Welcome to my blog. Let what you see stimulate your imagination and inspire your own creations.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Going Mainstream

It's pretty tough for scroll saw work to get much notice in mainstream woodworking magazines. That's why I'm so pleased with the nice mention of my book, including picture of the cover, in the current issue of Woodworker's Journal. Maybe it will help convince those woodworkers who have a scroll saw collecting dust in the corner to try something a little different. It was a nice start to the new year--hope the start to yours is also a good one!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sanding speed alert

One of the scroll saw forum members posted an alert about the flexi-pad sander, available from Klingspor. He used it at a speed of about 3700 rpm and the velcro melted! Although it does say in the catalog not to use it above 1500, I never paid much attention to it, since the speed of the average drill press is in that range. However, if you were planning to use it with a faster motor, please don't. Klingspor replaced the sander, twice, which speaks well for their customer service, but it's not an experience you'd want to have.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Long Island Woodworker's Show, Nov. 14-15, 2009

It's a bit overdue, but I finally edited a clip from one of the demos I did at the LI Woodworker's Show. It was pretty noisy, but the video will, at least, give you a feel for all the good energy that was around. Some really fine woodworkers in that club--I was glad to be there.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sanding Tools, Part I

Making bowls with the scroll saw is a sanding-intensive experience. Sanding is used both for shaping and for smoothing the bowl. Having the proper tools makes the job much easier. In addition to the standard selection (vertical belt, disc and spindle sanders) bowl making requires special equipment to sand the bowl interior and add contour. At a minimum, you'll need a flexible pad sander and a variety of grits.

This small device is best used chucked into a drill press so both hands are free to manipulate the project. Small sanding discs attach with a hook and loop system, making changing the grit a snap. Although there are many sources for this product, I use the non-tapered "flexi-pad" available from Klingspor's Woodworking Shop, in a 2" size, standard density. See the sidebar for a link to Klingspor's Woodworking Shop.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sanding Tools, Part II

Once you're hooked on making bowls, you'll probably find it worthwhile to buy an inflatable ball sander. It makes quick work of sanding curved interiors and the lower parts of the bowl. Like the flexi-pad, it can be used chucked into a drill press.

You'll need the rubber ball, assorted sleeves, and a small pump to inflate the ball. This tool is available from King Arthur Tools, as part of the Guinivere sanding system. See the sidebar for a link to King Arthur Tools.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Felt inspired to glue up some scraps as though they were plywood. The result was so interesting that I decided to go with a bowl so the inside would show, rather than a vase.

Coincidentally, I was just given a "gift" of some old plywood bedrails that are just gorgeous. Got things glued up, and should have some results soon. It's a real low-budget, low-effort way to get some really interesting effects, and I can see why it's catching on in the lathe community.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Plywood experiments

One of the scroll saw forum members send me an article about wood turning with plywood, and I decided to adapt the concept for the scroll saw. I selected pieces of 3/4" plywood without gaps and got to work. This is my first project, using teak as the main wood, and although plywood is not my favorite material, it's quick and easy to use, and quite interesting. I'm just starting my experiments, and am looking forward to seeing how they work out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Swag Bowl completed

Well, I rubbed out the bubbles with 0000 steel wool, touched up the spots that needed it, and it's finally finished. Usually it's the swags that give me trouble, not the finish, but at least it's done!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Cautionary Tale

I just finished a lovely swag bowl--the shellac had dried just enough to bring it back from the shop--and left it on the back seat of the car while I ran some errands. When I got home, I discovered that the shellac had blistered on one side. Near as I can figure, it must have been in the sun, since the rest of the bowl was fine. I'll rub it down and fix it up--shellac is very forgiving that way--but I never imagined that this could happen. Thought I'd pass this on, and maybe save some else some grief. And I'll post a picture AFTER it's fixed!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sanding Tips #2

To get a continuous effect with swags and straight lines, you need to anticipate where the rings will meet once the bowl is sanded smooth. This picture shows two rings about to be glued, and illustrates how you can follow the line of the swag from one ring to the next. If you do this at each point that must be matched, the insides will take care of themselves.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My favorite sander

I demonstrated the use of this inflatable sanding ball at the LI Woodworkers show last weekend. It is absolutely invaluable for curved pieces. I'm trying to convince the owner of the company to come out with a smaller version, as well. The tool's not cheap, but I've sanded well over 100 bowls with it, and the rubber is still in good condition.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pictures from the LI Woodworkers show

I spent an exciting weekend doing demos at the LI Woodworkers Show, meeting people, and looking at wonderful examples of fine woodworking. Here are some pictures we took--it was an event that was well-worth attending.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Long Island Woodworker's Show

I'll be doing demos on how to make wooden bowls using the scroll saw at the Long Island Woodworker's Show. The show is being held on Nov. 14th and 15th at Old Bethpage Restoration in Old Bethpage, LI. It should be well worth attending, and I'm looking forward to sharing my techniques with other woodworkers.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Amazon Author Page

I've just created an author page on the Amazon website. On this page you can find out more about me, my interests, and view other books I've written. Please check it out when you get a chance. Thanks!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sanding Tips #1

This is the first of a series of sanding tips that you may find helpful as you make your bowls.

Today's tip: to keep your 2" sanding discs in order, use a 3 x 5 card file and a set of dividers. Label each divider with the grit stored in that space, and you'll never have a problem figuring out which grit you're using.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Updated Ribbons and Bows Box

In 2007, I entered a box with a bow on it in Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts' design contest. I decided to update the box using the stacked ring approach. Instead of adding a ribbon on top of the box, I glued in a laminated strip of purpleheart. The loopy bow and tails were adapted from the bow pattern from the earlier project, using 8 loops to compensate for the narrower size. I'm really pleased with the results, and intend to try out other "bowl boxes".

