Useful Scrolling Accessories

You will find there are tools that are very useful and in some cases essential to the continued  success and progress of your scroll saw work.  Here is a list of those that I've found most useful.

Q:Why would anyone want something like a zero-clearance scrollsaw table?
A:
Don't let your project go down the hole. 
Build a Zero-Clearance Saw Table Overlay
 
There will be some situations where information is given in these notes, but no reasons are given.  Why would anyone want something like a zero-clearance scrollsaw table?  If you only work on large projects you won't want or need one.
 
The term 'zero-clearance' means that there is no room (or very little space) in the table around the saw blade.  The hole in the saw's table is too large for small-scale cutting.  Pieces will drop down the hole.  Or if you are scrolling a stack of thin wood, the down-stroke of the blade can tear the guts out of whatever you are cutting because there is no support below your work.
 
The hole in the table has to be that large to allow room for the blade when the table is tilted.  Some saws have a removable table insert.  This could be replaced with a zero-clearance insert, but almost no saw manufacturers provide them. 
 
And when they do, in many cases the insert is not exactly the same height as the saw table.  So when doing small cuttings, the piece will tilt as it is fed into the blade.  This will ruin delicate work.
 
Before we get into the zero-clearance table, the problem with the uneven insert can be jury-rigged.  Put masking tape on the bottom of the insert edges where it is too thin.  Use multiple layers until it fits evenly all around.  If the insert is too thick, sand the bottom of it.
 
It is necesssary to have a zero-clearance table if you do small work.  This is how my overlay looks.
 
 zero clearance table
 
For making the saw table overlay, remove the saw blade and lay a piece of ¼” smooth hardboard on the table of your saw.  From below, trace the table outline on the wood.  Remove the board and add about 2" all around the table pattern to make it larger than the table, then cut it out with the scroll saw.  It doesn’t have to be accurate. 
 
Approximately center the wood on the table top, smoothest side up.  Glue 4 to 6 small ¾” wood scrap blocks on the underside of the hardboard, against and around the edge of the saw table.  Two of these blocks can be seen in the above picture.  Clamp each as you glue it.  Wiggle the board to make sure it fits snuggly without any play.  If it isn't tight, add more blocks.
 
When dry, from the bottom, mark the board where the blade will go through.  Remove the overlay from the table and drill a 1/8" hole for the blade.  It isn't necessary to be exact since the blade will cut its way to where it wants to be.  You now have an overlay for your saw table that will give total support for cutting small details.  Keep this for future mini projects.
 
If you have the shop space, you could make the overlay considerably larger.  This would give you an extra worktable when needed, just by removing the blade.  But don't make it larger where you will be standing while cutting.  You won't be able to get close enough to the saw to be able to see well.
 
After considerable use, the blade will have enlarged the hole in the board.  If you suddenly need to cut very small pieces, there is a temporary fix without making a new zero-clearance overlay.  Tape a couple of pieces of clear packaging tape (or even Scotch tape) over the hole, one on each side of the blade. 
 
This temp fix can also be used on the saw table, but it isn't as effective.  The hole is too large.
 
Tabletop Care:  Keep the wood table top dressed with paste wax.  If the wood table top is sticky, or if your saw table is sticky, your wood won't slide smoothly, and you won't be able to cut smooth edges.  You can wax your metal saw table too. 
 
If you choose to make your overlay out of plastic, instead of masonite, it could also be waxed.  If you use plastic use double-stick tape to hold it to the table.  I haven't tried this, but someone suggested it in an article.
 
But a word of warning:  Be very careful that you don't get the wax on the ends of a saw blade or onto / into the blade clamps.  For example, don't lay a new blade on the newly waxed table.  Don't touch the ends of the blade with waxy fingers.  If the wax gets into the blade clamps it is almost impossible to keep the blade from repeatedly slipping out of the clamp when sawing.  
 
I've also read that new blades sometimes come with oil on them.  Highly frustrating!
 
If your clamps should no longer hold the blades securely, insert a clean paper towel dipped in rubbing alcohol in the clamp and tighten the clamp a few times on different spots on the towel.  Then run the towel up and down in the clamp. 
 
