My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #902: Review on Using Full Sheet Labels for Applying Scroll Saw Patterns

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 12-12-2012 12:27 PM 3801 reads 1 time favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 901: Spray Glue and Labels and Tape, Oh MY! Part 902 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 903: I Am In Awe of You All »

In my recent posts, I have been discussing different ways to apply patterns to wood for scroll sawing. Since last year, I have noticed that the quality of the spray adhesive that I was accustomed to using had been on the decline. The brand I have used for the past several years has been Elmer’s, and while I first thought it just may have been an isolated incident (perhaps a bad batch) I have since purchased it from several different locations with the same results, and heard similar stories from others who have used it that live a great distance from me, so my only logical conclusion is that they have changed the formula.

I wrote to the company to inquire about this, and have yet to receive a response. This leaves me to assume that the formula did indeed change.

There are alternatives available as far as spray glue which work in applying the patterns, but the ones that seem to work the best are expensive (Supper 77 at about $20 per can) or don’t hold well (Krylon’s Easy Tack @ $8 per can.) I know there are other brands available, but they aren’t always available to everyone in different areas. This started me looking for completely alternative methods to apply the pattern that would be both reliable and cost effective.

One way was to use double sided masking tape. This is NOT the same as carpet tape, and turned out to be a bit of a task to hunt down. However, I have had a reasonable amount of success in tracking some down, and I will discuss that process in a later blog.

A third method, which I am going to discuss here in detail, is using full sheet labels, which are widely available everywhere. I posted a link to where I purchased mine in yesterday’s blog. I am in Canada, for those who aren’t aware, and I was able to purchase them HERE on Amazon. With taxes and additional shipping, the order came to about $30, which meant that each full sheet (8.5” x 11”) came to cost me 30 cents.

Here is the brand I purchased:

In the description, the labels were called “permanent.” While I don’t want them to be completely permanent, I do want them to stick for the time I am scroll sawing, so I felt that these would be desirable over the type of labels that can be repositioned.

I began by printing out my pattern on a full sheet.

I chose a pattern that had many curls and small details, as I find that is the type of cutting that causes the pattern to loosen up the most. When cutting thin slivers of wood, if the edges of the labels are even slightly loose, it causes the pattern to flap and lift and you spend more time trying to hold it down with your nail while cutting than actually paying attention to what you are doing. Any scroller that has experienced this knows what a pain it is and how distracting it can be. I have made many mistakes because of this happening and it makes cutting much more stressful and tedious.

You can see the fine detail in the pattern:

I also want to note that it is probably best to use this method on patterns that fill or nearly fill up the entire sheet. You wouldn’t want to cut one ornament from the center of the page, as you would be wasting most of the label. While you could probably go half and half and rerun the label through your printer twice, it isn’t always the easiest thing to do.

(NOTE: This is only ONE METHOD of applying the pattern. No one method is optimal for every situation. That is one of the reasons I am exploring several different ways that you can successfully and economically apply the pattern. You may use this for one cutting session and find that an alternative method makes more sense for another. I will explore other methods in subsequent posts.)

The first step was drilling. No problem at all here. Again, we have all experienced being half way through drilling the holes and having the pattern lift. It is very frustrating and difficult to replace the pattern in the exact same place to line up the already drilled holes. This stuck great!

In rough cutting the ornament from the board, I noticed something right away. You can see that the wood began burning exactly where the label ended. In all of my instructions, I recommend taping a full layer of either clear packaging tape over the entire pattern or blue painter’s tape under the pattern. This is the reason I do so. The adhesive in the tape helps the blade run cooler and pretty much eliminates any burning. It really WORKS and is much worth the extra effort to do so. The adhesive in the labels works the same way and when using them, it saves the cost and time and effort of applying a layer of tape over your designs. That is a big PLUS!

You can see in the picture that the burning started EXACTLY where the label ended. I was using 1/4” bird’s eye maple and a brand new Olson 2/0 regular reverse tooth scroll saw blade. I continued to use the blade for the rest of the ornament without any adverse consequences.

I cut the tiny lettering with no lifting whatsoever:

I then moved on to the curly border. If lifting was to occur, I would think it would happen here. But everything held nicely and I was able to really concentrate on my cutting without worrying or having to hold down pieces. The cutting continued perfectly.

I completed the entire ornament and the label still held. Now came the moment of truth – would I be able to remove it easily?

I began on the inside piece and used a small knife to lift the edge. It began to lift in one piece cleanly:

However, it did tear and I needed to use the knife a bit to assist me in removing it:

It did let go however, and it wasn’t at all like when I used too much spray adhesive and had the pattern cemented to the piece. With a little effort, it was fairly easy to remove.

The next part was the delicate fretwork border. Once again, the label didn’t come off in one piece, however with the help of the knife the label came off fairly easily:

Yes, it took a few minutes to remove it all, but in weighing the small amount of effort against the alternative of having the pattern lift as I was cutting, it was a clear decision. I would far prefer to have to work a bit after cutting rather than have a flapping pattern during the cutting process. To me it was a no-brainer.

