Cross-Crafting Scroll Saw Basics

Cross-Crafting Scroll Saw Basics

Basics to Scroll Saws

During this session we will take a quick look at the features of a basic scroll saw, and walk through the steps to changing your scroll saw blade.  The scroll saw shown is a Ryobi 16″ variable speed.

Cross-Crafting Seminar Introduction
Cross-Crafting Seminar Supply List
Cross-Crafting Seminar Free Patterns
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Saw Basics
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Setting Up Your Scroll Saw
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Scroll Sawing the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Wood Burning the Wood Spirit Face
Cross-Crafting Seminar, Colored Pencils for the Wood Spirit Face

Ryobi Scroll SawClick on any image for a full-sized picture of that step.

Read Your Manual

Begin by reading the information and instruction manual that came with your particular scroll saw, especially the safety steps.

  1. Wear safety glasses.
  2. Use the correct blades made for your specific scroll saw.
  3. Check the condition of your saw blade before you begin any working session.
  4. Always know where your fingers are in relationship to the saw blade.
  5. Unplug the saw and remove the Child’s Safety Plug when not in use.
  6. Watch for physical and visual fatigue – take frequent breaks.

Scroll Saw Features

The Ryobi features a Tension Knob for quick and easy blade tension adjustments on the top back of the machine.  The Sawdust Blower keeps the wood clean of sawdust in front of the saw blade.  The Drop Foot holds the wood securely to the work table to reduce vibration and the Throat Plate gives you access to the bottom of the saw blade.

Ryobi Scroll SawThe On/Off Switch is on the lower front of the motor and also contains a Child’s Safety Plug that can be removed to prevent the machine from turning on.

The three pronged knob on the left front controls the tilt angle of the table, called the Bevel Scale.  On the right side of the front is your variable speed control.  For the Ryobi the speed range is from 550 r/min. to 1,650 r/min.




Scroll Saw Blades

scroll saw bladesScroll saws use two styles of blades – pinned and unpinned.  Pinned blades have a small metal cross bar at the top and bottom of the blade that slides and locks into the blade holders.  This gives a strong, secure anchor for the blades.

Unpinned blades do not have the cross blades, and are simply straight at the top and bottom.




fretwork scroll sawingThe unpinned blades are used in fretwork where you will be cutting holes into the design.  Begin by drilling a small hole, just slightly larger than the width of your saw blade, inside of the shape that you will be cutting.  Release the Tension Knob on the top of the machine.  Release the top Blade Holder Knob.  Remove the top of the blade from the scroll saw.  Slide the wood over the top of the blade, threading it through the drilled hole.  Secure the top of the blade by tightening the Blade Knob and Tension Knob.

Saw blades are sorted by the number of teeth per inch, TPI.  The Ryobi Specialty Scroll Saw Blade Set gives you three sizes – 7 TPI Hook Tooth for thick widths of wood, 15 TPI Regular Tooth for general cutting, and 18.5 TPI Skip Tooth for fine and tight turned cutting.  For our projects in this seminar I used the 15 TPI regular tooth, pinned blades.


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Carving the Wood Spirit Face, Lora Irish

Carving the Wood Spirit Face, Lora Irish

Two New Free Online Series
of Free Carving, Pyrography, and Craft Projects
Great Book of Free Carving Projects & Patterns by Lora S. Irish
Great Book of Free Pyrography Projects & Patterns by Lora S. Irish


Stop by often at our carving, pyrography, and craft pattern site, to see what Great New Books you can have for free for Carving Patterns, Pyrography Projects,  and Craft Designs by Lora Irish!

Free Wood Spirit Carving Project by Lora IrishGreat Book of Free Carving Projects and Patterns by Lora S. Irish Online Series

The first release in my new, free online series  is an in-depth tutorial on how to carve the wood spirit face using the planes of the human face as our guidelines.  Join me as we work through the detailed steps and 199 photographs to learn how easy the Wood Spirit is to carve.



Wood Spirit Carving,
Free Project by Lora Irish
1 Introduction and Supply List
2 Walking Stick Preparation
3 Exploring the Human Face
4 Planes of the Human Face
5 Carve The Human Face
6 Shaping the Facial Features
7 Sloping the Sides of the Face
8 Rough Cutting the Features
9 Carving the Eyes
10 Detailing the Eyes
11 Shaping the Features
12 Defining the Cheek and Nose
13 Working the Facial Hair
14 Refining the Face Shape
15 Carving the Wrinkles
16 Trimming the Beard
17 Review of the Techniques


So, Gang, pull up your chair to your computer screen seat at my class table, and let’s have some FREE FREE FREE wood carving, and pyrography fun.

Lora S. Irish, June 01, 2015

Copyright, Lora S. Irish, 1997 – 2015
Art Designs, 1997 – 2015
All International Rights Reserved
Use of any information, images, or text in digital or printed format
or in any magazine, book, or booklet is strictly prohibited without
the written, hardcopy permission of the author, Lora Irish.

This is new work, created after May 2013, by Lora S. Irish.
Use in part or whole by any publishing company
is strictly prohibited without a written, signed,
and dated contract for this new work with the author.
June 01, 2015

Choosing Your Wood Carving Bench Knife

Choosing Your Wood Carving Bench Knife

I had a question from on the Wood Spirit Carving Project that is being posted right now, that I thought I would share with you.  The question was “How do you pick the right sized bench knife?”

Please remember you can click on any image for a full-sized photo.

