Tools and Glue

Page: 2

Scroll Saws: We have four at the moment! Pam and I like our DeWalt the best. It is heavy, vibration free, the blades are easy to change and the controls are convenient. It is also twice as expensive as all the others except Hegner. Hegner is the high end about three times the cost of the DeWalt and six times the cost of the others. I like the Delta two speed for everything except it is fairly heavy to carry to classes and the controls are inconvenient. It is durable and the least expensive. We got a Sears Craftsman for doing classes because it is a little more portable, lighter, than the others. Pam likes it fine for a lower end saw. Although we have not used it The Dremel is a little pricey and we have never been happy of the quality of their other machines. Make sure it takes plain end blades, that the blades are reasonably easy to change, the controls are convenient and that there isn't too much vibration when it is running at high speed. Someone will post saying no scroll saws are good for miniatures and that they use a jewelers saw for everything. Scroll saws are very useful for many things. It depends on what kind of work, the blade, the auxiliary table, speed and the blade tracking and vibration of the machine.

BTW we have one two speed Delta and one large variable speed Delta we never use anymore. I believe the variable speed Delta we have available is the model that Bonnie Gibson mentioned. Contact me privately. We don't have scroll saws in our machinery line, just table saws, thickness sanders, lathes and milling machines.


Scroll Saws: For miniatures, the best thing that you can do is find a reasonably smooth and flat piece of plywood. Drill a small hole to put the blade through, and double-face-tape it to the table of your scroll saw. You can also use acrylic sheet - nice and slippery. The insert holes are almost always too big to support miniature work, and your parts will fall through the hole without some sort of auxiliary table. If you are considering a new purchase, I look for several things. I want the on-off switch in the front. I saw a couple of models where you had to reach across to the back of the saw to turn it off. Not a good design, for any machine, for obvious safety reasons. Secondly, I want a machine that will accept plain end blades. There is not enough choice in pin end blades in the finer sizes, and they are harder to find. Third, I want the blade changing mechanism to be relatively easy. You can try this out in the store, even if they won't let you turn it on. Blades. Plain-end type blades come in more small sizes and in greater variety. They are readily available through mail order sources. You can get a pretty decent starter assortment at Sears - this is worthwhile if you are just starting out and don't know exactly what you will be needing. For woodworking, the general rule of thumb is to keep 3 teeth in the wood. This is enough to cut efficiently and to allow the sawdust to be cleared out of the cut. I like to have an assortment ranging from 2/0 to about 7, depending on the thickness of the wood and how tight my turns need to be. Blade breakage. It happens. There is a reason that they are regularly sold by the dozens. Jewelers blades - for metal cutting - are often sold by the gross!

And, they can get dull. Don't beat yourself up - just change the blade. Check your tension while you're at it. I always do some sort of a warm-up piece, before I go on to the main event. A nice practice piece is to use some 1/8 inch plywood and trace around your cookie cutters. Later you, or the grandchildren, can paint them and make some nice holiday ornaments. Above all, have fun.


Scroll Saws: Great post telling about the different types of scroll saws, Pam and Pete... I have to ditto all you say on what to look for in a scroll saw. Having different speeds (more than just two is helpful) can make all the difference if you cut anything other than wood. I have used mine to cut complicated shapes from metal, plastic and other stranger things such as antler. (BTW, I do have the large, heavy, variable speed model by Rockwell/Delta - it was horrendously expensive at the time but the best that was available that I could find at the time! This saw is a workhorse and it works as well today as it did the day I got it.) I used to make thousands and thousands of Country Charm Cutouts doing business under the name of Minicrafts- I would stack wood 6-8 layers thick and cut out hundreds of little chickens, sheep, cats, you name it, in a few hours (Some of you may even own some of my minis if you were active in the 80's.... if you have any little flat animals or pull toys, look at the bottom and see if my name is there...!) It is amazing how much easier a job is when you have a good tool to work with.

