Scroll Sawing: Pattern Transfer
Transferring Scrollsaw Plan to Wood
Making a copy:
With any project, it is usually a good idea to keep the original
copy of your pattern intact, in case something happens and you need
to start all over. If a particular pattern turns out to be your
favorite seller and you consistently trace over the same lines,
eventually the original deteriorates to the point it is useless.
With the original tucked away, you can always start over.
The other thing to remember is that not all photocopiers make exact
duplicates. If it is important that the copy "exactly" matches the
original in size, make sure to lay one on top of the other, to check
before proceeding. Do not use two different photocopiers for two
halves of the same project. You may have trouble, where they link
This really requires little explanation, but I will leave you with
this...if it is a large tracing, try using low tack masking tape
to hold your pattern and carbon, in place while tracing. It is frustrating
to get half way through the job, and have it move on you.
We typically think of carbon paper as the black stuff from school
days, but if you are trying to trace onto walnut this paper may
be of little value. Try a few hobby stores to find coloured carbon
paper. Yes, it really does exist..... even in white and yellow...
often available from someone that teaches folk art painting. It
really is great on dark woods.
Use a coloured pen to trace, as
it will be easier to see what you have done. Don't remove the tape
until you are sure all lines are traced.
Gluing your pattern on:
(particularly for Intarsia Plans) First cut a duplicate of your
pattern into each of its individual pieces. Lay the pieces on top
of your original. Number for easy reference. You can use almost
any type of glue to apply each paper pattern piece to the face of
the chosen wood, but some adhesives pose less problems that others.
I have used a glue stick for very quick projects. Glue the pattern
in place, cut it and peal off the pattern in one short space of
time. The draw back with most glues, is avoiding the long tedious
process of removing the paper. Often you can use mineral spirit,
after the fact, to help release the glue and tear back the paper.
With small pieces, I flat sand the paper off on a table mounted
The best answer is to use a spray mount or repositional, low tack
spray adhesive used in the art world for mounting photographs or
artwork to backing boards. 3M puts out a product called Super77,
but there are other products of a similar nature. Ask at your local
craft or framing store. Read the directions on the can. Don't overspray
the paper, or it will buckle and be difficult to adhere to your
wood. If it doesn't peel off easily when you're done, again, apply
a limited coat of mineral spirits to the pattern, let it sit a bit,
and you should be able to peel it off.
A photocopy of your pattern can in fact be ironed on. Flip it upside
down on your work, heat your iron up to high and iron over the back.
This will soften the carbon from the copy and transfer it to your
work. It actually does not a bad job, as long as the wood is well
sanded (but no sawdust left on the surface) and the wood is not
really grainy. If it has a lot of open pores, like on oak, the iron
cannot transfer the carbon easily. It works well on pine and basswood.
I've also heard you can wipe mineral spirits on the back of the
copy and it will soften and transfer the pattern to the wood as
well. Experiment with both ideas but don't forget it reverses your