Scrolling for beginners part 1

Well hey there guys and welcome back. On this week's show, we're going to be working
at the scroll saw. Well I haven't done a scrolling video in a
while and uh, it would seem that there might be a need for it out there. I've had some requests asking about scrolling
tips and what have you, so I'm going to start with today, uh with a beginners lesson or
kind of an introduction to scrolling. I don't know if it will be one part, two part,
I don't know how long it will last, but I'll just go with it and see where it takes us. Um, but without further adieu let's head over
to the scroll saw. So you've gotten your new scroll saw and you
are happy with it, you don' know much about it, but you're wondering where to go from
here. Well this video is a good place to start. And, where I'm going to concentrate to start
off with here is the setup of your saw.

There's a few things that you need to consider. Um, are you going to be scrolling while standing? Are you going to be scrolling while sitting? That sort of thing. For me, I prefer to sit. One of the important things about scrolling,
is that you want to be comfortable. If you're not comfortable and you're hunched
over the saw and your back is aching, you're not going to produce a good product. So, for here, I'm going to concentrate on,
for me, sitting. And you can see that where this table is,
and where my chair height is, my forearms are pretty much straight across. It's a good comfortable resting position.

I'm not like this, where after scrolling for
a while, there's no blood running to my fingers and I'm not downwards where it's a little
bit unnatural. We're just sitting in a nice, easy position
and our forearms are pretty much running parallel with the table. Some people prefer to have the table tilted
in this manner, so that they're kind of looking down on it and that's fine too.

The way that mine is set up, with this parallel
forearms thing, that's my preference. So the important thing to do is to play around
with it a bit and to decide exactly what it is that you are comfortable with and what
position is most comfortable for you to be sawing in. So that takes care of your saw height. Obviously if you are going to be standing,
the height is going to be different than if you are sitting.

Um, the next thing that you really want to
thing about here is whether or not you have your saw on a stand. And I would highly recommend it, simply because
having it on a bench um, without that saw being bolted down securely to something, regardless
of how many rubber feet you've got on the bottom, that thing is going to vibrate and
move. Or, while pushing your stock through, even
though you don't intend to, there's a huge possibility that you're going to be pushing
that saw with the vibrations and the force of you pushing the stock into it. So I would suggest having it on a stand. And you want to make sure that your saw is
securely bolted to that stand. If once on the stand, there's things like
excessive tool vibration etc etc etc, you can minimize that by putting rubber washers
between the feet of your saw and the stand itself. That's fine. That's something to modify later but first
and foremost, this saw should be rock solid on a stand and not be able to in any way shape
or form, vibrate off of that stand.

Whether it's a commercial one like I have
here that came with my saw or whether you make one, it's something that you want to
consider in your design element is stability and the ability for this to be bolted down
solidly. The next thing that I want to address, is
the throat clearance in your saw. Um, this is the hole in your table that the
blade goes through. And it never really occurred to me prior to
a few days ago, when a viewer contacted me because, a brand new saw, this blade was actually
touching the edge of the table.

And it occurred to that, you know, new babies
get sick too so um, what we need to do is check your table's alignment and what I mean
by that is that this blade, when under tension should be dead center, left to right, on the
ah, or in, in the, gap here or the blade hole of your table. If it's not, you need to loosen your table
outings and shift that table, left or right, whatever you require in order to get that
mounted correctly.

It doesn't mean that you've got a crap saw. It doesn't mean that you have a problematic
saw. What it means is, a scroll saw is like any
other tool and they don't necessarily come perfectly calibrated right out of the box. So, there might be, and most like will be,
adjustment that are required to be made after you actually assemble this thing. Who knows what kind of bumping it took on
the way there to get to a store and then to you? Who know, ah the guy that put that table on
that day may have had a pretty rough night the night before. You don't know. These are things that you want to check. So, blade in the center of your clearance
on your table. The next thing you want to consider now is
whether or not your blade is square to the table. Without the blade being square to the table
at 90 degrees to for those of you that say "what the heck does he mean by square". You're making a crooked cut and if you're
cutting a line while thinner stock, it may not make a difference, I said "may not", the
thicker you go, the more that line if off on the opposite end of the stock.

So you're now no longer cutting your true
pattern. So you want to make sure that this blade is
square. And the way you would do that is with a trusted,
little square. I have a small 2 inch one that lives in the
uh, drawers of the scroll saw and you just want to take your arms, uh, regardless of
what mechanism you have here, you want to raise the blade up to its highest point and
just place your square along the side of the blade. Don't push it in so that you are deflecting
the blade. That's a mistake that some people make. You've got to remember that this doesn't have
the thickness and the rigidity of a table saw blade. It will bend. It will flex. So you just want to place that square up against
the side of the blade (not the teeth) on the side of the blade, and have a look.

