Practice Pattern Page
The most frustrating part of compound sawing is a figure coming out distorted. In the beginning this caused me so many problems I was ready to throw my saw out the shop door. At one time, I thought maybe I couldn't do this, but I was just stubborn enough not to give up.
The main reason for distorted figures is us! When using the thicker, 1 1/2" stock with the scroll saw, its sometimes difficult to keep the feed running straight into the blade, especially when making sharp turns. It may not feel like you're doing so, but the blade is being pushed sideways, instead of running true, straight up and down. This is one of the draw backs of the flexibility of the scroll saw blade, but one that is easily solved with practice. The feel is subtle, and a conscious effort will be needed to know when you're doing this. You will feel the saw bog down a little after making a turn, like it's become harder to cut. The work may also jump up and down, sometimes out of control, when the blade is being pushed sideways. Back off just a little and let the blade right itself, then continue sawing. You will soon be aware of what is happening and will automatically back off ever so often.
To help beginners, I've developed this practice page. For the best results and less frustration, if you're new to compound sawing, start with the softest wood available, such as Sugar Pine, which is the easiest wood in the world to work with, White Pine, or Basswood. The harder the wood, the more apt we are to distort the blade, so give yourself a break in the beginning, and stay away from hardwoods until you've had a little practice. Then of course, experiment with every thing ! You'll soon discover your own favorites.
Starting with the smallest figure, work your way up to cutting the largest one. The #5 blade can be run at 1800 strokes per minute without breaking, but that doesn't mean you can't slow it down until you have a little better control over your saw. As you progress you will discover a feel for the subtle changes as the wood gets thicker. Of course by then you're sick of dolphins and will never cut another one, but they will all be straight, with no distortions ! (Sandpaper covers a multitude of sins)
For the very best results, saw to the waste side of the pattern lines. On some of the more delicate patterns, sawing directly on the lines results in removing too much material, which weakens the figure, and breakage will occur.
Just print this page, cut out the pattern below and go to town.