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Cutting Elegant Spiral Candlesticks

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Use your scroll saw to create the look of turned spirals

I love to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with a scroll saw. I developed a way to produce the look of turned spirals using only the scroll saw. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you can create elegant candlesticks, delicate Christmas ornaments, and contemporary jewelry.

For step-by-step instructions and the pattern for this project see Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts Fall 2009 #36

 

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Comments (56 posted):

Northstar on 06/29/2009 14:27:16
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Thank you, Bob, for this fantastic video. I can't wait to try this! El
azbison on 06/29/2009 14:34:55
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Thanks Bob, the mind is afire with thoughts about how to use this for compound cutting..... hmmmmmm
pat c on 06/29/2009 15:08:48
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This issue hits the magazine rack when???? This is someting I gotta try. Thanks, Pat
BobD on 06/29/2009 15:10:39
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It mailed out to subscribers the end of last week, and it's due on the newsstands in Mid-July. Bob
Gill on 06/29/2009 15:20:13
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Marvellous! This sort of article is the reason why I subscribe to the magazine (but which the past few issues have been sadly lacking). I can't wait until my copy arrives.
BobD on 06/29/2009 15:30:43
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We'd love to have an article like this in every issue, Gill...but they're getting harder and harder to find! Bob
Mike Crosa on 06/29/2009 15:33:08
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Great video. Can't wait to see the magazine.
Arcy on 06/29/2009 15:34:17
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That is great idea. Definitely thinking out of the box. I agree with Gill that articles like this are some of the best. Looking forward to receiving the actual issue! --Rob
wood-n-things on 06/29/2009 16:41:54
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Great video...but what does it have to do with making a simple cutting board? Making a Simple Cutting Board - Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts You know I couldn't resist asking.....It is a very kewl video for cutting spirals. Who would have thunk it? I wonder if it is necessary to use spiral blades though. Looks like flats would work as well. Thanks for posting the link BOB...Looking forward to my issue soon.
CanadianScroller on 06/30/2009 08:06:39
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When Bruce first mentioned his technique to me I was excited. Now when I actually see what he has developed I am blown away. Way to go Bruce. Great video, it really makes things easy to understand. I love the "thinking out of the box" process.
BobD on 06/30/2009 08:16:43
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Because you are cutting really in two directions at once, spiral blades work the best. We tried several times to make it work with flat blades, but we kept breaking them. Bob
Bruce-P on 06/30/2009 08:23:36
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Mike has raised the question of using flat blades for cutting spirals. The answers are "no", and "probably not". To cut the pattern shown in the video (and in the magazine), it is necessary to reverse direction of cutting while the blade is in the middle of the dowel, this is only possible with a spiral blade. For an open spiral, e.g., one which runs all the way to the end of a dowel, it might be possible to use a straight blade provided that the depth of the blade is less than the kerf width (I don't know if such blades exist). If the blade is too deep it will bind and break and/or burn the wood. ------------- Bruce P.
lucky788scroller on 06/30/2009 10:03:39
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Great artical! I experimented with this exact thing about a year ago. I did not try a spiral blade, that looks like where I went wrong. I did it very similarly set up to what youve got in the video, and no, flat blades didnt work at all.I didnt really notice any binding during cutting and spinning, but because of the blades tendancy to drift, it was impossible to keep it going where it was supposed to. At any rate, I gave up toying with that idea.It is great Bruce conquered it, its something that really will add a 'new twist' to a lot of projects!!! Great job Bruce! And, thank you Fox Chapel for putting it in the pages for the rest of us! Now, I just got to wait for the new issue to arrive!!
