Gazette Archive 1/15/00
A book review: By Robert Benham
Title: The Scrollsaw - Twenty Projects
I am new to scrollsawing. I asked questions of anyone that had any experience about machinery, materials and patterns. A good friend has been doing Christmas triptychs for several years for his wife to sell at bazaars. He has developed considerable skill with intricate patterns. As I watched him work I thought; "That looks easy." It seemed like it was effortless and even a little boring. I asked him one time; "What do you think about when you're scrollsawing?" His answer was; "Stay on the line, stay on the line."
The book "The Scrollsaw - Twenty Projects" is a good place to start developing skill. The approach is very systematic and thorough. All the questions I had been asking people about scrollsawing are answered there. The first five chapters take care of the basic knowledge required to get started: 1. Tools and equipment, 2. Materials, 3. Scrollsaw basics, 4. Safety, 5. Finishing.
The Tools and equipment chapter deals with basic elements of scrollsaw operation and desirable features. There is no product review but those are available in woodworking magazines and on the internet. The author focuses on what he has come to believe are the few basic requirements for effective operation.
I was disappointed at first to see the material for most of the projects is particle board (MDF). I like the idea of natural wood and stained finishes. When I launched the most complicated of the projects as my first attempt at serious scrollsawing, I appreciated the wisdom of learning on cheap material. I actually used " thick nine-ply hardwood. It was difficult to learn on because of the combination of the hardness and the thickness. Practice is an essential component of developing skill with the scrollsaw. Practice on cheap material is less stressful.
The project I started on was the vine leaf clock. It probably has the most intricate pattern of any of the twenty projects. I think, when I get it painted, it will look good on the wall in the bedroom. Maybe a later project will stand the closer examination it might get on a table top.
While I was following the detailed pattern I was thinking; "Stay on the line, Stay on the line."
Robert Leroy Benham
Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You!