Most important – when the label was removed, there was not a bit of tackiness or residue left behind to interfere with any finishing process that I would choose. In using the spray adhesive, I found that many times in order to keep the pattern sticking, enough was needed so that there was a residue left on the piece. This was compounded with the now bad mixes of the Elmer’s that I have been using.

Overall, I give this process a 7.5 on a scale from one to ten. On the upside, I was able to cut a very intricate pattern and not have to worry about the pattern lifting. Seeing that I was able to print six ornaments on one 30 cent sheet, this label cost me a mere 5 cents to use. Add to that I didn’t have to use an additional layer of blue painter’s tape to prevent the wood from burning and the cost went down even more.

On the down side, it did take a little time to remove from the piece. I suppose I could ‘blot’ it with something before applying it to the wood to ‘de-tack’ it a bit if I felt it was necessary, but I don’t see it as being that much of an effort in order to do so.

The bottom line was that I was able to really concentrate on what I was cutting and following my line, and it felt great to be able to not worry about the pattern coming off. It was well-worth the trade off.

With all the time and money we spend in supplies, I believe this is a very small cost to pay for a decent outcome. Had these pieces been stack cut, which is certainly possible, the cost of the label would naturally be a fraction of the nickel that it cost me.

Again – this probably isn’t the most efficient way to do everything. If you are unable to consolidate small pieces onto one sheet for printing, you may be better off using another method. But for things like full sheets of ornaments and plaques that take up the full page, I think this is a great way to do it. I know that is what I am going to be using from now on.

I hope you enjoyed this review. I will be reviewing other methods in the near future so that you can choose the right way for yourself to apply the pattern that is both cost effective and reliable and will make your cutting stress-free and pleasurable.

Have a wonderful day! :)

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

15 comments so far

View Robert Tutsky's profile

Robert Tutsky

58 posts in 2048 days

#1 posted 12-12-2012 12:59 PM

Hi Sheila,
Nice pattern cutting you have done there. Scroll sawing is a lot of fun and rewarding. As for the way you have been applying your patterns I have an alternate way you might like to try.

In the past I have used the spray adheiseve also. Besides being expensive and terrible to use (toxic spray residue) I found a much cleaner and cheaper way of mounting. I now use the glue sticks that kids use in school. They are inexpensive (I buy a pack of four off ebay). I also use it for mounting wet/dry sandpaper to granite tiles for sharpening chisels and plane irons. The glue is non toxic and is easily removed from the wood with a bit of water sprayed from a mister bottle.


View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#2 posted 12-12-2012 01:04 PM

Thank you very much for your input Robert. I have tried some glue sticks and I have had a bit of residue left. I didn’t try this one though, and I never thought of using the spray bottle with water to remove any that could be left. I will definitely put it in my list of choices for people to try. I am going to be writing an article for Creative Woodworks and Crafts magazine on applying patterns and I am certainly going to include this method. It is great to know what works for people. I always try to keep in mind that everyone has their own preferences and giving several good choices that work helps a great deal. Again, thanks for your thoughts. :)


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

View KnotCurser's profile


2025 posts in 3067 days

#3 posted 12-12-2012 02:03 PM


Thanks for reviewing this product! I have seen this in the past and always wondered if it would be suitable for this type of use – now I know. :-)

I might go ahead a purchase a pack to use with smaller projects – I don’t know how well this would work with much larger pieces though.

Here’s my method to add to your list:

I use clear packing tape – I get four rolls of it on amazon for 10 dollars – that’s 200 yards of tape, BTW.
I cover the surface of my wood with the tape BEFORE I apply any pattern, then I can use whatever glue, adhesive, etc….. to affix my pattern on top of the tape with NO fear of any residue or staining to the wood.
As you stated in your blog, the tape lubricates the blade – it also protects the wood from any damage while your are cutting your pattern. I have NEVER had any tape peel up while cutting – I did, however, have the pattern separate from the tape when I used a really cheap brand of spray adhesive, but I think it would have peeled up from the wood as well.

When I’m finished cutting, the tape peels away from the wood cleanly and easily.

I doubt this method would be viable when doing a ton of cuttings as it takes a bit of extra time to cover the piece with the tape, but this method allows you to use any adhesive you wish with no worry about it not coming up when finished.

BTW, I use Loctite 1629134 Spray Adhesive currently – mainly because it’s really sticky and it only costs me seven dollars a can. :-)

I am really looking forward to reading more methods from others on this as well as your upcoming article.



