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Posts: 135
Reply with quote  #1 

What methods are you all using to cut the parts for toys that are 1 1/2 inch thick?  For example, I've tried several methods for making the Hot Rod Freaky Fords:

1. Cutting each 3/4 piece individually and then gluing together and sanding smooth

2. Laminating the pieces together with double-sided tape and cutting

3. Laminating the pieces together with glue and then cutting

4. Cutting the large stock down with the band saw and then finishing with a trim bit in the router like Udie demonstrated in one of his videos.

So far, methods 1-3 are very time consuming and not working out well for me.  When I laminate the pieces together, my saw labors at cutting the 1 1/2 stock.  If I cut them individually (as 3/4 stock), they don't match up too well and require a lot of sanding before they're usable.  Method 4 works fairly well, unless there are tight corners in the toy that I'm making.

Is this just a matter of patience and practice as I get better and more accurate at cutting the 3/4 stock?  Or do you all have saws that can actually cut the 1 1/2 stock smoothly?

For the most part, I use poplar or clear pine for the toys.  I've tried MDF, but I have a similar experience no matter what the material is.  Have also tried Olson, Bosch and Vermont American blades.  I get a similar result no matter which blade I'm using.
Peter B

Posts: 879
Reply with quote  #2 
Peter B

Posts: 879
Reply with quote  #3 
  • How complex is the pattern?
    • The more detail in the pattern the finer the blade.
  • How thick is the material?
    • The thicker the material the larger (and coarser) the blade.
  • How hard is the material?
    • A fine blade on hard material will cut much slower than a larger blade, but it will also leave a much smoother finish.
Peter B

Posts: 879
Reply with quote  #4 
There is no cut and dry, " Use this blade for this pattern". You'll wish it were that simple. You are going to have to experiment. Its going to vary by wood density, the type of saw (blade action), your feed rate (how hard are you pushing), the type of pattern (simple of complex), the condition of your equipment (saw and blade) and what sign your moon is in ( no, not really). You are going to be the final judge. You will need to determine the which blades cuts fastest for your application while giving a satisfactory edge finish and maximizing blade life. You will not gain anything by using a fast cutting blade if you have to go back and sand all your edges!
john lewman

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Posts: 2,079
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for the useful and informative post on scroll saw blades and the various uses. The forum will find this a big help-especially the first time toymakers.

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Posts: 135
Reply with quote  #6 
Very helpful...thanks Peter!

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Posts: 1,241
Reply with quote  #7 
I have lots of experience with the Freaky Fords.

You must make sure your saw is square, the tension is adjusted correctly, and use high quality sharp blades. Lubricating the blade I a good idea. You can do the by putting packing tape or blue painters tape on the wood before applying the pattern. Patrick Speilman demonstrated this clearly in one of his books. This works because the tape has silicon on/in it to keep the tape from sticking to itself. There are blade lubricants you can get but I don't have any experience with these.

Don't push the blade. Let the blade/saw cut at the rate it needs to cut. To tell if you are pushing put blue painters tape over the hole so there is no clearance around the blade. Cut out a Freaky Ford body. 
If the hole in the tape when you are done is large say much bigger that 1/8 inch you are pushing. What you want to do is apply just enough pressure to keep the wood in contact with the blade. It requires concentration and practice. If you push to hard the blade bends. Some people will push to the side. this causes the blade to bend in that direction and give you a curved edge. Worse it creates lots of friction and gets the blade hot. Scroll saw blades are made from carbon steel and hardened. If you get carbon steel to hot the it softens, becomes dull and breaks.

I use a #5 or #7 skip tooth for every thing except fine fretwork. I find that the larger blades cut rough and will not get around the turns. I bought blades designed for thick stock. In my opinion these are only good for cutting straight. I can get a better cut on my band saw.  With the smaller blades you have to cut slower but you get a much smother cut. Which means less sanding. Cut slow or sand a lot. Simple choice for me.

Solid Wood

I find this to be by far the easiest. Cut once. No gluing and clamping. Simple, But some times you just don't have material 1-1/2 inches thick.

Cut Then Glue

I find this nearly impossible to pull off effectively. Not two pieces are exactly the same. Some will not work together. One is a little small and the other is a little large. If you are making lots of them you can match them up according to how well they fit. If you are only making one a blet sander is going to be your friend.

Glue Then Cut

This works pretty good but I think it wastes some material because you have to cut the pieces small enough that you can clamp them to get a good glue joint. I find this to get more difficult the larger the piece gets. Other than that it works just as well as solid wood but takes longer. If your looking to sell these takes longer means costs more.

Pattern Routing

I haven't done this yet. However, I have done a good deal of research on it.

I expect the cheaper woods like construction lumber to be a problem here. If the router tears out wood you either have to sand it out or repair it. Repairs means you will likely need to paint, it takes longer and costs more to make. Material that rout well are what you need.

To combat tear out you need to use shear angle or spiral bits.  They are not cheap.

I think pin routing is the way to go. With pin routing you can cut the piece and size it in the same operation. The bits are much cheaper. $18 vs $88  for a spiral bits. The pattern is a bit more complicated to make and you have to make or buy a pin router.


If your looking to do this as a business this may be the best bet. It's still kind of expensive but the price is coming down rapidly. I got very interested in this after I watched a video of someone designing and cutting a car from a 2x4.

Advanced techniques are the basics perfectly applied.
Odin's Toy Factory Etsy Store
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Posts: 154
Reply with quote  #8 
Thanks to both Peter and Bob. Lots of useful info there.

One of the things I like about this Forum is the way that people seem always willing to share helpful hints & tips.

Kind regards


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Posts: 164
Reply with quote  #9 
Another thing to bear in mind is that once you have found the 'perfect' blade and setup, don't expect it to stay that way forever.

You will be able to tell just how many cuts you can make by how, suddenly, laborious it becomes cutting.

It's a dynamic process, forever changing.


Posts: 154
Reply with quote  #10 
Someone mentioned pattern routing. I do this a LOT! I  made a pattern out of MDF and the attached it to a piece of plexiglass and it works very well. When making the template from MDF it is very easy to sand down and get perfect. Then you rough cut it on the bandsaw and then put it on the router with the template and it is done. I learned this from watching the video on this forum. I think it was done my Udie. Find his video and watch it. It is really great.

I even do this for 1 1/2" material. It is a little more difficult and you MUST be very  careful on the router.

Good luck!
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