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Before you Cut

WOOD PREPARATION
Cut the wood to the approximate size required for your pattern. Sand the wood before applying the pattern, using a palm sander or orbital sander. This reduces the amount of hand sanding to be done later as well as the risk of breaking fragile pieces when sanding after cutting. Work from 50 grit (roughest), then 80 grit, on to 120 grit and 180 grit through to 320 grit sandpaper (finest). If the wood is planed and has no mill marks or blemishes, the sanding stages with very rough sandpaper are not necessary.  Remove sanding dust with a clean paint brush, lint free cloth or air compressor.


APPLY THE PATTERN
Photocopy the pattern, enlarging or reducing it to the desired size. Use scissors to remove the excess paper to within about 1/8” / 3 mm of the actual pattern. Cover the surface of the work piece with masking tape or clear packaging tape, to allow for easy removal of the pattern after cutting.  Apply temporary bond spray adhesive – simply spray a very light mist onto the back of the pattern copy (do not spray it on the wood). Wait 10 to 30 seconds and hand-press the pattern to the surface of the wood. It should maintain contact during sawing. Glue stick does not hold the pattern as well as spray glue, but can be used for more simple patterns without many inside cuts. Alternatively use carbon paper and a stylus (or old ballpoint pen) to transfer simple patterns without a lot of detail onto the wood. Attach one end of the pattern to the wood with masking tape to keep it from moving during transfer. To prevent tear-out underneath when cutting a project, attach some carton paper with thin double sided tape in a few places. Cover the carton with brown packaging tape.


DRILLING
Some projects require making inside cuts. Simply drill small holes through the work piece in the areas indicated on the pattern. Thread the blade through the hole in the work piece and reattach it to the saw. In a large waste area it is best to drill the starter hole close to a corner, rather than in the middle, as it will take less time for the blade to reach the pattern line. Always use a piece of off-cut wood underneath the work piece to drill into – this also prevents tear-out at the bottom of the project. Remove burrs created by drilling the holes – use a scraper blade along the grain of the work piece at a slight angle or use sandpaper. If the burrs are not removed, your work piece will not be flush on the saw table and it this will prevent it from moving easily on the table during cutting.


BLADE SELECTION
Use a suitable blade as dictated by the wood thickness, amount of cutting detail and sharp radius turns required. Do not attempt to get extra use from a dull blade. Immediately change to a new blade at the first signs of charring in the cut. Dull blades tend to wander from the line of cut and make inclined cuts that are not vertical. Avoid backing up and re cutting an inside line if you happen to wander away from the line of cut, as this causes untidy cutting results. Slow down the speed of your saw when cutting fragile parts in the pattern and use a zero clearance insert to reduce the risk of breaking these parts. Use a piece of carton or a business card to make a zero clearance insert – drill a small blade entry hole in it and tape to your saw table with some masking tape. Allow the blade to do the cutting; do not apply too much feeding pressure by forcing the wood into the blade.

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