Bonnie Gibson - Tucson, Arizona

Scroll Saws: That was a very good article about scroll saws. I must however rise up in defense of the Dremel scroll saw which got short shrift in the article. This is not intended to diminish the original article because I thought it was quite good. I just want to fill in the missing data about the excellent Dremel entry into the field. I have a model 1680 Dremel saw which gets hard use and has most of the desirable features cited in the article. In the first place, I do not consider it pricey. Its suggested list price is $220 and can be purchased at less that $200 in stores such as Lowes. Admittedly, it has a bit of vibration, as do any of the saws with a long upper arm. At 40 lbs., it is heavy enough to avoid waltzing around the table and a lot of the vibration can be eliminated with a good carpet pad underneath as well as bolting it down on a substantial table. The latter is not essential. I use my saw in craft demos and must carry it about from one place to another and use it on any table supplied by the sponsoring organization, some of which would make better springboards than tables. Its good features include the up front, up top controls. A good light is included for visibility. The speed is infinitely controlled from 500 spm to 1500 spm. It has a blower that really blows well and removes sawdust from the kurf. The quick blade tension release is at the back of the upper arm and helps retain your desired tension after a blade change. The saw accepts pinned and pinless blades without an adapter and the blade clamps are big wing bolts requiring no tools for a change. Excellent access to the lower blade clamp helps make the change easy and can be further improved by tilting the table. The table tilts 45 deg. each direction and positive detents are at each of the most common settings. It has a 3/4 inch stroke and can take up to 2 inch material at 90 deg, 1 inch material at 45 deg. It accepts all standard scroll saw blades and some special blades are available from Dremel. Dremel calls this the saw the user designed and I believe it. As you might have surmised, I like the saw. Since I do miniatures, I also use a auxiliary table to prevent the little pieces from falling through the slot provided to allow table tilt. I just use a small sheet of door skin for the aux. table. Door skin is a nice 1/8" thick plywood available cheaply at most lumber yards in 3' X 7' sheets and great for many miniature projects. I simply place a sized piece of wood on the table and cut into the center. I usually use a few pieces of masking tape to hold the aux. table in place. The slot made by the saw does not hurt the utility of the aux. table and it can be easily removed if I want to tilt the table. I keep a chunk of paraffin to lubricate the blades when I am cutting metal. When cutting plastic, I use the slowest speed and leave the protective paper on while I cut. If the plastic has no protective paper, I add masking tape top and bottom to provide a bit of lubrication to reduce heat and the associated healing of the plastic behind the blade. Also, when I want to cut a number of identical pieces, I stack up layers of wood and use double sticky carpet tape to hold them together. After the cut, it is simple to separate the items with a thin blade knife. I hope this fills out the Dremel story for the original article.


Breaking Jeweler's Saw Blades: I do my cutting on a V-block which I clamp to my workbench (or kitchen counter-top, my preferred workspace for doing fretwork). The V-block is a piece of 3/8 or inch plywood, with a V cut into it. It doesn't have to be very big - mine is only about five inches square; the V is perhaps an inch to one and a half inches deep into the board by about 1/2 inch wide at the widest part. I make sure that my cutting is as close as possible to the point of the V. This gives the wood I am cutting maximum support and reduces the wood's vibration - the greatest cause of snapping a blade. When the wood vibrates, it can bind on the blade. As you pull the saw to deal with the binding, invariably you'll hear "Ping!" and know you've broken another blade! I always try to let the saw do the cutting, and don't push on the blade. I try to make sure I saw as close to straight up and down as possible, too, turning the wood as I cut rather than trying to turn the blade.

George Held

PVA Glue: PVA glue is poly vinyl acetate glue. In the US, we know it as white glue like Tacky Glue.

