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Getting your pattern on wood
(Trace, Photocopy, or Template )
How do I get my pattern on the wood (or whatever material you will be cutting)? The answer to this question varies depending on several things.
- How many pieces are you going to cut
- How complex is the pattern
- Will you be using this pattern over and over
If you have a design that is not too complex and you are going to cut one (maybe two) pieces, simply lay the pattern over graphite (or carbon) paper and trace the pattern. If you are going to cut quite a few pieces and it is a simple cut-out, photocopy the design and apply it to the wood with adhesive. More on this...
There are several spray adhesives on the market. You can mail order them from several of the catalogs that sell patterns and supplies. Or, you can go down to your local office or artist supply store (Staples, Office Depot, Office Max etc.....) and buy 3M Artists Mount Spray Adhesive or their Super 77. This is what we use.
So, now you have your photocopy and spray. Now what? Trim the pattern ( leave about 3/8 to 1/2 inch all around) and lightly spray the back of the pattern (PLEASE, read and follow all of the manufacturers recommendations and cautions on the can). Let it set for a few moments, if you get tired of holding it or you are going to spray more, set it down pattern side DOWN! After it sets for a moment or two the back should have the feel of a Post-It note. Simply apply it to clean (dust-free, use a tack cloth) wood. Now cut to your hearts content. This technique works very well with patterns with a lot of inside cuts (fretwork). If the pattern tends to pull up while cutting, decrease the amount of time you let the adhesive set before applying the pattern.
If you were not heavy handed with the spray, when you are done cutting, the pattern should peel right off. What? Its stuck! I told you to spray lightly! NOW YOU'VE DONE IT! Don't panic, take a rag and moisten it with mineral spirits and wipe it over the pattern. The pattern will become translucent (like onion skin) and the pattern will peel right off.
Okay, here are a few more tricks for pattern transfer. For these you have to use a photocopy or laser printer output. One way to transfer the image is to set your pattern (printed side down) on the wood piece and iron it with a very hot flat (i.e. clothes) iron. This softens the toner and allows some of it to transfer to the wood. Using the same technique but without the iron, apply the pattern to the wood (printed side down) and dampen the back of the paper with mineral spirits. This will also transfer some of the toner to the wood. I can't vouch for these last two methods as I have never tried them, but they have been used successfully by others.
So you have a fairly simple cut out and you are going cut some of it today, then some more next week, and then some next month and so on and so on ...... Okay, you're right, the copy center manager will be able to retire on your nickels. So copy your pattern once and adhere it to something sturdy like Masonite, Baltic Birch, or Plastic ( like the laminate for kitchen counters) and cut it out. Now you have a template that you can trace over and over and over again. At least until you saturate the market, then put it away for a few years before pulling it out, dusting it off and selling that fabulous design to a whole new crowd of buyers!
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