My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond #1102: Cutting, Routing and Scrolling Frames

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Blog entry by Sheila Landry (scrollgirl) posted 08-10-2013 11:22 AM 2596 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1101: Progress Part 1102 of My Journey As A Creative Designer - Woodworking and Beyond series Part 1103: The "Perfect" Weekend »

I finished all of my cutting yesterday. That was a big plus. Cutting out nine plaques of this type in under two days was an accomplishment that I was satisfied with.

I had initially hoped that I would have these all oiled and finished by today, but as usual, things came up and I need to sand and oil them today. I should have better pictures tomorrow.

I am pleased with these designs. While they are not really difficult, some of the motifs do present a little bit of a challenge. I think that this style of scrolling is an excellent way for people to practice an improve their skills. Because of the swirly nature of the designs, if someone cuts a bit ‘off’ it is really of little consequence, as long as they don’t go as far as to cut into the next part of the design. In addition, the silhouette pieces become the focal point so it lessens any errors even more. There could be slight variances that would certainly not be noticeable in the least.

On yesterday’s blog, someone asked about why I cut the frame pieces out prior to scrolling. I thought I would explain a bit further so you can all understand my thinking on the matter.

I always do plaques such as this in this particular order:

1 – I cut the perimeter of the piece. This brings the piece down to a comfortable size to handle, as I don’t like working with larger pieces. I usually use a larger blade for this (around a size 5 reverse, depending on the thickness of the material I am cutting, which is usually around half an inch or so for plaques this size) The larger blade is naturally thicker and works best for me when I cut long, straight stretches or long gentle curves. If I used a smaller blade at this point – especially on solid hard wood which is my usual choice – the smaller, thinner blade would tend to want to follow the grain when cutting – again depending on the type of wood. Using a size five or larger will help alleviate this problem and the larger, thicker blade will stay truer to your cutting line.

2 – I then route the frame, both inside and out. I leave the pattern on when I do this. I usually use a slight round over router bit and it bites off very little. The pattern stays in place for the most part, although on occasion it can come loose. If it does, I either re-tape the loose area or in the worst cases, which almost never happen, reapply the pattern for the frame. I find that when using double sided tape this never occurs. It doesn’t happen when using adhesive labels either. It can tend to come up when using the spray-glue method, which I solve as I mentioned above, but reapply the section or sections that are loose. Usually if something comes up, it is only in a small area and not an issue. A little tape and we are good to go. I don’t cut the design from the frame prior to routing because it will weaken the frame and I don’t want it to blow apart when routing it. It has never happened to me and I hope it never will, but it is one of my concerns nonetheless and why I recommend routing prior to scrolling.

3 – I cut the scroll sawn detail into the frame. Yes – this means I sometimes need to retrace part of the design. Especially if that part falls on a curved edge of the piece. If you look closely at the picture that I posted yesterday, you can see that even though the pieces are routed, the pattern stayed on the frames enough to see the design. I am reposting the picture here for you to see:

Now you can see at #1 that the router ate away some of the pattern. My solution was to just sketch in the line with a pencil and cut it. It really doesn’t make anything harder and it is easy to cut on the curve as it is a flat piece. The only time a curve would be an issue would be if it were curved on the underside of the piece, as depending on the piece, it may rock.

At #2 you can see that I successfully cut the design on the curved edge and there is no difference as to whether the pattern piece was in place or not.

Here are two close ups of the edges for you to see:

These pieces of course are not sanded or finished yet. You can see the first picture, which is of curly maple, has a little bit of tear out from the routing. This is because of the curly grain, but it should still sand out nicely.

The second picture is cut from ash, which is much more stable, but will still look much better and polished when sanded and oiled.

Both came out lovely though and I do actually like how the design is cut partially into the curved edge. It looks very pretty and soft and professional this way.

This is one reason that I do like to cut each design that I make myself. I have had many generous offers from others to do my cutting for me so I could draw more patterns and produce a larger volume of designs, but I feel that it will take me away from the main reason I am designing these – to scroll saw. As with anything, the more I do the more I learn. After fifteen plus years of being a designer, I still learn a little something new with each project.

