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type of wood for fretwork?

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  • type of wood for fretwork?

    Hello, What are my options for wood types when doing fretwork? I've noticed some plywoods bend a little over time.What are readily available hardwoods for fretwork? Thanks.

  • #2
    Welcome fretman! Pretty much any hardwood is nice for scrolling.Cherry tends to burn moreso then most woods,but it cuts nicely. I have scrolled many species, both native and exotic, the one that I dont like cutting is cottonwood, it fuzzes bad and it smells like a three day old road kill skunk in July. I love cutting walnut, cherry, maple, elm and red oak. Red oak always seems to be my wood of choice, mainly because everything looks good in oak to me. For exotic woods, I love cutting padauk.I think wood more on the harder side is much easier to cut compared to the softer woods.www.sloanswoodshop.com, www.petersonscustomlumber.com and www.ocoochhardwoods.com all cater to the scrolling community, and all three sell good wood, my personal favorite...the second one I mentioned. Dale
    Dale w/ yella saws

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    • #3
      Welcome to our little family here! I agree with everything Dale said, but must add something. I had the same question a few months ago and was fortunate enough to get some exotic hardwoods. I've cut lots of fretwork so far and have used a variety of the hardwoods. Even though I'm not nearly as experienced as most of the other members on here, I still have learned that certain woods just don't work for fretwork unless they are at least 1/2" thick. One wood in particular that I have decided to avoid for fretwork is purpleheart. It scrolls nicely, but is very fragile especially if you get a very dry piece. My daughter had scrolled a lovely fretted unicorn not too long ago and it cracked in several places just as she was finishing up. It cracked in places that were finished and not being worked on. In addition, the next day, I picked it up to take it out to the garage to finish it when it slipped out of my hand and fell about six inches to the counter top and exploded in a thousand pieces. Yes, I know I dropped it, but I didn't drop it on the floor or from a great distance. Just today, I cut a 8" piece that was 1/4" thick. As soon as I was finished cutting it (w/ a circular saw) it split in two. So, I cut another piece and I made it a little farther, but it split just after I put the pattern on it.

      My favorite to work with is probably bloodwood but you need to be careful with that as well. Depending on the direction of the grain vs. your cuts, it could prove to be a little brittle too. I'm sure this doesn't help much because I doubt you want all your pieces to be red.

      But, my personal advice to you is to take Dale's suggestion to go to Sloan's Workshop and treat yourself to a variety of woods including plywood. I've gotten ply from them. It doesn't come warped and it doesn't warp after you get it. They are friendly and the turn around time on shipping is very quick. Their prices are also good. I haven't tried the other two links Dale supplied but if he's used them, you could give them a try too.

      Hope this helps.
      Mia

      We are the music makers.
      We are the dreamers of dreams.


      Easy scrollin' with a DW788

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      • #4
        For portraits and wood pictures I prefer baltic Birch plywood. For my personal taste I think too much grain in a very detailed cutting detracts from the overall effect. But many here use a "good quality" oak plywood. I have never used it so I can't really comment on it.
        Another personal taste item is that I don't like fretwork in very thick wood looks clunky to me. As an example I make all my detailed Ornaments in 1/16 ply most people use 1/4.
        It comes down to a matter of taste and what the project calls for.
        Mia how thick is the bloodwood that you are cutting? It is also one of my favorite hardwoods but not easy to cut (depending on thickness) I am still undecided as to wether or not I like the smell of it. I cut my cardinal from it 1" thick lots of smoke.

        I really like walnut , spanish cedar, poplar and maple also cut nicely.
        Rolf
        RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

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        • #5
          Hi fretman, Welcome to the group.
          I like to cut Walnut, Red and White Oak.

          Bob
          Delta P-20 & Q-3

          I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!

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          • #6
            I have had the same experience with purple heart. It is hard as a rock to cut and very fragile. I'll never cut it again. For portraits I use BB and oak ply. I use the oak ply on all my widlife portraits. My favorite hardwood is walnut. I like the way it cuts and it looks grreat with just danish oil on it. Maple is also another nice one to work with if you don't want much grain.
            Mike

            Making sawdust with a Dremel 1680.
            www.picturetrail.com/naturephotos

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            • #7
              Hi fretman-- It seems that the thing I like to cut most is my finger. Other than that, I use a lot of Baltic Birch (1/4.3/8.1/2). Probably my fave is walnut. I love how it takes a finish. I just did a liberty bell in 7/8 walnut and it came out great. Blood wood also is beautiful, but if it is thick it really burns up blades and it stinks really bad. Good luck
              Tom

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              • #8
                Something I found early on was the grain of the wood was more important than the spieces. I can hear everyone groaning at the comment
                What I mean by that is you can have two pieces of the same wood, even from the same tree, but the way the board is milled can make the difference between an enjoyable experience scrolling or a headache.
                Baltic Birch has strength and a uniform density for cutting so it is enjoyable, many people do not like the ply edges though.
                All of the other hardwoods mentioned are great, as long as the grain is right.
                CAЯL HIRD-RUTTEЯ
                "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
                Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21

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                • #9
                  Carl why would we groan you are absolutly right. My step son was cuting soft pine and the blade kept tracking along the grain lines, he was too inexperienced to realize what the problem was.
                  Rolf
                  RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                  Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                  Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                  And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Not only is grain a problem for cutting but it can also be boon for the looks of the project. Here again, pieces from the same species will vary and the grain on one piece will enhance a project and another will detract from it. The problem is I can only have so much wood available. Wish I was close enough to a place like Sloan's so I could pick out a piece for that "special" project. Usually, I have to make do with what I have.

                    I have cut a few things from ash lately and like it but my favorite still is walnut.

                    Earl

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