Then insert a 220 folded sandpaper strip and tighten the clamp down a bit, then pull it up and down.  Or use a fingernail filing stick.  Clamps can get too smooth.
 
I feel silly typing this:  Use a folded sandpaper strip, folded so the grit is outside on both sides.  So you are sanding both sides of the clamp.
 
 
 
Q:Why do I need a copy machine?
A:
For Copying at Different Sizes
 
Some copiers won't allow you to change copy sizes.  When you need a pattern at a different scale (size), there is an easy way to determine the percentage of increase or decrease to set on your copier.  If you don't have a copier, Kinkos or another pro copying service can give you copies quickly and (if you are making only a few) economically.
 
The first thing is to decide on the % of increase or decrease you need from the original pattern.  The easiest way is to buy a pattern-sizing scale, which I've seen advertized a few times, and I think they were around $10.
 
I think a sizing scale isn't necessary, and I if I had one I probably couldn't find it when needed unless I used it every couple of days.  Here is the way that's easier for me.
 
Decide how large you want the copy to be.  Measure one dimension exactly in either 10ths of an inch or in millimeters.   Before you get all uptight already about using millimeters or 10ths, consider the alternative.  Pull out your hand calculator and try dividing 2-3/8" into 3-7/16".   If you like useless problems, feel free to do it that way.
 
So you've measured the size you want to end up with, for example from nose to tail.  Then measure the same thing on the pattern you will copy.  Divide the size you want (X) by the measurement in the pattern (P).  The result is the percentage of increase or decrease you need. 
 
In other words, the Formula:
(the size you want)           divided by                                    
(the size of the pattern)    =      % of change    =    the copier setting 
Another way of saying it: 
X divided by P = copier setting   or   X / P =  %
 
For example, the pattern you want to copy measures 2.2 inches wide.  You need it to be 3.3 inches wide.  Therefore: 
3.3" (X, the size you want) divided by 2.2" (P, the pattern size)  =  1.5 or 150%.   That's the size you plug into the copier.
 
(To change from a decimal to a percentage, just move the decimal point 2 places to the right, as above from 1.5 to 150%)   So if you set your copier at 150% and push the button, it will produce the size you need.
Another example;  the pattern you want to copy is this:
  small dinosaur head
The jaws of the original pattern  measure 6 millimeters from top to bottom.  You know you want your copy to be exactly 11 millimeters from the bridge of his nose to the base of his chin (measuring between the same 2 points).  When we plug these numbers into the formula, we get:
11 mm divided by 6 mm = 1.83333 or 183%.  You could run a copy at 183% and another at 184% to see which fits your need most exactly.  You will get:
larger dinosaur head

 If you are going to increase the original pattern significantly in size, it will be larger than a standard 8½ x 11 page.  You probably have no copier at home large enough.  If so, the first copy will only show the head and front legs (or whatever is the subject of your project). 
 
Please don't be insulted, but there will be some readers, such as young beginners who won't think of turning the pattern in the scanner and copying the back end.  Or old learners, like me. 
 
Make a copy of the other part of the pattern.   Tape the 2 copies together by holding them up to the light (a window pane).  Keep in mind that you will be glueing this pattern to the wood for scrolling, so you have to trim off the excess paper where the sheets overlap.  You can't see where to cut if the saw blade is flapping your pattern up and down. 
 
Of course the enlarged pattern may also be wider than your paper.  In which case you may have to take 4 (or more) copies of different parts of the original plan, then splice them all.
 
An ideal way to do that splicing, or for tracing and drawing, from the comfort of your easy chair if you like, is in front of the TV or sound system.  I built a homemade light box for very little money.   Put 'light box' in the Search box for the plan.
 
Reproduction Distortion in your copier and scanner
 
This hint is not something that is not likely to solve an immediate problem for you, but it's something you need to be aware of.  It could save you lots of headache in some projects.
 
The optical system, the mirrors and lenses in your copier or scanner, do cause distortions.  That isn't avoidable.  But the better quality copier should have much less distortion than a cheapy. 
 