You can put a flashlight behind it if you
like. You can just eyeball it, but you want to see
that that is perfectly square there. That there is no deviation. There is no lines coming out of there and
everything is hunky dory. If not, if it's out of square even just by
a little bit, take the extra time to square that blade up. Whether you have one that your table tilts
or whether you have one that the whole motor and arm mechanism tilts doesn't matter. Square the blade up. Once you get it square, you can get a solid
piece of wood with nice, flat, square edges and run the blade into it, just to make a
notch.

And you could use that in future for a setup
block if you like but I prefer my little square here and it's just a quick glance to see,
"yes" this is in square and it going to give me a nice, clean, square edged cut. The next thing I want to touch on for the
beginners, is blade selection. Uh, I'm not going to get too deeply into blade
selection. Just be aware that there are many different
types of blades and they do have um, different thicknesses that they can cut. For my personal preference, and again this
is my preference, a quick break down would be a number 2 blade would be anything up to
3/8". If it's having problems with a 3/8" due to
a harder, um, species I might move up to a number 3. Ah, a number 5 blade or a number 3 blade,
I would use a number 3 for 3/8" up to 1/2". If it's having problems with the 1/2", I might
bump it up to a number 5.

And finally I would use a number 7 for anything
say, 5/8", 3/4, 7/8, um, if the number 7 blade can't take it then, you know, ah, you may
need to go up to a number 9 or a number 12 but that's pretty rare for me. Usually number 7 blades can take it. Speaking of blades, there are different types. There are spiral, there are skip tooth, there
are reverse tooth. My preference is reverse tooth. And a reverse tooth blade has teeth that are
ah, all pointing down as in a normal scroll saw blade but at the bottom of the blade,
it has about an inch of teeth that point up. So it will cut on the down stroke and then
cut again on the up stroke. It just helps to reduce the tear out. It's just my personal preference. So, figure out what thickness of stock that
you are going to use, and choose your blade accordingly. You've got the table centered up. You've got the scroll saw mounted. You've chosen your blade and now comes the
time to mount your blade.

Guys you should be practicing mounting these
blades without ever having to look down under here. Um, looking underneath the table is just going
to slow you down although scrolling is not a speed game, it's a real pain in the neck
to have to bend and look under here all the time so practice doing the blade without looking. And you should be able to just install the
blade down through your throat plate hole, give it a little tighten and then without
even looking under there attach it and then tension your blade. Um, the method for putting the blade is just
like I just pointed out. Just place your blade down through. You want to get it so that it's lined up with
your retaining bolt and then, or whatever mechanism yours has, and then give it a little
tighten. You don't want to crank this.

This here….most of these front pieces are
aluminum, some are steel…but if you go cranking this, this bolt is eventually going to strip
out your retaining screw. You don't want to strip that out. It's a real pain in the next to have to rethread
or order the new part. It's a real pain. You don't want to have to do that. Just give it a little snug. That all it needs. You don't need anything else. If you're finding that your blade slips out,
you can um, give it a little light sanding just to make sure that there are no factory
oils on it and to give it a little rougher surface for these retaining bolts to bit into,
but you shouldn't have that sort of issue. I have a number 3 blade here and I've talked
so much, that I forgot where I was in the blade installation but you just want to line
it up, give it a little tighten, just a touch and then at the bottom, without looking, a
little touch and then tension.

That's it! Blade is installed. Simple as that. So now what about blade tension? If this blade is loose, there's going to be
serious deflection. You're not going to get a good clean cut. You're going to break blades. It's not going to work for you. But if you pluck it, (plucking sound) Hear
that? There's not a certain note you're going for. What you're going for, is a high pitched tone. Almost like a guitar string. It has to have tension. And that's a pretty good tone right there. If you don't have that, let me see if I can
uh, duplicate a loose blade here. (lower plucking sound). Hear that? Hear how low that is? It doesn't…You really want more tension
than that. So get the blade in there, tensioned (high
pitched plucking sound) A nice tone. That's what you need. A high pitched tone, just like a guitar string. If you don't have that amount of tension on
there, um, if you're running a DW788, a DeWalt scroll saw, your tensioning is in the front,
up here.

