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Book Review: 'Scroll Saw Bench Guide' by Zachary Taylor

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Gill

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Book Review: Scroll Saw Bench Guide by Zachary Taylor (2002), New York, Sterling Publishing, ISBN 0-8069-9139-9



Published in 2002, the Scroll Saw Bench Guide is a paperback that draws on information from both sides of the Atlantic to produce a comprehensive guide to scroll saw operation. The author is extremely experienced and is able to communicate his understanding of the scroll saw clearly. It is very easy to follow his explanations about getting the best out of a scroll saw, largely because he writes about types of equipment rather than specific machines. That said, he does illustrate his points with reference to individual machines and the text is always accompanied by very clear monochrome photographs and diagrams.

This book works on the sound assumption that its reader has used a scroll saw before. Let’s face it, the first book that most newcomers buy is normally a pattern book by either Patrick Spielman or Judy Gale Roberts, and that book will have sufficient information in the introduction to enable a novice to start work. So there are no patterns in Taylor's book. Instead, there are chapters that describe the mechanics of how a scroll saw cuts, how to maintain the saw, how blades cut wood, jigs, cutting techniques, tracking errors, marquetry, intarsia and a lot more.

Although I’m very familiar with my saws and I’ve been using them for quite a few years, this book opened my eyes to techniques that I’d either unconsciously adopted or was unaware of. The chapter on blade selection was a particular revelation. So was the section on jigs, an example of which is the explanation of how straight fences (and even a finger fence) can be used on a scroll saw. I'm now considering how I might be able to refine these jigs for my own purposes, which is always a sign that a book has made an impact. I’ve no doubt it will become a much loved friend and guide as I use my saw in future and my skills develop.

The Scroll Saw Bench Guide is not aimed at beginners so I am loathe to recommend it as a standard manual. However, I am sure most people who have ever asked themselves questions along the lines of “Why does my scroll saw do that?”, “I wonder if changing the blade would improve the cut?”, or “Wouldn’t it be nice if my scroll saw could…?” will find this book invaluable.

Gill
 

wizer

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great review Gill.

Do you think Scroll Saw work is more of an artistic skill as apposed to basic woodworking that can be achieved from good tools and accurate measurements?
 

Adam

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Thanks, I try and store all these reviews and tips into a corner of my mind - or at the very minimum - try and remember their is a handy post on the forum somewhere - if only I can find the right search terms!

Adam
 

Gill

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WiZeR":3vxjj60x said:
Do you think Scroll Saw work is more of an artistic skill as apposed to basic woodworking that can be achieved from good tools and accurate measurements?
Now there's a leading question :) !

Scroll saws are tools just like any other woodworking tool. With practice, you can repeat cuts quite accurately but you can never repeat them exactly. In that respect, it's more like carving or turning rather than 'constructive' woodworking.

The vast majority of woodworking projects call for accurate, repetitive cuts so jigs such as the Incra, 'Rat et al are extremely valuable. Yet it calls into question how much of what we build is due to the skill of our hands and how much is due to machining. Don't get me wrong, I love to see well made furniture. I also love to use it and I'm grateful that woodworkers can design and produce attractive, durable furniture with their machines. I admire their skills greatly.

Scrolling is a little bit eccentric - it can take woodwork into areas that are normally out of bounds. There are certain considerations that a scroller must be aware of (especially relating to the nature of the saw and the material being used) but once a basic skill level has been achieved, I think scroll saws do become the tool of an artist rather than a craftsman.

I don't think you need to master a scroll saw in order to produce good quality work, either. Just achieve a level of familiar competency.

Gill (who hopes she isn't being controversial or provocative
.)
 

Woodythepecker

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Gill, thank you very much, an excellent review.

I have had a Record 26 for a few years now, but i do not get as much time to use it as i would like to.
I have read a few books about Intarsia by Judy Gale Roberts which i found to be very good.

Once again an excellent review, well done.

Regards

Woody
 
A

Anonymous

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Hi,

Scroll saws are tools just like any other woodworking tool. With practice, you can repeat cuts quite accurately but you can never repeat them exactly. In that respect, it's more like carving or turning rather than 'constructive' woodworking.

The vast majority of woodworking projects call for accurate, repetitive cuts so jigs such as the Incra, 'Rat et al are extremely valuable. Yet it calls into question how much of what we build is due to the skill of our hands and how much is due to machining. Don't get me wrong, I love to see well made furniture. I also love to use it and I'm grateful that woodworkers can design and produce attractive, durable furniture with their machines. I admire their skills greatly.

Scrolling is a little bit eccentric - it can take woodwork into areas that are normally out of bounds. There are certain considerations that a scroller must be aware of (especially relating to the nature of the saw and the material being used) but once a basic skill level has been achieved, I think scroll saws do become the tool of an artist rather than a craftsman.

I don't think you need to master a scroll saw in order to produce good quality work, either. Just achieve a level of familiar competency.
Wise words. I couldn't say it better.

Pedro.
 

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