Saturday, 28 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 7

Hi all,
Hopefully this will be the final post regarding this scroll saw and pyrography project, but we'll have to see how it goes.
At the end of my last post I showed you my failed attempt at doing the rose inlay. We all have failures from time to time, but I'll show it again here just so that you can make a comparison with my second effort.
 The gaps around the inlay are just not acceptable so I did it again.
I've blown this one up slightly so that you can see that the inlay is a much tighter fit. This was done by getting the cutting angle correct. The blade entry hole is still visible, but this will be disguised by the pyrography work later on. More information about cutting angles can be found in part 6 if you haven't already seen it.

Anyway, its nice to get the inlay done so that the pyrography work can commence. The first thing to do is transfer the rose image that we started with, to the inlay on the lid. It can be done by straight forward copying, but the quickest and easiest way is to use graphite paper or trace it.

First you will need to print off two more copies of the rose design.
Here it is again to save you going back through the posts.
I cut around the outline of the rose with scissors and did the same with my graphite paper. It is actually called Trace Down and is available from amazon.

I place the graphite paper on top of the rose inlay than put the copy of the rose on top of that and stick them in position with masking tape. Then it is just a mater of drawing over the lines of the rose and this leaves a pencil drawing on top of the inlay.
If you look closely you will also see that I have added a stalk, which I did free hand with a pencil.
Okay, now it's time to get the pyrography iron out. I use a Peter Child's pyrography iron with a spoon tip, and set it on number five, which is a medium heat. I then burn in the pencil lines followed by some outlining around the rose. I leave some of the outline without burning because I thing this helps with the final look. The last thing I do is the shading and my tips for being successful with this part of the project are: turn the temperature down and have a little patience, plus, remember to put your pyrography iron down where you want your darkest mark to be.
So that's the pyrography work done. I have done the rose on the inside of the lid, in fact, I did that first so that I could practice my shading.

The next thing to do is fit the lid. We cut the wires that hold the lid on in a previous post, so it is time to find them and stick them in the appropriate holes. However, I don't push the wires right in,  I leave about 6mm sticking out and put a blob of glue on it.
Now I can push the wire fully in and the glue will be in the post end of the wire only. We don't want glue to go on the end of the wire that goes into the lid, because if glue goes there we won't be able to open the lid. I wipe off any extra glue and repeat on the other side. I use a glue called E6000, which was recommended by fellow crafter and it seems to work okay, To be honest, I think just about any glue you have at your disposal will do the job.

We are almost there now. I give the whole box three coats of Ronseal, quick drying gloss varnish, which gives the box a lovely finish. The last job is to put a bit of felt in the bottom of the box and a piece on the base. The alternative to felt is flocking, and that is what I used. Here is a picture of my flocking kit, which can be purchased from Turners Retreat for about twenty quid.

By the way, they also have a good range of pyrography blanks it you don't want to be bothered making things with a scroll saw.

Flocking involves putting a layer of glue on the area you want to flock. Then a pump action applicator (the yellow thing) is used to blow flocking material over the glue. Full instructions come with the kit.
Here is the inside of my box.

And here is the finished box.
I hope you've enjoyed following me through this project and I look forward to doing another one. Just a reminder  if you want to see more of my pyrography and scroll saw work or you want find out about my books including free offers, please click here to go to my website.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 6

Hi all,
This project is taking longer than expected; I thought it would be done in three posts but I'm up to six and it might even take a couple more. The thing is, I don't want to rush it and miss out any vital information for those who might want to have a go at making a scroll saw box.

In this post I'm going to be concentrating on the inlay, for me, this is the most challenging part. It is easy to make a mistake when cutting an inlay and I'll show you one of mine later in this post.

The essential thing to do before cutting out the inlay for the project is to cut out some test pieces. I have already explained that if you just put one piece of wood on top of another and cut the design, the top piece will just drop straight through the bottom one because of the material taken out by the saw blade. That is the gap that is left by a saw blade, which is known as a kerf.