Quality of the Steel

wood carving the wood spirit patternThere are three important considerations in which bench knife you purchase.  First is the quality of steel in the blade, which determines whether you can bring the knife to a very sharp, fine point with a sharp edge.  While your hand will adjust to a knife handle that is not an absolute perfect in fit, there is nothing you can do to improve a poor quality steel blade or force it into holding an edge.

This top photo shows an ergonomic handled chip carving knife.  I use this one for my general craft needs as cutting paper, cutting chipboard, or cutting leather.  The handle is slightly too wide for a comfortable grip in my hand, and the extension of the knife point beyond the hand grip is a touch too long.  Yet, this knife would be a perfect grip for a carver with a larger hand size than mine (woman’s small).  The steel of this blade is very high quality.

Length of the Blade

wood carving the wood spirit patternSecond is the length of the cutting blade.  A long bladed bench knife is perfect for de-barking walking sticks, for long whittling cuts, and for general shaping.

This second photo shows a long bladed bench knife.  This is the classic bench knife that is often shown for beginning carvers, yet its primary use is for long whittling strokes as de-barking walking sticks or rounding over the corners of a practice block.  The handle of this knife fits my hand perfectly, but the long blade pushes my fingers away from the wood.  I use this one for rough-out work, but never detail or shaving work.

Fit of the Handle

wood carving the wood spirit patternFinally, the third consideration is how the blade handle fits in the palm of your cutting hand.  I use ‘the rule of thumb’ to size my bench knives.  For a moment extend the thumb of your non-dominate hand in the ‘thumbs up’ position.  Wrap your dominate hand around that extended thumb with the extended thumb tip resting at the mid-joint of the first finger.  Use a light, semi-open grip.  For me, the size and length of that extended thumb is the perfect size for my bench knife and tool handles. (See bottom photo)

The third photo shows my favorite bench knife, a rose wood handled large chip carving blade.  The handle is exactly the size of my extended thumb, and the blade point is never more than one inch away from the wood.

wood carving the wood spirit patternI have a second chip carving knife that I use regularly that is classified as a small chip knife.  The knife has a very short, narrow handle and a 3/4″ or less blade.  A short blade, as a large chip knife, brings your hand right onto the carving wood, which gives you more control over the movement of the cutting tip.  Very small, short blades, as a small chip knife, are perfect for getting into those tight corners or creating undercuts.



 Rule of Thumb Sizing

wood carving the wood spirit patternIf I am sizing a palm handled tool, I slide my non-dominate hand further up into my dominate hand so that the first joint of the extended thumb rests against the mid-joint of my first finger.  This places the pad or base of my extended thumb into the center of my carving hand palm.  The size of my thumb pad is about the size that I want for my palm tools.

Which bench knife or carving tools work best for you is determined by what style of wood carving you are working, the size of your hand, and your hobby budget.  Of note is that many wood carvers own and use more than one bench knife or set of gouges, so that we will have on hand the right tool for the right job.  As your hobby grows so will your tool hoard … 🙂

If you are just starting your hobby of wood carving you may wish to check out our article on the Wood Carving Tool Kit.




Free Wood Spirit Carving Project

Free Wood Spirit Carving Project

Cutting the slope of a wood spirits mustacheToday we will work through establishing the depth of the nose bridge, the slope of the nose, the division between the nose and the mustache, and freeing the nose from the cheeks.

So, click on the link below and let’s get carving!

Wood Spirit Carving, Establishing the Slope of the Nose

If you are just joining this free, online wood carving project, by Lora Irish, please check out the links below for your supply list and an over view of the planes of the human face.


cutting the nose bridge of a wood spirit wood carvingCarving the Wood Spirit Face, Supply List
Wood Spirit Carving, Planes of the Human Face







 Other happenings around the Studio

Carving gloves and thumb guards used in wood carvingIf you are a new carver you may wish to check out Lora’s tool kit article for ideas on what tools, knives , and supplies make us a wood carving kit.

Beginner’s Whittling, Chip, and Wood Carving Supply Kit







Cane, walking stick, and wizard wand wood carving

Discount Alert
Art Designs Studio
3/07 through 3/15, 2015

To learn more about Wood Spirit Facial Plane carvings, check out our E-Project – Wood Spirit Mushroom Carving E-Project – which takes you through all of the steps to create the facial planes, plus gives you eight full sized 3D patterns.  If you want to focus on the Wood Spirit face, check out Wood Spirit Carving E-Project, which takes you through the face carving as well as how to paint your wood spirit walking stick.

Just are looking for new ideas, browse through the Canes, Walking Sticks & Wizard Wands Pattern Package with 48 full-sized 3D patterns or our classic Cane Handles & Walking Sticks Patterns with 38 patterns.

Use our discount code – facebook – for for $5 off that can be used for each Cane, Walking Stick, and Wizard Wands Pattern Packs or E-Projects above.  Save up to $20 on your next wood spirit carving project!

Free Online Walking Stick Carving Projects

Cane and walking stick wood carvingIntroduction to Cane Carving
Wood Spirit and Green Man Wood Carving
Walking Stick Joinery
Walking Stick Wood – Harvesting Sticks
Walking Stick – Adding Extras
Walking Stick – Clamping Your Handle
Day 1 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 2 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 3 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 4 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Day 5 Twistie Stick Snake Cane Carving
Free Mountain Man Cane Carving Pattern

The patterns for the canes, shown right,
are available at Art Designs Studio,
L S Irish’s pattern website,
CP136 Canes, Walking Sticks, & Wizard Wands