Cashmere Scroller on 06/30/2009 10:34:35
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WOW. This is one of the coolest techniques I have seen in a long, long time. This might actually get me back in the shop. Thank You Bod for showing the video. Ron C.
scrollpup on 06/30/2009 11:12:00
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Bruce,I've watched the video twice now but the speakers on my computer don't work properly so forgive me if you said this in the video- but what size spiral blade do you reccomend? Can't wait for my issue to come in and get to read more about it! Thanks, Jerry
BobD on 06/30/2009 11:14:20
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Actually...I did the voice over for the video and Ben Fink did the cutting in our creative director Troy's shop....and I didn't mention what size blade to use. The article suggests using a #3 spiral blade. Bob
scrollpup on 06/30/2009 11:20:18
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Thanks Bob! I'll place an order for some today :)! Jerry
Bruce-P on 06/30/2009 11:23:53
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Bob, Maybe you should warn Mike (FD) to stock up on spirals? ------------ Bruce P.
scrollpup on 06/30/2009 11:41:28
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Bob, Maybe you should warn Mike (FD) to stock up on spirals? ------------ Bruce P. I had better place my order QUICK!! LOL Jerry
Forester21 on 06/30/2009 12:12:17
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Can't wait until I'm at my folks house this weekend to watch the video! It's not bad enough I have to wait until the magazine is out, now I have to wait until I get somewhere with high speed internet too! :) T
wood-n-things on 06/30/2009 16:43:06
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Thanks for the response RE: spirals vs flats. Still not sure what it has to do with making a cutting board though....BOB I'm just kidding ya...You placed the same name/title for this link as for the original thread. Now I'll be quiet...
KtownScroller on 06/30/2009 17:08:39
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Great technique Bruce! This is something I must try. Nice job with the video Bob. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is worth a million!
Haggard3230 on 06/30/2009 19:57:26
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I have got to try this too, wow!
JohnB on 06/30/2009 20:55:48
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Now that is a nifty idea. I can see some beautiful trophies being made using this technique.
Sally on 06/30/2009 21:24:33
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What fun! Thanks for posting the link!
BobD on 07/01/2009 08:17:50
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Mike, I saw that...it's dependant on our IT guy fixing the title of the page the link goes to (the forum automatically labels the link based on the title of the page). I've asked Claudio to fix it. Bob
Bruce-P on 07/02/2009 08:12:07
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Thanks to everyone for the very positive comments. If you decide to cut the pattern, please do not hesitate to post (or e-mail) questions and/or comments. The video that Bob did should help a lot in explaining the technique, and I will do my best to answer any other questions about it. Thanks again, Bruce P.
gvr0213 on 07/02/2009 19:23:13
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On vacation in TN for the week visiting the folks - Stopped by Sloans and bought a bunch of new wood - Can't wait to get home (Baltimore) - Hopefully the issue will be waiting for me. I really want to try that candlestick. George
Ramjet on 07/03/2009 10:28:46
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Bob.Certainly caught my attention . Just hope it does't end up in the How long did it take you to do posts . It kinda follows along with doing bowls and vases with a scrollsaw rather than a wood lathe . Thanks for the video . I too almost didn't watch due to the title . Roger
charliedearing on 07/04/2009 03:57:47
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I look forward to doing that one. I think I'll try to add other cuts to make it a fretwork spiral....it's probably much cooler in my head.
Band Saw Box on 07/04/2009 19:21:18
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I'll be heading for Book A Million in the middle of this month, I forgot to renew. I have to see this issue and give compound cut a try. Thanks so much for posting that great video BobD.
will8989 on 07/04/2009 20:30:03
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Ok, I looked at the show again. At the beginning you said to drill hole in both ends, but the demo showed no hole in either end and the dowel was longer than the pattern. Was this just for demo purposes? Really great idea. Can't wait to make some. Betty
Bruce-P on 07/04/2009 22:47:40
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Betty, Good catch, you are right about the "demo" part. For the candlestick project, the dowel is shorter. Regarding the circle ends of the pattern; as mentioned in the video and also noted in the article, to mark the centers of the ends of the dowel for drilling, the pattern is not glued on, but just held in place and the center is marked with a nail. Next, both ends are drilled and shaped to hold the candle stick cup and base. At this point, the pattern (including the end circles) is attached to the dowel according to your adhesive preferences (w/ or w/out blue tape, etc.) and the fun begins... ------------- Bruce P.
bubbantenn on 07/05/2009 09:05:35
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Wow, this may be beyond my capabilities but I'd love to give it a try. What a great idea! I've got a few spiral blades but have never liked them. It looks like I'm going to need a change of mind. I'm sure this isn't for everybody, though, just like intarsia. I've never gotten the hang of that either. Bubba
mytoya on 07/06/2009 00:29:06
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Wow! I am Amazed!!!!!!!! Do you have to use a spiral blade or can you use a regular blade? Me and spiral blades don't get along.
