Patterns

 
Q:
What are some best ways to apply and remove patterns?
A:
Use Clear Packaging Tape when Applying Patterns
 
The blade heat can burn wood, some worse than others, especially cherry.  Packaging tape reduces burning by lubricating the blade.  The tape also makes for smoother cutting and makes the blade last longer.  Don't use 3M heavy duty tape because it is more difficult to remove from the wood after cutting. 
 
When I first wrote this I didn't know there is a difference between packaging tape and strapping tape.  I've been corrected.  Apparently strapping tape is the kind reinforced with fibers.  Don't use that.  Packaging tape is 2" wide and clear.
 
Most recommend using spray glue for applying the pattern to the wood.  There are spray glues which are permanent, semi-permanent and some that won't hold your pattern on when you are cutting.  I like 3M Super 77 (Home Depot carries it).  It's repositionable, as a spray glue has to be.  Many woodworkers use the spray glue to fix the pattern to the wood, then they cover the pattern with the tape.
 
I've found it's better for me to apply the tape to the wood, then glue the pattern onto the tape instead of taping over the pattern.  And if it is a small pattern it's quicker to slap on some rubber glue than to spray. 
 
If you put the tape over the pattern you can have 3 problems:  The light glares on the shiny tape making it harder to see the pattern.  The tape is slippery, giving you less control of the wood being fed.  Some tape builds up static electricity, so the sawdust won't blow away cleanly.
 
Hint:  Keep a dispenser of Scotch Magic Tape (the usual office tape) near your saw.  No matter how you fasten the pattern an occasional corner will come loose when you're cutting.  If the blade is flapping the pattern, you can't follow it.  A quick piece of tape will fix the problem.
 
Removal: 
When you are done scrolling the project it's time to remove the pattern.  Some tapes peel easily, yet don't come loose when cutting.  Even those take quite a bit of time to remove if it is a complicated pattern with lots of tiny nooks and crannies.  And it can be a real pain if you stain or apply finish to the piece, then find there was a piece of tape left on it. 
 
If you want to save some of that removal time, put the scrolled piece in a shallow pan and pour Odorless Mineral Spirits (paint thinner) over it.  Let it sit for a half hour and the tape will pretty much fall off.  Unless it is 3M Scotch Packaging Tape.  That stuff is still a bearcat to remove.  Note that after the tape is gone the wood will have to sit for a day drying before doing anything more with it, but the paint thinner won't hurt the wood or its color.
 
Alternative method:  Use a shop towel (as a paint brush) and disposable gloves to liberally apply paint thinner on the pattern that remains on the pieces.  After it soaks the paper and tape will be loose, but it may require more than 1 application.  Take the pattern pieces off, then rub the wood with thinner-soaked rags to remove any glue residue. 
 
There have been reports that some have had ink bleed from a pattern into the face of the project wood.  I've never had a problem with that, so there must be differences in printer inks.  It would be smart to do a test on a scrap piece.  If it's OK you don't have to worry until you buy a new printer.  But in any case, if you apply the pattern over packaging tape, there will be no bleeding.
 
Mineral spirits will loosen spray glue that fastens the pattern directly to the wood too.  There have been times I wished I had done it that way, instead of taping the wood first.
 
Always use odorless thinner, but also remember that the health-damaging vapors are still there, even if they don't smell much.  And there is still  the fire danger.  Ventilate adequately.  Have you ever noticed?  The instructions say, 'Use adequate ventilation.'  There is never a definition for measuring how much is adequate.
 
Note that some use a hair dryer to heat the pattern and tape for removal.  I haven't tested the method so I can't give an opinion.  But I would think it would leave quite a bit of  glue residue on the wood.  If so, there will be discoloration of stain and/or finish.  Unless the glue is removed as above or by sanding.
 
For a small project you can stick it in your microwave.  Feel the surface to make sure it doesn't get too hot.  I haven't tried this because I forgot about it until I started typing it.  So I can't personally recommend it, but it seems logical.
 
The spray glue is ideal for patterns.  It gives a few minutes time to get the pattern in place, and it can be repositioned.  The glue spray shouldn't be allowed to float around the shop, so most spray inside a cardboard box.  Some have a drawer they can close after spraying. 
 
 

 

 
 

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