Over the years, I’ve built a lot of things in my basement workshop, including shelving for the garage, a replacement cabinet for the kitchen and a stepstool for my kids so they could wash their hands more easily. It seems that with each project, I learned something new. Whether it’s a better way to use my router on an edge, finding a different stain for finishing or how to justify a new tool purchase, there’s always a lesson to be learned because, like many hobbies, woodworking is a journey without end.
In 2009, I decided I was going to learn how to use a new tool. I thumbed through some catalogs and gave it some thought and, ultimately, the decision came down to a choice between a scroll saw and a lathe: two tools I had little experience with. My brother, who has such ridiculous woodworking skills that he builds violins, cellos and mandolins with nothing more than hand tools, urged me to give the scroll saw a try, and, with that, I made my choice.
So, it was back to catalogs and message boards to find a scroll saw that was good for beginners but versatile enough I wouldn’t have to replace it a year or two down the road — I’m a big believer in never buying the same tool twice. I settled on the DeWalt DW788 because it has a wide-ranging variable speed and a very nice 20-inch throat, a measurement that dictates the size of workpiece that can be cut by the saw.
The first test for the scroll saw was pinewood derby cars back in February. Then came some basic puzzles and ornaments, as I worked my way through a basic scroll saw workbook. Towards the end of the year, I decided to tackle a 3-D Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, as a Christmas present for my son. Working from a pattern, I cut out about 40 pieces, sanded them, dry-fit the skeleton, made a few adjustments, then finished them with a simple stain. The result can be seen in the picture above. Happily, the gift was well-received, which made the hours it took to create the Tyrannosaurus all the more worthwhile.
Having graduated from basics, I’m moving on. My next project is going to be a fleur box in cherry with some intricate fretwork. I’m a tiny bit anxious because of its complexity, but I’m looking forward to the project, the lessons I’ll learn and (hopefully) a decent outcome.
I know from reading other geeky sites, woodworking has its fair share of geek participants. We’ve never really touched on woodworking here at GeekDad, but I’m sure we have our share of geeky woodworkers. So, if you’re out there, speak up!