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How To Cut Lap Joints - Lap joints are awesome, and in this guide we show you how to cut yours with your table saw.

How To Cut Lap Joints

Woodworking is a really great hobby and an even better professional. Wood looks nice in the home, it is fun to work with, and the possibilities are endless regarding what you can create.

That being said, there are many different things that you need to know before you start trying to build anything out of wood. One of those things that you need to know about before you start is wood joints, which is how pieces of wood are joined together. Today we are going to teach you everything there is to know about lap joints.

What Is A Half Lap Joint?

A lap joint is a way of quickly joining two pieces of wood together. It is characterized by halving the thickness of both pieces of wood at the joint and then fitting those cut halves together, hence why they are sometimes referred to as half lap joints.

These can then be attached to each other with glue or screws if necessary. Ideally, the joints should be long grain on long grain for the best quality and highest strength. This kind of joint is most often used in cabinetry and when making frames.

There are several different kinds of lap joints including the end lap joint, a corner lap, and a cross lap, a mitered half lap, and dovetail crossed lap, among a few others, some of which are more prevalent than others. Keep in mind, some of these, such as the mitered and dovetail lap are going to be a little stronger, but they are also harder to make. For the purposes of this article we will be focusing on some of the more basic half lap joints.


What You Will Need To Make A Lap Joint

This is a pretty basic tutorial so you are not going to need a whole lot of material here. There are only a few things required to make a basic lap joint.

  • Table saw
  • Dado blade set
  • 2 pieces of wood (preferable a 1 or 2 x 4)
  • Wood glue

Step By Step – How To Make An End Half Lap Joint

The first kind of half lap joint we are going to help you make is the classic half lap joint, also known as the end half lap joint. This is very easy to and can be done in a few short steps.

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  1. Choosing The Wood – Choose the pieces of wood that you want to use. Ideally, they should be of the same width and height.
  1. Measuring The Depth – On each piece of wood, measure, and mark half way down the depth. This will be the depth of your half lap joint.
  1. Measure The Tongue – On each piece of wood, measure how far you want the length of the half lap to extend into each piece of wood. Remember that this needs to be the same on both pieces.
  1. Adjusting The Dado – On your table saw, expand the dado blade set to be as wide as possible, which is generally around 13/16 of an inch (or install a wide set). This will make it much faster and easier when cutting away the wood to form the half lap.
  1. Height Of The Dado – Raise the dado blade set to the appropriate height. For instance, if you are cutting a half lap joint into a piece of wood 2 inches in height, your dado blade set needs to be raised up 1 inch off of the table.
  1. The Fence – Adjust the fence so that the end of the piece of wood is firmly against it, while the outside edge of the dado blade set does not extend past the length of the half lap joint you are cutting. This will prevent you from cutting too far into the wood along its length.
  1. A Test Run – You should test it out first with 2 scrap pieces of wood which are the same size as the wood you will be using for the finished product. When you have cut the scrap pieces, make sure they fit together so that the faces are flush with one another.

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  1. Making The Cut – Now you can use your table saw, with all settings in place, and the wood already measured and marked, in order to cut the half lap.

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  1. Attaching – You can now use some wood glue along with clamps in order to attach them to each other. If you want you can also follow that up with some screws or pegs for added joint integrity.


Step By Step – How To Make A Corner Half Lap Joint

The steps for making a corner lap joint are going to be about the same as for the end lap joint, with some minor adjustments. Follow these simple steps to get the job done in no time at all.


  1. Adjusting The Fence & Dado – Do the same thing with the fence and dado set as in the above example on how to make an end half lap joint. Simply set the fence so that the outside edge of the dado blade set does not protrude past the length of the joint you are looking to make. Also set the blades to the appropriate height, which is going to be half of the height of the pieces of wood in question. You are cutting half way into the wood, so a 3 inch piece will require a cutting depth of 1.5 inches.
  1. Make The Measurements – The important thing to keep in mind here is that it is a corner joint, not an end joint. With an end half lap joint you can technically cut as far into the lengths of the pieces as you want, which is not the case with the corner half lap. The length of the cut in each piece can only be as long as the width of the other piece of wood. For example, if you are using pieces of wood that are 4 inches wide, you need to make the length of the joint in each piece 4 inches. Any longer or shorter and your corner joint is not going to be much of a corner at all.

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  1. Cut, Clamp, & Glue – Make the cut, just as described in the steps for the end lap joint (you can once again use scrap pieces of the same dimensions as your project pieces to make sure that everything will go according to plan). Use clamps and glue to attach them and then follow up with pegs or screws if you require the extra integrity.

Half Lap Joints – Conclusion

When it comes to making half lap joints, they are probably the easiest of all to make. As long as you measure the depth and length of each tongue appropriately, you aren’t going to have any real problems. Also, unless it is an end half lap joint, such as a cross or corner joint, the length of the cut you make (the tongue) cannot be longer than the width of the corresponding piece. As long as you keep that in mind you should be just fine.







CNC Machine Design Concepts - Knowing the basics will mean you get the best out of your CNC machine

CNC Machine Design Concepts

Knowing the basics of CNC machine design is essential to getting the most out of the capabilities. Learning how to operate the machine is one aspect, but if something goes wrong or you want to change a setting, you’ll need to be familiar with the working process and components.

Precision Motion Control

There are many kinds of CNC machines, but at their center is automated and precise motion control. Every CNC machine has two or more axes, which determine their direction and motion, and you can set the axes to automatically and accurately move in those direction (or travel). The most common axes are rotary (driving by a circular path) and linear (straight path).

Conventional machines are controlled by manually moving handwheels and cranks. CNC machine motions however, are operated by servo motors which are run by the CNC and a computer program. A CNC also lets you program the motion / feed rate, the axis movement and motion types, i.e. circular, linear and rapid.

