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    I am currently cutting out Christmas Ornaments from the 2005 Holiday
    issue of SS workshop. I have Poplar and Oak but would like to try
    other hardwoods. I would like to know which of the hardwoods are easy
    to medium to cut? I have a very hard time cutting Oak, but I really enjoy
    cutting Poplar. I would also ask would it be easier to cut Oak cross grain
    or with the grain. My FD blades wander a bit when I cut this wood. All
    suggestions are welcome.
    Delta P-20

  • #2
    Hi Bill,

    You might not have enough tension on the blade. The blade should not move sideways more than 1/8" and that is almost too much. Some say it should sound like a high C in music.
    Don't push too hard into the blade, let the blade do the cutting.
    Don't fight the blade when it cuts to the right, to stay on the line, you have to move the wood some degree to the left.

    SD Mike


    • #3
      Mike is right when he says the blade needs to be tensioned right or the blade will wander. It also needs to be sharp. Now if you are stack cutting oak I would suggest going no thicker than 3/4" Oak has heavy grain pattern to it and when stacking it the grain does not line up so this make for harder cutting. Poplar is a great wood to cut. Alot of people use Baltic birch plywood which is nice for cutting also. Another nice hardwood and easy to cut is Mahagony very easy to cut unless you get Philipine mahagony which is tougher. Another nice wood to cut and is an exotic is yellowheart. It is a litle tougher but with the right blades it has an even grain pattern and is easy to cut.
      John T.


      • #4
        Hey John and Mike,
        Thanks for the replies. When I first bought my saw I overtightned
        the tension on the blade clamp and broke my upper arm assembly.I quess
        since then I have been a little too cautious. I think I will try Mahagony it
        is a little darker than Poplar. I'll see how this all works out and try to
        post some pictures when I'm finished.
        Delta P-20


        • #5
          I like cutting mahogany, and it has a nice color to it, and the fine contrasting pores show up well even on narrow parts of a design, giving it an overall wood look. Walnut also cuts well, but more slowly. Oak's got to be the toughest common wood. Maple is hard and slow, but it doesn't have oak's coarse grain In fact it hardly has any grain at all. I also like cutting soft maple with special grain and figure characteristics, like ambrosia beetle markings and curly or wavy grain. On a scale of difficulty, I'd place them like this:

          soft maple
          hard maple
          oak (white or red)

          You could get into the tropical woods. Many of them are very hard and heavy, and some make dust that can irritate your eyes or lungs. So be careful! SSW #19, summer 2005 has an article about what to look out for in this department.


          • #6
            another choice of mine is red cedar. Watch out for the dust tho - it is very fine.

            I find oak difficult to cut because of the grain of the wood - It seems to "catch" a little when I am cutting. So, although I like the look of oak, I tend to cut most of my ornaments out of cedar, walnut, and some maple.





            • #7
              Bronco, I have cut a lot of butterflies out of 1/8" walnut and mahogany. Mick
              Mick, - Delta P-20

              A smile is a small curve that straightens everything out.


              • #8
                Bronco, I cut a lot of snowflake ornaments out of mixed hardwoods. I think that poplar, basswood, mahogany, walnut, cherry, and alder all cut fine.

                I try to stay away from cutting oak, ash, and hard maple. Remember if you are stack cutting your ornaments to cover the pattern with clear packaging tape, it really makes a big difference. As to your question on grain direction, it is always easier to cut cross grain. Hope this helps.....................

                Gary MacKay


                • #9
                  I've had much better success cutting ornaments since I upgraded my saw from a Delta 350 to a Dewalt 788. I used to shy away from oak, hard maple and ash but find that it is no problem now. Ornament stacks (4-6 layers of 1/8 wood plus 1/8" plywood backer) that took 1 1/2 hours to cut on the old saw now take about 45-55 minutes on the more powerful saw. A sharp blade is VERY important as well.

                  Lighter colored woods such as basswood, maple, white ash, poplar, and aspen show up REAL well when hung on a green tree. Medium color woods such as white oak, mahogany, cherry, butternut, and beech are fine if hung near a light. Darker woods such as walnut are great for wall or window ornament hangings.

                  Woods such as pine and cedar cut easily but I do not recommend their use for ornaments with detailed frets - they break way too easily.

                  Good luck and happy holidays!
                  ‎"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


                  • #10
                    Hey guys,
                    I just received my order of Walnut and Mahogany from Sloans Woodshop.
                    With my Poplar I already have I'm ready to cut out more ornaments.
                    Thanks for the help.
                    Delta P-20


                    • #11
                      If you can post some photos. Always glad to see pictures.
                      John T.


                      • #12
                        My favorite for ornaments is padauk

                        My favorite wood for making ornaments is padauk. It's a red, African hardwood, if you're not familiar with it. I don't know where it is on the hardness scale, but I've made a number of ornaments from 1/8" and 1/4" padauk using a #2 or #5 blade. You must have good dust control, though, because it seems to get into everything. The first time I used it was for a non-scrolling woodworking project and even with good dust control (I thought) it turned my hair red!

                        It has become one of my favorite woods. Christmas ornaments made from padauk are absolutely gorgeous!

                        Last edited by urband; 11-22-2005, 03:35 PM.


                        • #13
                          Anothr reason dust collection is so improtant with padauk is that it can irritate your lungs, skin and eyes and can also cause nauesa.



                          • #14
                            Padauk is 37% harder than Red Oak. It's rated 1725 on the Janka hardness scale.

                            Just for reference:

                            Ash is 1320
                            Cherry is 950
                            Walnut is 1010
                            Bloodwood is 2900

                            Seems like a lot of people are in your camp, wanting Padauk. I'm having a hard time keeping it in stock.
                            Need some thin wood?


                            • #15
                              If you are cutting Padauk do not cut it stacked with light colored woods or woods with open grain such as oak because the red dust gets into the grain and stains lighter woods red. Just a tip to watch for. Same goes with stacking with BB plywood
                              John T.


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