It will help you to know how much error is built into your copier, or the one you use at Kinko's (or other professional copying place).  You may have to compensate for it. 
 
For example, if your project is a jewelry box, the pieces have to fit.  But if you make photocopies of the sides and bottom, they will not fit exactly after they are cut because the bottom will not have square corners.  That means your box won't be square, the mitered 45° corners won't fit exactly, etc.
 
If you do a project where tabs are to fit into slots the distortion may be crucial.  The machine usually distorts in 1 direction only:  vertically, but not horizontally, for example.  After you run the copies compare the slot size with the tab size to make sure they are OK.  The light box described in these notes is a big help. 
 
Also compare the distance between tabs, with the distance between slots.  If the sizes check out OK, look more closely to see where you should be cutting.  Should the blade edge be on the inside of the line, or on the outside?  It's better to have a tab slightly too snug because you can always sand a little.  It's really tough to add wood after you've cut it off.       < ; -)
 
Also note that when you buy wood, there sometimes is a significant difference in the thickness of 2 pieces sold as the same size.  Check the thickness of your wood with the slot it is to fit into.  A 1/4" oak board is not always 1/4" thick.  You may have to cut along the outside of a line, for example, to make the slot larger.
 
sweating circle
    
You can test your copier or scanner.  Draw a perfect square in the corner of a paper and mark one corner A.  Scan a 200%  or 300% copy of this image of the square.  Then turn this page 90° (sideways) and make another copy of the square.  Hold the copies to the light with corner A over corner A.  You can now see the amount of optical error your scanner has.  If you turn the copies 90° to each other, to correspond with the way the copies were made in the scanner, you will find there is virtually no distortion.  Unless you had significant distortion created in your printer.
 
The solution, but usually not a practical one, is to use professional drafting equipment and, beginning with a blank sheet of paper, draw the parts of the box.  Even if you use Autocad or another computer drafting program, that's probably not an answer all by itself.  You may have a perfect square in your computer, but it will be distorted to some extent by your printer.
 
This is something for you to be aware of when the situation demands. For small projects there is little total distortion.  Probably much less than any errors in cutting.  
 
Large projects will present absolute problems.  For example if you are cutting a box or wall shelf designed with tabs and slots, the tabs will not line up exactly with the slots when you get done.  They won't fit into each other because of the distortion.   If you know that ahead of time you can often make corrections before the wood is cut.
 
 
 
 
Q:What is a light box?
A:
A Light Box is:
 
An ideal way to do splicing, tracing and drawing, from the comfort of your easy chair if you like, in front of your TV or sound system.  I built a homemade light box for very little money. 
 
At the lumber yard I bought:
Sheet of 1/8" plastic, 19" x 24"
12' of 1x2 construction pine
2 of the cheapest 18" fluorescent lights
                                (you could get by with only one)
14" x 21" piece of hardboard (masonite)  
some screws. 
 
A couple of hours will give you an excellent light box.  Here's what mine looks like.  My drafting tools are on top.
 
 light box
 
 
The 'handle' you see on the top-right of the box is a mistake.  It isn't needed because the whole box is handles.  Just omit that inside 1x2 on the top and extend the plastic over the whole top.  It's easy to cut plastics with a #4 blade at slow speed. 
 
Be sure to buy the light(s) first, so you know the base is large enough.  Or you may have an old fluorescent lamp you could use instead of buying. 
 
I drove tacks into the wood so the heads clamped the plastic sheet, but later replaced them.  I drilled 6 small holes through the plastic and put in small brass screws.
 
