Jig Saw

Jiggin’ for Salmon – part 5

Plywood jig saw progressing.
Plywood jig saw progressing.

This evening I finished up the last few pockets that were above the fish. Now its time to stand back and assess how to take on the task of cutting all of the remaining lines. Some lines are very tight, which is one challenge. Another challenge is to figure out how to start the cutting with no direct access. I knew it would come down to drill pilot holes just like when doing a scroll saw project.

 

 

But what blade would I use? I have a coping saw but that would be a very long and tedious task. So I had to think of another option with the limited resources I have on hand.

Choosing the right blade.
Choosing the right blade.

The idea – take a previously discarded blade and make it thinner. I used the first blade I discarded when I started the project. The teeth themselves were still quite sharp, its just the very points of the teeth were dulled from cutting. Really, I have no idea if this is going to work. Will the steel of the blade be too hard to file away? Will taking off too much cause the blade to snap? We’ll never now unless we try! I started out putting the blade in the vise and filed back. The steel removed quite easily.

Back filing the jig saw blade.
Back filing the jig saw blade.

But of course I could not resist firing up the grinder to see what it could do. I used the side of the wheel and it did the job, just not as fine as a hand rasp. So what I did here was ease the edges by rolling the back of the blade. I figured with tight turns to cut, a eased edge will flow smoother than a crisp edge.

Easing the sharp edge.
Easing the sharp edge.

And here is the result. You can see by looking at the “cle” on the narrow blade and compare it to the “clean” on the normal blade to see how much was removed. The blue color on the narrow blade was already there from previous cutting. So a couple things to remember at this stage. When using this thinner blade, I have to go a little slower and be a little more conscious of heat build up.

Comparing blades.
Comparing blades.

So here the first place I decided to start. Its time to drill a pilot hole. I am missing a few small drill bits from my box so I use the closest one possible.

Trying out the modified jig saw blade.
Trying out the modified jig saw blade.

So here the first place I decided to start. Its time to drill a pilot hole. I am missing a few small drill bits from my box so I use the closest size possible. I look at the situation and think through the two ways to do this. If I cut the large line first and the the small one, there is some risk of the fin breaking while making the tight turn in that “J” shaped line. I figure the J-shaped line being done first is less risk. I start with a pilot hole. Two pilot holes actually. I drilled at the end of the line first and then about 1/16″ away I drilled the second hole further into the line. Then while staying in the second hole, I kept the drill running and reamed the hole up and down and tilting side to side at the same time. The goal here is to break the 1/16 inch “bridge” between the 2 holes.

Drilling pilot holes.
Drilling pilot holes.

With that completed, now I have a hole I can drop the jigsaw blade into. One thing to keep in mind is to not be too aggressive making the pilot hole. If it ends up being larger that the jig saw blade, it will be obvious where the starter holes were placed. If it doesn’t matter to you, that’s ok. I prefer to make it appear, if I can, so that when a person looks at the cutting they ask “How the heck did you get a jig saw blade to cut that??”

Closed end cut.
Closed end cut needs an elongated pilot hole.

And this is the result of that first cut. I think it came out pretty darn good. 🙂

I moved on and made a few more cuts. Earlier I said I had stood back to figure out what to cut first. I think I made a good choice in cutting the most delicate sections first. You can see the starter holes in my work. If I had the right size drill bits I might have gotten away with it. Maybe with a little sanding it will come out ok.

Moving on to other difficult jig cuts.
Moving on to other difficult jig cuts.

A close up of the head section of the salmon. If you look close at the line around the eye, you will see dark spots on the tight turns. This was tricky to cut and it took some deliberate moving forward with the jig saw yet at the same time holding back a little while making those turns.

Salmon head close up.
Salmon head close up.

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A Newfoundland born Canadian with a life long interest in woodworking, baking and anything else that peaks my curiosity.

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