Programs are used to execute CNC commands, informing the drive motor to turn a particular way and in a number of times. As the drive motor rotates, it moves the ball screw which in turn moves the linear axis. At the end of the ball screw is a feedback device which tells the control that the command has been executed.

The Components

You don’t need to memorize all the parts of a CNC machine to use it, but just as a car driver needs to know some parts to optimize performance, the same is true for running a CNC machine.

Your machine comes with an operator’s handbook, and that is your first step to understanding the most important components in your machine. If your system has a slant bed turning center, the most vital parts are the workholding device, tailstock, turret design, spindle, headstock, way system and bed.

Other information about the CNC machine design you need to learn are the following (specifications vary per machine, refer to the manual):

  • Maximum cutting feed rate​
  • Maximum traverse / rapid rate
  • The construction, i.e. the linear or dovetail, square, etc.
  • The number of tools the machine can handle
  • Maximum travel distance per axis
  • Axis drive motor and spindle power
  • You also have to learn the speed range of the spindle and the range’s cut off points

Axis Movements and Starting Points

You also have to learn how programmable the axes are. Usually linear axes are referred to by letters like X, Y, Z, V, U and W. Rotary axes are called A, B and C. Before you can use the device you have to be familiar with your system’s axis designations and motions.

If you want the axes to move, you have to specify the destination as well as the letter that correlates to that particular axis. A command of X 4.5 tells the machine to set the X axis 4.5 inches off the zero point.

Rotary axes also need a letter address along with a motion end point, which is set in degrees rather than millimeters or inches. A command of A30 means the A axis will be rotated at a 30 degree end point from the zero point.

Majority of CNC machines use one position on each axis as the reference or starting point. Your manual may refer to this as the grid zero position or the zero return position. No matter what the name is, the starting position is essential for a lot of CNC controls. In fact, CNC machines that use a starting point for the axis necessitate sending the machine to this point when powering up.

Command Notes

There are many types of commands in CNC machines, and they are comprised of a numerical value and letter. While there may be variations with newer models, the letter usually informs the control the word type. However you have to refer to your manual because brands change the addresses, names and their meanings.

The following are the most common letter address and word types used today.

  • M – Miscellaneous
  • T – Tools
  • D – Offset tool radius
  • H – Offset tool length
  • S – Spindle speed
  • F – Feed rate
  • R – radius
  • Z – Z axis
  • X – X axis
  • Y – Y axis
  • G – Preparatory function
  • N – Sequencing
  • O – Program number

The Control Panel

CNC machines have different control panels, but these are the most important in terms of function:

  • Power Buttons: CNC machines have two power buttons, one for starting up the system and the other to activate the tools.
  • Cursor Control Keys: a CNC control panel displays a prompt cursor to let you know an entry position’s location. It is usually an underlined or blinking character. By using control keys you’ll be able to set the cursor anywhere you want on the display screen.
  • Position Button: provides information about the position display.
  • Display Screen: this consists of control keys which let you choose what views are displayed.
  • Letter Keys: makes alphabetical entry possible. Some CNC systems have full keys (A to Z), while others are limited to the alpha keys used for programing. Number keys on the other hand, are used for numerical input.
  • Program Button: this button selector allows you to track which program is running in memory. You use these keys when checking automated programs or editing them.
  • Offset: this button is used to change the tool offsets. You also use this button to locate and make changes to memory offsets.
  • Input Key: You use the input key to enter data. You press this key when adjusting parameters and changing offsets.
  • Edit Keys: these keys are used for editing programs in memory, modification, verification and entry.
  • Reset Button: used to restore a program to its starting point. It can also be used to cancel the program or look ahead buffer cleanup.


CNC machines are powerful and when handled properly, increases productivity and reduces cost. For hobbyists and DIY enthusiasts, you get the opportunity to create everything from furniture to sculptures. Armed with a full understanding of how these machines work and their design, you’ll maximize their potential.

How to do Maintenance of CNC Machine - want your cnc machine to last? then you need to know how to maintain it correctly.

How to do Maintenance of CNC Machine

Knowing how to do maintenance of CNC machine is necessary if you want the equipment to last. Regular maintenance also ensures optimum performance under varying conditions. Whether you use it regularly on only occasionally, you’ve got to keep your CNC in good condition, otherwise it could negatively affect performance.

Daily Care and Maintenance of CNC Machines

A CNC machine is complex, and if one component isn’t working could affect the final output. Here are some of the parts you should check daily after each activity.

  • Look over the hydraulic pressure and make certain the pressure is set at 4.5 MPa. The hydraulic fluids also have to be at the appropriate level before operation.
  • The chuck needs to be at the appropriate pressure level. If it’s below what’s required for operation, problems could occur. While you’re looking over the chuck, make certain the lube level is correct and add more if necessary.
  • Heavy duty CNC machines need a coolant to prevent overheating, but it needs to be at the appropriate level to be effective. The right level is stated in the operator’s handbook or with the coolant’s guide.

Your CNC machine needs regular cleaning. At least once a week is the minimum, preferably daily if you use it heavily. Remove all the chips in the chip pan. If the machine isn’t running as smoothly as before, some components may require greasing. If you’re having trouble seeing the machine’s interior, clean the door and windows thoroughly.

For the best results you should wipe clean the stainless steel and apply hydraulic oil in the appropriate parts. Every week or so, remove the CNC control cabinet filter and clean it. By keeping the filter clean, air flows in more smoothly, helping cool the machine.

More Intensive Cleaning and Maintenance

Every three months / 500 hours, an operator should perform a more thorough maintenance. Here are some suggestions.

  • Examine the chip conveyor chain and grease it. This is necessary to ensure the machine runs smoothly.
  • Examine the coolant tank filters and clean them thoroughly.

