on in the class for us or at least coach me so I can help you all out. There are several great scrollers here on LJ’s too that use them frequently and I am sure they will offer some advice.

I don’t think it is a waste of money because you may like that style of scrolling. There also may be a time when you need to cut a large piece for a project and they will come in handy for you. Once I did a sled and the runners were too big to turn and do the inside cuts and I was really glad I had some on hand.

I will do my best to get some information on them and we will look into them before the class is over :)


PS – Thanks MrsN! You answered while I was typing! Maybe you could help out when we have that part of the class. ;)

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

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#13 posted 07-16-2011 03:05 AM

Spirals are like any other scroll saw blade in that there is a learning curve to them. I suggest anyone interested in them to experiment to your hearts content. I know how to use both flat blades and spirals However, spirals are my blade of choice. I use spirals 99% of the time for everything. The only thing that will be different as far as cutting goes is that with the spirals, you have to have a steady hand. As suggested by someone already, they cut in all directions, so if you move you material sideways during a line cut, you will cut sideways into an area you possibly didn’t mean to cut.
If in doubt and you have to move off your cut line, go towards your waste area. This in some cases may leave a little nib on the wood. In that case, because of the way the spirals are twisted, you can gently use the edge of the spiral blade like a miniature rasp and smooth it out easily.
If anyone is interested, I’ve got thousands of hours of experience with spirals and will be glad to help any way I can. In the end though, as Sheila has said, there is no right or wrong. Some people hate spirals. Some people, like me, love them.


View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#14 posted 07-16-2011 03:11 AM

Sheila, you mentioned one benefit of placing the pattern with the straight edge on the flat edge of the board. There is another benefit to that as well.
While minimal, it is true that every inch you cut with a scroll saw blade, you are using up some of it’s life. Now, this may not seem like no big deal to most people, but if you’re doing large projects (you know I like them) or makeing many pieces, then that little bit along the edge that you don’t have to cut just saved a tiny bit of blade life.
I’m sorry. I know this seems trivial, but when you do the type project that I sometimes do, these little trivial things like saving a few seconds of blade life really add up in the long run. People often comment how quickly I do certain projects (Sheila, you’ve made this comment yourself). Well, it’s all these little tricks I have picked up along the way put together that allows me to do so.
I’m glad you mentioned stack cutting as well. When doing large projects with identical parts, or production cutting, stack cutting is a scroller’s best friend.


View huntter2022's profile


275 posts in 2644 days

#15 posted 07-16-2011 03:22 AM

I have never had to use mineral spirit to remove any tape residue , I lightly sand the surface then finish it .

Spiral blades , I have used then and find you get a rougher edge with them . It does take practice to use them . like anything else but spirals need more . Spiral blades like to follow the grain of the wood .
they make a great wood file too.

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

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