Carving Using A Scroll Saw Pattern #1: The Simple Steps and a Free Pattern for You!

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Blog entry by Keith Fenton posted 09-22-2012 01:16 AM 70746 reads 4 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Sheila (Landry) and I have been working to expand our business into new directions and in trying to appeal to a broader audience. One of our recent ideas was to make a simple carving from a scroll saw pattern in the hopes that we might interest some carvers or even people that may have an interest in carving, but not in scroll sawing.

All you need to do this is plywood, varnish, paint (dark brown or black would be best), a brush, Dremel with a few bits (or any similar rotary tool) and orbital sander. (EDIT: and scroll saw, bandsaw or jigsaw to cut the perimeter unless you just want to make the carving on a square surface)

I hope that some of you will give this a try!

First off, a disclaimer: I have next to no carving experience!

The only carving I have done, was for a handful of scroll saw segmentation projects. So this process is quite easy to do, easier than scroll sawing. I think just about anybody can do this with very little practice.

The project was built from one of our “Forest Leaf” scroll saw patterns enlarged to about 20” wide which was just over double it’s original size. It worked out quite well at this size although larger would only be easier. I think any smaller than this would be a little challenging.

This size also worked well since it allowed me to enlarge and divide the pattern into 4 pages, print it on standard paper, and tape the 4 pieces together with little difficulty. The free pattern sample that I am providing here is not our standard pattern format. I am providing only the line work for you so that you can try it for yourself.

In the future, we may be selling large format prints of our patterns through our wholesaler or on our website specifically for this purpose. For now, if any of you are interested in getting another pattern from our site enlarged like this, you can email us and we can arrange it into multiple standard pages that you would tape together like with this sample. We can do this up to a reasonable size at no extra charge for the time being. We just want to get our idea out there for people to try.


You will need plywood with a very thick outer layer since you have to do a lot of surface sanding. Begin by sanding the surface with fairly coarse sandpaper until it is smooth and void free. I used shop grade plywood so it needed a lot of sanding. Any voids will get filled with paint later so it’s important that it is smooth.

Trace the pattern onto the wood and use a scrollsaw, bandsaw or jigsaw to cut out the perimeter.

Carve out the negative areas. I used 3 bits in the Dremel. A pointed diamond bit was used for the kerf lines and narrowest slits. A small round steel carving burr for larger slits as well as the outer perimeter of all the large areas since this bit was by far the easiest to control. Then a “flame” shaped carbide burr was used to clear out the large areas. I tried to carve at least 1/8” deep. A flex shaft for the Dremel or a real power carving rotary tool such as a Foredom will make this a lot easier on your hands!

Be careful that you don’t get confused with your lines and carve in the wrong area.

These are the bits that I used:

After carving out all the areas, do a quick pass over the raised surface with an orbital sander to remove any
fuzzies that are left sticking up. The larger the sander, the easier the sanding steps will be since you need to be able to keep the sander sitting flat on the raised surface.

After sanding, seal the entire front surface with several coats of varnish allowing it to dry between coats and after the last coat. (I used a spray polyurethane). This step is so that your paint is not absorbed into the wood.

Now you can paint in all the carved out areas with a dark color. Absolutely no painting skills required!

Once the paint is thoroughly dry, you simply sand it off of the raised surface, being careful to keep the sander sitting flat. If you didn’t carve deep enough, the sander may remove a bit of paint from inside the recessed areas. This happened to me in some of the larger areas, but it only took a few seconds to touch up with paint afterwards. At this point you may find a couple small dents that have paint in them. Mine were very tiny and I don’t feel they detracted from the project but if it bothers you, I think you should be able to scrape the paint out of those tiny areas fairly easily

Once you have sanded away all of the paint, you can just seal the whole thing with varnish and it’s ready-to-go.

(Free pattern has been removed… sorry. Many of our patterns can be used for this. You can find the grizzly scroll saw pattern here:

Have fun!