You can do the following every six months or so. However if you use the CNC machine extensively, it won’t hurt to have a professional engineer examine it every 4 or 5 months. The following should be looked into:

  • Have the tank examined and the oil, chips and sludge removed. These accumulate over time and affect performance, so regular cleanup is necessary.
  • Drain the hydraulic tank and replace the fluid with fresh, new oil. Replace the suction filter and line filter as well.
  • A heavily used CNC machine needs to have the radiator cleaned. The fins have to be straight up.
  • Drain the lubrication unit, clean it and add new lube. If the CNC machine is equipped with a cooling mechanism, have it refilled and drained.

One of the keys to running a CNC machine is proper leveling. Have it check periodically and make the proper adjustments. You or an engineer should have the wipers checked for damage and replaced immediately.

Yearly Maintenance Duties

Every year you should have the following areas in the CNC machine examined:

  • Look for signs of taper in the headstock and tailstock.
  • Examine the turret inclination and parallelism for any problems.
  • Look for signs of run out on the chuck cylinder.
  • Examine the spindle and look for signs of radial play.

If the axis seems off, ask your CNC machine distributor to prepare a backlash program and make adjustments to the X and Z axis.

These steps are preventive in nature, and these should keep your CNC machine in good condition. Running a maintenance program is not difficult, and you will never be caught flat footed in case something falters in the machine.

Maintenance Tools

  • Ohm Meter: buy a quality meter, and it only costs a few hundred dollars. With this you’ll get precise readings, essential for maintenance.
  • You should also get a megohm meter that tests cables, motors and servo motors. With this you’ll be able to check if those cables or plugs are not working properly.

A megohm meter measures megohm resistance over 1,000,000,000 ohms or 1000 megaohms. There are many types of megaohms, with the most common having a range of 1 meg to 30 megaohms.

  • Phase Rotation Meter: this device is ideal for companies which add or move CNC equipment in the facility. A phase rotation meter makes certain phasing is done right. As a CNC operator will tell you, cooler pumps, hydraulic pumps and coolant pumps could get damaged if phasing is not done right.
  • Fused Jumper: a fused jumper is used for testing output and input from CNC machines and other devices. This is a critical tool for CNC maintenance.
  • Proximity Switch Tester: this tool evaluates proximity switches, and it also tells you if a proxy switch is PNP or NPN. You can use this to test the system and to check stock compatibility. You will also find this tool useful for wiring if the prints aren’t available.
  • Drawbar clamp force dynamometer: this tool is not cheap, but it’s one you’ll want to have for troubleshooting.

Tips and Suggestions

  • Set a Schedule: your CNC machine comes with an operator’s handbook with instructions for maintenance. Follow the maintenance schedule given there.
  • If you’re overseeing several CNC machines, designate the maintenance to someone. It is not necessarily the person’s job to do the maintenance work, but it is his/her responsibility to make sure it takes place as scheduled.
  • Train yourself in DIY maintenance if you’re the only one who’ll do it. Read the guide, follow the instructions and buy good quality maintenance tools.
  • Don’t use a CNC machine for projects it is not intended for, as that increases the possibility of damage.


The information presented here is meant as a general guideline for maintaining a CNC machine. Of course there are many types of CNC machines so the precise method will vary. Your operator’s handbook should have all the details for maintenance and troubleshooting, and you should use that for reference.

What is a scroll saw - the one stop shop for all the answers

What is a scroll saw?

An extremely small and compact gadget, a scroll saw is basically a tool to cut intricate curves and patterns into a variety of materials, such as wood, metal, plastic, shell, bone etc. It can be both manual or pedal-operated, or electric/battery operated. It works with a blade, the size, type and quality of which will determine the use of the scroll saw.

The delicacy of its cutting ability comes from the fineness of the scroll saw’s blade, which makes it a perfect alternative to a power jigsaw or a hand coping saw, both of which stand at a marked disadvantage as compared to a scroll saw. While using a hand coping saw can be somewhat complex, and causes stress on the hands, a power jigsaw lacks the finesse of the scroll saw.

The origin

In use for the past several centuries, a scroll saw gets its name from making scroll-head designs as in sculptural ornaments and from making traditional scrollwork. In its earliest documented form, it can be traced to the 1500s, when a German craftsman made a tool to develop fine narrow saw blades. This was followed by the invention of a frame, by a French workman, to hold these blades together for cutting intricate patterns. What the Frenchman developed was a Buhl saw—a frame that’s quite like the fret and coping saws used today.

Even the use of thin blades in a reciprocating machine, as is done in the modern scroll saw, dates to before 1800s. In fact, the first recorded patent for such a machine was reported in 1892, when a Mr. M’Duff received it for his machine, which was found to cut out Buhl-work with “more facility and accuracy.”

How it works

A pivoting table is what makes a scroll saw deliver all those beautifully intricate lines, patterns and designs, which can easily become your neighbor’s envy. The pivoting table helps create curves along the edges, giving any material an amazing depth and beauty.

The reciprocating blade used by a scroll saw makes it possible to remove the blade and place it through a pre-drilled hole, which means you can actually use a scroll saw to make interior cutouts without going through an early slot.

Amazing variety

Yes, surprisingly for such a small little tool, the variety a scroll saw comes in is quite amazing. The basic classification of scroll saws relates to the throat size—the distance between the blade and the rear frame. Eventually, it’s the throat size that determines the size of the wood or other material you can cut with the scroll saw.

From commercial use to hobby

An interesting facet about a scroll saw is that it is as widely used for commercial cutting of intricate patterns as a hobby tool. Since it’s small and compact, affordable, and takes very little space, besides not requiring too many accessories, a scroll saw can actually be put to excellent use by someone who simply enjoys wood cutting as a hobby. The inherent accuracy of a scroll saw as a cutting tool makes it perfect for a beginner.

