My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #451: Sometimes "All Work and No Play" Makes Me Very Happy

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 09-04-2011 01:35 PM 1248 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 450: The Mystery Blades are Surprisingly Good Part 451 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 452: Online Scroll Saw Class Lesson #8 is Posted »

We have all heard the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” but sometimes I think about that and I am sure that Jack didn’t do the same type of work as me.

I love my job.

I realize too that in that respect, I am very much the exception to the rule. Most people that I know go through each day doing their job so that they can come home to work on their woodworking or painting or being creative in other ways. I am very fortunate in that I have been able to make being creative my lifestyle and therefore it isn’t really a ‘job’ to me, it is a privilege.

I’m not saying that it is all fun and games, as those of you who read often have seen. There is still politics and dealing with things that I don’t always want to deal with and the necessary mundane tasks associated with running any business, but overall it is really something that I never want to take for granted and I absolutely love to do. The rewards are far greater than a paycheck and the stories that I hear from my customers are a wonderful affirmation that I am doing a good thing.

I had a good day yesterday. It began in the morning when I had what I consider a good idea. I suppose that remains to be seen, but I thought of something that I think will add a new dimension to my pattern business and I am very excited about it. I don’t want to talk about it just yet because I am still in the planning stage and there are many details to work out but I spent the better part of the morning doing some research and thinking things through and I think it is something that will add positively to my business. More details will come soon.

I still had two sets of figures to cut out and did so in the early afternoon. Again, I am really happy with the new trial scroll saw blades both in precision and with their longevity. I wound up cutting over 200 detailed pieces using only three blades, and blade #3 is still going, as I needed to change blades just before I began cutting the last set. I could have probably still used the worn blade that was in the saw, but I saw evidence of some burning of the wood which made me realize that it was time to change. After all, I had a couple dozen of them and there was no reason to be cheap and leave burned edges. I am sure if I slapped another layer of packaging tape on the pieces, I could have squeezed more life out of it, because it was still cutting without really having to push hard through the wood, but what would be the point?

It always seems to amaze me how people place such an importance on pushing a scroll saw blade to the outer limits. I try to wrap my head around it and find that I can’t quite understand their way of thinking sometimes.

Yes, we all want our blades to last. But when we consider everything involved in a project, why cheapen out on a blade?

Most blades cost $2 to $4 per dozen. On the high end of the scale, that’s only about 33 cents per blade. The way I look at it, even if you need to go through several blades to complete a project, you are still doing good. It isn’t like you are buying $75 Freud table saw blades. They sell them by the gross for a reason.

I have heard stories of people who flip them over and file this end and that or move them up or down in the holder in order to extend blade life and I have just one question to that – Why?

I would think that the time it takes to do all that stuff would exceed the blades’ worth anyway. After all, isn’t my time worth something too?

I am traditionally pretty easy on blades. I am not what you would call an ‘aggressive’ scroll sawyer. I like cutting at a relaxed pace and don’t try to set any speed records and to me, accuracy is more important. Those of you who have seen my videos on scroll sawing though can also see that I do move the wood through the saw at a good pace. I don’t consider myself a ‘slow’ scroll sawyer. I think I move at a pace that is right for me and gets the job done for me with the accuracy that I want.

It is odd that I find that I go through far fewer blades than my partner does. Neither of us have quite figured out why. I think it is just personal technique that makes subtle differences on blade wear and it is something that is unique to each cutter. It doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, just that the style is different.

But now I have wandered from the main topic.

I suppose my point is that blades are cheap and when they are dull they should be changed. Usually if you are familiar to the scroll saw, you can see this coming before it breaks. With all the cost involved in time and wood, having a sharp, fresh blade is a truly important part of the cutting process and should be one of the priorities on your list in order to have a good experience and produce a good project. Just my two cents.

After cutting, I spent the afternoon shooting another couple of video segments for the classes. I know I am due for the next lesson, but with these skaters needing to be done as soon as possible, I had to put it on hold until that job was finished. I should have the next class posted either today or tomorrow though, so be looking for that.

