As I mentioned in my editor’s note in the Fall 2013 issue (Issue 52), I had high hopes that I might be able to cut veneer with an electronic cutting machine like the Cricut or Silhouette, which are sold in craft stores. These relatively inexensive machines are very much like miniature CNC routers, but fitted with tiny razor blades. Using templates supplied electronically, the machines can cut intricate shapes in paper ranging from see-through vellum to heavy cardstock. I had visions of cutting veneer for marquetry or to add overlays to scrolled projects. Unfortunately, veneer proved too challenging for both the Cricut and the Silhouette. In tests, either the machines couldn’t cut the wood or the wood cracked. I succeeded with a few very simple shapes, but created a lot of kindling along the way.
However, I did learn something useful during testing. The Silhouette machine depends on electronic patterns downloaded from the company’s website. Anyone with a computer and internet connection can visit the store, download the company’s free design software, called Silhouette Studio, and then download designs from the store. The designs range in price from free to a dollar or two and can be resized, manipulated, and printed from the software, easily creating scroll saw patterns. The store has more than 35,000 designs, ranging from simple frames and alphabets to cute holiday icons, word art, seasonal images, and much more. Commercial licenses for the designs are available for a few dollars more.