Types of scroll saws

Apart from the blade type, the main attribute that defines the type of a scroll saw is its arm. The parallel arm design, which has two arms that are consistently parallel to one another with a motor attached to their back, is a common variety. Then there’s the C-arm type, in which the arm is shaped as “C” and the blade is fixed between the two ends of the “C.”

Another common type is the parallel link scroll saw, which is fitted with rods in the upper and lower arms, pushed by a motor. Though there was another earlier type—the rigid arm scroll saw, which was made of single-piece cast iron frame—that’s now become defunct.

The scroll saw type also depends on the blade, which may be skip tooth, double skip tooth, crown/two-way, spiral blades, metal cutting blades, diamond blades etc. The weight of the blade also makes a difference to the type of the scroll saw and its function.

You may also come across a reverse tooth blade, in which the bottom ¾” of the teeth is reversed, preventing reduction in splintering on the bottom edges of the cut. The modern version of it is the ultra-reverse, in which the blades are configured in such a way that 4-5 teeth are down, followed by one up, with the same pattern repeated through the length of the blade.


Safety is yet another attractive feature of a scroll saw, which makes this tool one of the safest for its purpose, despite the thin blade that usually comes with it. So the chances of a scroll saw leading to inadvertent injuries are quite small. That probably is an additional reason for the growing popularity of a scroll saw as an artisan’s tool. It also explains why the latest scroll saws come equipped with a host of new features, such as variable speed control to cut through different types of materials. Some of the better models even have a dust clearance pipe to help blow the dust away from the cut point.

The website http://www.am-wood.com/tools/scrollsaw.html offers good insight into the modern features of the new scroll saws on the market. So check it out and see what suits your needs, after taking your budget into account, of course.

How to Drip Feed a CNC Machine - sometimes it makes sense to drip feed a cnc machine it's instructions, we'll show you how this is possible

How to Drip Feed a CNC Machine

Learning how to drip feed a CNC machine is necessary if you want the system to work the way you want it. Even though CNC machines have different specifications, the drop feeding process is generally the same. In this article we’ll take a detailed look at drip feeding and what it’s about.

What is Drip Feeding?

Drip feeding is a technique of uploading a program into a CNC machine with as few commands as possible. The method includes a handshake process so the sender is aware when to halt sending and when to transmit additional data. Drip feeding is most effective when you’re trying to run a program on a CNC machine with limited memory.

How to Drip Feed

You have to put the CNC machine in DNC mode. DNC (direct numerical control) is a command used to transmit programs in a CNC machine. The DNC is used to send programs in the system, and it can also be used to drip feed a program if machine memory is insufficient. DNC may also refer to modern CNC machines with a hard disk or USB port.

Once you have set the CNC machine in DNC mode, you can send it instructions. A CNC machine has a FIFO (first in first out) buffer that stores some CNC codes, and the buffer uses a handshake signal to inform the sender to stop. Due to delays in communication between the CNC and the sender, the buffer capacity is not filled up.

The DNC System

The DNC system manufactures a CNC communications network, providing you with the means to manage CNC machines and programs. These systems provide a vast array of CNC communications protocols which are used for uploading, downloading and drip feeding NC code.

These DNC protocols are also capable of obtaining DPRINT data off the CNC, allowing you to integrate machine tool monitoring in the CNC machine. A typical DNC system is comprised of Ethernet connected serial hubs or a 32 bit serial card, depending on the model. Control devices are usually the most effective for DNC systems, and some machines also work with wireless CNC machines for greater flexibility.

Features of a Quality DNC System

A quality DNC system is necessary for efficient drip feeding. Drip feeding can take hours if the program is large, and if the last stage a problem occurs, it could lead to system errors or force you to start over again.

Features of a good DNC system include:

  • Effortless sending, receiving and drip feeding of the NC code. This should be easy to do regardless of the machine you send it to.
  • The DNC system should also make it easy to drip feed, receive and send G code programs off the controls without the need to use your computer.
  • A well-designed CNC program also allows for superior revision control because you’re able to retrieve programs from a central spot.
  • A high quality DNC program also lets you save programs without the need for the user to intervene. This is also a useful feature to prevent accidental overwriting.

A DNC system allows the operator to control the CNC machine from any personal computer on your network. More importantly, it eliminates the need to buy extra memory for your system, increasing production and reducing the number of processes.

How to Optimize CNC Drip Feeding

The secret to getting the most out of drip feeding is to purchase the right DNC software. With the right program you’ll be able to coordinate the DNC systems as well as manage the CNC parameters, programs, offsets and settings.

For optimum results, look for software that has extensive CNC communications support. The needs of users vary, but at the very least there should be support for wireless Ethernet, RS-422 Ethernet, RS-232 and parallel.

Aside from networking your CNC machine and better drip feeding, you also get support for multiple CNC machines, part markers, PLCs and other components. If you’ve got a shop, a well-designed DNC system allows you to simultaneously drip feed, upload, download, send and receive DNC programs.

One of the problems with running multiple CNC machines is they become difficult to organize and keep track of. With the right DNC software you will have the chance to group them accordingly. Depending on the program, there could even be unlimited CNC support, perfect if you have plans for expansion.

Why Drip Feeding DNC Systems Matter

Apart from the factors mentioned above, the DNC enhances workflow. If you’ve got a shop, a well-run CNC machine with a capable DNC system eliminates the need for switch boxes and other hardware that takes up valuable space and cost money. If the DNC runs properly, drip feeding will proceed smoothly.

You’ll also have a complete network solution for your CNC machines. Drip feeding is essentially about maximizing production, getting powerful programs to run even if your system has limited memory. However today’s DNC software can do more than that. When set up, you’re assured only the latest programs on the server are activated and any changes are safely stored.