Some of my drafting tools are on top.  I used to be a surveyor and draftsman for an architect, so I have more of these than the average person.  You wouldn't need a lot to do basic pattern drawing, but here's what you should have.  I suggest, from a business supply store or hobby shop, you want:
Plastic T-square (the blue thing)
Triangle(s).   The one shown is a 30°/60° triangle.  They make an adjustable  one that you can set to any angle, but it costs a lot more, and is more clumsy to work with unless you use it a lot.
The white bar on top is a scale (for measuring), available in decimal inches or fractions of inches.  You want the engineer's scale, in 10ths of inches.
The small metal is an erasing shield, but you probably won't make errors.
And there are many kinds of templates (the green circle template). 
You probably want to buy the template you need when needed.  But pick up a couple of cheap French curves (not shown).
An excellent mechanical pencil for drawing has to have a nib that is long enough to ride along the edge of the triangle or T-square.  It can't have a stubby, short or slanted nib.  A good one is the Pentel Champ, for the same price as the (no good for this purpose because it is stubby and slanted) PaperMate ComfortMate. 
 back of light box
 
 
This is a view of the back of the light box, showing construction a bit better.  You can most probably get by with only one light.
 
Here is a working drawing of it, although you probably won't need it: 
 
light box pattern 
 
 
Q:Is a drill press useful in scrolling?
A:
A Drill Press is almost required for some projects
 
Always, when using the drill press to drill access holes and other holes that go through a project, have a 3/4" wood block under the piece being drilled.  If a piece is not backed by wood, chunks will chip out of the wood of your project, when the bit goes through the bottom.
 
You may think you can get by without a drill press, and you can if you can rig a jig so you can drill holes with a hand drill that are perfectly vertical.  For drilling holes that are guaranteed to be 90° to the wood, a drill press is almost necessary.  In addition, you can use it for sanding drums, a sanding flutter wheel et al.
 
A useful accessory is a drill press vise.  This lays on your drill press table and clamps items to be drilled, holding them at exactly the angle you need.
 
Cutting Identical Strips (method)
 
If you need strips of wood of identical widths from your table saw, it's almost impossible to do it by trying to read the measurement scale to move the fence for each strip.  The index on the scale is not that accurate.
 
Method:  The table saw described here is set up with the fence on the right of the blade.  Place the wood piece from which you want to cut the strips on the saw table against the fence.  Square the wood off by trimming its left edge.  Of course it's always necessary when using the table saw, to keep the wood tight against the fence.
 
Don't move the fence.  Remove your wood piece.  Take the strip you want to copy (the pattern) and put it against the fence.  Then place the wood you are cutting from against that pattern strip. (Don't turn the wood.  Put the same edge against the strip that was against the fence when you trimmed your wood.)   Snug it up. 
 
While holding your wood piece firmly against the table, remove the pattern strip.  In order to remove the pattern you can release the fence lock.  Then move the fence up against your wood and lock it.  Cut your wood piece and you have a copy of the original strip.
 
Now repeat by placing that pattern strip against the fence again, and snug your wood into place against it.  Remove the strip, move the fence, cut.  You now have a second identical strip.  Repeat indefinitely, always using the same original piece as a pattern. 
 
This is also the method to use if you want to score a board (not cutting it all the way through) in parallel lines, as would be required for making a checkerboard, for example.  Make the score line, put in the wood strip (of the width between scoring lines), move the fence and score again.  With all that scoring we're sure to win!
 
 
 
Q:What is a scrolling hands jig?
A:

This is a Scrolling Hands Jig 

The sizes of the jigs you are going to make, as called for here, depend on the size of the project(s) you plan on doing.  In addition to these 2, you may want one 12" long.  And you may not need the smallest one.  Or you may want one smaller.
 
Find a scrap of 1/4" plywood, Baltic Birch or better, 8" to 10" long.  Trim a small amount from the edge, just to square the edge up.  Using the method described in Cutting Identical Strips cut 2 strips, both exactly 1/2" wide.  (To find the article on strips, search 'identical strips')  The width is not critical, but having them exactly the same is.
 
(Note that you could cut one strip about 18" long and cut it in half, but you wanted to practice cutting identical strips anyway, right?) 
 
Sandwich the strips, face to face exactly, and tape them together with transparent strapping tape.  Double check to make sure the edges are exactly even.  Mark both pieces with arrows on the faces, showing 'UP'.
 
