Sawdust: Patterns

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Sawdust: Patterns

This article was originally published in issue 30 of Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts.

Printing Large Patterns (Existing Software)

Most spreadsheet programs (like Microsoft Excel) automatically break down documents that are larger than 81/2″x 11″. Cut and paste large patterns into a spreadsheet. When you print it out, the software will automatically tile the pattern and print it out in multiple sections.

Printing Large Patterns (Aftermarket Software)

Rapid Resizer,, allows you to change the size of a pattern with a few clicks. It tiles large patterns automatically, and allows you to change the color of the pattern lines from something other than just black.

Old School Adhesive

Rubber cement works great to adhere patterns to wood, and is simple to remove. After you are done cutting, the pattern peels right off, and any residue can be removed with a gum eraser.

Water-Based Adhesive

Graham Davies of Livingston, Scotland, UK, uses wallpaper adhesive to attach his patterns. The adhesive, which you mix with water, takes longer to dry, but smells nice, and cleans up with water. Graham shared this tip on the SSW&C message board,

Laser Printer Transfer Method

According to the Scroll Saw Association of the World website (, it’s easy to transfer a pattern directly to the blank if you print it on a laser printer or copier. This printing method uses a laser to adhere powdered toner to the paper. If you put the pattern face-down on the wood, you can use an iron or lacquer thinner to transfer the toner powder to the wood. Caution: The pattern on the wood will be a mirror image of the pattern on the paper. If the design depends on having a specific left and right (because of lettering, etc.) make sure your pattern is reversed when you print it.

Painter’s Tape Serves Two Purposes

Apply painters tape to the wood and adhere the pattern to the tape. Not only is tape easier to remove than a pattern adhered directly to the wood, but the tape has a lubricant that prevents it from sticking to itself on the roll. This helps lubricate your saw blade, extending blade life and making it less likely to burn the wood.

Pattern Adhesive Removers

Remove residue with mineral spirits or an adhesive remover like Goo Gone. If you try to sand off the residue, you may drive the residue into the wood, which will make finishing more difficult.

Colored Glue Sticks

Many scrollers attach patterns to the blanks with glue sticks. Glue sticks eliminate the smell and over-spray of aerosol adhesives, but it takes more time to apply. It is also difficult to tell where you have already applied glue. An easy solution is to use the colored glue sticks that dry clear; you can tell at a glance if you have enough adhesive to hold the pattern in place.

Carbon Paper vs. Graphite Paper

Simple patterns are easy to trace onto the wood with carbon paper or graphite paper. Tracing is invaluable on designs requiring detailed painting. While carbon paper costs less than graphite paper, the wax base of carbon paper makes it hard to remove the lines. Graphite paper, which is related to the graphite in pencils, can be removed with a pencil eraser.

Self-Adhesive Labels

An easy way to attach a pattern to a blank is with a 81/2″ x 11″ label. Copy the pattern onto the label, peel it off, and stick it on the wood. But you pay extra for the convenience; for 100 labels, expect to pay about $25.

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