The way to get around this is to make the saw cut at and angle. In the rough drawing below you can see two pieces of wood from a side view. Imagine that the blade is cutting out a circle and you can see how, that when the circle is cut, the piece of walnut at the bottom can be removed and the piece of BB ply at the drop will drop down into the void cut in the walnut.
It's a bit like a stopper going into a wine bottle, but to be successful you need to get the angle spot on. If you cut it too shallow, the BB ply will drop too far into the hole in the walnut and, if you cut it with too sharp an angle, the BB ply will fail to go right into the walnut so that it finishes up flush.

Here is a photo of some test pieces that I cut to show how different cutting angles can make a difference.
It took four attempts to get it exactly right.
I started at 2.75 degrees but the BB ply only went a third of the way into the walnut, so I reduced the angle and tried again and then again. Eventually, with a setting of 2 degrees the ply wood fitted tightly into the walnut and that is exactly what I was after.

Now you may be asking how the angle is changed. Well, luckily for us, most scroll saws come with a table that will tilt all the way to 45 degrees, which makes the job quite easy. The tilting function was important when I purchased my scroll saw so I went a step further and bought an Excalibur, which allows the saw to be tilted instead of the table.

Above is a photo of the tilting mechanism on my Excalibur saw and the saw bent over to 45 degrees. I certainly wouldn't want to cut at that angle, but for 2 or 3 degrees it works great and I'm sure it gives me more control than would be the case if I was using a saw with a tilting table.

Okay, I hope that's explained how cutting at an angle allows us to saw a tightly fitting inlay. It is important to take ones time when cutting the inlay to avoid breaking a blade. Breaking a blade doesn't matter on normal scroll saw cuts, but when cutting at an angle it is almost impossible to change the blade and successfully get back to the cutting face without making the kerf wider, which will lead to a loose fitting inlay.

You also need to be aware that the thickness of the wood you are using and the thickness of the blade will alter the angle at which you need to cut. I made this mistake myself when doing the current box. I had a number 7 blade in the saw when I did the test pieces shown above, but then I changed it to the finest blade possible before I cut the rose inlay. The result was that the inlay only went three quarters of the way into the walnut.

At this point I was quite upset, I had put a bit of work into the lid and if I had to sling it in the bin it would be a waste of a nice piece of wood. So being the twit that I sometimes am, I decided  to rescue it by giving the inlay a light sanding all the way around so that it would fit. I really should have know better, because after five minutes vigorous work it still wouldn't fit. However, I'm British so I was about to give up and I kept on giving it a good thrashing with the sand paper until it jolly well did fit.

below is a photo of the inlay after spending about an hour sanding the hell out of it.
I've made it larger so that you can see the gaps. What a mess, I should have whacked it in the wheelie straight away. Ah well, we all learn by our mistakes. In my next post I will show you the replacement inlay that hopefully won't have any gaps big enough to drive a ski-doo through.
Meanwhile, don't forget, if you want to see some of my scroll saw or pyrography work you can visit the gallery on my webs site by clicking here.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 5

Hi All,
This project is getting more exciting now because it's time to make the box lid. I use a piece of 6mm walnut that is readily available from always I just lay the box on to of the walnut and draw around it to get the size, then lay the lid on the top of the box so that I can mark out where the hinges need to go.
With that done, I can now drill the holes in the top of the hinge posts that will take the wire that supports the lid. To do this, I slide the lid into position and then clamp it firmly in place so that it can't move during the drilling process.
 A steady hand is required during this drilling operation, so  I take my time and ensure the drill bit is in the right place before I make the holes. I drill straight through the hinge posts and carry on drilling until I've gone about 10mm into the lid. The size of bit I'm using is 1.5mm. When the drilling is complete, I leave the clamp in place while I cut the pieces of wire that the lid will rotate on. I use some wire than I pinched from my wife's crafting stuff; she makes clay flowers and uses various sizes of wire to support he blooms. However, a bit of wire from a straightened out paper clip would work just as well.

