Scroll Saw Patterns
For many of us who have been scroll sawing for any length of time, applying the pattern to the wood has become second nature. When we began scroll sawing, we learned to apply the pattern one way or another and for many of us, we are still using that same method today.
But as I speak to many people that are new to scroll sawing, I realize that to those who are just beginning to work on the scroll saw, applying the pattern can be a bit confusing and intimidating. Even for those of us who have been scrolling for a long time, it is helpful to learn of other ways to successfully apply patterns. Having several good choices makes it much easier to find a way that is most comfortable for us, and makes our scrolling much more pleasurable.
Because of the exacting nature of scroll sawing, it is not recommended that patterns be hand-traced onto the wood using a pencil or tracing paper. The slightest movement of the pattern, or even the act of tracing on the wood itself could move the line just enough to weaken an area or make it difficult to cut. I think that the general consensus is that the best way to apply the pattern is to print a copy of it first and then adhere that copy directly to the wood. While that may sound like a straight forward and simple process, there are many variations that can be used. Depending on your project and what supplies are available to you in your area, you may find that one choice or another is preferable.
In this article, I will give an overview of several of the most popular methods used in applying patterns. While I realize that there are several additional ways to accomplish this, I will concentrate on what seems to be the most popular methods for most. Who knows? You may find that by trying a new way to apply patterns will make your scroll sawing even more fun and relaxing.
Double-Sided Masking Tape
-Cut out a copy of your pattern pieces and 'dry-fit' them to your board.
-Apply a layer of double-sided masking tape over the entire face of your board.
-Peel off the protective backing from the tape.
-Apply the pattern over the tape.
I find this method to be clean, quick and the pattern stays put - even with the most intricate cutting. When I am finished cutting, the pattern peels off quickly and neatly, leaving no residue whatsoever. I really like this way of applying the pattern a lot, and it is quickly becoming my favorite way to do so.
One of the few drawbacks of using double sided tape is that it is sometimes difficult to locate. Initially, I had a bit of trouble finding it here in Canada, and I also had trouble locating it for a reasonable price in the United States. I did finally locate it at both the Home Depot and Home Hardware here and I understand that Ace Hardware carried it in the USA. I have provided some information on where you can purchase it at the end of the article.
Another drawback for some is that they feel that it is a bit more costly than the spray adhesive method. But if you consider that you no longer need to purchase spray adhesive, nor deal with the mess, you will see that the cost is very comparable. I prefer this method because it takes the guess work out of applying the pattern, and eliminates the overspray and odor associated with the spray adhesives.
Full Sheet Adhesive Labels
There are a couple of things you need to be aware of when using this method though. Sometimes it isn't always possible to efficiently print out your pattern on the label sheet. In order to do this, you need to have the pattern somehow stored on your computer in digital form, or the original pattern set up so that it can be printed on a standard 8.5" x 11" sheet. While some pattern companies (like Sheila Landry Designs) offer digital patterns, for larger patterns or patterns such as the ones here in the magazine, you would first need to scan the patterns into your computer and then print them out on the label sheet. This may or may not cause a problem and you could result in wasting a bit of the labels if the pieces aren't placed efficiently.
There is also the issue of removing the label cleanly. The difficulty in doing this could vary greatly depending on the brand of label you choose. While I have had a lot of success with some brands, there are others that hold on a great deal more to the wood and it was a bit of a process removing the pattern/label from the pieces. I have been told by some of my customers that if this happens, they use a warm air hair dryer and warm the labels and they remove much easier. In my own case, I used a small paring knife and gently scraped off the pattern. It was however, a bit tedious. When using subsequent labels from the brand I had, I blotted the back of them with a cloth to 'de-stick' them a bit and then they worked fine. Again, it is something that you need to learn by trial and error.
Overall, for certain applications, I thought this method worked fine. But when I was not able to print my pattern efficiently, I chose to use the double-sided tape method.
I am sure that there are other ways of applying the patterns to the wood effectively, but these four methods that are mentioned here seem to be the most popular among most scrollers. In speaking with my customers and fellow woodworkers, I was surprised that many of them had only heard of one or two of these, and I thought that we could all benefit from sharing this information.
We all know how frustrating it can be when we apply the pattern incorrectly and it begins to loosen up during the cutting process. Not only is it dangerous, as our attention is taken away from the moving blade, but it can cause us to mis-cut and ruin our pieces trying to hold patterns in place as they are flapping.
Conversely, it is just as frustrating to have a pattern that is cemented onto a delicate fretwork piece because we didn't apply it properly. It can be quite disheartening to successfully cut a project out, only to break it when removing the pattern. I believe that many of us have experienced that from time to time and know how aggravating it can be.
Hopefully you will try some of these alternative methods the next time you scroll a project. Perhaps you will find a way to apply the pattern that is much more to your liking than the way you are presently doing so. It will make your scrolling just that much more relaxing and fun.