Just put a little more tension on it. If you one of these, there are ways to adjust
the tension at the back of the saw with the knob that's back there. Um, these should be factory set uh, for the
tension on this particular model, but you can tweak it and adjust it as you wish. So, a nice tone on there. Some nice tension and then you're ready to
cut. Alright!! You're ready to go!! So now what? Where do you start? Um, most people who, um, start off with the
scroll saw, they want to jump right in to these crazy intricate patterns and these fancy
designs and uh, let me tell you something.

For many years, the scroll saw was not even
considered as part of woodworking. Um, it was considered uh, to be at the bottom
of the food chain when it came to the, the whole woodworking world. Scrolling is a skill. It is a skill. It is much harder than it looks. Trust me. It is, ah, it is a skill that is improved
and obtained by years of practice. Um, nobody, is ever good at it from the get
go. Nobody can ever cut perfect lines. Nobody can ever follow a pattern to a "T". It's just not going to happen. If you are one of the uh, one in a trillion
people that can do it right off that bat, well good for you! But the other guys can't. So take. your time. There's no need to rush into these intricate
patterns. You want to start off by practicing the basics. And all I've done, is I googled scroll saw
uh, practice cutting page, or something like that and I got something, that looks like
this. And uh, there it is!! And what this is, it's a layout pattern, I
don't know where this one came from or what site, or who designed it, and I don't really
care, it's just a page, that you can use to practice your methods of scrolling.

But before you do that, how do you get this
pattern on to the wood? And that's where we are going to move next. Attaching your pattern. Well every scroller has their preferred method
of pattern attachment. Um, some people like to take painter's tape
and lay it down on the board first. What that does of course, is um, it makes
the pattern easier to remove down the road when you go to take it off. And I find that that method works just fine
um, on not so intricate patterns. I find that the pattern likes to lift off
when you are cutting more intricate things. Like more intricate fretwork. Um, other people like to um, just you know,
stick it down like with packing tape over the top of it to hold it down. I don't like that method at all. I think that the method that works best for
me and it's just my opinion. is get yourself a can of spray adhesive.

And whether you put the painter's tape down
first or what have you um, you still need to use spray adhesive. And for my liking I like to give the pattern
a good, generous coating of spray adhesive on that back of it, and then I let it tack
up for three minutes. Why three minutes? Because that's how I found it works the best
for me. So, I let it sit for three minutes, let it
tack up and then rub it down onto the wood. Now if you want to coat your wood first in
painters tape, so that you are actually adhering it to, um the painter's tape, that's fine
too. But for my liking, I like to go straight to
the wood. I get better adhesion, and on some of the
really intricate stuff that I cut, that pattern does not lift off while I am cutting. Depending on how intricate the fretwork is,
sometimes there's not enough material left behind to hold that pattern down steadily
so try some different methods and try what's best for you.

Um, you want to make sure that pattern is
held down really well. If you're cutting thicker material, after
you lay down your pattern…and by thicker I mean one inch and up, or even three quarters
for the harder species, you can lay clear packing down on top of your pattern after
you had used spray adhesive to put it on to your wood. And what that does, is it, the adhesive and
that tape, actually act as a lubricant.

And it keeps your blade running cool and it
will help to prevent blade breakage and overheating of your blade. Well there is our practice cutting pattern
applied to, in this case, it's a piece of quarter inch thick hardboard. And it's just to practice. And uh, my printer on my computer kind of
crapped out on me so I ended up having to draw over these lines in pen as best I could.

So they're not as crisp as what I would like. Um, now that brings me to a point that if
you're making your own patterns, you want to make your cut lines that you are drawing
as thin as you can. If you are making them too thick, say, with
a black magic marker or something like that, what side of that line do you cut on? You're not going to get any crisp consistency
in your cutting because you're, unless you choose which side of your line to go. You really want a nice, thin, sharp line to
be able to follow. Um, another thing too, um with the spray adhesive,
one little tip I have…those spray nozzles? They can, and will, gum up so what I do, is
I have a small ah, jar that has some mineral spirits in it and I keep the nozzle from the
spray can in the mineral spirits.

And um, it just keeps them clean and keeps
them from tacking up and when I go through one can of spray adhesive, I keep the nozzle
and that goes in the jar as well. So I've always got a couple nozzles uh, clean
and ready to go at a moments notice. And I just keep them in that jar. You saw that I used this little card scraper
thing just to rub down the pattern. It gets all the bubbles out on larger patterns
and goes a long way to getting really good adhesion on here. Now all of these pictures or patterns here
that we're going to attempt to cut, um, these are all inside cuts. You can see they're inside the board. I don't start from and edge anywhere.

