Mostly Finished the Cross

I finally finished cutting the fretwork on the cross.  I just went back and re-read my last post on this project and wow was I wrong on the time it would take.  In the last month I’ve kept thinking that I am just eight hours away from finishing the cross.  Well, I was very wrong.  This thing turned out to be very time consuming but it is done.  My estimate is that I’ve got close to 50 hours of work into it so far.

This is the cross with all the interior fretwork cut

Now I can reveal my little secret about the cross – it’s not one but rather three.  I used a method called, ‘stack cutting’ to cut three identical crosses at the same time.  Glad I did – hate to do all that work for just one.  The wood is 1/4 inch thick oak plywood left over from a bookcase I built a couple of years ago.  That’s one of the cool things about scroll sawing, you can use up scraps from other projects and get some really nice looking pieces done.

This was a “stack cut” so with one cut I made three crosses.

Here is a picture of the scroll saw I used.  The little light is an LED with magnifier.  I wouldn’t have been able to see the lines to do the cutting without it.  The blade on the saw is very thin – about the thickness of five sheets of paper – and it doesn’t last long.  About halfway through the project I ordered a gross of blades (144) and I figure I’ve used about two dozen to do the project.  Some blades break while others just get dull.  The longest a blade has lasted is one that went for a whole hour before it stopped cutting.  Looking at it under the magnifier I could see where the teeth were just worn off.

Here is the saw I did the cutting on

So, what have I learned?

1.  Next time invest in good quality wood.  The project was a lot of work and while I like the way the cuts turned out, I am a little disappointed that I’ve got a plywood cross and not something out of a nice walnut or teak or something.  If you’re going to invest quality time then you should invest in quality materials.  Life lesson?
2.  I need dust collection on the scroll saw.  The cutting puts out this fine dust that gets everywhere including up my nose.  Plus the little bits that are cut out tend to drop on the floor and make a big mess.  A good vacuum system on the saw and an air cleaner in the shop would have made the job a little nicer.
3.  I suck at estimating the time it will take me to complete a project.
4.  I’ve learned things that I can never really explain.  They were valuable lessons but somethings I can only teach you by getting you to stand in front of a scroll saw for about 50 hours.  Here’s one – always cut into the corners first. How about this one – always turn on the back of the blade away from the sharp edge.  Great life lesson – get it?
5.  I am done with crosses for now and it’s time to get back to my serving trays.  Yup life moves on and you’ll know when you’re ready.  No one can give you the magic formula for that.

There is a little work left on the crosses – sanding and finishing.  Then the crosses are thin and I am concerned they’ll warp over time so I am thinking of building some kind of frame that will hold them flat and rigid.

So, will I ever make more crosses?  Possibly, but most likely not.  You see I am a pilgrim at heart and once I’ve been to a place I seldom return.  Maybe someday I’ll decide that the cross can teach me more and I’ll have to return, but today I’ve set my mind towards some birds that fly over the breaking waves.

How to capture that picture and make it come alive on a serving tray?

That’s where this pilgrim heads next.

About Andrew Reynolds

Born in California Did the school thing studying electronics, computers, release engineering and literary criticism. I worked in the high tech world doing software release engineering and am now retired. Then I got prostate cancer. Now I am a blogger and work in my wood shop doing scroll saw work and marquetry.
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9 Responses to Mostly Finished the Cross

  1. betsyk1 says:

    Wow. Very nice.


  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks for all the comments. It was a fun project and one of those I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do.


  3. Marv says:

    Relief! You did it. Thanks for describing your process. You kept your surprise until the end — three crosses.


  4. mycraftcave says:

    wow beautiful!!!
    i love my scroll saw but i’m pretty sure i don’t have the patience to use it for fretwork


  5. Raymond says:

    Awesome intricate work, dude. Beautiful.


  6. YAPCaB says:



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