The Scroll Saw Lady

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Archive for August, 2008

What are Sheet Goods?

Posted by The Scroll Saw Lady on 26th August 2008

What are Sheet Goods and do you want to pick these for your projects?

Sheet Goods

The two most common manufactured sheets goods used in furniture making are MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) and Particle Board. Both are made from wood particles, combined with glue and bonded under pressure. MDF has finer particles than Particle Board so produces a smoother and stronger finished product.

MDF machines very well and is often used for moulded components on painted furniture. Its main draw back is that it is a very heavy product compared to real wood.  Because of their laminated construction, they are extremely stable in all dimensions. Since the veneers on any given panel are usually cut sequentially from the same log, the panel should display a uniform color and grain.

Matching the grain pattern of solid wood to the generally uniform grain pattern on the panels can be difficult. But careful planning can yield good matches in the most visible areas of your project.
Manufactured sheets do have limitations, whenever they are used, regardless of the core, the edge must be hidden and the veneers on the surface are extremely thin, often less than 1/32 in. Because of this, the surface is fragile and has a tendency to split out, especially on the back side of a saw cut. Also, since the veneer is so thin aggressive sanding can quickly work through the veneer and expose the unattractive core underneath.

These materials are generally not used in scroll sawing because of the fact that the layers can be seen once you scroll your project and leave an unsightly look to your picture or projects scroll sawn.  Though you may still find times when they can come in handy for a project.

Posted in Wood, Woodworking Terminology, Woodworking Tips (General) | Comments Off on What are Sheet Goods?

Picking Wood For Your Projects – Hardwoods

Posted by The Scroll Saw Lady on 25th August 2008

Yesterday we talked about picking wood for your projects and what softwoods were, today we will look at the properties of hardwoods and how they are to work with.


Hardwood lumber comes from deciduous trees, the ones that shed their leaves annually. Popular domestic species are oak, maple, cherry, birch, walnut, ash and poplar. Of these common native hardwoods, only red oak and poplar are usually stocked in home centers and lumberyards, the others have to be obtained from specialty stores. The material stocked at home centers and lumberyards is usually sold in similar dimensions to softwood and by the lineal foot as well.

At specialty stores the thickness of hardwood lumber is specified in quarters of an inch, measured when the wood is in a rough state. The thinnest stock is 4/4, representing 1 in., and the thickest usually available is 16/4, representing 4 in. Rather than being milled to specified dimensions, like pine, hardwoods are sold in random widths and lengths.

Working with hardwoods is quite different from working with pine; you cannot drive a screw through hardwood lumber without first boring a pilot hole. Cutting and planing hardwoods requires extremely sharp tools.

Hardwoods are good to use when building furniture.  Oak and ash are known as open-grain woods. These species have alternating areas of relatively porous and dense wood, when stained the open-grain areas absorb the color readily while the harder areas are more resistant. This accentuates the grain patterns, creating a dramatic effect.
Cherry, maple and birch are closed-grain woods, demonstrating a more uniform texture throughout a board. Poplar is also a closed-grain wood, but its color ranges from a beige to olive green, and often has purple highlights thrown into the mix. Because of this unusual coloration, it is rarely used if a furniture piece is going to have a clear finish. This wood is best when stained or even painted. Poplar, being less expensive, is also a good choice for framing hardwood projects.

Hardwood is more durable and less prone to dents and scratches. It is also more expensive but will finish to a better advantage. Soft woods, like pine, are more prone to dents and scratches and do not have the durability of hardwood. Softwoods are much less expensive and easier to find. Ask your lumber supplier to show you “Class 1” or “Select Grade” lumber. Make sure it is properly dried, straight, and free of knots and defects. (It may be impossible to be completely free of defects but be sure you understand how to cut around these.)

Tomorrow we will look at sheet goods.

Posted in Hardwood, Softwood, Wood, Woodworking Terminology | Comments Off on Picking Wood For Your Projects – Hardwoods

Picking Out Wood For Your Projects

Posted by The Scroll Saw Lady on 24th August 2008

Before you can actually start any project you have to know a little bit about wood and its properties, so you can choose the write wood for what you are going to create.

The two basic categories of wood are hardwood and softwood. There is also manufactured wood like plywood.  What you use for any given project depends on various factors: strength, hardness, grain characteristics, cost, stability, weight, color, durability and availability.

Usually beginning woodworkers start out with softwood such as pine. It’s soft and easy to work, and you don’t need expensive tools to get good results. It is readily available at local lumberyards and home centers. It has it’s limitations in furniture making; it is a soft wood and will damage easily.

Softwood is from an evergreen or coniferous (cone-bearing) tree. Common varieties are pine, fir, spruce, hemlock, cedar and redwood. These woods are mostly used in the home construction industry. Cedar and redwood are excellent choices for outdoor projects, while pine is often used for “Early American Country Style” furniture.

Pine and most other softwoods will absorb and lose moisture more than hardwoods so are not as stable. Purchase the lumber at least two weeks before starting your project and keep it indoors.

You will find that softwoods are sold in standard thickness and widths, for example a 1 X 4 will be 3/4″ thick and 3 1/2″ wide similar to construction materials. The material will usually be priced per lineal foot and the price will increase accordingly for the wider boards.

