My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #656: A Mini-Lesson in Production Work

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 03-30-2012 11:04 AM 3629 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 655: In Anticipation of Spring Part 656 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 657: Planning a Day of Cutting »

The sun is just coming up this morning and I can see that there is no snow on the ground. Already it is a good day.

It’s going to be one of those days which involves lots of running around, and part of me feels as if I am not going to accomplish a lot. But that is a bad attitude, and I should try to see if I can get my mindset in another direction. After all, we can’t only measure our accomplishments by the number of pieces we produce every day. We all know there is much more to it that meets the eye.

I am excited because I am taking the car to Yarmouth to get the new tires put on. After what seems to be a long time of having it parked for winter, it will be a wonderful feeling to have it back in commission again. When I got it inspected last fall, I knew that it needed new tires and I barely passed the inspection. The only reason I was able to was under the promise that I would replace the tires before spring. My mechanic knew that I planned on parking it for the winter and he trusted me on my word. I honored that trust, and besides the short trip out last week to charge up the battery, I have left it be. It gave me time to save for the new wheels and get through the holiday season without thinking about them, and also I didn’t have to buy wheels just to let the car sit for several months in the snow and cold. Fresh tires and a new season. Let the summer begin.

I have an appointment for 2pm today, which is about the crummiest time I could imagine. It is neither early or late, but with Yarmouth being a 45 minute drive away, it will successfully mess up my entire day. I am going to make the best of the broken time I will have and try to get everything I can done while I am in town. I hope to spend the weekend and start really working on cutting the kits in earnest.

Yesterday, I set up the production of the cutting fairly well. While there are many methods of stack cutting (cutting more than one layer of wood at a time) that I can use, I chose to use the hot glue method for this amount of work. This turned out to be the quickest and most effective way to hold the pieces together, and after testing them out, I think it is also the most accurate. (My partner Keith wrote an article that we have on our site called “Stack Cutting for the Scroll Saw” if you are interested in reading about the different methods.)

Since the 10” square pieces were all uniform and a bit larger than the pattern pieces, I found that the best way to hold them together was to just put a small drop of glue on each corner with the glue gun. The results were a neat layered piece of wood that was small enough to maneuver easily on the saw, yet large enough to hold about a dozen pieces:

I cut an entire piece of wood, cutting all 12 pieces and making sure that the frame would still hold together well for the last pieces and no shifting would occur. After I was finished, I wound up with this:

Four small dots of glue on each corner held the pieces together beautifully! I was ready to really get to work now.

I wanted to mention that even though I have been doing this for many years, I still took the time to test this one piece first and make sure that the method that I was using would work well. In many of my pattern packets, I use the phrase “test cut first” or “try this out first and adjust ” and sometimes I honestly think that people just skim right over that part and jump head on into the project. Can you imagine if I glued all the boards together and then went to cut the first one only to find that as I eliminated pieces, the wood shifted and I was unable to cut the remaining pieces out correctly??? It would be a disaster, as below is a picture of the number of pieces that I am working with:

Taking the time to do things right and TEST your methods is truly essential in the success of any project you do – even one as simple as this. I can’t stress that enough! The little extra time you take may save you hours of work and countless dollars of materials, and also make the process so much more fun and stress free. I hope you all remember that on your next projects!

Once I finished the test pieces, I proceeded in gluing the first set of boards together. This was enough for the first 100 patterns and took me a little bit. I wanted to do all the hot gluing at once, so I didn’t have to leave the glue gun on longer than necessary. When all was done, I printed out the appropriate number of pattern sheets. I decided to apply the patterns to only one sheet at a time, because it gave me a chance to get up and walk around for a minute in between sheets of cutting. This change in movement from cutting would not only alleviate the stress on my arms and back, but help me stay focused when I was back at the saw, too.

It is the little things like that which make the job go smoothly and keep it fresh and fun. By this time, it was nearing dinner and I stopped at 16 dozen pieces cut out.

Seeing as I have 100 dozen for this set, I still have a way to go, but I decided to stop for the day and I plan on really working on this in earnest tomorrow. I may get a set or two cut today, but we will see what the day brings. It will be easy to dive into the pile, even if for a half an hour or so, because everything is set up and ready and all I have to do really is apply the pattern and cut. I think that this is the most efficient way to do things and will help me get through the pile quickly.

One last thing that I wanted to mention was the blade that I used for cutting these. I found the Olsen Mach blades in size 3 worked incredibly well in going through this thickness of hard birch plywood.

Although the teeth are small, there is less drag on them than the traditional blades that I used. I even experimented and tried a #5 regular reverse tooth blade (figuring bigger was better) and found that cutting through the layers was very much slower than the #3 Mach blades. Since these designs are not intricate and are pretty basic cutting, I would like to go as fast as I can through them without having to work too hard pushing. Since I tried these blades last year, they have been my favorites on anything 1/2” or over, as not only are they sharp, but they last well too.

So that is the plan for today. I hope that this little mini-lesson in production cutting will help you when you have production work like this to do. Basically it is a matter of common sense, but taking the time to set things up properly and be organized and test your methods before implementing them on the entire order are key factors in having a pleasant time and enjoying what you are doing. I actually look forward to cranking up the music and cutting away, and it will be fun to see the pile of little pieces grow.

I hope you have a great day today. I know I am will! Enjoy!

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

5 comments so far

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#1 posted 03-30-2012 01:45 PM

Jam on Sheila, jam on

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3327 days

#2 posted 03-30-2012 03:02 PM

your set to go, looks great, you will have it done before you know it, i really do enjoy my scroll saw when it has the right blade on it, nice and sharp , well after you get your new tires, you need to seal the outside of these things by lighting them up…and let the mustang show off for the summer…...yea…a burn out baby……..i would bet you dont do it…i bet you granny those tires for there life… hot rod mama……...have a wonderful day…..

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10117 posts in 4076 days

#3 posted 03-30-2012 03:35 PM

Looks like a Hobby is now Work!

That is real Production, baby!

Have you ever looked into a CNC machine for a Scroll Saw? LOL
... I doubt if there is any in existence… LOL

Just think of the Painting process… coming up…
...oops… all of’em will probably need sanding first… (darn)

Make a bunch of stencils for each color… place over, Spray, & go onto next stencil… (???) LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2943 days

#4 posted 03-31-2012 10:27 AM

Thanks Roger and Grizz!

Hi, Joe:
I am selling these as kits for painters, and once they are cut they are ready to go. I already sanded them when they were in the sheets which will save me sanding now. They are smooth and nice and all the painters need to do is lightly sand them if they want (it isn’t even really necessary) and they can begin painting them. Fortunately, I won’t be painting them all, as there is no way I could ever live long enough to do so with this quantity! (LOL)

I hope you have a grat day!


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

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

10117 posts in 4076 days

#5 posted 03-31-2012 05:18 PM

WOW, what a relief… I could see you painting for a LONG time! LOL

Very good!

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: ... My Small Gallery:"

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