sawdustus on 07/06/2009 07:14:43
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Bruce, what a great new technique. Bob, thanks for the video it couldn't be any clearer. I can't wait for the magazine to arrive and let me try it out on some dowel I have lying around. I have some #1 spirals I rarely use and this looks like a great way to gain control over them. george
lacaco on 07/08/2009 15:53:40
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Ok, first it shows him hollowing out top and bottom, but than in the next clip their is no hollow in the top, did I miss something or did he just use a different piece to demonstrate with?
BobD on 07/08/2009 15:59:45
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We used a different one to illustrated the cutting. It's our mistake. Bob
Bruce-P on 07/08/2009 19:03:53
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Iacaco, See my previous post in response to Betty's question. When drilling out the ends of the dowel, do not drill through the circle ends of the pattern (these will be apparent when you see the article). You will need the circles intact, with their alignment lines, in order to begin the spiral cuts in the proper orientation. ------------ Bruce P.
marshall on 07/08/2009 21:46:44
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Bobd the video was so useful and I thank Mr. Bruce Pratt for this Pattern , I'm not going to make one now but their is some possible plans for the future . I just wish I had the talent to come up with something so great as this , one great mind :food-smiley-011[1]:..............................Marshall
Bluebird on 07/09/2009 07:27:31
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Thanks a ton for this video Bob! Now I understand! I couldn't figure out how to do this when I saw the article. This is really cool!
Bruce-P on 07/13/2009 22:07:30
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Now that many/most/some of you folks have received Issue #36, and that this article (pp 46-49) was a first attempt at describing a new cutting technique, I would appreciate comments/suggestions/questions on the instructions in the article, and on the cutting of the spiral candlestick. Also, would people be interested in additional patterns incorporating spirals and similar elements? ----------------- Thanks, Bruce P. designs001@comcast.net
Scrolling Days on 07/17/2009 23:13:04
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I think this section and the accompanying online video is the highlight of this issue. I can't wait to give that a try.
Scrolling Days on 07/17/2009 23:14:37
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Also, would people be interested in additional patterns incorporating spirals and similar elements? ----------------- Thanks, Bruce P. designs001@comcast.net Yes! Thank You
Sally on 07/18/2009 19:02:17
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Yes, Yes, Yes!
will8989 on 07/18/2009 22:28:37
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The video is great! The pattern fantastic! My "elegant" cutting was less than elegant!!! Need more practice with the circular blade. Betty
Northstar on 07/18/2009 22:58:06
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I echo what Betty said. My first try needed a lot of sanding. Had some pretty rough saw marks. This was my first time using spiral blades. Going to practice though. I think these would make excellent Christmas gifts. I'm going to make some wind spinners and tree ornaments too. And Yes, I would like to see more patterns similar to this. Thank you Bruce, for a unique technique. El
Bruce-P on 07/19/2009 07:49:32
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A couple of pointers which might help: 1. Be sure your fence is well secured to the table, and the dowel is kept fimly against the fence during cutting (except at the beginning and end!). This technique depends on the blade moving up and down as a straight line: 2. Put as much tension into the blade as it will tolerate (and not break too quickly). 3. Cut slowly, let the blade to the work - if you deflect the blade by cutting too agressively, it will recoil when you pause, and take a bite out of the spiral. 4. If you can adjust the "agressiveness/tilt/forward angle" of the blade, make it as vertical as possible (see this thread for more details [url=http://www.scrollsawer.com/forum/beginners-scroll-saw/8937.htm][url]http://www.scrollsawer.com/forum/beginners-scroll-saw/8937.htm) . Note: I developed this technique on a saw with parallelogram arms, so I don't actually know how smooth a spiral is possible on C-arm or fixed foward blade angle saws. If the blade motion cannot be adjusted to true vertical, I would guess that the highest speed on the blade, coupled with very slow stock feed rate would minimize the problem. 5. For sanding, I have found that a small diameter drum sander on a drill press works well. If you play around with the angle of presentation of the spiral to the drum sander, you will find a positiion at which the spiral fits snuggly against the drum sander and you can be sanding both the walls and the floor of the spiral groove at the same time. (If you assume the drum sander defines the "12-6" axis on a clock face, with the spiral behind the drum sander, the best orientation for sanding is about "10-4" to "11-5" depending on the diameter of the drum sander.) -------------- Bruce P.