Tips for Buyers

If you want drip feeding simplified, look for DNC software that is feature packed but easy to use. Fortunately there are a lot of DNC programs designed to work with PCs and have a user interface similar to PC programs. This means the programs have cut, copy, paste, drag and drop and toolbars so it looks familiar with a light learning curve.

Aside from the features, you should also check the price, quality and the feedback it gets from users. With the Internet this should not be too difficult to do, and the time you spend researching their background will be worth it.


Drip feeding is an important part of any CNC operation, but it’s not hard to figure out how it works. As it is, CNC machines have become easier than ever to use, and there are software available which simplify the drip feeding process even more.

Uses for Scroll Saws

Uses for a Scroll Saw

Basically, a scroll saw is used for making intricate patterns or designs in wood, metal and other materials. As a precise and accurate tool, a scroll saw does an excellent job of creating both simple and complex patterns with equal ease. It’s easy to use and easier still to store and maintain, since it’s quite a compact little tool, requiring very little space to set up.

From curves to joints

A scroll saw is used to cut both curves and joints to deliver beautiful and intricate patterns in wood, metal, hard plastic and even certain other kinds of material, such as bone, shell, etc. You need to be sure that you’re using the right kind of blade with your scroll saw, because the blade is what will decide how well your scroll saw can do a certain job, with accuracy.

Ideal for pierce cutting

Unlike other varieties of saws, a scroll saw can actually handle pierce cutting quite well. That’s probably why it’s so popular these days to create wood handicrafts for decoration etc. With its ability to drill a hole at the center of the material that you’re planning to develop into a special artifact, a scroll saw helps create intricate patterns better than most other tools available on the market.

It’s all about detailing

Naturally, you can’t really think of a good intricate design unless there’s some amount of detailing associated with it. And that kind of detailing is possible only with a scroll saw, mainly on account of the precision and accuracy with which it works.

That level of accuracy is just not available in a band saw, nor does the scroll saw end up vibrating like a jigsaw. What it does is give a smooth and pleasurable experience to anyone—from a beginner to a hobbyist to a professional—wanting to experiment with interesting patterns in wood, metal, hard plastic, etc.

Sheer design variety

This is probably the best part of a scroll saw. The small size of this compact little tool actually belies the sheer range and variety of designs and patterns it can help you churn out, with total ease and no hassle at all. From figurines and silhouettes to 3-D and 2-D patterns, from jewelry and ornaments to plaques and name plates, a scroll saw can create almost anything that you can envisage to decorate your house and hearth.

Miniatures, in particular, are easily and effectively made with a scroll saw, again because of its high level of accuracy and precision. So you’ll find this to be a common use for a scroll saw, especially by artisans who specialize in such creations.

As far as jewelry is concerned, the fact that you can use a scroll saw to cut through shell, bone, ivory, and a whole lot of metals too, makes it ideal to create attractive ornaments and jewelry, fit to wear on any kinds on occasions.

Other things you can do with a scroll saw is to use it for creating wood mosaic (intarsia) and inlaid veneer (marquetry).

The website http://www.shopsmith.com/academy/scrollsaw/ provides details of some of the uses you can put your scroll saw to. As it shows, there’s actually an amazing variety of things you can make with a scroll saw, when it comes to attractive designs and patterns.

Amazing features for multiple uses

As a cross between a jigsaw and a band saw, a scroll saw is equipped with some amazing features that enable it to provide quite a few unique and out-of-the-ordinary uses. A wood maker’s pride and a jewelry maker’s passion—you’ll find a scroll saw creating some of the best inlaid patterns and intricate designs you could ever imagine. Given the simplicity of its use, it’s remarkable what a scroll saw can really do and how useful it is as a true artisan’s tool.

The advantage it has over other power tools in terms of its ability to create pierce cuts adds to the universal appeal of a scroll saw. So, all those beautifully designed creatives you see with that attractive hole in the center are the handiwork of a scroll saw. The same holds for all those intricately designed jewelry pieces that you simply can’t resist holding in your hands and trying out at least once, even if you’re able to keep yourself from buying them.

The multiple uses of this small and compact tool need to be seen if they are to be believed, and till you’ve personally enjoyed the pleasure of holding a scroll saw creation in your hands, you’ll find it difficult to believe it’s actually capable of doing all that it claims to do.

Uses for scroll saw


While it’s been around for a few centuries, the scroll saw is now making a comeback as an artisan’s special tool that can be used to create a great variety of items for ornamentation and adornment. You can use these creations to beautify your home, or even yourself (as with ornaments and jewelry).

Apart from the uses you’ve seen above, you can also check out (http://www.sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?166412-Do-I-need-a-band-saw-or-a-scroll-saw) to come out with some more unusual and appealing patterns to make new kinds of things for yourself or your family. Perhaps it’s a cute little dollhouse you want to make for your daughter. Try making it with a scroll saw and see how your little one will simply love it from the word “go.”

How to Operate a CNC Machine - Here we'll show you the correct way to operate your CNC machine

How to Operate a CNC Machine

CNC (computer numerical control) machines come in different forms, including lathes, mills, drills and wood cutters among others. The following is intended to give you an overview of how to operate a CNC machine. However, the specifics will vary depending on what equipment you’re using.

How to Run a CNC Machine Step by Step

  1. Most CNC machines are connected to a controller or computer, and you control the operation via the CNC software installed in the computer controller. Start the computer and launch the software. The software should present you with options for scanning applications or starting a task.
  2. Reference or set up the machine you’re using. There will be options for the tool, feed rate, spindle speed and so on. Input the appropriate data.
  3. Choose the appropriate tool and set the dial so you can input the data manually. Refer to your user manual for what buttons to press on the keypad.
  4. Orient yourself towards the workpiece. Press the appropriate key to activate the tool. Press “Start Cycle” and make adjustments to the speed and other settings.

