6/01/2014

Scroll Saw Sunday - Wood/Plastic

Scroll Saw Sunday - Wood/Plastics
 
I'm sorry I didn't post last week about the types of wood you should use when you are scroll sawing. It wasn't that I wasn't able to, but
more because I didn't feel that I really had it all wrapped around my head at the time.  
I did talk to a couple of people about what kinds of woods you should use and the answer was always the same.
"Any kind of wood will work, as long as the thickness of it, isn't too thick".
 Of course this is all going to depend on the type of blade that you use and the speed you cut your wood at.
When you are looking for some wood, look for a piece that has a nice smooth surface on one side, this helps glide on the scroll saw table easier. I started out using those balsam strips (shown below)
 as my practice pieces and they worked very well.
 
When it comes to "choosing" wood to scroll saw, I'm going to say that a number of factors should be considered when looking for the perfect wood for "YOU" to cut with. 
The most important factors being cost, size and thickness .
The cost, look for the best wood you can afford, keep in mind its ability to restock the item, just in case you need to make more. I for one am not opposed to foraging for my scroll saw wood and will use ANY wood based on the project I am making. I would choose a different wood for an outside project vs a wood I'd use for a decorative piece that I'll hang on the wall in my house. Many scroll saw users, use pine and plywood for every day projects and might use maple for more decorative pieces. Get to know your woods, that would be the best rule of thumb here. 
Size, I have found working a pattern on a larger piece of wood and then cutting the outside scrap away, is working well for me. I feel I have more control of my project. When I'm working with smaller pieces of wood, I find things can get away on me a little easier. So when you are just starting out, experiment with the same pattern on different sizes of wood.
Thickness, this is going to depend on your comfort level. As a newbie to scroll sawing, cutting a little thicker piece (1/2") of wood made me feel more comfortable, but it took longer and wasn't suited to the project I was making. But I was learning these valuable lessons and getting the feel for how my Proxxon scroll saw would perform. As you progress in your abilities, cutting thin pieces of wood will become easier.
When selecting your wood, also keep in mind how well a piece will or won't take stain, paint or added finishing medium. 
 
These are just a few tips that I've learned. I'm by NO means an expert on scroll sawing but if you practice, experiment, be brave and have fun the whole scroll sawing experience will become an enjoyable hobby for you.
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Now lets talk about plastics and your scroll saw! This turned out to be a lot fun and has opened my eyes to some huge possibilities when it comes to creating with my scroll saw.
 
I tried three different kinds of plastics for this experiment and had three very different results.
 
 
 

Plastic #6
 Melted plastic from old packaging materials, melted down on my bbq. Yes you heard that correctly. This type of plastic melts down nicely, has a high shine finish and is recycled material. However, it is highly toxic when its melting, so ONLY do this outside. I had a piece of this plastic about a 1/2" in thickness. We tried this piece first. It was NOT a good specimen to work with as we couldn't control the "melt point" on this piece, no matter what speed we used or blade size, it kept melting back together as we sawed through it. Therefore, NO cuts were able to be made and the excess plastic was given to my son to use for his dioramas as lava. LOL
 
 Plastic #2 - Plexi-glass
This is the type of plastic you buy at Home Depot. It does come in different thicknesses. 
When cutting into this plastic, you have to take your time and go slow. Otherwise the plastic will melt onto itself just like plastic #6. What you are looking to achieve is a fine dust from your work. That is to say, when you are cutting with your scroll saw, you are looking for "dust shavings" coming from you cut. If you don't see this "dust" then its likely your plastic is sticking together. Working with plexi-glass is highly achievable and would produce nice results. I'm thinking that larger scale pieces will be easier to work than smaller pieces of pexi-glass. I enjoyed working with the plexi-glass.
 
Alumilite Resin - 5 minute Cast
 
Alumilite Resin is a product that can be found here.
I have worked with this product for years and know how well it sands and cuts from previous uses. However, I didn't know how well it would scroll saw. We had a piece leftover from some previous work so, we put it to the test and did our first cut. Not only did it cut smoothly and without error, but it left the cleanest cut of them all. Little or NO sanding of the edges would be required.
 
Hands down the winner of the plastic scroll saw cut test was the Alumilite Resin 5 minute Cast product.
 
That's it for this week, I hope you found some information that will be helpful as you learn to scroll saw. This week I hope to actually get a chance to work on a piece to share with you next weekend. So until then, thanks for dropping by and spending your time with me.


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