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GEX tessalation

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  • GEX tessalation

    I believe this is the first project from Scrollsaw Woodworking Magazine I have had reason to take up - there is an upcoming fifth birthday for a granddaughter to think of.

    After much thought and deliberation I choose to make mine out of 1/2" baltic birch plywood. Well, deliberation and the fact that I had a bunch of scraps. It cut easily with a no. 12 skip tooth.

    The author mentions using a no. 12 blade, but does not make clear the reason. You need that much kerf for enough slack between the pieces so they fit easily. Any errant cuts must be made to the inside of the lines, not to the outside, for the same reason.

    We planned to paint them, but I will have to brush on a couple of coats of shellac as a primer anyway. I may end up leaving them at that.

  • #2
    That's really coming along great. David, the guy who came up with that design, is a pretty creative guy. He came out to my place 2 weeks ago. He sure enjoys playful designs. And apparently so do you!
    Linda at


    • #3
      What a great project, looks like a fun cut!
      A #12 is a Huge blade? With 1/2" birch ply and a perpendicular blade I would go with a Mach 3. But I guess since the pieces are all the same and should be interchangeable he erred on the side of safety.
      RBI G4 Hawk, Delta SS350, 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


      • #4
        #12? That sounds like a misprint. I'm with Rolf. With a good 90 degree consistency, a #3 or #5 would've worked great. So glad you're making a cool project.
        Linda at


        • #5
          Originally posted by Linda In Phoenix View Post
          #12? That sounds like a misprint. I'm with Rolf. With a good 90 degree consistency, a #3 or #5 would've worked great.
          That's what I thought. I was wrong.

          It is not that you cannot make the cut, it is that the pattern tolerances are too tight for a narrower blade. Remember, you are not cutting out adjacent puzzle pieces, you are cutting individual duplicates. I cut four pieces with a #9 and had probably 10% interference issues. Good, clean cuts, too. Trying to clean up the poor fitting parts is a nightmare as you have to try every fit with every other piece AND combination of pieces! For 12 pieces the possible combinations would be... uhmmm, let me see here.... Nope, my arithmetic does not go that high even with my socks off.

          If there was ever a project that cried out for a cnc router, this is it.

          The pattern appears to be made to cut on the inside edge of the line - probably computer generated. But with the #12 blade it simply plows down through and clears out the pattern line, giving you enough slack for the pieces to reliably join.


          • #6
            I don't think I have ever used a #12 blade. That sure is a cute project.
            ArtCrafters in Dayton, TN


            • #7
              For every project, knowing the right tool(s) to use is half the work. I've never used a #12 either, but who knows when that may change!
              Linda at


              • #8
                What issue of the mag did the pattern appear?

                visit us at Pickens Puzzles:


                • #9
                  ScrollSaw Woodworking & Crafts Spring 2017, page 44, by Dave Van Ess
                  Linda at


                  • #10
                    I will spare you the dreary details of our various failures to reproduce the lines in the original patterns. My issues boil down to two: 1) I have no ability to paint such a fine line and 2) the alcohol solvent in shellac plays havoc with pretty much any kind of marker or colored pencil.

                    So I thought I might liven it up a bit by adding "eyes". Here is one attempt - I played with some different sizes and spacings on trial pieces. Why this idea was rejected is in the following post.


                    • #11
                      My daughter the art teacher suggested drawing the detail lines in india ink. Probably a good solution, if I had any. Or the requisite brush. Or could produce a clean line even if I had those things.

                      My other daughter, the one who knows things, recognized the pattern as one developed by M. C. Escher. Some of you clever people will want to take a look at the dozens of tessellations he developed; there is inspiration enough here for a lifetime: . The gecko is #25. You will note that the design includes the same lines as our pattern.

                      In the end I felt it to be something of a sacrilege for me to try and change the fundamental look of an M. C. Escher drawing. I do not say it was a bad idea - in fact, I kind of like the "eyes". I just observe that I could not do it.

                      So they will remain unadorned - just the plain birch plywood with a few coats of clear shellac.


                      • #12
                        Here's an idea for you if you change your mind: Cut another gecko out of thin material (1/8" plexi glass, 1/8" masonite, 1/16" birch ply, etc) and cut out the lines a bit oversized. Use this as a mask to spray paint over each gecko for the lines (or maybe even a paint pen).

                        Karl in Sunny Southwest Florida


                        • #13
                          Like a stencil!
                          Linda at


                          • #14
                            Yeah - that's the word!

                            Karl in Sunny Southwest Florida


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Linda In Phoenix View Post
                              For every project, knowing the right tool(s) to use is half the work. I've never used a #12 either, but who knows when that may change!
                              A #12 works well for full one inch thick white oak/cherry cutting boards. A band saw cuts faster, but needs far more sanding.

                              I just finished this one for a wedding gift.


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