So far we are doing pretty good at knocking off this large order. We are now past the half way point in cutting the pieces, and I am pleased at the output rate. For the most part, things have gone pretty smoothly, but yesterday we had some trouble with a product that I have used for many years, and we are debating whether it is time to switch.
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to apply the pattern to the wood with this kind of scroll sawing is by using temporary spray adhesive. Since scroll sawing usually involves quite an intricate pattern with many lines to follow, tracing the pattern usually isn’t a good option. You would need to be extremely accurate and the slightest shifting of the pattern you are tracing from could cause havoc when you try to cut your design.
With this order that we are working on, we are in the process of cutting out 6000 separate pieces. While the pieces are simple shapes, They do need to be accurate in order for the painting pattern to line up when people try to paint them. We are stack-cutting the pieces four layers high, meaning we are cutting through four 1/8” pieces of wood at a time, which allows for maximum productivity. It also means that we only need to actually cut 1500 pieces. You could see the advantages to that, I am sure.
But cutting 1500 pieces is still a challenge to say the least. In doing so, even the smallest thing can make a difference as to whether it is a pleasant experience or not.
Yesterday, we encountered a bit of a problem that we have to deal with. For years I have been using Elmer’s Spray Adhesive to bond the pattern to whatever I was cutting. It was fairly simple to use and very effective. You simply spray the back of the pattern with a light mist (I placed it in a large pizza box first, to avoid making a mess with the over spray) allow it to tack up for a few seconds, and then apply the piece to your wood. The pattern would stick nicely to your wood while you were cutting, and then when you were finished, peel off easily.
While using this process to apply patterns to the wood isn’t difficult, it sometimes takes a bit of getting used to. If you applied too much spray, or didn’t allow it to tack up enough, the pattern would be somewhat difficult to remove. If you didn’t apply enough or allowed it to set too long before placing it on your wood, it wouldn’t stick enough and the pattern would begin to come up while cutting, which could be quite annoying and somewhat dangerous. (Truth be told, that is what was happening when I cut myself the other day. The pattern started flapping and my attention was taken away from the blade and the piece caught and it resulted in me sticking my thumb into the blade!)
Both Keith and I have noticed that there seem to be problems with the Elmer’s Spray of late. At first we thought it may have been a bad can. When we first started to use the spray when it was full, it would come out in clumps. As you can imagine, this didn’t help when we were trying to remove the pattern, as some of the pieces required us to use mineral spirits to remove the extra adhesive and get the pattern off of the wood. While we may be able to work around this when doing a single plaque or small project, you could see the impracticality of having to fight to get the pattern off when cutting over 1000 pieces. It just wouldn’t do.
After a certain time, the glue seemed to work and we thought it was just a fluke. But later on, we noticed that the patterns, while appearing to be applied properly, began falling off as we were cutting them. It was as if there was not enough glue to hold them into place. It was not a happy time for us.
You are probably thinking that we didn’t shake the can enough, and that is something that certainly crossed our minds. Or perhaps we had a defective can – an odd lot that wasn’t properly formulated. But when we went to the next can, the same thing happened, even though we took extra care to shake the can extensively to make sure the glue was not settled and properly mixed before it was dispensed.
We were wondering if Elmer’s had changed their formula. I have used this brand for many years and never have I had such difficulty with it. I am very disappointed in the product at this time and I am going to have to see what else is available here in Canada that will work sufficiently and not cost a fortune (however, at this point I am not really thinking of the cost – I just want something that works!)
We were able to get things done, with the help of a tape dispenser close at hand. However, it did slow down progress tremendously. We reached our goal of cutting yesterday in a reasonable amount of time, but it would have been a lot quicker and less stressful had the glue behaved.
We are able to work around the issue, but it is something that we want to look into and find out why all of a sudden after years of it being a good product it would not preform to the same standards. We want to try to contact the makers and find out if indeed they changed the formula, or perhaps if we had purchased a bad batch of product. I really hope that is the case because I did like how it worked before.
With that said, I am going to get moving. There is lots to do today and I need to keep on schedule so that all the cutting is done by Friday. We will then spend the weekend packing things up.
If any of you have thoughts on this problem, or have experienced the same thing, I would love to hear from you. I will probably not be able to answer until tonight, however, as I plan to spend my day at the saw.
Have a great day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"