Measure up 1/4" from the bottom of your sandwich and mark it, 3/4" from each end.  Use a center set or nail to make a starter hole on the mark if you don't have brad point bits.  Using a drill press to get a 90° hole, drill a 3/16" hole through both strips at each mark.  Run the bit in and out of the hole 3 or 4 times.  You will want the holes to receive 3/16" bolts, but not with play in them.
 
Cut another strip, this one perhaps 1/32" less than 1/2" wide.  Cut off 2 pieces about 5" long.  Isn't that nice, not having to be exact for this step? 
 
At the hardware store buy 2-3/16"-2" carriage bolts.  That's 2 carriage bolts, 3/16" in diameter, 2" long.  The material is not critical, zinc, stainless, galvanized.  But many places don't carry wing nuts for all kinds of bolts.  And you need 2 wing nuts to match the threading, and also 2 washers.  Then buy 2 more of the same bolts 3" long and 2 more 4" long.  You may not need the longer ones for this project, but one day soon you will.  Go back to your shop.
 
Turn your sandwich over so it is on the table, UPside up .  They are going to be connected with bolts, and if you are right-handed, you will want the bolt heads on the left, the wing nuts on the right.  Separate the sandwich and take the strip you want for the bolt heads and draw a square tangent to each 3/16" hole.  Each end would look like this, but this is just a sketch:
 sandwich strip
 
Take this strip to your scroll saw and cut the squares out.  Sandwich the strips again, but not taped.   Turn both strips so the UP arrows point down. 
 
Glue one of the 5" strips on the inside face of each sandwich piece - on the face not marked UP.  It is not critical to have them exactly centered, but the 5" strip should be even with the tops (the UPside) of the sandwich strips.  Since all 4 strips are resting on the table, all will be even on the UPside of the package.  And the bottom edges you are looking at are not aligned.  Clamp them to dry.
 
After they've dried, put in the 2" bolts and put on the washers and wing nuts.  You now have your jig.  Test it with a block of wood about an inch wide, but one you know is square.  Tighten the nuts, with the wood block exactly even with the bottom of the clamp.  Set it on your scroll saw table (arrows UP) and see if it rocks.  If it does, first check to see if the wood block is sticking out a bit.  If it isn't, you weren't very exact.  Do it over.
 
Even if it rocks a little it will still work for cutting thin things, so you may not want to throw it away.  But mark it so you never use it for cutting a 3/4" 3-D figure.  But don't despair, you would have wanted to make another, larger, clamp for that anyway.  One with 3/4" sides instead of 1/2".
 
You now have a Scrolling Hands Jig, with which you can exquisitely control the scrolling of anything you can clamp in it. 
 
scrolling a guitar 
 
 The pieces in the photo were taped back in as they were cut because it adds stability when cutting the surrounding pieces.
 
 
 
Q:How useful is a foot switch?
A:
Foot Switch may save your project
 
foot switch
 A scroll saw foot switch, in the lower right in the above photo, does not control the speed, contrary to what I thought for the first 3 or 4 years of scrolling.  It only turns the saw on and off.  So I didn't want to spend the money to buy one.  I was wrong.
 
Before getting the switch I had to let go of my workpiece with one hand to turn the saw off.  After having the blade lift and rip the guts out of a couple of delicate projects I was working on, I commented on it (I complained) to my kids.  My timing happened to be right, and they bought me a foot switch as a gift. 
 
The foot switch is also safer because if you must stop the saw quickly, this cuts the stopping time in more than half.  You also need one, so don't wait like I did.  Thanks, kids.
 
 
 
 
Q:For what do I need a magnifier swing arm lamp?
A:
magnifier swing lamp 
 
Mangifier Swing Arm Lamps (above)
 
To be able to see your pattern clearly enough to accurately cut it.
 
The lamp on the left above has a fluorescent round bulb which surrounds the magnifying glass.  It is shadow-free and costs a lot more than the other.  On the right is a magnifier with an incandescent (regular) light bulb near the attaching arm.  It casts some shadows and is hotter to work with.
 
I have to work with little money, so I bought one of each from Harbor Freight (http://www.harborfreight.com/) when they were on special.  I paid only $8 for the incandescent lamp, but I fight the lack of support in the arms, etc.
 