Tere Perry in Texas

PAINT SHAKER: I just invented a paint shaker for small paint jars! I saw one in Micro Mark for $100!!! Testors paint is notorious for settling. . I love that paint, but needed a way to mix it My husband has recurring muscle spasms and has one of those vibrator massagers lying by his chair. The one that you strap to your hand while using your fingers as the actual massage points. .(does the job on your hand too). I strapped the small jar of paint to the vibrator and watched in amazement as it blended and flowed beautifully. So..... find a cheap vibrator (Tell em it's for mixing paint and watch their faces) . Use heavy rubber bands to attach your paint jar if you have to... check the top.... That would be a mess!!! and in less than a minute, your paint is nicely mixed and ready to go. Outstanding!!

Judie - Daytona Beach, FL

Tiny Dishes (Painting): a trick I use to paint many tiny items is to keep a large block of floral foam handy (large is better so it won't tip over), with many toothpicks, needles, etc. sticking out of it. For something like a little plate, I would attach it to the top of a toothpick with whatever is handiest - a tiny wad of Fimo/Sculpey, a bit of white glue, or (best) some of that wax-like adhesive you can buy for attaching minis in place non-permanently. Then stick the toothpick in the foam, and voila! Hands-free painting. (When it's done & dry you may need to use a sharp knife to scrape the glue from the bottom if you used glue). For tiny soft wood items, I just stick a needle in the bottom & stick it in the foam.


Painting Small Objects: MicroMark has a product called Pic-N-Stic. Here is their description: 'This is the best tool we've seen for holding small model parts while painting or positioning. Originally made for the dental trade, Pick-n-Stick is a 2-1/2 inches long plastic stick with a waxy adhesive on one end. To use, just press the adhesive end against the part you need to hold. To remove, just twist. Adhesive grips tightly, but won't transfer to the part. Holds plastic model parts, cast metal ship fittings, miniature hardware and hundreds of other items'.Here is the URL for the part in MicroMark's online catalog:

Jonathan from Israel

Painting Small Items: When painting a number of small things, I put a strip of double sticky carpet tape on the bottom of and old box. The items will adhere to the tape and I can paint or spray at will.


Painting Small Items: To who ever wanted to hold down dishes to paint them -- use rubber cement. Put a little dab on the back of the dish and put it on card stock/index card. It will take a few minutes to set up. Go drink a cup of tea. Come back and they are set and ready to work on. Just peel them off when you are done painting.

Lisa Engler

Formica samples: I used one in a tiny check pattern for a 1/4 scale kitchen counter for a cigar box (padded pencil box) our club members each made a few years back. The piece was difficult to cut. I used a fine tooth hack saw, and it really chipped a lot of the design off. I also tried scoring and breaking pieces off over the sharp edge of a table. That worked too, but I cant remember if I scored the Formica or the back, and if I put it face down or up when I broke it off. BIG help I am. LOL I remember thinking what a lot of work it was just to get such a tiny piece.

MAP in Puyallup

Gel Pens: Store your gel pens lying down. If they don't work right from the beginning, examine them closely! I had a problem with some new ones and the had been packaged with a tiny, almost invisible plastic cap on the tips!

Alice Zinn

Gluing Felt: If you are working with felt you can glue it with rubber cement or what I did when working with felt, not in miniatures, is to soak and saturate the felt with latex (neoprene-synthetic) and squeeze out the excess and then shape the felt and let it dry. When it is dry it can be handled like wood. Sanded, painted etc.

DrBob...Delray Beach, FL

Architect's scale rule -- Another tool my architect dh uses is a very nifty calculator that not only does arithmetic calculations on feet and inches, but converts back and forth to metric. He worked up a chart for me that I keep posted on the wall. It has been SO HANDY, that I've been meaning to copy it out for you all. I guess this is the time :o).

1/12 Scale -- Full Size

1/64" -- 3/16"
1/32" -- 3/8"
1/16" -- 3/4"
3/32" -- 1-1/8"
1/8" -- 1-1/2"
3/16" -- 2-1/4"
1/4" -- 3"
5/16" -- 3-3/4"
3/8" -- 4-1/2"
7/16" -- 5-1/4"
1/2" -- 6"
9/16" -- 6-3/4"
5/8" -- 7-1/2"
11/16" -- 8-1/4"
3/4" -- 9"
13/16" -- 9-3/4"
7/8" -- 10-1/2"
15/16" -- 11-1/4"


Cutting thin glass- what would you recommend? Toyo brand that stained glass people use. This is a fairly expensive ($25) cutter, with a built in oil reservoir.