There are specialty stores that sell wood for scroll sawers and we will look at several of those later.  Right now I would pick up some pine and just practice some cuts both with your scroll saw and on your table saw or any other hand saw that you might have picked up.  Always use your ear protection, protective eye wear and always follow manufactures safety recommendations.

Tomorrow we look at hardwoods.

Posted in In The Beginning, Softwood, Wood, Woodworking Terminology | 4 Comments »


Posted by The Scroll Saw Lady on 23rd August 2008

Well, it has taken awhile for me to finish writing this story, and no I didn’t do it just to keep the suspense alive, I did it because, I finally made my way home to WA, but, it has been a tiring trip.  I tell everybody I came home by stagecoach because I thought it would be faster then my trip down.  (No, I didn’t actually come back by stagecoach!  Duh, It just makes a good story.) Fortunately my trip back was not as suspenseful as the trip down.  Though it had its moments where I thought, “oh no, not again!”

 In Part 3 I told you how I had called everyone and anyone trying to figure out a better way home then it took me to get down to AR.  I had called United Airlines to try and change my mistake of flying into Springfield, IL. and not into Springfield, MO. like I was supposed to.  If you haven’t read the other parts of the story, you really have to read them to get the whole irony of the rest of this story.

I start this portion of the story with an email to me from Expedia telling me that United Airlines had cancelled my trip home.  “WHAT!”  I was sure (not really sure at all) this was just a mistake.  That the guy I had talked to at United had cancelled my trip when he thought I was booking another flight, but, when we could not make that happen, I am sure he re-booked my old ticket.

 I had to call Expedia though to make sure that is all that happened and find out what the deal was.  I told the very nice rep there that I received the email saying United Airline cancelled my ticket.  She told me she did not see where that had happened, she could not find anything on her end so she was going to call United Airlines herself.  We are back to a waiting game but at least I don’t have to listen to the Chinese water torture music of United Airlines.

The Expedia rep comes back and forth several time, apparently with a United rep on another line, she is still trying to figure out why I received the email saying my flight was cancelled.  After several back and forths with United she comes back and tells me my flight was not cancelled.  But…… “aw come on…. I am so, tired of hearing BUTS!”  But, she says they have made a change to your flight.

Okay, I say, let me have it…. I am ready for anything at this point.  She tells me I will still be flying out of Springfield, IL. on Saturday, that has not changed at all, but, my connecting flight in Chicago to Seattle will not be leaving till Sunday! “WHAT?”  This is crazy!  I asked her if she was kidding me, she said no.

Apparently she could tell I was not amused with this latest development in my trip from hell, she tells me that United has to allow me to find a different flight home, if I would like.  I say, of course I would like, what am I going to do sit in Ohare airport in Chicago all night?  The nice rep from Expedia says “let me see what United will do.”  She comes back and forth to me several times, telling me that United does have other flights going to Seattle and they were trying to figure out something for me.

Now, if you have been following this story at all, you know that I am an idiot (ok, I am over that, I have cut myself some slack seeing I was booking a flight under duress when I was not sure if my father was okay with a second trip to the hospital for chest pains in the last 4 days).  So, anyway, this knucklehead (me) booked a flight mistakenly to Springfield, IL not Springfield, MO and have been trying for a week to change my flight to fly out of Springfield MO’s airport and not Springfield, IL.

The wonderful Expedia woman comes back to me several times telling me of flights they have leaving at different times out of Springfield IL to Denver to Seattle.  Now, I see a silver lining in the dark clouds that have been hanging over my travel for so long.  The next time the Expedia woman comes back on the line, I tell her, “there is an airport in Springfield MO and if that would be easier I could fly out of there”.(remember this is the airport I have been trying to get a flight out of all along).   She says, “ok, I will tell the United guy that”.  I cross my fingers and wonder what she will say when she comes back.

It seems like forever before she comes back.  She comes back on the line and she tells me they have 3 flights out of Springfield MO, and tells me the times and asks me if any of those would work?  WHAT!?!?  It can’t be this easy!  I have been fighting for three days with people to get my airline ticket changed without giving them my first born child and here she is just offering me the chance to change my ticket, no strings attached?  I try to calmly tell her yes, thank you any of these flights would work for me.  She says, “great, let me tell the United Ticket guy”.

She comes back on the line shortly, with details for 3 flights leaving Springfield MO and asks me which one I would like, I tell her and she says okay!  Okay?  I am dumbfounded at this point.  Okay?  That is it?  She comes back to me with a confirmation number, flight numbers, everything.  Still dumbfounded, I thank her, ask her to repeat everything, because I am sure something must be wrong here, she repeats everything and it is the exactly what I have been trying to schedule for myself for the last 3 days with no success, as I said without giving them my first born child, an arm, two legs and my car keys.  And, they did it all for FREE! 

Karma?  Travel Gods?  The stars were aligned?  My family and friends all said they prayed for me that things would work out!  I am not sure what it was, but after this whole ordeal I think I will be taking the train everywhere, I like land better than the skies anyway.

Hmmm, what will I write about now?  Certainly hope it won’t be as exciting as this trip, that is for sure!

Posted in Musings | Comments Off on Karma?

Website Coming Soon!

Posted by The Scroll Saw Lady on 22nd August 2008

Keep your eyes posted here, as the new Scroll Saw Lady website is almost complete and should be up and running within the month.

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