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Monday, April 6, 2009

Random Thoughts From A Hurting Man

I sell my projects here and there just to support my hobby. I wanted this blog to be an outlet for me, not just to show more of my work, but also as a means to include some of my own thoughts and ideas. That is what today's first post is about.

It's one of those weather days for me. I fractured my spine in six places back in '99. I haven't been right physically since. Now days, I have good days and bad days. On good days I can do pretty much what I want, within reason. On bad days I can hardly get out of bed. Then there are weather days. Weather days are like today. The weather changed overnight. I'm out of bed, but if I walk, every step feels like some evil form of torture.

I think that's why I have fell in love with scroll work. With scroll work, as long as I can get myself up and make it to the shop, I can scroll. It's a sit down operation. My biggest problem is getting the wood planed down. If I'm hurting and haven't got any ready, then I'm right back to square one. On days like today, I can't stand at the planer long enough to get any ready.

Scrolling has also became an outlet for me because of the "wow factor" I get from people. Most people in this area don't even know what a scrollsaw is. I love delicate fretwork such as on my clocks. People ask how I get all them holes in there. I tell them a scrollsaw and they look at me with puzzlement and ask "Huh, what's that?" When I was looking to upgrade from my Ryobi saw, I called Sears. They said they sold scroll saws. So I rode on down. They thought I was talking about a saber, or jig saw.

I started to learn scrolling about six months ago. My wife bought me a Ryobi for my birthday. I'm glad she did. It was good enough saw to learn on. I have since bought a Delta and refuse to even touch the Ryobi anymore. I've turned it over to my teenage sons to learn on. I figure if they can learn to cut something nice on that thing like I did, then when they move up to a better saw, they'll do great. That's how I started. At this time though, I doubt I'd recommend the Ryobi to anyone buying their first saw. If someone gives you one, great, but it's a waste of money otherwise, in my opinion. So before anyone jumps on me, remember it's just my opinion. What works for some don't work for others.

That brings me to the biggest question I get. "How do you learn to scroll?" This is my opinion on that. You learn to scroll my scrolling. The machine is pretty easy to figure out even if you don't read a manual. From there, just start cutting. Forget what anyone tells you. Just figure out what works for you. For example, most serious scrollers will tell you that spiral blades are crap. That's about all I use though. I've also found that as for all the different websites trying to tell you how to tension your blade, everyone works better with different tensions. What I find right, others would say is too tight. You have to find that "sweet spot" that works for you. For anyone wanting to learn scrolling though, I got the most help from Ric Hutcheson at http://www.scrollsaws.com/ . He's got all kind of videos there to give you ideas on how to perform certain techniques. Then you can take that knowledge and find your own way.

The other thing I've started learning now is the wood lathe. All I've turned so far is a few fancy pieces of firewood. I want to learn a few techniques before I try to do much. Also, with my health, it's one of those things I can't work on very often. When I do though, I'm enjoying the thrill of learning something new. The most important lesson I've learned so far is that you have to make sure any piece you are turning is balanced as well as you can get before turning the lathe on. I've got a block of wood laying on my lathe table now as a reminder. I mounted it in the lathe and turned it on. Chad (son) dove under the table while Billy (other son) ran towards the door, as I was literally trying to catch the switch to shut down the dancing lathe.

For anyone wanting to learn to scroll, I highly recommend it. If you've got the patience, it's a very pleasureable hobby. There are plenty of free patterns available on the internet. One of the best I have found is from Steve Good at http://scrollsawworkshop.blogspot.com/ . A good source of patterns for sale for the beginner are at http://www.woodcraftplans.com/osc/ . Click on "scrollsaw corner", pick one you like and order it. When you are ready to try something more advanced, go to http://www.wildwooddesigns.com/ . Click on the catalog link and find you a nice clock. Their plans are a little expensive for my budget, but they are well worth it for the detailed pattern you get. Another good source for real nice patterns is Dirk Boelman at the Art Factory. You you find that at http://www.dirkboelman.com/ . A point of interest I have found is that if you look on a lot of the patterns from Wildwood, or anywhere else you find detailed patterns, often where it tells who designed it, you'll find Dirk Boelman's name.

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