Setting Up and Running a CNC Milling Machine

Before running a CNC machine, there are several basic procedures you need to follow. However, the more specific procedures depend on what type of milling machine you’re using. All milling machines have a slightly different set up. Factors that affect it are whether it is vertical or horizontal, the tool turret capacity and how many axes will be used.

The steps given earlier are still applicable if your CNC milling machine is linked to a computer. However there are other steps you need to follow.

  1. Make sure the machine is in good working condition. Clean it first if necessary.
  2. Load the edge finder and the other tools that you will be needing for this particular task.
  3. Load the workpiece in the vise.
  4. Adjust the work fixture offsets accordingly. Make certain the milling machine is utilizing the appropriate program. If it is necessary, switch to G54.1P15, G55 or G54 or whatever the program is.
  5. Press the Cycle Start button. Pick the X0 with the edge finder. Using the CNC software, adjust the X and Y axes accordingly.
  6. Load the tool in the spindle. To set the tool length, move the Z axis manually until the tool’s end is close to Z0.
  7. Take a shim stock (0.001″) and hold it between the tool tip and the part. Move the Z axis down in increments of 0.0001″. Keep pulling down until you can pull the shim stock with a little nudge.
  8. Go back to your CNC software. Adjust the absolute Z value to -0.001. Repeat this for other tools you’re going to use.
  9. If you’re going to use tool radius compensation, enter the appropriate offsets for the diameter.
  10. Modify the coolant lines as necessary to wash the chips and cool the tools.
  11. Set the machine in slow, single block and begin the cycle. Read each programmed block and watch the movement the CNC machine performs.

CNC Machine Operating Suggestions

The zero point needs to be defined for each axis. Usually you just need to hit cycle start, but in some cases you have to choose the right G codes when you get into the MDI mode. Once you’ve made the right adjustments then you press cycle start.

Once the programmer has picked an X0 position, you use the edge finder to select this. Now you just need to go to the WFO page and enter the absolute X value. Repeat this for the Y axis.

Tips for New CNC Machine Operators

Here are some suggestions and reminders. These tips are applicable for CNC milling machines only.

  • Read the Manual: your CNC machine and its software come with a user guide. Read it for instructions on how to optimize its power and troubleshoot common problems.
  • Use High Quality Cutters: buy cutters from a known brand. It’s hard to emphasize the importance of quality cutters as it eliminates most of the variables that could hamper your progress.
  • You should have a set of parallels, a clamping kit and vise. A high quality vise ensures your workpiece remains in shape. A clamping kit is necessary for mounting the vise on your table’s T-slots. Lastly, you’re going to need parallels, as you’re probably not yet skilled at creating step jaws.
  • Use a misting configuration for your coolant.
  • Learn How to Maximize the MDI: You have to learn how to use your CNC like it is a manual machine. This approach also means you’ll have a quicker time figuring out the G-codes. Even if you’re just a beginner, it’s important you have an idea of what your program is capable of.
  • Practice using the cutter in X and Y, but not Z, not until you’re comfortable with it.
  • Use a Speeds and Feeds Calculator: this calculator ensures the feed rate and spindle speed will be perfect for your cut. With CNC milling machines, there is little room for estimates and general rules, and it’s all about getting the right speeds and feeds.
  • Buy a Z Measuring Device: if your CNC machine doesn’t have a feature for measuring Z height, buy one. This device tells your machine where a tool’s tip is. An edge finder is also useful, but your machine may already have one.
  • Use the Right Materials: for beginners you’ll want to go with mild steel, brass or aluminum. In fact many would suggest you start with brass or aluminum, and only when you’re skilled at them, move to mild steel. Be patient with the cuts and focus on improving your skills for now.


Operating a CNC machine is not as difficult as you might think. The fact that you can operate them with computers makes things easier as you can input precise measurements, so the results are more satisfactory. The information is just an overview of how you use these CNC machines, and it should be clear how versatile they can be.

Patterns for Scroll Saw4

Patterns for Scroll Saw

While your own imagination and creativity will eventually guide you through the process of making exciting patterns with a scroll saw, there are websites galore to offer you numerous options, which you can simply adapt to your own taste and needs. The range and variety of innovative patterns they give you is amazing, to say the least.

So whether your taste veers around the simple or intricate, or is more aligned to the complex intricate, you’re sure to come across something that matches it, when it comes to designs and patterns for scroll saw. And with just a little bit of ingenuity, you can turn any of these patterns into showcase products for your home.

Patterns galore

Among the various websites offering scroll saw designs and patterns is the website, http://www.scrollsawartist.com/ which claims to be the “home of all scroll saw patterns.” It’s not at all a tall claim, considering the sheer number of patterns it provides and the variety it gives in terms of the skill levels required to create those patterns. Hence, you’ll find a pattern or more to match virtually every skill level—from beginners to the more advanced. What’s more, it provides tutorials for creating the patterns too.

As for the patterns included, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the sheer diversity. The site has virtually everything, from animals, insects and birds, to boxes, flowers, cats and dogs (why that is kept distinct from animals is a mystery of sorts), clocks, handy items, holiday themes, mythical and religious, nature and outdoor, inspirational, lighted projects, nautical/fish/fishing, plaques, special occasions, wildlife, sports and recreation, word art, and transportation.

From chessboards to large chess pieces, birthday hangars, bird houses, and even air plant holders, there’s a lot on this site to keep you happily engaged as you experiment with your personal scroll saw to create your own special patterns.

Patterns for scroll saw

Making it easy

Another website that makes creation of scroll saw patterns quite a game is the http://www.craftsmanspace.com/free-patterns/scroll-saw-and-fretwork-vector-patterns.html. It doesn’t just offer you patterns and designs, but also tells you how to go about making them, and the best kind of wood for different patterns. You can use these reference designs and the guidelines to create boxes, shelves, decorative items, and much more.