-- Scroll saw patterns @

15 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4113 days

#1 posted 09-22-2012 01:24 AM

well it turned out really cool, i like the process of the project, and i think you should find success in this, and your first subject sure was a good pick..;).......but im not prejudice…lol…....yea it really looks nice…good luck…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View TripleB's profile


80 posts in 3478 days

#2 posted 09-22-2012 02:06 AM

Hmmmm….Carving plywood? Now that IS thinking outside the box! That’s a cool project I just might give it a go, thanks for the pattern.

Scroll Saw Forum

-- Join me at

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3652 days

#3 posted 09-22-2012 05:35 AM

If anyone wanted to do this and don’t have a dremil type tool, I have used this same process while making signs using a palm router and a small spiral or straight bit.


View kepy's profile


293 posts in 3083 days

#4 posted 09-22-2012 12:56 PM

An interesting idea. I use Rapid Resizer to size patterns and it should allow you to print patterns on multiple pages that can then be put together.
I think that you and Sheila are a dangerous combination when it comes to ideas. LOL

-- Kepy

View earlybird's profile


1 post in 3259 days

#5 posted 09-22-2012 04:09 PM

looks great, another aspect of scrollsawing to try, what thickness of plywood would you recommend

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3666 days

#6 posted 09-22-2012 04:19 PM

Keith nice tutorial

You have solved a problem for me

I’ve a project on the back burner

that this technique will work on


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View BritBoxmaker's profile


4611 posts in 3846 days

#7 posted 09-22-2012 04:22 PM

Very interesting, Keith. I wish you both well with the business expansion.

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

View Celticscroller's profile


1286 posts in 2883 days

#8 posted 09-22-2012 05:07 PM

Hi Keith, I’m new to LJ but have been following Sheila’s blog for a few months. Great project! I’m a scroller and carver and enjoy combining the techniques.

-- Anna, Richmond BC

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 3730 days

#9 posted 09-22-2012 05:18 PM

Thanks for the well-wishing you guys!

William – That’s a good idea to do it with a router, however I would think it would have to be enlarged quite a bit more.

Earlybird – I used 3/4” shop-grade plywood with 7 plys. The outer layers were just as thick as the inner layers. 1/2” plywood would be fine, as long as the outer ply is thick enough. I sanded about 1/16” of an inch off the surface when all was said and done. Much of this sanding was done before carving because the cheap plywood had such a rough surface. I don’t know if you could get away with a typical hardwood veneered plywood since the outer veneer is usually so thin on these.

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View Rick13403's profile


271 posts in 4314 days

#10 posted 09-22-2012 09:46 PM

Great idea Keith! I will add this idea to my to do list for after my retirement. Thanks for sharing this along with the pattern. We are looking forward to next great idea.

-- Rick - DeWalt 788 & Ex21 -

View MrsN's profile


987 posts in 4336 days

#11 posted 09-24-2012 08:40 PM

very neat idea, something I haven’t thought of before.
I also like the general idea of enlarging the leave patterns. Sometimes it is nice to have big artwork on the walls

View byrdman61's profile


56 posts in 2702 days

#12 posted 04-13-2013 08:37 PM

Sign me up Keith!! Great Idea! Thanks for the pattern, I just finished printing and am looking forward to giving it a go.

-- byrdman61 Slc, Ut

View Wayne Morrow's profile

Wayne Morrow

2 posts in 2181 days

#13 posted 08-26-2014 11:45 AM

Hi Keith, l had a go at your design and thought it turned out pretty good. l made it the same size and used 8mm MDF and used a router with very small bits, worked ok l thought. l hope all this works as is my first time posting.

View Keith Fenton's profile

Keith Fenton

328 posts in 3730 days

#14 posted 08-27-2014 02:19 AM

Hi Wayne,

You are actually the first person that I have seen try this. It turned out just about perfect! I wouldn’t think you would be able to do such a great job with a router. Awesome!

-- Scroll saw patterns @

View peaco's profile


1 post in 1717 days

#15 posted 12-02-2015 03:38 AM

From one Keith to another just brilliant, this has given me so many ideas.
Thank you so much, will share also, always share and share alike.
Just joined this great site.

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