How to Apply Scroll Saw Patterns to Wood without the Mess (with video!)

Wood Crafts

Want an easier way to apply patterns to your wood?? I glued ONE pattern and quickly said, NEVER AGAIN! Researched online, and tried a few things, and came up with this! No more glue to sand off, or mineral spirits needed to remove the gunk! With an added bonus of having cleaner cuts, and less burning! Plus, see how to trim and assemble oversize patterns that were tile-printed from your home printer.

Print Your Pattern

Whether it’s a pattern you designed yourself, or one you found online. Chances are, it’s on paper, and you need it attached to your wood somehow. Yes, you can draw it directly onto the wood. And some people do that. I have done that. But I prefer it to be printed. You can size it exactly how you’d like it and you don’t have to trust yourself to sketch or trace it accurately. If you want the pattern to be larger than a single sheet of paper, simply print it using Adobe Reader and it gives you an option to “poster” or “tile” print it. Then you can tape it together after printing, and apply it from there. More on how to do this later.

Cut the Excess

Cut the extra paper off around the pattern. I have learned the hard way. Extra paper edges sticking off the sides of your wood make for an easy paper cut while holding your wood while cutting. Ouch!

Prep Your Wood

The first thing to do, and I didn’t mention in the video, is to prep your wood. By this, I mean sand it. If you sand your wood before cutting it, you’ll have less sanding to do later. And it much easier to sand it before its cut. Those smaller pieces afterwards can be difficult, and even fragile. Sand it before doing anything.

Apply Tape or Contact Paper

Here’s the handy part! You need to glue your pattern to the wood, but the glue makes a mess! Put painter’s tape, masking tape, shelf liner, or contact paper down first! It not only keeps the wood clean, and easily peels off when you’re done. But it actually help reduce splintering as well. So your cuts are cleaner, and there’s less sanding to do when finished.

Apply the Pattern

Once you have the protective layer down, time for the pattern. I like to save the backing from the shelf liner, or contact paper, to use to keep my workbench clean for this step. Lay the scrap backing down (or simply spray over the garbage can or in a random box lying around), flip the pattern over so you’re looking at the back of it, and spray a light layer of adhesive spray over the entire pattern. I don’t think the actual brand or type of spray adhesive matters that much for this. It only needs to stay on long enough to finish your project, so you don’t need super permanent. But you’re also going to be throwing it away when you’re done, so permanent is fine. Whatever you prefer is fine. I used whatever 3M brand spray adhesive was the cheapest at the time. Make sure you get all the edges. It’s a pain when you’re cutting and these little pieces start to curl up in your way. Some people say to wait 30 seconds for the glue to get tacky. I never do this. I like that it’s not permanent right away. It gives me a little time to position the pattern in case a lay it down wrong the first time. Doing a “test run” before you apply the glue is always a good idea. Lay your pattern out and plan out where it’s going to be, so you know exactly where you’re headed when the glue is applied. Once it’s applied, smooth it out and make sure it has made good contact with the wood and that there aren’t any big bubbles.

Cover with Packaging Tape

This step always seemed funny to me. I had read about using packaging tape, but never really understood why. I eventually came across something that explained it to me! When packaging tape is being produced, the manufacturer coats the tape in a light lubricant to ensure that the tape peels off itself without too much work. When we apply packaging tape over our pattern, and then cut through it, this lubricant is being transferred to your blade! This makes your blade cut easier without getting hot and causing burns, keeps the blade from getting dull as fast, and makes all your cuts generally easier by moving through the piece with more ease. Pretty genius! I don’t know who came up with that, but I’m sure glad they did!

Cut & Peel

Go ahead and cut out your project just like you normally would. When your done, the pattern easily peels right up! No glue residue to clean up! Never again will I use any other way.


Happy cutting!



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