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TECHNIQUES

Intarsia
..the basics
..picking the wood
..tracing your pattern
..basic cutting skills
..fitting your pieces
..sanding & profiling
..final assembly
..making the back panel

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..which glue to use
..veneering up your work

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..Do's and Don'ts
..Wood Burner
..Wood Burning Pen
..Clean Woodburning Pen
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  HOME TECHNIQUES INTARSIA Cutting Your Intarsia Pieces

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Basic Intarsia Cutting Skills

Use a bandsaw or a scrollsaw?
This question is obviously a very easy one if you only have one tool or the other. If you are lucky to own both then you will have more of an issue. Generally I would always use a bandsaw whenever possible, if only because the travel of the blade pulls the wood down onto the table as you cut and makes the process less stressful.

You can mount a 1/8" blade in your saw and this will do most of your cutting (cuts about a " diameter).

Scrollsaws on the other hand, run up and down into the wood, pulling the wood with it. This is particularly evident cutting hardwoods or very grainy woods. Controlling your direction under these circumstances, is more difficult and your accuracy suffers.

Scroll saws do have a benefit though, in that they will cut tighter radii than a bandsaw, and are less aggressive and therefore safer to use for small pieces. They also remove less wood, so cause less distortion when cutting two adjoining pieces from one block and then gluing them back together (like the back of the loon). Scroll saws are the only tool you can use for internal cuts. Really having both tools is great.

Squaring Your Saw:
Before beginning to saw a project, always check your saw for squareness by making a test cut, and checking the result with a good quality square. The major reason for ill fitting intarsia pieces, aside from inaccurate cutting, is out of square pieces. They touch at the top or bottom, but not on the opposite face. The thicker the wood, the more obvious this problem will be.

Sometimes, out of square cuts can be caused by tear out fibres on the back of your piece, getting caught between the wood and the table. Check for this and sand the back to maintain a flat surface to work from if this seems to be an issue.

 

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What do you cut first?
If the piece is of a reasonable size (ie.4" round+), I would usually rough cut it to size first. Then any inside cutouts would be done, while the piece is large enough to hold onto. Lastly, I would cut the outside lines.

The advantage is particularly obvious when you have thin cross grain sections. The inside cut is done on a scrollsaw while the waste wood is still in tack, the outside can be cut on a bandsaw, where less vibration is likely to break the thin cross grain sections.Always deburr the back side of the piece after each cut.

If you are cutting very small pieces, it is important to do all the fine cutting while the piece is attached to a larger block. The last cut should be the one that separates it from the waste. For tight inside cuts, make sure you make a few preliminary cuts through the waste wood, up to the edge of the cut line, first. Then as you cut along you're line, if the cut turns out to be too tight, you will have an escape route.

Predrilling for Inside Cuts:
If the pattern calls for an inside cut (ie. cutting the windows out of the old car pattern), you must predrill a small hole in one corner first. Then feed the scrollsaw blade through the hole, reattach the blade to the upper holder, reset the blade tension, and finally cut the shape.

To remove your piece, you must release the top of the blade and reverse this process. Sometimes when doing the original pilot holes the wood tears out on the back. Be sure to sand this off first, so that your piece sits flat on the scrollsaw table during cutting.



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Plan #0011

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theWoodbox.com Jan 2007