I poke the wire through the hinge post hole and as far as it will go into the lid and then cut it off with 5mm sticking out of the hole. Cutting it flush is a mistake because it will be difficult to get out and we have to do other things to the lid before we finally stick it in place. Now that the wire is removed from the hinge post, I cut 6mm off it so that when it goes back in it will be recessed into the hole and out of view. I do the same with the other side and put both wires somewhere safe for later.

Right, its' time to sort out the inlay. 
Because the walnut wood is dark, I am going to use a lighter wood for the rose inlay, not only to give a contrast to the walnut, but because the pyrography will stand out better on light coloured wood.

It's possible to get several light coloured woods that are 6mm thick from always including obeche and bass wood, but I prefer to use Baltic birch plywood which they also stock. I like using plywood for pyrography because it holds a fine line and over burn isn't so much of a problem.
A word of warning, don't go down to your local DIY store and buy a big sheet of plywood because the quality isn't good enough for scroll sawing or pyrography projects. It's okay for building dog kennels and lining the walls of an outside cludgie, but not for craft work.

Here is a picture of the rose I'm going to be using for the pyrography.

I cut a piece of 6mm Baltic birch plywood to roughly match the size of the lid, then I cover the top surface with a layer of masking tape. When that is in place, I smear some glue onto the back of the rose picture with a Pritt stick and then position it onto the plywood. Next, I place the ply wood on top of the walnut lid and wrap Cellotape around the whole thing. The Cellotape serves two purposes, firstly, it holds the walnut lid and plywood firmly together whilst the sawing takes place. Secondly, Cellotape or any other clear parcel tape helps to lubricate the scroll saw blade so that it cuts more easily.

Now the entry hole for the blade can be drilled. If you look at the photo above you will see a red spot; that is where the blade entry hole will be drilled. I have picked that spot because it is the sharpest corner and therefore would be difficult to cut. Drilling the hole there means I can cut away from sharpest part of the the design and work my way back around to the hole without having to actually negotiate the corner. By drilling it on a joint between two petals, the hole will also be easier to disguise with the pyrography.

Okay, before cutting out the rose inlay something else needs to be done and it is very important. For an inlay to look good, it obviously needs to be a tight fit. To get a tight fit it is of no use to just cut around the rose and expecting it to drop nicely into the piece of walnut underneath because it won't. In fact, you will find that the ply wood just drops straight through without even touching the sides.

The reason for this is that when a saw cuts, it removes material which is called a kerf. The thicker the blade on the saw, the thicker the kerf. So that is why the plywood would just drop through the walnut if we didn't do something to negate it.

So how do we get a tight fit, you might ask.

Well it's all a matter of angles and I'll explain more about it in my next post. In the meanwhile, I'd just like to remind you I am giving away a free download of one of my books on my website. Why not go over there and grab a copy now.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 4

Hi All,
Now that the hinge posts are made it is time to get back to the main box. The clamps holding the base on can be removed and now it is time for some serious sanding. No matter how hard I try when cutting the base there is always a bit of overhang, see photo below showing how the base protrudes slightly beyond the main box.

 Now is the idea time to square it up and make sure all of the sides are level and smooth. I take most of the protruding material off with my belt sander and then set about it manually. I usually start with a 120 grit, followed by 180, 240 and finally 400. Don't miss any grades out and try where possible to sand in the direction of the grain. Another good thing to do is to use a sanding block, if you haven't got one, just wrap your sand paper around a piece of rectangular wood. I use a cut off from a piece of timber that is used stud work.
Any piece of timber will work so long as it is flat. By the way, watch out for special buy days at Aldi, I got some of my sand paper from there and it was really cheap and the packet contained several grades.

