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  • Solid Wood vs. Ply

    Got a question about wood? Haven't heard many talk about using solid wood for scrolling. I've used black walnut & maple planed down to 1/4" and have done scroll & fret work. Just wondering is this just preference or is there a reason other than maybe stabality in using ply?
    Troy

    Scrollin' with DeWalt DW788

  • #2
    I much prefer using solid wood, but then I've mostly done only ornaments measuring 6" or less. I did use ply for a door-topper that was 30" long and would of course for any project that required large dimensions. Ply is more stable, especially over longer dimensions, but IMHO the best ply is baltic birch, and I enjoy the variation in color in solid wood (without having to stain BB), and different grain and texture (which you can't get with BB). I've never used, say, oak plywood from, for example, Sloan's. Maybe I should. But I think I would still would prefer the solid wood. Seems, I dunno, classier somehow.
    Kevin

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -- Dr. Seuss

    NEW DeWalt 788 and that old, Jimmy- Jerry- and Kevin-rigged Delta 40-560

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    • #3
      I prefer hardwoods over plywood myself, but I am not a 4 bajillion frets kinda scroller. I will use ply for large outdoor projects that will be painted. I have also used Baltic and Finnish Birch, they are HIGH quality products and the added strength of the alternating grain layers comes in handy when scrolling lots of detail.
      ‎"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They're easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

      D. Platt

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      • #4
        For me, it depends on what it is I'm cutting. For clocks, I always use solid woods, for portraits it depends. I've cut pieces on slabs but primarily use baltic birch for extremely intricate pieces as I'm not trying to show off the wood but the cut. A lot also depends on the pattern, I feel that the grain can be distracting in certain instances while on others it could really add to the piece. Also, many of my pieces are 11 X 14 or larger and it's tough to get hardwoods that wide and thin enough to cut portraits without the hardwood bowing at some point. This isn't a concern with ply.
        Kevin
        Scrollsaw Patterns Online
        Making holes in wood with an EX-30, Craftsman 16" VS, Dremel 1680 and 1671

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        • #5
          I make ornaments and I'm making a clock out of solid oak. That and popular is all I can get and it is 150 mile round trip for that. I can order baltic birch locally and use that for portraits . Everything else is mail order .
          IRISH

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          • #6
            I have cut many butterflies from 1/8" solid wood but use 1/8" Finnish BB for portraits. Have used 1/4" oak plywood for a few larger scenic pictures.
            Mick, - Delta P-20

            A smile is a small curve that straightens everything out.

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            • #7
              I use solid wood most of the time, it really depends on the project.
              Marsha
              LIFE'S SHORT, USE IT WELL

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              • #8
                Looks like you got your answer, but I'll add my $.02. I like to use hardwoods as much as possible, but plywood certainly has it's place. Normally anything thinner than I can run through my planer will be made from BB plywood. I don't do portraits, but with the intricate detail and fragility of such projects, BB is often the best material.
                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."

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                • #9
                  another 2 cents.. I much prefer hardwoods over plywood.The plaques and most portrait style cuttings I do are pretty much all solid wood. It can warp if its thin and not cared for right, but to me if I'm going to spend so much time on a project, I feel it looks nicer cut from hardwoods. For clocks, always hardwoods, and most often, red oak ends up being my choice of wood, only because it seems to go with everything. I do use some BB ply, but only on painted stuff or some rare occasions when I want no grain effects.Dale
                  Dale w/ yella saws

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                  • #10
                    I have several pieces of figured hard woods, my concern is that it may warp or not be rigid enough for portraits, say in the areas of grass, trees ect. I have used hardwood for fretted picture frames & a stacked clock that had the look of basket weave, used maple for that, cuts real nice.

                    Several have mentioned using hardwood for "clocks", what kind? I've started on a wooden geared clock and using suggested BB ply. Are you talking about this type or clocks for inserts?

                    Thanks, for your opinions, it's always good to hear what others think.
                    Troy

                    Scrollin' with DeWalt DW788

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                    • #11


                      This I cut from Finnish birch plywood except for the walnut overlays and the clock face.
                      Mick, - Delta P-20

                      A smile is a small curve that straightens everything out.

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                      • #12
                        I mean clocks like this http://www.scrollsawer.com/gallery/s...php?photo=1071 . Pretty much any clock though, although for the wooden gear clock, I would definatly use what was reccommended.following the thread on that clock makes one realize just how accurate everything on that clock must be, the normal movement of solid wood would create issues. Another thing to try is mixed media, I sometimes substitute mirrored acrylic for wood, it gives things a totally new look.The attachments show the same clock, one in red oak/walnut, one in walnut/gold acrylic mirror. dale
                        Attached Files
                        Dale w/ yella saws

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                        • #13
                          If I'm painting, I use ply. If I'm finishing naturally, I use solid wood.

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                          • #14
                            I use solid wood 99.9% of the time. I make alot of Christmas ornaments, plaques and crosses for craft shows. There's another crafter who uses some of the same patterns I use, but cuts everything from plywood and stains them. The ornaments I sell for $4.00-$6.00, he sells for $1.00, and he's usually $3.00-$4.00 cheaper on his crosses. I've had people point to his stuff and ask why I charge so much. I explain why I use solid wood and compare it to solid gold vs. gold painted items.
                            Fred


                            There's a fine line between woodworking and insanity, I'm just not sure which side of the line I'm on!

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                            • #15
                              Solid gold vs. gold painted -- good analogy! That's getting at what I found hard to describe. Solid wood just seems to me to be a more quality material, although ply certainly does have it's place (i.e., larger dimensions).

                              I also think of the edges of the pieces - a casual observer / admirer may not notice the stripes the plys make on the edges, but I know they're there! (Note: Ply never comes up when talking of intarsia or other more 3D art forms.)
                              Kevin

                              Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. -- Dr. Seuss

                              NEW DeWalt 788 and that old, Jimmy- Jerry- and Kevin-rigged Delta 40-560

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