-- Robert Rhoades WoodWorks / Email: /

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#4 posted 12-12-2012 02:09 PM

Thanks for the tip on the Avery software, Bruce. I will certainly look into that, as usually the Avery software is free. Their labels are really expensive though – I saw them at nearly $40 USD for a pack of 100! YIKES! I am sure there may be places to find them cheaper though. But with standard 8.5×11 size full sheets, the templates should work fine with anything you like. :)

Bob – I have done that too, and so does Keith. I do find the tape can be “enthusiastic” about sticking sometimes to smaller pieces and hard to pick off. I think harder than the labels I used yesterday. It is certainly a workable option though and one that I am sure I will use again in some cases. Thanks to you too for your thoughts. I always enjoy hearing from you.


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

View Vicki's profile


1099 posts in 3343 days

#5 posted 12-12-2012 03:23 PM

Great tutorial as always. Thank you. A tip for pattern removal: i lay my heat gun on it’s side on my work table and hold my project in front of it, a section at a time. The pattern usually curls off and I peel a section and reheat and repeat. The gun is a cheapie from Harbor Frieght. It doesn’t overheat so leaving it on the table for that short period is OK and faster than turning on/off, picking up/setting down. That saves some time. I use the packing tape and spray glue method.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2291 days

#6 posted 12-12-2012 03:55 PM

Thank you for this series. I have looked for the double sided Green tarp tape (you mentioned a while back) but have not found it here in the states. However, I did find Ace Carpet Tape Plastic (double sided stick) #50106, 1.41” x 42” for $3.99 per roll. Just thought I’d pass this on as a potential option and the part number if anyone is interested.

Actually, this use of full sheet labels looks like the best solution of all—it’s a time saver, it’s economical, it’s fast, and best of all, it works!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#7 posted 12-12-2012 04:22 PM

The heat gun is a great idea and I will certainly pass that information forward, Vicki. I have heard of others using it but I will try to see how is does with loosening up the backs of the labels.

John – I am still hunting for a reliable source for the tape in the United States. I will try to call the company perhaps and get the information of who they distribute it to in the States and see if that is workable. Just watch on the carpet tape that it isn’t too strong and that it doesn’t bond to the wood. I have had that happen when using it for stack cutting and it is quite the pain to get off sometimes – especially when it is left on delicate fretwork.

As I said, lots of choices for different situations is the way to go. :)


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

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 2291 days

#8 posted 12-12-2012 05:18 PM

Sheila: Thanks for the heads up. I was using the carpet tape to tape back band saw off cuts on one side so I could turn and cut the adjacent side. And, yes it was a strong bond, but it was okay with the band saw size pieces. Now that you call my attention to it, I can see that it might be a real problem with delicate fretwork. John

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#9 posted 12-12-2012 05:37 PM

Yes, John! Learn from MY mistakes (I have many of them! LOL) :) Networking is a good thing, isn’t it?


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

View Druid's profile


1754 posts in 2794 days

#10 posted 12-12-2012 06:19 PM

Hi Sheila. Now I am wondering about that package of diskette labels that I just disposed of about a month ago. There were 9 per sheet, and should have been just right for smaller items. Thanks for the ongoing information.

-- John, British Columbia, Canada

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#11 posted 12-12-2012 06:28 PM

You are welcome, John. Yep, they probably would have worked well. That is a really good idea using the divided labels. That way you could pull one off at a time and print the remaining ones later. Most label programs allow you to choose which label(s) from the sheet you want to print on. Great point!

Sheila :)

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

View Celticscroller's profile


1269 posts in 2071 days

#12 posted 12-13-2012 12:14 AM

This is why I like LJ’s. Great feedback and information from different sources. Looking forward to your article Sheila on this topic. A lesson would be great too.
Love the Valentine’s plaques! You really have to look so far ahead! I don’t know if I could be thinking of Valentine or Easter ideas when I’m surrounded by Christmas.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Dan Krager's profile (online now)

Dan Krager

4005 posts in 2233 days

#13 posted 12-13-2012 02:25 AM

I have one more idea to throw into the soup. I’ve been reasonably successful in pulling adhesive patterns from the finished cut by applying another, perhaps stickier, layer and removing both at once. You have to rub the second layer for good adhesion, so maybe not much time saved over a knife. In the case of the label paper, the cutoffs between the patterns might be big enough to be useful here to prevent the tearing because the removal force is more evenly distributed.

-- Dan Krager, Olney IL One should always prefer the probable impossible to the improbable possible.

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9228 posts in 2918 days

#14 posted 12-13-2012 11:36 AM

That ornament was from last year’s design, Anna. I used it because that is the type of design where the pattern typically lifts because of all the detail. I probably should have used my Christmas ornaments. I think it just came to mind as one of the difficult ones.

You are right about people here. Between this site and on my own web page, I have received so many great ideas from others. I love having a place to share ideas and help each other. It builds great friendships too!

Dan – I am going to have to try that. I would only be afraid of rubbing on some of the really delicate pieces, but it is worth trying out on pieces that are a little stronger. Thanks so much for your tip!


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

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2802 days

#15 posted 12-13-2012 12:12 PM

Very interesting stuff from everyone.

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

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