Stack-Cutting Made Simple

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Stack-Cutting Made Simple

Use a practice pattern to learn a new way to stack blanks

By John A. Nelson

To hold together a stack of blanks, scrollers often drive small nails into the waste areas outside the pattern. But you usually end up cutting off both the scrap and the nails, and you are left trying to hold the stack together to finish the cuts. Taping the stack can cause the same problem and takes a ton of tape, and glue is a sticky mess. 

I like using the tab, or ear, method of stack cutting. With this method, you drive nails into areas close to the pattern and only cut them off after finishing the rest of the cuts. You only have to hold the stack for a couple of short cuts, and you can use tape to secure it if you like.

You can use the method on any pattern; just draw a few tabs onto the pattern fairly far apart, add the nails, and start cutting. Learn how the tab method works below, and then try it out on the free stack-cutting pattern. You can also try the tab method on one of our holiday projects


Getting Started

Make a photocopy of the pattern. Cut six blanks to size. Attach the pattern to the top blank with spray adhesive. Make sure the saw table is perpendicular to the blade.


Step 1

Make the stack. If the tabs are not already on the pattern, draw them in positions as far from each other along the cutting line as possible. Align all of the blanks under the top blank, drill pilot holes through the tabs, and drive nails through the whole stack. Cut the nails flush with the stack if necessary.



Step 2

Cut the pattern. Follow the lines and cut in from the edge of the blanks. Make one smooth, continuous cut around the pattern. DO NOT CUT THE TABS OFF YET. When you’ve finished cutting around the horse, hold the stack together tightly (or add a few pieces of tape) and cut off the tabs.




Remove the pattern. Sand away any fuzzies with 220-grit sandpaper. Children enjoy decorating the cutouts with paint, crayons, and stickers. You could also use them for bookmarks or hang them as a mobile.


• Wood, such asBaltic birch plywood, 1/8″ (3mm) thick:
6 each 4 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ (11.4cm x 14cm)

• Spray adhesive

• Sandpaper: 220 grit 

• Small nails or brads


• Scroll saw with blades: #5 skip-tooth

• Wire cutter or tin snips (to cut the brads)

• Drill and bit sized to nails or brads


About the Author

The author of many scroll saw patterns, John A. Nelson still enjoys designing new projects. He’s currently working on a concept for creating colorful scrolled toys and accessories. John lives in Narragansett, R.I., where he visits the beach and plays the piano. He has given up the bagpipes.


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