Doc249HMCS on 07/24/2009 12:24:43
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Great article and a great video! Thank you for sharing it. Don
Jim McDonald on 07/24/2009 14:38:33
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I tried cutting the small pattern (7/16") dowel and shattered two #1 spirals before I got more than 1" cut in the pattern. The blades were as tight as any other time I've used that blade and I was holding fast to the fence and rotating slowly, so I have no idea what I was doing wrong. I'd hate to think of using a bigger blade on such a little dowel. It seemd like that even a #1 was removing a fair amount of wood.
Bruce-P on 07/24/2009 15:01:06
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Jim, Hmmm - not sure what happened. Can you post a picture of the dowel? - that might help in solving the riddle. Also, what kind of saw to you use, and does it have an agressive forward bite or angle to the blade? Just for getting the hang of the technique, you can take a larger dowel, 1" or larger, and wrap some skinny blue tape in a smooth spiral around the dowel at an angle such that the tape does not overlap itself. If you set the fence to 1/2 the diameter to the dowel and use one edge of the tape as a cutting line, you can generate the same kind of spiral form as in the small pattern, only on a dowel of larger diameter. --------- Bruce
kldavis57 on 09/19/2009 11:09:43
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I'm fairly new to scrollsawing and I'm intrigued by the thought of cutting the spiral candlesticks and giving them away as Christmas presents this year. I do have some questions regarding the video and magazine pictures. The auxilliary fence clamped to the scroll saw table appears to be at an angle. How is that angle determined? Do you line it up according to the pattern on the workpiece then clamp it in place? Also, how critical is it to use the #3 spiral blades (which a lot of online vendors don't stock)? Would #2 or #4 spiral blades be acceptable substitutes? Thanks for your time and attention. K. L. D.
Bruce-P on 09/21/2009 21:35:04
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K.L.D., Re: Fence angle - As long as you have the saw table at 0 degrees, the fence can actually be set at any angle; the key dimension is the distance from the blade to the fence. I usually have the fence parallel to the front of the table, but you can experiment to see if some other angle works better for you. Re: Fence distance - take a look at figure 4 in the article. The fence-blade distance is set so when the dowel is placed firmly against the fence, the blade is lined up exactly on the vertical line in the circular end of the pattern. The fence can be held in place with C-clamps. Re: Spiral blade size - doesn't really matter; the smaller the kerf, the more accurate you need to cut to separate the spirals; use what ever tpi suits you best, it just has to be a spiral blade. Hope this helps. --------------- Bruce P.
ntvinh986 on 10/12/2009 06:17:13
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Here is the place to discuss Bruce Pratt's article, Cutting Elegant Spirals. Making a Simple Cutting Board - Scroll Saw Woodworking & Crafts That's pretty good. Have a blessed and great day guys!!!!
Steve Garrison on 03/11/2010 13:18:21
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Interesting. I have been making these for years in a similar way except I set the table at a bevel angle to make it even more interesting. I just added a new video on Youtube the other day showing my technique and got an email soon afterwards telling me about this article. When you make the cut with the table tilted the resulting shape can do some very strange things as follows: 1. It is possible for the blade to exit the dowel along the same path that it entered. 2. Multiple helix forms can be produced from a single pass through the blade. 3. A helix can be cut out of the interior of a fatter helix leaving it intact and hollowed out, and they will fit together by sliding in through the end. YouTube - How To Make Helix Forms With A Scroll Saw
Sally on 03/12/2010 08:43:43
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Oh my goodness - wouldn't those be fun to cut. Someday. . . . . . Thanks for posting here Steve!
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Bruce Pratt
Bruce Pratt lives in the Boston, Mass., area and works for a local biotechnology company. He is an avid collector and designer of Gothic window tracery. He can be reached at designs001@comcast.net. more