Once you have sorted out the sides of the box, do the same with the main box area around the heart. By the time I have finished with the 400 grit the main maple box is as smooth as glass and I know it will look great when the Varnish goes on later.

The next thing to be done is the fitting of the hinge posts to the top edge of the box. This is a bit fiddly and I could do with three hands, but here is how I do it. To get both posts in the same position on each side of the box I use a piece of the wood that the posts were made from to space the post away from the edge. The while holding it, and the hinge post in position I use a 1.5mm drill bit to drill through the post and into the top edge of the box.
The photo doesn't show it very clearly but the hinge post is behind the piece of strip material which is held level with the outside of the box. This ensures that the hinge post is truly vertical and will match the position of the one on the other side.

When I have drilled one hole, I push in one of the small gold pins that I use for extra security and decoration into it. This helps to hold the hing post in place while the second hole is drilled. After both posts have been drilled I glue them into position, insert and glue the brass pins, wipe off any excess glue and then clamp the posts while the glue dries.

If you want to buy some pins, they can be purchased from  Always Hobbies they charge about 80 pence for  quite a few pins depending on the size.

For this part of the operation I use quick release clamps because their rubber tips mould themselves better to the odd profile of the hinge posts.

Okay, once the glue is dry the clamps can be removed and the box looks like this.
The scroll saw box is looking pretty good so far. In my next post we will move onto the exciting part of making the lid, including how to get the inlay right. Meanwhile if you want to see a gallery of some of the stuff I've made Click here to go to my website. While you are there why not send me your comments or any questions regarding scroll sawing or pyrography.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 3

Hi All,
Carrying on with the scroll saw box, the next thing to do is fit a base. This is very easy, all you have to do is take the main part of the box, lay it on the wood that you are going to use for the base and draw a line around it. This can then be cut out using either a hand saw or a scroll saw. Scroll saws aren't the best tool in the world to use to cut a straight line, so I always keep the blade on the outside of the line. I could cut it by hand but I'm getting lazy in my old age.

For my box, the wood I used for the base was 6mm thick walnut. It is a nice dark wood that provides a nice contrast against the main part of the box which is made from maple. The dark of the walnut is also required to give me the opposite colour to the rose which I am going to inlay on the lid.

After the base is cut out, glue it onto the bottom of the main box and clamp it until the wood glue is dry. It's only a small box, but I use 4 clamps to make sure it is squeezed up nice and tight, I also use a couple of pieces of scrap wood between the clamps and the box to avoid damage and increase the area of clamping pressure.
While the base glue is curing I can carry on with the project by making the hinge posts. Here is a close up of one of the post so you can get an idea what it looks like.
To make the hinge post I use mahogany strips. I get them from Always Hobbies along with my other wood.

The strips can be used for other projects so a bundle is well worth buying. They come in bundles of 10, these are 457mm long x 6mm thick x 9mm wide and the cost is just over £6.

To make the posts, I stick a design on one strip and then stick it to another one by wrapping Cellotape around them both.

 This means that when I cut the design out, I get two perfectly matching posts. Note, I don't cut the post to length first, I leave the wood long so that I can hold it with my fingers well away from the blade.

Which reminds me of the old Joke about the man who rushed off to hospital after cutting all his fingers off on a saw.

The doctor said, "Have you brought the fingers with you so that we can sow them back on?"

"I would have done, but I couldn't pick them up," the man replied.
The old ones are the still the best. Anyway you never know when you might want to take up the guitar, so keeps your fingers as far away from the blade as possible.

Here are the two identical posts just waiting for a light sanding.

Right the next task is to attach the posts to the box and that will be the first step in the next post. Meanwhile, if you want to see what other people are doing in the scroll saw world take a look at this site .