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Old patterns, new bowls

Using only the patterns from my book, varied slightly or combined, I've come up with some interesting combinations. Since thin wood is expensive (re-sawing is not an option) I'm experimenting with using veneers for added interest. I bought a big box of assorted veneers relatively inexpensively, which should last a long time. I'm trying to create vessels that would be difficult to do on the lathe--another victory for the humble scroll saw!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Bowls that fly

Just a cautionary note. Yesterday, as I was sanding a new project at the drill press, an edge of the bowl caught on a light that's attached to the press and went flying. Fortunately, the edges were still thick enough not to be damaged, and I was not hit by the flying object, but it was a reminder that even relatively safe tools like the drill press can turn lethal. So, hold on tightly to your project, pay attention at all times, and use protective eyewear.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another Useful Site to Visit

Steve Goode's blog is a wonderful source for free patterns, resources, and helpful information. Check it out--you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Scroll saw work goes mainstream!

I am absolutely thrilled at being featured as "Today's Woodworker" in the Woodworkers Journal ezine. I queried the magazine as a long shot, since they are mainstream, not scroll saw, and many of their featured woodworkers are quite incredible. I feel honored to be included with this group. Please check out the link to see the Todays Woodworker article.

Bowls from my book

You can make these bowls from the plans in
my book. Click on the arrow to start the show.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Here are some more bowls from my book.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Podcast Interview with Rick Waters

Rick Waters, host of "The Splintered Board", recently interviewed me about my book--how it came about, and what I've tried to achieve with it. He has a very nice interviewing style, and was fun to work with. To hear the podcast, please click on the link. Hope you enjoy listening.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Ready to do Demos

I'll be doing bowl-making demos at the Long Island Woodworkers show, November 14th and 15th, and if you've even done them, you know they're more complicated than they seem. Few things are more boring than watching someone use the scroll saw, so I'm starting to plan out what people are most likely to want to see, and the most interesting way to present that information. Any thoughts anyone has about what they've liked and didn't like about demos they've seen are welcome.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Scroll saw forum

To get a good idea of the wide range of projects created by scroll saw woodworkers, and to access a wonderful source for help, ideas, and resources, Fox Chapel's scroll saw forum is well worth checking out.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Making Biscotti, Part 1

On a recent visit to Fox Chapel Publishing to shoot a how-to video on making bowls, I brought along a large batch of biscotti as a thank-you gift for the editors who have been so terrific to work with. The cookies were such a hit that I promised to shoot a video on how to make them.

Making Biscotti, Part 2

Here's the second part of the video. I hope these videos inspire you to try making both biscotti and bowls.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Lamination Part 1

Here's part 1 of a video on making a lamination for a bowl or a basket.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lamination Part 2

Here's the second part of the lamination.

Monday, July 20, 2009

From idea to book--5 tips for getting started

Writing a crafts book to share your skills with others is an exciting and rewarding experience. If you've ever considered doing this, here are some points to consider:

  • Are your plans original? Patterns and plans are usually copyrighted; don't violate this.
  • Are necessary tools and materials readily available? If not, can you adapt your plans?
  • What skill level is required for your projects? Be clear about your intended audience.
  • Are your instructions easy to follow? Have someone else try out your plans.
  • Do you have any writing experience? Writing an article is a good way to start.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First for a cake, then for a box

After I made the bow from gumpaste, I tried making it out of wood. The diagonal ribbons were harder than the loops, but with patience, it all worked out.

To get new ideas, just look around and let the possibilities emerge

I learned how to make this loopy bow in a cake decorating class. The instructor used a real bow as a model. The bow was just perfect for this shopping theme birthday cake.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Before I made bowls . . .

As a new scroller, I experimented with various projects. Making puzzles developed basic skills. Compound cutting gave me confidence with thicker wood. And adapting band saw projects for the scroll saw taught me how to make patterns. All these parts came into play when I started making bowls.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ribbons and bows for a box

The bow on this box was made the same way as the bows on my cakes. Each loop was made individually, then glued together. This time, the loops were made out of wood, and held together by glue.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ribbons and bows for a cake

The ribbons and bows on this engagement cake were made of gumpaste, and attached with royal icing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

This briefcase is the most authentic-looking cake that I've made.

This wedding cake was quite a challenge.

The basket is the cake, but all the "fruit" is edible.

I was a cake decorator long before becoming a woodworker, and quickly developed my own style. Precision and attention to detail have served me well for both crafts. Here are some of the cakes I've done.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Still just a stacked ring bowl

Although not readily apparent, this ginger jar is made using the same stacked ring technique.

Experiments with stack cutting

You'd never guess how easy it is to create these effects. Stack cutting, a standard technique, is the key.

Lamination magic

I made some interesting discoveries as I experimented with my bowls. One was that straight strips of wood, properly placed, turned into swags when cut. The effect was nothing short of magical.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cover of my book

I was delighted when my book proposal was accepted. I take great pleasure in sharing my discoveries with others, and hope that woodworkers of all levels will use the book to make many beautiful and interesting things.

First photo for blog

My bowl making project all started with the Basic Bowl.

About this blog

This is the start of my blog journey, to share my explorations into the limits of the scroll saw. I'll share my efforts, both successes and failures, to create beauty out of small pieces of wood in new and exciting ways.