The pattern variety includes, but is not restricted to, ancient Greek and Roman ornaments, animal designs and silhouettes, art noveau designs, architectural 2D patterns, band patterns, builder’s hardware designs, Celtic patterns, decorative flourishes, famous people vector patterns, floral designs, and geometric vector patterns.

Other designs include Heraldic 2D design elements, interlace patterns, mathematical 2D patterns, molding profiles, Oriental ornaments, circular/rectangular/square ornament vectors, other forms of ornament vectors, ornamental border designs, ornamental design elements, repeating patterns, ribbons and scrolls vector packs, scroll saw and fretwork vector patterns, sign and sign end patterns, silhouette vector, stained glass patterns, stencil designs, symbols and historic illustrations, vectorized illustrations, and wood carving patterns.

Among the popular patterns are the furniture scroll saw patterns and the door hinge plate patterns, indicating how useful scroll saw designs can be to decorate the house. Then there are some really modern ones, such as stencils of flowers in baskets, a collection of rose designs, picture moldings, two hobgoblin illustrations, seashell design elements, 28 patterns of human heads with various facial expressions, strap work ornaments, medieval maze patterns, geometric tracery pattern and spiral hepta 2D design.

scrollsaw patterns

Of figures and faces

What makes http://www.woodenvisions.com/free-scroll-saw-patterns/ unique is that the focus of the patterns here is on figures and faces—human, animals, birds, and more. The free-for-use patterns available on this site have a special appeal to them, with their sketch-like look to engage your heart and mind. What’s more, they’re pretty easy to create, if the creator of the site is to be believed (and there’s no reason not to).

The stark black and white effect of the patterns contained here is bound to make you look at them at least twice, if not more. And if you really have a penchant for good designs, you’re going to find it difficult indeed to move on from this site without trying out at least some of these exotic creations.


If you can imagine it, you can create it—that seems to be the premise on which most scroll saw patterns are made. Looking at these patterns, it’s clear that there’s really nothing that you can’t make with a scroll saw when it comes to attractive and intricate designs. Actually, if you look around you, you’ll see scroll saw patterns in almost anything and everything. The designs are inspiring and something you’d like to have around you, whether you’re working or simply chilling at home.

Apart from the links provided here, you’ll find a whole lot of other options out there, on the World Wide Web, from which you can choose. Your ultimate choice would, of course, depend on various factors, not the least being the skill set for which the patterns are provided. In fact, you’ll find certain sites providing patterns only for beginners, while there are others that do a more exhaustive job by giving designs for all levels.

And then there’s the “free” aspect, which you’d naturally want to be sure of, before going for any particular website for your favorite patterns. After all, who wants to spend a lot of money on buying patterns when there’s such a huge variety of free patterns available to choose from!

How to Run a CNC Machine - knowing how to run your CNC machine correctly will ensure you get the best possible results

How to Run a CNC Machine

If you study how to run a CNC machine, you’ll quickly learn that regardless of the tool, the process is basically the same. You just need to start the machine up and following the procedure. Once you learn how the machine works, you just need to follow the basic sequence to achieve your goal.

Basic Operation Concepts

The first step is to read the manual that came with your CNC machine. The biggest challenge for first time operators is to know when a specific process is required, and then you follow the sequence. If you want to launch a program, you have to load it first in the control memory.

Program loading involves pressing certain buttons and switches, though it varies per machine. If you want to modify an offset, you need to alter the procedure. While CNC machines have different functions and features, the same process is used.

The Most Vital Sequences

Running CNC machines is all about following the right sequences. However, some are more important than others, and some operations you’ll be doing more often than others.

Common operations include powering up and down, editing programs, setting offsets and loading tools. These are functions you’ll use all the time so you have to memorize the process. For those processes which you’ll be using less frequently, there’s no need to memorize all the functions.

The Manual Sequence

CNC machines generally operate the same way. The first step is to power up the CNC machine and conduct a manual reference. The next step is to start the spindle and set the axes.

The next step is to activate the hand wheel and set the axis in motion. Once the axis is moving you have to load the tools into the magazine and the spindle. After turning the coolant on, you adjust the axis display so it reads the appropriate number. Next you enter the radius and length. After the mirror image is turned on, you choose metric or inch mode.

The MDI (manual data input) allows you to adjust various settings on the machine, including the tools. The MDI sequence, after changing the tools, is followed by the spindle activation. Depending on the task you’re working on, you may have to load programs via the RS-232 port, tape or the keyboard.

The following are the CNC’s modes of operation.

Manual Mode

In this mode the CNC machine functions like a standard machine. If your machine is set to manual, you’ll be able to press switches, turn the hand wheels and press buttons to perform various functions. A lot of functions are automated by CNC machines, but manual mode is great for learning how the system works.

Manual Data Input Mode

This has two positions, the manual data input (MDI) and the edit position. In both situations you’re going to input data via a keyboard, a display screen and control panel. The difference between the edit and MDI is the following. When the mode switch is at edit, you modify or enter a program. When it is at MDI, you issue MDI commands and execute them.

  • Manual Data Input: Anything you can do in a CNC machine can be performed in MDI mode. If you’re good at CNC, you can do a lot of functions with MDI more effectively than other modes. But the most important reason for learning MDI is it allows you to do various functions manually, functions you can’t do in manual mode.

Some machining systems don’t come with manual switches or buttons for turning the spindle on or off, or adjusting the direction or speed. If you need to adjust any of these settings, you’ll have to go into MDI mode to do so. It’s for this reason why mastering MDI mode is essential.