Tom & Kari

Bending tubing:   for bending metal tubing Micro-Mark sells a little set of benders, the one reasonably priced item in their catalog, as far as I'm concerned. You get five densely-coiled steel springs from a sixteenth to three sixteenths outside diameter. You slip the tubing into the appropriate one and bend. The springs keep the kinks out. I've only used them with brass and I anneal it first.

A method that doesn't require benders is packing the tubing with sand before bending to keep the kinks out and using a jig to bend tubing around.

Mary Kelly

Bending Tubing: You did not say if your bent tube had to be or stay hollow. Here are a couple of hints.

14 gauge solid copper wire is about 1/16 inch in diameter. Smaller number gauges are larger diameter. You can buy "Romex" by the foot at builders supply shops such as Home Depot, Lowes, etc. Suppose you wanted to make an old faciendo pipe frame headboard. For such in half scale, I would use 14 gauge (Scale 1.5" diameter) Strip off the insulation with a sharp exacto. Clamp one end of the bare wire into a small bench vise or have a friend hold it firmly with a pair of Vise Grip pliers. Fasten the other end into the chuck of an electric drill. Pull moderately tight and spin the electric drill. The wire will magically become perfectly straight as it twists. Cut pieces to size and bend over radiused corners in a block of wood.

A technique with hollow stock would be to use KS hobby brass tubing. Anneal the brass by heating it to cherry red in a gas flame and then allow to cool slowly on a pot holder. For very easy curves, you maybe able to slowly bend freehand or over a form after it is cooled.   For tighter turns, kinks can be controlled by stuffing the annealed brass with fine salt. Cap the ends with solder and then form your corners. After bending, unsolder the capped ends, dump out most of the salt and dissolve any that may be "packed in" by soaking in a pan of water. Rinse away any residual salt, polish, cut, and enjoy.


Miniature woodworking tools: I have been interested in miniature woodworking for some time, and have been using a scroll saw, delta 1" belt sander, full-size table saw and chop saw, along with the Dremel drill press and shaper table. My Christmas present from my DH was a Preac table saw and thickness sander. What a wonderful addition to my workshop.

The thickness sander enables me to create all my mini-lumber at the exact thickness I need. No more waiting for an order of "close to but not exact" thickness lumber to build scale furniture and cabinets. I can create any thickness I need from what I have in the shop. Now I can use any of the hardwoods, such as cherry or walnut, and get away from using basswood (with its greater range of available thicknesses). If I need 1/32 inch cherry, I just put a 1/8 inch piece in the sander and make my own. The sander is easy to work and not intimidating ( I still grit my teeth in fear and intimidation when I use my full size table saw).

The new Preac table saw is wonderful for straight cuts for moulding or furniture pieces. I can make dados for shelves and sand the shelf lumber down to the exact

thickness to fit in the dado.   I have been busy making store counters, shelving units, and plant tables for my street of shops. Even my husband is impressed with the results.

I bought my tools from Pam and Pete Boorum at .

Preac also has a website, where you can get more information.

It just proves the old adage " get the right tool for the job". If anyone would like to see pictures, or have questions, please email me.

Sharon Blake, Wasilla, Alaska

GLUE WARNING     I thought that with masking tape tightly holding the wood pieces together after we put glue in the grooves and closed all the walls together, that the stretched masking tape would keep the glue from running out.   What a shock when I took off the tape and found ugly glue had run out under the tape.   I also used a few strips of blue tape around the outside and left them on overnight.   RIK WAS RIGHT.   It pulled some paint off.   This evening I get to buzzzzz off the glue spots with my trusty Dremel and then do some painting.  

Bar Turner

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