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What wood do you use for portraits?

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  • What wood do you use for portraits?

    Hello All, I have been using 1/8" Baltic Birch plywood on all my portraits that I cut. I am about to start on the Jeff Zaffino pattern "First Fathers" (found here)All Other - First Fathers Project Pattern, and I was wondering what other woods you guys use for portraits. I do not want to use stain because I am not very good at staining or painting. I will be useing a black background on this project. Any suggestions? Thanks.
    Mark
    Proud new owner of an EX-21

    WWW.MGMWOODWORKS.COM


  • #2
    Wow! That's a pretty energetic undertaking. Like you, I also mainly use 1/8" BB, but for this project you might want to think about using 1/4" BB and take advantage of it's more layers being stronger. I agree with not staining or painting, just leaving it natural. Good luck with it.
    Jack

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    • #3
      I only use 1/4" woods for this type only because like jack said the more layers. I also try to get at least 5-ply and hope for the best that there is no voids. The thickness is great for premade frames once the glass is taken out it fits right in and plus it's thick enough for the very detailed fretwork involved in this type of scrolling. I have used up to 3/4" for portraits but only if requested b/c I don't like making frames and it's hard on the blades. Yes on 1/2" or thicker I make my own frames. As far as staining, when I do stain I use a sprayer or a spray can stain. But only do that if I don't like how the grains look or if I have to do much detail sanding. Hope this helps you on this major undertaking project. Would love to see pictures when you finish this project. Good Luck!
      Oh, as far as the species of woods, for me it varies on what the portrait is of and the grain look I'm looking for. I've used oak, bb, and even pine sometimes.
      "Keep Scrolling Along"
      Chris "The WoodArtist"
      https://www.facebook.com/TheWoodArtistWoodShop

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      • #4
        I don't do many portraits, but they are fast becoming a very popular project among several members of our scroll saw club. I do have a few observations.

        Plywood vs solid wood for portraits seems too logical. I like using solid wood as much as possible, but the detail and fragility of many portraits would seem to preclued the use of solid wood, unless it was much thicker than typically desired.

        Most portraits use a light colored wood for the foreground and a dark colored material for the background. I believe this promotes the contrast and best highlights the detail of the portrait. Using light colored wood as the foreground then limits you a bit as far as the options that are available to you. There are other light colored veneered plywoods out there that theoretically would be suitable. The big advantage of BB over most other veneered plywoods is it's stability and the lack of voids in the inner layers. Also the surface layer is a little thicker than your average veneer, so damage during cutting/sanding is less of a risk. Another advantage of BB is that the grain is very bland, so it doesn't distract the eye from the cutting. It's also relatively affordable.

        I'm not trying to discourage you from finding an alternative material. However, I think the fact that BB has the advantage over other woods just makes it kind of an automatic thing with scrollers. One could try different thicknesses, Baltic vs Finnish, different suppliers, etc, but for many practical reasons, BB ply keeps rising to the top.
        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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        • #5
          Thanks guys, I am actually thinking of using 1/4" solid red oak and stacking cutting 3.
          Mark
          Proud new owner of an EX-21

          WWW.MGMWOODWORKS.COM

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          • #6
            I use 1/8 vaneer oak for my protraits. Some people don't like it because they think the grain takes away from the image. I prefer the look of oak over baltic birch though. I usually stack cut 3 to 5 layers.
            Keith

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            • #7
              I have cut a couple of Jeff's patterns & I only use hardwood. I cut his Old & New Train on black walnut & put black background. The bottom of the wood had a swirl pattern that looked great under the wheels. I wanted a darker wood because those old steam engines created a lot of black smoke. I'm also cutting Jeff's Water Mill out of mahogany.
              For portraits, I choose a wood that doesn't chip easy such as cherry, alder, mahogany and walnut. The wood is either 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick. I prefer cutting with hardwood. I think that the hardwood adds character to the finished product. Of course the hardwood is more expensive. I make these for my own home or gifts, so I don't need to create multiple products that are for sale.
              Good luck on your projects. Jeff's patterns are always a challenge
              Website:
              www.wix.com/tangowooddesign/home-page
              ___________________

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              • #8
                I cut a lot of portrait/scene subjects with a wildlife theme suited to Alaska. Usually cut 3 to 5 pieces in a stack in the range of 1/8" to 1/4" due to using locally cut wood, locally milled, air dried, and sanded to a reasonable flatness, so it is not precise. I leave the raw edges on the wood, and sometimes get the bark to stick. If possible given your location and market, whether sales or gifts or personal, take a look at local woods with a natural edge. Strongly suggest a look at hardwood.
                Got Moose?

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                • #9
                  I don't do any portrait work but i DO most of my fretwork useing 1/4 inch birch plywood from LOWES .......so far i have had no problems with voids.......just check both sides when your selecting your pannels and you'll see any color or grain that you don't want.......some of my projects are stained some are not........some are accented with a wood burning pen when needed......ALL ARE SEALLED with rattle can poly or, if the project is large I might use a spray gun....In our area the 2x4 panels are about $5.50 to 6 bucks

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                  • #10
                    For those who use BB for portraits -- where are the best places to get them from?

                    I've been picking up sheets from Michaels', but the quality isn't always the best.
                    Eric
                    Craftsman 16"

                    Slowly blogging about my completed projects -- www.settercraft.com

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                    • #11
                      Coleco, I like Sloans Woodshop Plywoods

                      Don R
                      http://www.oldcrowwoodcrafts.weebly.com
                      http://www.oldcrowscrollwerks.weebly.com
                      Custom Made Scroll Saw Patterns

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                      • #12
                        I use mostly 1/8 or 1/4 inch baltic birch for a couple of reasons. I want the image as the focal point not the material used. Baltic birch is stronger than many other materials especially for projects with fragile details.

                        I have experimented with Formica glued to baltic birch with good results.
                        Stoney aka Al

                        This gettin old stuff ain't for sissies!

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Markru2002 View Post
                          Thanks guys, I am actually thinking of using 1/4" solid red oak and stacking cutting 3.
                          Mark
                          Good luck Mark!

                          With as many fragile details as there are in your pattern you will need it. I think you might as well plan on some breakouts, and I hate it when that happens.
                          Stoney aka Al

                          This gettin old stuff ain't for sissies!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Don R View Post
                            Coleco, I like Sloans Woodshop Plywoods

                            Don R
                            Thanks Don! Their prices looked pretty good -- I'll have to try them out.
                            Eric
                            Craftsman 16"

                            Slowly blogging about my completed projects -- www.settercraft.com

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