Put your cursor on Hints & Ideas and a pop-up box appears titled Practice Scrolling. If you click on that you'll find a series of practice patterns and hints. They'll help you avoid many of the mistakes I made in getting started, since I didn't have these.
What are some easy fixes for wood that is splitting or checking?
Planks and thin sheets of hard wood are often subject to checking. Some woods are much more prone than others, for example Aromatic Cedar is often full of checks.
If you are scrolling 1/4" cedar, check the workpiece by bending it with the grain, thus revealing splits. Using the old-fashioned (runny) super glue or crazy glue, on the back side of the board, squeeze a line of glue along the split.
It will bond and dry almost instantly (as in a couple of minutes), so make sure the wood is lying flat, not cupped. This will work for almost any thicknesses of wood, and any kind of wood that I've tried it on. Don't try to use the gel super glue for this.
If put on the back side of the piece, on a flat surface, with the check squeezed together, probably none of the glue will go through to the face of the other side. But I've used it on the face, then sanded right away, and I couldn't tell where the glue was when I finished the wood.
Those of you who have tried some of the log art patterns of Dean Larson probably like them very much. He called them Logscapes in an article in ScrollSaw Workshop, summer 2001 issue, and at that time his email address was firstname.lastname@example.org. Google doesn't seem to find him, so maybe he isn't doing anything anymore. He had a section in Patrick Spielman's 2002 book, Fun & Easy Scroll Saw Projects. This photo is one of his designs.
His basic idea is excellent, and is easily adapted to your own patterns. And now back to the question.
When using wood from your woodpile instead of buying professionally cured logs, you often hit mini checks. They are easily fixed using the method above.
You may choose, as I did, to leave the bark on the log. When cutting the log into strips the bark often separates, or at least becomes loose from the inner wood. This is another place for glue. In some cases, where the bark is just wobbling, the crazy glue works well. If the bark has totally detached, I glue it back on with Elmer's Stainable Wood Glue.
The above photo is one of my designs using his technique. My sister is a collector of seahorses, and this was a gift for her. The front piece that was cut from the log is laying at the right in the picture. When the front of the log is replaced it looks like the photo on the right. This log is about 10" long and 4½" in diameter. That's the max diameter I can have and still use my band saw to cut it.
Don't just look at the $2.98 (or whatever) price per tube. I looked at one brand for that price and it had 2 grams of glue. Another had 9 grams for the same price, but the tubes appeared to be the same size. The first tube had to be squeezed until almost empty, but nothing came out but air. I wish I remembered that brand; I'd tell you.
I haven't done comparative testing, but Instant Krazy Glue has worked very well for the above checking repair.
When you're using super glue gel, such as for putting together the layers of the Logscapes, I've used Aleene's Platinum Bond Super Gel. But you do have to work fast, and have your clamps ready.
Again, no one is paying me for plugging their products.
What are some more unusual uses for glue?
One thing I think many will profit from is using homemade wood filler. I've been very disappointed in wood fillers from the hardware store. They fill up the hole OK, but can't be stained to match surrounding wood.
I had read a woodworker's instructions on 'do it yourself', and I'd give him credit if I knew where I had read it. He said to collect sawdust from the wood from the project and mix it with wood glue to a fairly stiff mixture. Use that as wood filler.
Elmer's has a new Stainable Wood Glue that seems to me to work much better than their old standard wood glue for this purpose. The results give a superior match with the surrounding surface.
It can be sanded in about 10 minutes. It won't stain exactly the same as surrounding wood but it is not unlike wood graining variations. It seems to take oil finishing, Tung or Danish, even better.
How can I more easily feed blades into fretwork access holes?
If the spaces you are cutting are large, there's no problem. Drill large holes.
In delicate fretwork there will be problems. Or if you are starting a line cut from inside a pattern, with no waste space to drill in. We will want the hole to be as small as possible. And in the latter case, drill the access hole in the intersection of 2 lines (if there are 2 lines). The hole will be much more invisible than if you drill it at the end of the line.
Sharpen the end of your scroll saw blade.
Hold the edge of the end of the blade against a grinding wheel for a second. The end of the blade is now a point. It won't get hung up on the inside of a hole when feeding, so it will easily slip into any hole that's barely large enough.
A 1/32" drill bit will drill a hole just about exactly the right size for a #1 blade. If you are using blades smaller than #1, you have to use the bits that are numbered. And if you are doing any kind of delicate work at all, you will be using blades that are at least as small as #2/0.
A set of 20 bits contains from #61 down to the smallest, #80. The 1/32" bit is almost = to a #68 bit. The #80 is smaller than 1/64". A set can be purchased for less than $8 at Wildwood Designs, cat. # T1232:
I haven't checked to see where the cheapest place may be. Note that the above catalog number shows the sizes backwards.
Instead of drilling holes with different blades and checking each to see if a certain blade will fit into the hole, there are less random ways. The blade case tells you what size each blade is. For example a #76 bit is .020" in diameter. And the catalog tells you the width of a #2/0 blade is .029". It won't fit.
But I have to admit there is a flaw in this method. The bit case is cute, but there's no way to tell if the bit in that slot is that size. Especially if someone else has been using them. Or if I dropped them. Back to random.