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  • Need feedback and/or advice

    Good morning,

    I'm proceeding down the path trying to learn to scroll. I worked on this cross pattern and the curves are kicking my behind. I can't seem to get a smooth cut across the entire radius. I know practice, practice...but does anyone have words of advice that will help me keep my sanity?

    I've included 3 photos showing the cross so I don't hide any of my warts....

    Advice / feedback would be appreciated.
    Attached Files
    "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." John Wayne.

    "Make the project so you're happy with it. It makes no difference if someone else likes it or approves of it. If you're happy with how it turned out, then it's a masterpiece". - My Dad 2010

  • #2
    Hi SonOfMartin,

    I also am new to Scrollsawing, and, having to partly restructure my little workshop, have not done very much as yet beyond one project and some practice runs.

    My past experience was Pyrography, and being very much into Celtic design I had to follow lots of curved lines.

    Anyhowswitching to Scrollsaw work from Pyro is different in that I am cutting rather than burning, but some of the principles are the same for a consistantly smooth curve I have found.

    One is speed. Go slow, go steady ie no stopping on a curve, and look slightly ahead of the blade so that you are mentaly ahead of your hand movements. The hand must be steady and again slow enough in motion to match the steady flow of the curve you are concentrating on.

    In burning a long curve this is critical. ie keeping your eye ahead of the curve ever so slightly, and, the hand follows the eye automatically if we do not focus on the hand too much and just let it be natural. Hard to explain, but is concentration of the eye and a relaxed aproach on the guiding hand.

    Practice with scarp on different long, short, and acute curves doing this, it does become easier with a bit of faith in your hands ability to follow behind the eye, if you get me.

    Now having started to saw, I find that the principle I used for burning fine lined long curves still works. Difference is in curves on Pyro I tended to burn in a direction away from the eye as often as towards, but in sawing I am sawing towards the eye, have to the teeth are at the front. hehe. But it works just the same. I keep my eye ahead of the blade, my hands know what to do, they have been tieing boot laces long enough to follow what is in my head. So have yours. Trust the hands to follow behind your eye.

    Practice this a few times on scrap curves, do the same following the blade with your eye, you should see a difference when comparing the two styles. I usualy am a centimeter ahead.

    The Journey Is Everything.

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    • #3
      Yes the key word like you said is practice but to help you along, when you're doing curves, you should use the fingertip of one of your hands to act as a pivot point and then you actually move and turn the wood with the opposite hand. Check out the web site of Rick Hutcheson at Rick's Scrollsaw. He has a lot of helpful info. On the left column of his site, look for "Scroll Tips" and click any of the links below it. He has what I'm talking about in one of those links. You can also check out this Steve Good video Scroll Saw School-Cutting straight lines where he shows you how he cuts curves. Trust me you will get much better with practice. When I look back at some of my ornaments I made 2 + yrs ago when I started out, I cringe and how bad my circles are compared to now. They were very choppy looking back then. Best of luck to you.


      • #4
        Often a slight drifting off the line isn't all that noticeable if you gradually drift back on, rather than suddenly stop and correct your path. Are you experiencing blade drift? Does the blade tend to track more to the right and is that causing you problems? If so, try moving your position slightly off-center of the saw, to the right. That way, you will appear to still be guilding the wood straight into the blade, but you will have compensated for the drift. Takes a little getting used to, but it works.

        Another tip is to try & teach youself to look at the line ahead of the blade and anticipate the direction you need to go. It sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you are already having trouble keeping the blade on the line, but think of it like driving. You don't focus on the road, right in front of your tires. You look down the road, some distance ahead.

        I seem to notice that a few of your sharp points seem kind of rounded off. Is that true, or is it just the way the picture looks? If they give you trouble, there are a few tricks to help with that as well.
        Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."


        • #5
          I agree with you the long curves are difficult to maintain control. What I have found is as you say practice is key, but I would add another tip which is to estimate where the pivot point is and place one finger there. Then moving slowly with the other hand (you control the rate - don't let the saw control it) as you see the point is off then make small adjustments on where your finger is. Using the other hand to slowly pivot the wood around that point helps keep it slow and keeps the wood moving in a curve not straight lines.


          • #6
            Thank you all for your suggestions. I have a good 'mind picture' of what I want to try next to correct my curves - so off to practice some more! I'm going to cut the same pattern again to see if I make any improvement on my technique.
            "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday." John Wayne.

            "Make the project so you're happy with it. It makes no difference if someone else likes it or approves of it. If you're happy with how it turned out, then it's a masterpiece". - My Dad 2010


            • #7
              The most difficult curves for me are the ones that have changing radii; an example of this is the outside top of your cross. You seem to have lost the line where the radius becomes suddenly tighter and tried to immediately get back to the line. Try to look over the pattern carefully before you start cutting and note the places where the radius of the curve changes; if you can avoid being surprised, your cut may go more smoothly. I used to (and occasionally still do!) actually make notes and draw arrows on the pattern to remind myself that a difficult curve is coming. Also, try to visualize what the completyed cut will look like on both sides. You aren't cutting just one line but rather two; the two cuts will give you a solid piece of wood remaining--you are really cutting away negative space. Visualizing what is supposed to remain may help.


              • #8
                You're on the way, just keep at it. You may like to try a little thinner material
                May the wind at you back .....
                Not be from Lunch.

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