Let’s do something just a little different this year for our summer, free, online wood carving seminar. Usually I pick one craft on which to focus – wood carving, wood burning, or chip carving. This year I want show you how easy it is to cross-craft, to incorporate several of your favorite hobbies into creating your art. So grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair to my seminar table, and let’s look at the basics to scroll sawing, wood carving, wood burning, and colored pencil work as we put these all together into one craft project.
This year’s project came about because I have a new toy – a Ryobi 16″ Variable Speed Scroll Saw. My Ryobi has a 16″ long throat, and can handle wood up to 2″ thick. The saw blades can be either pinned or non-pinned, something that we will look at during this class session. It is variable speed and has a tilt table that can be moved 45 degrees, plus it is equipped with a dust blower to keep your cutting area free and easy to see. And this little sweet power tool has an iron base that keeps the scroll saw steady on my work table.
My Ryobi cost me around $100. plus I purchased an assorted pack of 36 Ryobi blades at about $5.00. So for under $125. with s/h I now have the ability to quickly, easily, and efficiently create my own basswood, birch, and poplar cut-outs for my wood carving and pyrography projects.
Long background story – which you can skip if you want …
Over my 30 years as a wood crafter, wood carver, and pyrographer I have owned three other scroll saws and I hated everyone of them! I don’t do that much scroll sawing to make it worth the investment of several hundred dollars ($500 – $800) for one of the ‘high end’ machines. I don’t know how often I have commented that I must be the world’s worst scroll sawer because every project just drove me bonkers, crazy, irritable, and someone you just didn’t want to be near when I was working. I thought my problems with scroll sawing was me and unfortunately in my line of work there are times that I must do some scroll sawing.
My experience, to this point, with scroll sawing was fighting broken blades, fussing with tension springs that don’t stay put, and with the entire machine wobbling or walking across that table unless it is bolted down. Changing blades with an Allen wrench deep inside the metal case of the blade is just a nightmare for me. I had one scroll saw, long ago, that literally made me sea sick (car sick) because of the triple vibrations between the blade, moving arm, and wobbling base. Because all of my previous saws were light-weight they did need to be bolted to my work table in the workshop, which meant that just to make a couple of quick cuts was a trip out of the studio to go down to the shop to work.
So a new, large project has hit my work table which will require a fair bit of scroll saw work. After much fussing, much cussing, and a lot of consternation I decides that I really had to purchase a new scroll saw which wouldn’t drive me to exasperation – this is scroll saw number 4! I had just purchased a Ryobi 40v battery-operated chain saw and have been delighted with its performance, so I decided to look at Ryobi’s scroll saw.
For under $125 my Ryobi arrived about three days after I ordered. I am glad I ordered several packs of extra blades because the scroll saw comes with just one blade installed. I set up on the back porch … while the Ryobi is a heavy-weight it is not so heavy that I can’t move it to the work area, do my cutting, and then store it in its box. Instead of a petite portable, the Ryobi is a Lovable Lug-able!
So … two hours later … I had read the instructions, looked the scroll saw over closely, and cut out 12 wood spoon rough-outs from 1″ thick basswood stock, two hand comb rough-outs from 3/8″ basswood stock, and the three spoons that we will be using in this seminar as our sample projects which are also 3/8″ stock. Not once did I break a blade! Not once did the Ryobi vibrate! Not once did I get hung-up inside the cut because the machine didn’t have the power to pull through the curve! I did change the blade once and it was a less than two minute job because of the screw knob system the Ryobi uses! I reset the tension without any fuss and was back in business immediately!
When I came back into the studio, searching for more basswood blanks or birch plywood that I could cut-out on my new Ryobi, my beloved hubby asked with great concern, “Are you having problems with that new saw?” I stopped and wondered why he would ask that question. He answered, “I didn’t hear any cussing coming in from the porch, so I thought you hadn’t gotten it started yet!” That’s when I realized I am NOT the world’s worst scroll sawer, I had just always used the world’s worst scroll saws. With my Ryobi I can now proclaim myself, with great pride and satisfaction, a scroll sawer who enjoys the craft.
In thirty years as a craft’s teacher I have only recommended four specific products – the Walnut Hollow Versa-Tool, the Colwood Detailer Burner, the Optima Burner, and the Chipping Away Large Chip Carving Knife. Today, I am adding the Ryobi 16″ variable speed scroll saw to my list of must have tools.
I am going to take a little break here and go get our supply list ready to post. See you in just a bit!
We will start this projects with the three wooden spoons, shown left in the photo. We will work through the steps of cutting the basswood blanks using the scroll saw, then with a basic set of wood carving tools shape the spoon’s bowl and handle area. Our third section will focus on getting the spoon bowl absolutely smooth and finally we will do a simple wood burning of a henna flower design. So … back soon!