It belongs to a chap called Steve Good and is a great resource for scroll saw plans. Even better, they are completely free although Steve does encourage donations. Anyway, it's well worth a look.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Scroll saw box part 2

Hi All,
Time to make are start on the scroll saw box, if you want to have a go and need any help, just let me know. Before we start, here is a quick reminder about what the finished box will look like.
Right, let's get cracking. The first piece we are going to deal with is the main part of the box. For this, cut a piece of 25mm thick wood, preferably hardwood, into a square of about 90mm. The wood I'm using is maple, but oak would work just as well.

Once the square has been cut, it needs to be tidied up and sanded on each side. I used a belt sander with 80 grade grit first to get it squared up and reasonably smooth. Then I go through another two grades 120 and 180 by hand.

When sandpapering, either by hand or when using a machine, don't be tempted to miss out any grades. It wasn't so long ago that I just used what I thought was a fine sand paper before putting on the finish and I was generally disappointed. However, once I found out about taking my sanding through the grades my fishing results have been much improved.

Right, now it is time to attach the drawing of the heart that will form the hole in the box. This is the bit that I will be cutting out with the scroll saw.
Attaching the design is simple. Put a few strips of masking tape of top of the box, then after smearing glue, I use a pritt stick, onto the back of the design, I then stick that to the masking tape. At this point it is essential to make sure the the positioning is central and square because there is no going back.

The next step might seem a bit odd but apparently it works. Wrap some clear parcel tape, I use Cellotape, around the piece of wood. This doesn't hold anything in place but it helps to lubricate the saw blade. Maple and Oak are very hard woods and lubricating the blade helps the process along.

Okay, now the sawing can begin, well almost. To cut out the design we need to get the saw blade into a position in the inside of the heart, so first we have to drill an entry hole through which the saw blade can be passed.

I use a drill press, but any type of drill will do. The size of the bit for this project can be any size as long as the diameter is bigger than the width of the scroll saw blade. I will be using a plain, number 7 reverse tooth blade.

You can use blades with pins on this project, but you will need to drill the entry hole much bigger to accommodate the pins when passing the blade through the centre of the wood. More information about scroll saws and the difference between plain and pinned blades can be found by clicking the scroll saw tab at the top of the page.

The reason I'm using reverse tooth scroll saw blades is because they leave less tear out at the bottom of the cut. If you look at a reverse tooth blade you will see that most of the teeth angle downwards, but a few teeth at the bottom face the opposite way. This means that the scroll saw cuts in the downward direction, but those few reversed teeth at the bottom cut on the upward stroke and so they keep the bottom edge of the work as clean as the top.

It is possible to buy lots of different blades for a scroll saw, spiral blades and skip tooth blades to name just two of them. However, for my purposes I find that reverse tooth blades do a great job and having a good range of them in their various sizes is good enough.

You will notice that I have drilled the entry hole just to the side of the line that I will be cutting with the scroll saw and there are two reasons for this. If I drilled the hole in the middle of the design it would take longer to get to the line and, believe me, if you are cutting maple, half an inch can make a big difference. On the other hand if you drill the hole exactly on the line it will leave a dip in the side of the heart because the scroll saw blade is flat where the drill is round. Sorry if some of this stuff seems obvious, but that might only be so for those who have done this sort of thing before.

Anyway, I drill my entry hole just to the side of the line and then I can carefully taper into the line when making the cut.
Now it is just a matter of following the line.
Okay, I will leave it there for now, if you want to see what other scroll saw users are talking about here is a link to a great forum that I use under the name of Samfire. It's worth a look just to see what other people are doing with their scroll saws.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A Free Book

Hi all,
Just a quick one to let all my readers know that I have made my latest book, "The Reluctant Pom" free on, from today until late on Friday.
If you would like to take advantage of this free offer please grab a copy and have a laugh. Here is the link . Normal pyrography and scroll sawing posts will be resumed shortly.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Making a box with a scroll saw (part 1)