As far as cutting “from the inside of the design working toward the outside” as most instructions state, as with everything, you need to think through and not always take things literally. For the most part, cutting the inside parts of the design and working towards the outside is the way to go in general, but there are exceptions, such on these frame motifs. As long as you have approximately 1/4” of material between the design and the edges, I feel that there is little danger of having a problem with breaking. Keep in mind that most of what I cut is with hard wood and not soft wood like pine. As soft wood and loose grained hard wood (such as Oak) I reserve for projects without a lot of detail. Hard or not – wood such as oak with a more open grain would not hold up well to this type of design, as there are many small points and swirls. I am not saying that you absolutely can’t use it, but if you do, you will be at a greater risk of pieces chipping off. Since these pieces will have a backer on the main design, you could possible use oak, as the backer will stabilize the wood, but it will just be riskier, depending on the piece of wood you use. That is one reason that I migrate toward wood such as maple and even cherry or walnut. They are tighter grain and amazingly strong.

So that’s it for today. I plan on doing all the finishing work on these nine plaques and I should have some nice pictures for you all next time. I plan to get these up on the site as soon as I am done, but I am thinking it will be Monday before that occurs. Keith scolded me the other day for “constantly working” and I suppose he is right. I may take my Sunday and do some painting, as I haven’t touched it for another week again. With a job such as I have though, it doesn’t really seem like I am working so it is easy to get lost in it. But when thinking about it, he is right and I really haven’t taken much of a break in a while. I look at what I accomplished and I have nothing to be ashamed about. So maybe a painting day is in order after all. :)

I wish you a wonderful weekend. I hope this helps those of you who were questioning the process I use to understand a little better why I do things in the order that I do. I think this is the easiest and most reliable way to accomplish this.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone. We are already mid-August and summer is on the wane. Be sure to take some time to enjoy the season!

-- 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 Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2912 days

#1 posted 08-10-2013 01:37 PM

That is an amazing piece so much detail
If the grain is hairy you can do a climb cut
which is going in the other direction first then cleaning on the second pass.

It is an odd day here on the banks o the River Doon Sunny with light clouds
swirling still no scones, yogurt is my limit :)

Have a sublime weekend Sheila winter will be upon us before we know it


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#2 posted 08-10-2013 01:43 PM

Good morning Jamie! Sometimes I do the pass as you say if there is a little bump from entering the cutting area, but I find that I wind up messing up the piece more than not at times. Remember these pieces aren’t even sanded at all yet – that I will be doing today. Much of the hairy grain you are seeing is from the routing. I am afraid my bits aren’t as sharp as I would like. However, this bit did much better than the one I used on the Silhouette Bird Set which burned the wood terribly. There are a few hot spots here, but for the most part a little sanding will clean them up quickly. :)

Yes – it is already nearly autumn like weather here. I can ‘feel’ autumn approaching! I wish you well and a happy and relaxed weekend. :)


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

View CFrye's profile


10289 posts in 1895 days

#3 posted 08-10-2013 03:52 PM

Sheila (and Jamie) thank you for the step by step process and tips. It makes sense, now that you’ve explained it, to do the router work first. I’d be heartbroken if I’d done all the scroll work then messed it up on the router (a very real possibility)! Thanks for sharing and have a great fall-ish weekend!

-- God bless, Candy

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#4 posted 08-10-2013 04:05 PM

That is a real concern that I didn’t even mention, Candy. I would also hate to have anything happen after the scroll sawing part of the project were done. That seems to take the most time and it would be sad to ruin a piece after putting all of that work into it. (Yes! I have done that in the past!) Live and learn. . . . ;)

Have a good day yourself, 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 2129 days

#5 posted 08-10-2013 04:35 PM

Hi Sheila, I can see I’ll have to do some router practising before I attempt these! I love these designs though and I can think of so many different ways of using them.

The clouds have crept in here today but it is still warm though cooler than it has been for a while. Suits me as I’m off to bike down to the Maritime festival. Our carving club has a booth there so we will be doing some carving demos.
Enjoy your weekend and have fun painting.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9231 posts in 2975 days

#6 posted 08-10-2013 07:46 PM

Hi, Miss Anna! Our dull and dreary day turned out to be beautiful and sunny after all! I got everything sanded and oiled and painted al the silhouettes and backers as well. Now all that is left are the photographs and I will be done for the day.

You certainly have the ability to cut these. They are easier than the beautiful filigree bells that you cut, so they should be “easy-peasy” for you to do! :)

Have a wonderful weekend yourselves! I haven’t decided if I am going to post tomorrow. I may take the day off. If that is the case, I will be back on Monday.


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

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