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Author Topic: In need of woodworking help  (Read 1350 times)
Herbert West
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« on: April 02, 2015, 09:50:00 am »

I hope someone here has experience working with thin wood panels.

I'm trying to cut out 8x1 inch shapes using 1/4 inch (6mm) thick panels of plywood and cedar. Basically the stuff you get from the craft store, using a scroll saw and Forstner drill bits. Unfortunately they're both useless since the stuff cracks and splinters terribly.

Is there a technique I could use to avoid this? Or a different type of wood that would give me better results that's not too expensive?
« Last Edit: April 02, 2015, 10:19:32 am by Herbert West » Logged

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George Salt
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« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2015, 10:52:00 am »

Have you tried covering both sides in masking tape along the cut lines? - the tape helps bind the surface together to prevent splintering.
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SeVeNeVeS
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« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2015, 12:04:11 pm »

Assuming the saw cuts on the upstroke try cutting good side down or turn the blade so it cuts on the down stroke, good side up.

You could try slicing along the cut line with a sharp craft knife before using the saw.

A finer pitch blade for metal would also help prevent splintering.

As George Salt suggests masking tape for the Forstner drill bits may just do the trick.
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Herbert West
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« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2015, 12:08:16 pm »

Thanks for the feedback so far. I believe I've solved the problem with my scroll saw. I hadn't noticed that my roomie had had installed a course toothed blade.  Angry

 I'll give the tape a try with the Forstner bit, as that seems to be the worst offender. Ripping out chunks of wood as it comes out the bottom.

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Steerpike
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« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2015, 06:05:51 pm »

Can your scroll saw accept plain end blades? I've just discovered the "reverse skip tooth" ones which are ace- no splintering and a clean, almost polished cut in 1/4 " birch ply- but  I don't think you can get pin end ones.
On the Forstner bit breakout thing: this may be an "egg sucker" question, but are you backing up the piece you're drilling with a bit of scrapwood underneath? If that's not working try drilling almost all the way through (so the centre point just breaks through) then turning over and finishing from the other side, using the mark from the centre point to line up (it's an old trick for drilling clean through holes with a brace and bit!)
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« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 06:19:47 pm »

For the bits you could oil the hole you are drilling. Helps keep the bit alive and also helps make a smoother cut. Also a lower speed may work.

Pilot holes are a must when drilling holes in thin material.

Furthermore, you may be splitting the grain or hitting a void in the layers, even though it's plywood it's possible with smaller pieces, and the voids are the bane of working with plywood.

Finally, maybe use a less coarse drill bit of its a sanding pit, and less teeth if it is a biter (toothed) bit. sorry don't know much about the drill you are using.

All the best luck to you.
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« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2015, 07:44:00 pm »

For saw cuts, if you score the lien you want to cut with a sharp knife that can help to reduce splintering.

In wood higher cutting speeds and slower feed rates will also tend to help.

When drilling holes make sure that your bit is sharp and properly ground and clamp the work firmly onto a backing, this can be scrap but it needs to be reasonably smooth and flat. Forstner bits are generally pretty good for clean cutting but the can clog even in quite shallow holes so it's worth lifting the bit clear of the hole  frequently to allow it to clear itself and check that the cutting edges aren't burred or chipped.

Plywood generally has a thin facing layer and if this is either too thin, poor quality or not properly bonded then it will tend to splinter whatever you do.
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Herbert West
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« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2015, 08:07:41 pm »

Some useful tip everyone, thanks!

I'll give them a try after I get some more wood.  Tongue
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Drew P
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2015, 12:00:13 am »

Oil? What!?
Candle wax and try starting off in reverse, slowly, to make a smooth groove then forward with little pressure.
Unfortunately, I think that the make up of the thin wood being laminated thin layers and not rather dense, lends itself to splittering. Maybe try a smaller hole then enlarge with a sanding drum?
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2015, 01:17:00 am »

Saw tooth pitch fine enough for several teeth to fit the thickness of the material is a must.  Don't press the blade into the work hard, let the blade do the work as it moves across the material.  Numerous shallow strokes works better than fewer deep strokes.
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Wilhelm Smydle
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« Reply #10 on: April 04, 2015, 11:50:10 pm »

When drilling holes it helps to use a sacrificial piece on te back side.
Tape can help as well.
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Herbert West
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« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2015, 05:38:49 am »

Problem solved. I found a slat of walnut at a real art supply store, and using some of the suggested techniques, I have my piece. Currently doing sanding a cleanup. Thanks everyone.
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Drew P
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« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2015, 06:15:19 am »

Which procedure worked or did you mix it up a bit?
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Herbert West
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« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2015, 10:39:16 am »

Drilling out a center hole, then cutting halfway from front and back seemed to do the trick. I also switched from a forstner bit to a spade bit. Plus walnut is a much denser wood to work with. I got one tiny chip, but I can live with it.

Oh and for those who asked, I was already using a wooden block as a base. I do with all my drilling.

Pieces are stained and are currently drying.
.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2015, 10:41:16 am by Herbert West » Logged
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