Hi all,
Today I'm going to begin to tell you how I go about making a box like this with my scroll saw.
If you fancy having a go at making one, just follow my instructions and you will soon be the owner of something to be proud of. Better still, because the inside is heart shaped, why not give it to loved one and make them happy as well.
To make the box you will need the following items and tools.
A scroll saw
Several grades of sandpaper
A pyrography iron
A belt/disc sander is handy but not essential.
A drill press or rotor tool with small drill bit
A pair of clamps
The materials required are:
A piece of hardwood for the main box  approximately 90mm x 90mm x 25mm
A piece of walnut or other dark wood for the base 90mm x 90mm x 6mm
A piece of walnut or other dark wood for the lid 90mm x 98mm x 6mm
A piece of Baltic birch plywood for the lid inlay 90mm x 90mm x 6mm
Two pieces of hardwood for the hinge posts 10mm x 5mm x 37mm
A paper clip or piece a thin gauge wire for the hinge pins
Wood glue
Gloss varnish or other choice of finish
A small piece of felt or some flocking

All of the wood above can be purchased from a company called Alwayshobbies their prices are reasonable and delivery is usually pretty quick.

The hardwood for the main part of the box may be a bit more difficult to source. I managed to buy some off cuts including a nice piece of maple, which I used in the box above, from bric a brac store. There is a lot of hardwood for sale on ebay and some can even be found in the larger charity shops even though it will look just like a piece of furniture.

Be careful when buying second hand furniture to use the wood because the manufactures have become very good at disguising it. I bought a mahogany bedside table thinking the mahogany would be nice to have. However, when I cut into it, I found the the whole thing was made from chipboard with mahogany veneer and beading to fool twits like me.

You could of course use a piece of pine from B&Q but you will never get a fine finish. It will look great on the top and even on two sides, but the two sides with the end grain will never look good enough, no matter how long you sand them for.

Right, that's the tools and material sorted in the next post we can make a start on the box.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Pyrography and scroll saw changes

Hi All,
Just a quick post to let you know that I have made some changes to this blog. The eagle eyed amongst you may have already spotted the alterations, but just in case you haven't noticed, here is what I have done.

The old blog had two tabs, one covered pyrography in general and the other covered pyrography tips. I have added the prography tips to the bottom of the general pyrography tab. The reason for doing this was to free up a tab for information on scroll sawing because I have been aware for some time that I have been banging on about scroll saws, but not providing and solid information about them.

So now, if you are interested in scroll sawing, pyrography or both you can click on the relevant tab and find the information you are looking for. If I have failed to cover anything please let me know and I see if I can answer your question.

In my next post I will begin an in depth explanation of how to make the box shown below by using a scroll saw and in subsequent posts also how to in lay the lid and decorate it with a rose using a pyrography iron.
If you don't want to miss an installment it might be worth subscribing to this blog.
I look forward to showing you my techniques and other information.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Which scroll saw

Hi All,
From today onwards I'm going to change the focus of this blog. Until now I have been showing you various items that I have made on my scroll saw and giving you glimpses of my pyrography. To make it more interesting and, hopefully useful, to you and any new readers, I'm going to make the post more frequent and add a lot more detail.

It will include tips and links to other websites that will be useful to those involved in pyrography and scroll sawing. I will also create another section where basic information about scroll saws can be found. This will be especially useful to those who are thinking of trying scroll sawing out for the first time.

Buying that first scroll saw can be a daunting task. I know that when I was researching the subject, it was always at the back of my mind that it could be a waste of money, what if I didn't like scroll sawing? Even if I purchased the cheapest saw I would still be around £100 lighter in the wallet and that isn't a good place to be.

Just like my advice on which pyrography iron to go for, I will attempt to lead any would be scroll saw purchaser in the right direction with a honest opinion

So if you are interested in using a scroll saw to make a box like this one.

And decorating it with pyrography.
Please subscribe to this blog and all will be revealed. If you want to see more of my pyrography and scroll saw work please click here to go to my website