  • Edit Mode: edit mode is similar to what you do with a word processing program. In edit mode you can put CNC programs in memory and change the settings in the programs. This also allows you to store several applications in memory. Programs are arranged via number. From the memory control you can decide which program becomes active.

Program Operation Mode

Program operation mode involves program operation, and it consists of two positions, tape and memory. You use this mode to authenticate programs.

  • The auto or memory mode is about executing programs from memory control. Provided there is sufficient memory, you’ll be able to run the program. Several programs can be uploaded into memory, but only one can run at a time. You choose the program in edit mode and activate it by pressing “cycle start”.

In most CNC machines, you can see a page of the program as it is being run from memory. As the program runs and the page is displayed onscreen, the cursor moves, allowing you to view these commands.

  • Tape mode used to be the only option to run CNC programs. However that’s no longer the case and the other modes have superseded the tape mode function. For CNC machines that still have a tape mode, it’s just for loading programs.

G-Code and CAM

Because almost CNC machines have a CAM system, some believe it’s no longer necessary to learn G code. However, the output from CAM is still G code, the same one that is used in manual programming. Even if there’s a CAM system in place it’s still the G code being run.

If there’s a problem with one of the programs, it’s easier to modify the settings via the G code than to edit the CAM system. Understanding of the G code is also necessary if you have to assess the efficiency and quality of the programs.


It might seem like there’s a lot involved in operating a CNC machine. But the truth is you just need to memorize a few essentials. As for the rest, they are in your operator’s handbook and you should use that as a guide. With a little practice you’ll soon get the hang of running a CNC machine.

What is a scroll saw used for

What is a scroll saw used for

Who doesn’t love intricately carved woodwork or even intricate patterns etched in metal? Ever wondered how it’s done? Does it take a real artist to manage it? What kind of tools and equipment are needed to deliver fancy patterns, which can woo even the most non-creative of persons with their attractive appeal?

You’d be surprised to know that there’s actually a small tool that can do all this, and with a minimum of effort. It’s called a scroll saw, which is basically used to cut intricate patterns and curves in wood, metal, hard plastic, or even other materials. Now that, of course, is a very simplistic way of putting it.

Here, we’ll take you through, in some detail, into the uses of a scroll saw. We’ll try to answer the question of what a scroll saw is used for in a simple and easy-to-understand manner for your convenience. (http://www.ehow.com/facts_5059004_scroll-saw-used.html).

Of course, take into account that not all scroll saws can do all these jobs as effectively. It depends on the kind of blade used, the price bracket of the saw, and its other features. So the high-end models will probably have all these uses, or at least the majority of them, while their poor cousins will have limited uses.

what is a scroll saw used for

It cuts intricate patterns and more

While cutting intricate patterns is the key use of a scroll saw, which may be electric or battery-operated or even manual/pedal-operated, there are more fancy uses of it that you won’t find much talked about. But this little fact doesn’t make the importance of using a scroll saw for these other things any less.

So you’ll find it a useful tool for cutting not just close and complex curves, but also pierce cuts, which any person working with wood will tell you, is not something that many saws can do. And it does a much better job of it than other power tools can do.

Artisans’ special tool

Even though you generally will not find it to be part of a wood worker’s tool kit, a scroll saw is actually a great tool for artisans. Unlike a band saw, which can cut curves into wood, but lacks accuracy, a scroll saw is wonderfully precise in cutting intricate designs and patterns, and does the job in considerable detail.

Further, it can go where a band saw can’t, quite literally. That is, you’ll find a scroll sawpretty useful for cutting through harder materials too, and with great accuracy at that. The fact that it doesn’t vibrate like a jigsaw also adds to the appeal of this little tool, which can deliver some of the most delicate design inlays in wood, metal and even hard plastic.

What is a scroll saw used for

Product showcase

The product show case you can get with a scroll saw is widely impressive, indeed. And mind you, it’s not just about wood, with which you make not only intricately designed furniture and large pieces, but also small figurines etc. You can use a scroll saw to create beautiful designs even in metal, shell, bone and stone. This means it’s an excellent tool for jewelry makers, who love working with a variety of materials and trying to create designer pieces from all of them.

As fancy as it comes

As mentioned earlier, a scroll saw is all about creating fancy designs and patterns, mainly in wood but also in other material. So you can use it to cut through ivory, plastic and more, with its special edge lying in creating pierce cuts (a donut kind of a hole in the center).

Miniatures are just great with a scroll saw which is also used extensively for wood mosaic (intarsia) and inlaid veneer (marquetry). So the next time you see a fancy little miniature statue or an intricate piece of jewelry designed to near perfection, it’s probably the handiwork of a good quality scroll saw.

Check out the link (http://www.shopsmith.com/academy/scrollsaw/) to embark on your journey of discovery into all the fancy things a good scroll saw can do for you. The list is impressive, to say the least, and it will send you rushing to buy a scroll saw, if you haven’t already done so.


As a cross between a jigsaw and a band saw, a scroll saw is equipped with some amazing features that enable it to deliver several unique and out-of-the-ordinary uses. A wood maker’s pride and a jewelry maker’s passion—you’ll find a scroll saw creating some of the best inlaid patterns and intricate designs. Given the simplicity of its use, it’s remarkable what a scroll saw can really do and how useful it is as a true artisan’s tool.

The advantage it has over other power tools in terms of its ability to create pierce cuts adds to the universal appeal of ascroll saw. It’s there for you to experiment with a whole lot of different patterns and designs, for use in a variety of places on various occasions.

The best part of using a scroll saw is that the effort required to create all those beautiful patterns, lines and designs is minimal. The scroll saw is designed to deliver a hassle-free experience to the user. It sits easy in the hands, and is not at all complex in operation. And with its precise and accurate functioning, the possibility of going wrong with the patterns really doesn’t exist.

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