I find that I am doing a bit better with the videos, although I am still not quite comfortable with them as I want to be. It seems that I start them off and then stammer around a bit until I get going. If I think too much, I muck it up and have to start again. Usually however, I make my mistakes before cutting and I am able to start it over again without any consequence. Once I get rolling it seems to go much better, as I forget what I am doing and get involved in the process. I do feel I know what I am doing and once on familiar ground it takes over the fear and I do fine. I hope it shows in the results.

I had a nice email from a customer who had combined some of my patterns to make a custom sign. He used a bird pattern that I made, and also one of the recent lettering patterns to make a sign for his daughter. He also painted the birds in and requested that I make some videos on painting, which I definitely intend to do very soon. I wanted to show you all the results of his efforts, as I think it is really cool:

This made me so happy to see how creative others can be with my designs. The main goal that I have with my work is to offer a variety of ideas that people can use as a springboard for their own and this is a great example of how that can work. I was thrilled to see it and it makes me very happy to think that I contribute to others’ creativity.

Thus, I love my job!

I spent the evening separating the layers of skaters from each other and giving them a quick hand sanding and polish. They didn’t need much, but it was time consuming nonetheless. I didn’t mind however, as I had a five part HBO mini-series that I wanted to see and just started running it in the background. As it turned out, I was just finishing up the final sanding on the last pieces as the final part of the series came to an end. It was almost midnight, and I had lost track of the time, as watching a good story while sanding made it pass very quickly.

It is hard to call it ‘work’ some days.

As I gaze upon the box of figures and think about my new idea and also about how I am going to present the next lesson for my class, I can’t help but think that I am very lucky. Doing what I love has opened so many doors for me and given me so many opportunities to enrich others’ lives.

I am one very fortunate woman.

Have a great Sunday!

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

6 comments so far

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#1 posted 09-04-2011 02:03 PM

oh boy
the sunday long post

haven’t read it yet
but with my second cup
of coffee
i will now

thanks for keeping our mornings interesting

have a great day

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2917 days

#2 posted 09-04-2011 02:06 PM

Yep, Dave! It usually starts out with me looking at a blank page thinking “what the heck am I going to write about today?” and more so than not, it winds up like this. Is that good or bad? Hummmm . . . . . :/

I guess I get on a roll . . .

Have a great one! :D


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

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#3 posted 09-04-2011 02:19 PM

well i did read it
and have to say

yes you are a very lucky woman

i can’t wait to see these new blades
i have some delta blades
that i would rather change out
as they are not to good

as far as the life of tools or blades go
on job sites
if something breaks or quits working
i get what i can to continue
if it pays for itself by finishing the job
i can throw it away if needed
and replace with a better one
tool maintenance and bit or blade replacement
should be part of the price of the work
dull or shoddy tools don’t make money or work easy
why skimp

thanks for the uplift today
have a good one

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3112 days

#4 posted 09-05-2011 12:43 AM

as a hobbyist on a restricted budget I can see why some people want to extend the life on the blade
but the only way I wuold do it wuold be using an extra tableplate of wood that fits the original table
when sliding in from the front and clamped from the underside … to raise the table 1-2 cm
but only if thin wood is cut
other than that no

nice sign he made :-)

take care

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2917 days

#5 posted 09-05-2011 02:17 AM

Hi, Dennis!

I do understand your way of raising the table up, but I use mostly reverse tooth scroll saw blades and if I put a layer on the table, the reverse teeth would not reach the bottom of the wood. I am not saying that people should waste or be careless with throwing out blades prematurely, but I do think that it is an important part of the process and cutting with sharp and fresh blades is really important. Just as it is important to have sharp router bits or lathe tools so you don’t damage the pieces you are working on.

And yes, the sign is really cool! It feels great to see how creative others can be!

I hope you have a great evening! (By the way – I love the new avatar!)

Take care and ‘hi’ to Silke!

Sheila :)

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

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3112 days

#6 posted 09-05-2011 11:31 PM

I do understand this with sharp tools :-)
and if not before then deffently after tonight … LOL
I used an very dull plastichandled saw …. I just wuolden destroy a new sharp one
I rip cut 2 yard long piece of wood I have used against some concrete earlyer
and thats it the last cut it ever will make …. so in the near future its going to be recycled
as cardscrapers etc. the plastic is already tossed for recycling :-)


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