In scrolling there are 2 primary tools for me.  The first is, of course, the scrollsaw.  The second is my magnifier lamp.  I have seen an expert scroller, Harold Foos, zipping through complicated cuts, never (apparently) needing to see better to follow the smallest detail in the pattern.  I can't, and don't understand how he can.  Could he have memorized the patttern?  (Joke)  I need my magnifier lamp.
 scroll saw dust blower
Harold is almost my neighbor in Lakewood, CO, and a fellow member of the Colorado Woodworker's Guild.  He's the inventor of the dust blower that is on virtually all new scrollsaws.  It blows sawdust away from the blade and pattern.  For those of you with old saws, most can be fitted with Harold's blower.   My saw's dust blower is shown on the upper left (the black sectional tube) in the above photo.
 
The above is a non-zoom photo of a pattern in my saw.  Magnifier lamp lenses range from 2½ to 5 power.  They can sit on a table, have clamps or slide into a mounting hole on some saws.   But do not attach your lamp to the table or the stand your scroll saw sits on, because the vibration of the light will drive you crazy.  And don't use the mounting hole on a saw for that purpose, for the same reason.
 magnifier
This is a non-zoom photo through the glass of the incandescent lamp.  When you first look at the pattern through a magnifier you may feel some eye disorientation.  It is just a matter of becoming used to it.  (They say) there isn't any real eye strain, so don't give up on using the magnifier. 
 
Compare this photo with the unmagnified photo of the pattern at the top.  It is obvious how much easier it is to follow a pattern when using a magnifier. 
 
I found out my fluorescent lamp doesn't work if it gets below about 35° in my shop (the garage).  But perhaps most of you weren't originally from North Dakota anyway, and probably would quit work if it got below about 40°.   And there is conflicting information in the paperwork that came with these lamps.  They both claim to have 3 diopter magnification, yet the incandescent is much stronger.  

magnifier

 The fluorescent lamp (round bulb) is above.  I need both the light and the magnification, even when cutting something fairly simple.    Having become used to it, I never cut anything without a magnifier light.
 black magnifier swing lamp
 On theleft is the incandescent lamp magnifier.  
 
An alternative is a headband magnifier (see the photo below) that can be very useful for things other than scrolling.  One example is for cleaning out fretwork after scrolling.  But there are many different magnifiers on them. 
 
When shopping, be sure to try the headband out to see what the focal length is.  The catalogs I've seen don't tell you.  Probably because there are different magnifiers you can flip down, each with a different focal length.  You may try it at your scrollsaw and get hit in the head by the upper blade clamp, because the pattern has to be only about 4" away from your eyes.
 
clses up magnifier
The headband will work with eyeglasses.  These headbands can be expensive, like $50, but I got a cheap plastic band (lighted!) on a closeout for about $3 (Harbor Freight again).  For those who wear glasses , someone makes a magnifier that will clip onto them.  But I haven't had the opportunity to try it.
 
No Endorsements
I want to make clear that though you see mention of brands, products and people in these articles, I have not been paid to promote them.  If I like something, or something someone does, I want to give you the opportunity to enjoy it also.  I've also told you about some product problems to watch out for.
 
 
 
Q:Is a RotaryTool Valuable for Scrolling?
A:
For me it is a great help.
The Rotary Tool as helper:
 
I think the first rotary tool was marketed by Dremel.  I used to have one, but won't again.  I bent the drive shaft of my first (dropped it) and went to replace it with the same thing, since I still had a good battery.  The store had an update of the same model.  But Dremel had made the battery insert hole about 1/64" smaller so my second (old) battery wouldn't fit. 
 
As far as I can imagine, the only reason for changing the size was so they may sell another battery here and there.  But I'll never buy another of their batteries.  Or tools.
 
There are many manufacturers out there these days and they make good rotary tools for a fraction of the Dremel price.  Some of them are at least as good.  Hopefully not all of them will pull manufacturing rip-offs like I think that one was.

 

Most of my projects are small scrollings. I've not found any sanding tool that is more handy for finishing small things than a rotary tool.  And the grinders I use are diamond-coated ones. 

