I was around eight or nine years old when I got my first scroll saw, and Mom bought a book by Frank Pozsgai that had a good number of projects involving photo/print-to-marquetry (link to description) techniques. You start with a photo or a print – preferably a black-and-white to establish contrast, then assign cut details to the picture using pen. Cut out your material along the lines you draw and the whole thing turns into a puzzle. But if you use two different colors of wood then it adds contrast and creates two pictures, one being a negative of the other. Somewhere along the line, I figured out that if two pieces of wood could be used, three could do even better. This adds a third element of shading effect that is desperately needed when dealing with angles, lighting effects, etc. After the third piece it tends to build up too much heat and crack the material, or pinch the blade and break it. Four work pieces being cut simultaneously is possible, just extremely difficult and the shading gains are almost nil.
Pozsgai’s book did much to enhance my ability with a scroll saw but until recently, I had let the skill lie dormant. During a phase of equipment purchases last year I added a Shop Fox 16″ scroll saw to an order since I wanted one and could get free shipping by bumping up my order amount. It sat in the shop for months without being touched. With a series of rainy days inhibiting construction work, I decided to get things rolling again.
Since becoming exposed to Article 15 Clothing, Warfighter Tobacco, Black Rifle Coffee Company, Leadslingers, the Drinkin’ Bros Podcast and a host of other man-worthy products and affiliates, I have come to “know” and love the men behind these products. Mat Best did a wonderful thing when he began to bring back the United States Military Veteran as the backbone of society through skits and parody on social media platforms, and his passion for these men and women has culminated in a team of some of the best “dudes” and business owners the world could ask for. People who know and love what they do, mainly because they have passion for the work, but also because there are far darker realms they have witnessed, brought about and survived during their service to the United States. And having survived these dark times, there is almost nothing left to fear in typical stateside culture.
Since the beginning of the Drinkin Bros Podcast, Mr. Evan Hafer has always struck me as the quiet but active, passionate, knowledgeable, savvy Patriot that is desperately needed in modern society. His somewhat similar childhood background, worldview and outlook on general Citizenship duties are very familiar to me, and his thoughts on our roles as civilians and veterans, and basic common sense are nearly identical to things I have long-supposed or argued for. Not to mention that he makes the best possible coffee on the planet. So with the onset of the aforementioned rain days and previous subconscious project considerations, I was primed to do some scroll saw marquetry.
I decided on the iconic picture of Evan sipping coffee in his shop as seen on FOX News, the BRCC website and press releases worldwide. But after converting it from full color to a heavily simplified black and white, the interior detail didn’t fit with my concept. And since I leave Photoshop to the experts, I decided on the old-school scrapbooker’s method: get an Exacto knife and cut out each picture layer and glue them together, then transfer it to wood. The cafe idea was nice but it didn’t embody the concept of Evan, who is 3/10 connoisseur and 7/10 fire-breathing warrior, not a snowflake barista. That was fixed using Old Glory for the background.
But this still didn’t feel right. There wasn’t any line flow or aesthetic appeal until the flag background was changed…
After gluing the final draft of the picture concept onto my first material board, the real work begins. Each of the cut lines must be marked clearly, and this is also the point at which you decide “how hard do I really want to work”? You can choose to do just a rough outline and skip details, or go all in and mark everything. I was very selective when it came to the plaid shirt, but the saw did its job well and gave me plenty of options to decide a few “on-the-fly” details where things were starting to look a bit blank.
After looking over the lines and deciding on a finishing point, I taped together one piece each of cherry, black walnut and white oak, about 13″x18″ and roughly 1/4″ thick, using painters tape to make 4-5 wraps per side.
To start, a hole was drilled in a corner using a 3/32″ bit and the scroll saw blade was pushed through before installing it on the saw. I used pinless #2 blades with an adapter, not the easiest but not so difficult after overcoming a small learning curve.
Just a few cut-outs shown on a separate piece of cherry background. In addition to selecting cut lines, proper wood species and pieces must be used to gain the desired texture and shading effects. The amount of detail that can be gained by “skiffing” the blade along a line is evidenced by closer examination of the eye/brow area. Random cuts in an area like the beard detailing really help pop out the work as well.
Just to show how multiple pictures are made, this is the first inverse of the main piece.
This 8-piece Eastern Red Cedar frame took a red mahogany stain quite well. Can’t wait to see a picture of it hanging in the BRCC Command Center!