I'm actually inside. So you're going to have to drill something
that's called a blade entry hole. And you need a hole that is big enough for
your blade to go through but not so big that it is this eyesore in your cutting. And um, if it's in a waste area, it doesn't
matter what size but if it's going to show you want a nice small hole. Preferably for my liking, it's usually one
sixteenth of an inch. So, I'm going to drill all of these blade
entry holes and then before I get into cutting this test pattern here I want to show you
the concepts of cutting with a scroll saw. The object in cutting with a scroll saw is
to let the blade do the work.

You don't want to be pushing and pushing this
piece into the blade and deflecting or bending that blade. There should be no deflection in that particular
blade. You are not, in essence twisting the blade
to get your cut, but you're rotating your piece on an axis in order to cut the curves
that you desire. And a lot of people don't realize the um,
extent that you can actually spin these blades in a piece and to show that I'm just going
to come in a little bit and spin it quickly and go back around, just to show you how,
um versatile this is when it comes to tight corners, depending on your blade selection
and your stock.

So for most applications, you want to put
your saw at about fifty percent power. That's where I like to keep it. And um, you really don't need any more than
that. All you're really doing is overheating the
blade so you're not cutting any faster. So let me just show you how it is that you
can actually spin this wood. And a lot of beginners don't realize that
capability. And then on a dime, you can spin it right
out. And spin it again if you like. And you can get some tight, tight, intricate
cuts just by spinning that blade but letting the blade do the work.

There's no need to force it. You shouldn't be overheating the blade. The other thing that you need to remember
or keep in mind, is that there's such a thing as um, blade drift. And what that is, is if I cut…if I were
to put a fence right here, and I were to push this blade or this piece of stock gently into
that blade and start cutting that blade would not cut straight.

If just doesn't happen that way. Scroll saws have blade drift and they will
veer off to one side or the other of that blade. No matter if it's a fifty dollar scroll saw
or a two thousand dollar scroll saw, that is the nature of the beast. So the entire time that you are trying to
cut that straight line, you need to be steering and compensating ever so slightly as you go
through to cut that line straight. You're not jamming it to the left or to the
right. You're pivoting and your pivoting so that
your blade cutting edge will continue on that straight path. When cutting curves, you need to keep a couple
things in mind. Those two things would be um, your feed rate
versus the rotation of the stock and while that sounds confusing, it's not that bad.

What it is is that if your feed rate, so the
rate that you push this straight in, is greater than the amount that you are rotating, you're
going to get a gentle sweeping curve. And let me just show you that. So my feed rate is faster but my rotation
is slower. Can you see that? We are getting a nice gentle curve there. You see that there? Faster feed rate, slower rotation. If you reverse that and your feed rate is
slower than your um, rotation rate, you're going to get a tight corner. So feed rate slow, rotation quick. Now, you see that there? So with the feed rate being slow and you rotation
quick, you get a tight corner. Sweeping curve with a faster rotation and
a slow er sorry, a faster feed rate and a slower rotation. So how do you do a circle? Bottom line is, with your circle, your feed
rate and your rotation rate have to bee the same.

And I'm going to try and show you that, by
cutting out this circle. Again, there is no side to side pressure on
the blade, it is strictly feed rate and rotating on the axis. There no need to hurry. You don't need to go crazy. There's not a race. You see those guys on line who go absolutely
nuts flying through these patterns, and you know, cutting at 500 miles an hour. What's the point of that? Scrolling is one of the most relaxing forms
of woodworking so why rush it? Just take your time, keep you eye on your
line and when cutting circles, remember, your feed rate has to equal your rotation rate.

Now I'll just clean up that one edge there. Just like that. And you can see that we've cut a circle. And that would be all the time we have for
this week. Um, we've covered some of the basics here
this week and um, I know that for some of you it might be either old hat, or it might
be boring or repetitious or a slow going show and I understand that but uh, on my show it's
about teaching people and showing people of all different levels and sometimes we need
to take it down a little bit and help those who are just starting out. And I"m sure that for those who are beginning
with scroll saw work and wanting to get into it and do it the right way, I'm sure that
um, this particular video is going to help them immensely ah, in learning to uh, acquire
the skills they need to make the projects that they have in their mind. So guys, that's all the time we have. I want to thank you for joining me this week
and um, we're going to carry on next week, right where we left off, from this week's
show with part two of scrolling for beginners and I'm going to see you then, with yet another…..woodworking
video.

As found on YouTube

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