 

Diamonds sound expensive, but many suppliers have sets of these grinders in a vast variety of shapes.  Most are very fine, not coarse, grinding heads.  For example, Eloxite Corp.   

has a set of 20 different small grinders for $4.75, catalog #70-052.

 

If you would rather not work with power tools, you need a set of mini hand files.  These come in about 3 different textures.  Mine are very fine (as in, not coarse). 

I have a good photo of a couple of rotary tools, one with a flex shaft.  And that set of diamond points.  But I don't yet have the tools to be able to upload it to this site.  The picture will come, hopefully soon. 
 
I've had rotary tools made by Chicago Power Tools and Professional Woodworker.  Neither is perfect, but that makes them match my billfold and they do the job for me. 
 
 
 
Q:What are some aids for sanding and shaping?
A:
Sanding and Shaping, the Foundation for a Fine Finish:
 
There are at least 2 sanding systems that are marketed to be mounted in the scroll saw's cutting action.  I haven't used them because I read about couple of jig systems.    
 

One is to get a wood fingernail file and glue it to an old scrollsaw blade. Mount the blade in your saw and you have a variable speed sander for very small projects.  I haven't tried it because I used the next one.

 

I did go to my neighborhood hardware store (plumbing supply store) and buy a roll of Norton All Purpose Plumber's Sanding Cloth, 180 grit.  It is a very inexpensive 1" X 120" roll. 

 

I cut off 5" (the length of a saw blade, and then cut that into strips ¼" to 1/3" wide.  That's over 70 sanders from that roll, or less than a nickel per sander!  After taking out the saw blade, I installed the sanding strip in its place.  I tightened the blade clamps a bit too tight so the cloth tore.  After being more careful the next time, I had a handy sanding tool that worked good for the original.  This tape could also be glued onto a blade.
 
I was a know-nothing beginner, cutting puzzles from 3/4" wood at the time.  I didn't know how to accurately check that my blade was at a 'perfect' 90° to the table.  I wasn't aware of the problems of feeding with side pressure on the piece.  I tried to save 12¢ too often, letting the blade get way too dull, so it bowed as it cut.  I fed into the blade too fast, causing more problems.
 
I made every mistake there is to make and invented a few.  So I had quite a lot of work to do with the sanders, trying to get those puzzle pieces to slide in and out from both the front and the back.  Yes, I could have used a #8 or #9 blade, but then the pieces would have flopped all over.

 

Then I found some articles on 'How To' and practiced on some scrap patterns.  The right ways to feed wood and other good scrolling practices became habits.  But all that was a year or 2 (or 3) after I started scrolling.  Since then I've had little use for this tool.
 
I suggest that if you're a beginner, you put your cursor over Hints & Ideas in the upper right of any page.  That will pop-up a box called Practice Scrolling.  There are practice patterns and lots of hints to help you.  Maybe you won't learn bad scrolling habits that have to be broken.
 
There have been quite a few recommendations of products scattered in these pages.  I haven't been paid by any of those manufacturers or suppliers.  I'm trying to share my ;impressions of the good, the bad and the ugly.  But if you hear that any of them want to offer me some compensation, I give permission to let them know where to find me.          ;-)

 

Your drill press is a good tool for mounting and using drum sanders and flap sanders.  Things like drum sander sets are good to buy from those el cheapo companies such as Harbor Freight
or Homier (which sells from semi trucks and various places on weekends)
They have some superb bargains at times, and when there are specials.  But there is a lot of junk too.  I've found a couple of their brands, Chicago Electric and Professional Woodworker to be fairly satisfactory.
 
I recently had to buy a screw driver.  I splurged and bought a fancy new Black & Decker Pivot Plus.  After about ½ day of use something let loose inside and it wouldn't drive the screw driver any more.  I took it back to Home Depot, but since it was so new they couldn't replace it.  They called B&D, who sent a replacement to me.  It also lasted 1/2 day.  And I had no sales slip for this one.  Sometimes the junk isn't from (supposedly) cheapo companies.
 
 
 
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