The purpose of this blog is to show you from a beginner's perspective what starting a scroll saw hobby is like and try to consolidate all my favorite Internet information in one place.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Finally finished

I finally made the time to finish this project.  My wife's aunts from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland are coming this weekend and she wanted it finished for them. 

Matching all the pieces turned out to be very hard.  I have a lot of gaps in this that I am not happy about but I suppose for my very first project it isn't bad.  I learned a lot.  I found how easy it is to cut hard wood badly.  If you don't have a sharp tensioned blade the edges are not straight which makes fitting together a nightmare.  The bottoms may match up but the tops don't.  I will pay much more attention in the future to how perpendicular the edges are.

Just to recap the use of wood this is what I used:
  • Ash
    • Top of sky
  • Red Cedar
    • Middle sky (sunset)
  • Alder
    • Bottom of sky
  • Blue Pine
    • Water
  • Aspen
    • White part of lighthouse
    • White part of houses
  • Cherry
    • Middle of lighthouse
    • Roof tops
  • Walnut
    • Top of lighthouse
    • Mountains
    • Rocks in foreground
  • Ebony
    • Windows and Doors
  • Poplar
    • Green foreground (bushes)
  • Oak
    • Light ground in foreground
  • Bocote
    • Frame

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Finished Cutting

    I am now finished cutting all the pieces, except the frame.  I need to get some more dark wood to do that.  The bottom part turned out to be as difficult as I thought.  There are lots of curves and I used some very hard wood.  The two pieces of White Oak were the worst.  Even with a new blade it was hard to cut on the lines.  The piece of Poplar I was using ended up being a little warped so it was very difficult to cut and now the edges aren't straight and so the pieces don't fit together all that well.  I have a lot of time ahead of me sanding and fitting to try and make the pieces fit better.  I will do that along with shaping and making the different levels so hopefully it all comes together at the same time.

    Fitting this many pieces together is very hard and getting one piece to fit good throws off the next piece.  I can tell this will take a lot of practice.  I have a feeling that the joints between the land pieces won't be as noticeable as the joints between the lighthouse or the house pieces.  I think my next step will be to glue together the lighthouse and the houses so they fit together nicely then start working on the background around them.  At that point I will probably start from the top and work to the bottom, making sure every piece butts up against the pieces above it well so when I get to the bottom, I am hoping for a good result.

    I have started trying to fit a few of the pieces together.  I have tried trimming them with the scroll saw and sanding the edges with a rotary tool.  The rotary tool works well but it is hard to keep a 90 degree edge.  I can tell now the benefits of a spindle sander.  That would do what the rotary tool does but it has a flat surface so you can keep perfectly straight edges.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015

    First true intarsia project

    I have decided to finally bite the bullet and try my hand at true intarsia.  I have a few books I have been studying and I have decided to try the Lighthouse project in "Intarsia Woodworking Projects" by Kathy Wise.  It is supposed to be an Intermediate level project but I want to do something interesting and the Beginner projects didn't interest me.  There is a little family history surrounding lighthouses and ocean coves so this will mean something to the family.

    I have been collecting some wood over time and so after I went to Fedex Office and made several copies of the pattern I sat down to figure out what wood to use.  This is a rather large piece at about 14" X 18" and about 50 pieces.  After deciding what wood to use I cut out all the pattern pieces and applied them to the wood paying attention to grain direction and keeping continuous grain on continuation pieces like the sky from one side of the lighthouse to the other.  Here is my progress so far.

    I have used Alder, Red Cedar, and Ash for the sky pieces.  The mountain background is Walnut.  The lighthouse is Walnut, Aspen, and Cherry.  The water is Blue Pine or some call it Beetle Kill Pine.

    I have decided to use Aspen and Cherry for the houses and house tops.  The rocks will be Walnut.  The land will be Green Poplar and White Oak.  I found a piece of Poplar that is very green so it should work nicely.  The windows will be a small piece of Madagascar Ebony.  I found a 1" x 1" x 12" piece of Ebony at Woodcraft for $12.00.  Pricey but it should last me a long time.  I will shim up the Ebony pieces with something cheap so I don't have to use as much.

    This is the first time I have cut anything besides Pine and Poplar.  There is sure a big difference between types of wood.  The Alder and the Ash were very hard and the cutting went slower.  The biggest difference I saw was how you have to feed the wood into the blade.  You always have to feed the wood in a little from the right to get a straight line but I found the harder the wood, the bigger angle you have to make to the blade.  The hardest part was going from one kind of wood to another and having to adjust how you feed the wood into the blade to get the same cuts.

    The cedar and the walnut were pretty hard too.  The Blue Pine cut about like regular pine but the Aspen was very soft.  It cut fast so I had to be careful not to push too hard or the blade would take off.  Even the sawdust from the Aspen is very soft and fluffy.

    As you can see the hardest cutting part is yet to come.  Getting all these pieces to fit together will be a challenge.  What I have done already has been hard so we will see how it goes.

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Finally Done !!!!

    Wow a lot has happened over the last several months and not a lot of it has to to with woodworking.  I transferred with my job from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City and so that has really occupied me for several months.  I won't go in to the whole saga here but there were many issues that came up as we tried to move from Las Vegas to Salt Lake.  We actually arrived in Salt Lake with no place to live but eventually got most things settled.  We have one more move coming up in February and then I will be permanently settled in Salt Lake.

    As a result of all this my woodworking equipment was in storage for awhile and I didn't really work on anything but starting in October I was able to get back to my nativity scene.  I am now finished with all 12 pieces of the Kathy Wise nativity scene that I started on back in April.  This project has been such a good learning experience.  I made several mistakes and had to start some pieces over but they became better.  I ended up doing the whole thing out of poplar and stain.  A few things that I learned is that not all poplar is created equal.  I found that some of the wood I used was much more green than other wood.  By green I don't mean not as dry but actually more green in color.  Some poplar is much more white.  I can see it especially after staining the items.  The stain really comes out different depending on the base color of the wood.  I guess that is one thing that is a disadvantage to staining is that you don't really know what color it will be in the end.

    At one point I had cut out several small 2 inch square blocks of poplar and stained each one with one of the stain colors I have.  That gave me a basic guide but some of my finished nativity scene pieced turned out to no be the same color as any of the blocks.  You will notice it especially on the camel and the ox.  They were cut from poplar that had a much darker green tint to it.

    I also realized one more thing while doing my last 2 pieces.  I feel sort of dumb now but I was putting a couple of coats of polyurethane on each piece and then gluing everything together.  My last two pieces I glued it all together first and then applied the finish to the piece as a whole.  It was a lot faster, a lot easier, and it looks the same.

    Well, here are several pictures of the finished pieces.  Enjoy! ..... Not sure what I will work on next.

    A little closer look at the detail

    I used a wood burner to create the lines on the camel's hump

    The finished Joseph I started months ago!
    A closer look at the detail of Joseph

    The complete 12 piece set

    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Nativity Scene - Joseph Part 3

    Today I used my sanding sponges and polished the shaped pieces.  While doing so I found a couple of places I wasn't really happy with and so I sanded those a bit more.  But I spent quite a bit of time with the sanding sponges smoothing out all the sanding marks and giving each piece a nice smooth surface ready for staining.

    I realized that in my pictures it might be a bit hard to see the relief detail so I took another picture from an angle so you can see the shaping I have done to give depth to the pieces and make it appear more 3D.

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