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Scroll Saw Technical Advice

Cutting Corian & Other Solid Surface Material:

 The most important thing to remember in cutting Corian is to slow down your feed rate, cover the solid surface piece with masking tape and use the appropriate scroll saw blade.  By using the special Artisan Scroll Saw Blades found in the Artisan Scroll Saw Blade section, you will minimize some the of problems associated with cutting Corian and other solid surface material such as over heating and fusing.  If you do not see debris coming out the top or bottom you are probably "fusing" the Corian together.  If you can "smell" something then you are probably "burning or fusing the piece after you have cut it.  To keep your saw blade cutting "cooler" and avoid the burning and fusing you get when the  material gets hot, use  masking tape or packaging tape on top of the Corian and then adhere your pattern to the masking or packaging tape.  Finally, having your saw cut on a medium speed and again slowing your feed rate down, you should not have any trouble cutting your project.  If you have a model 788 DeWalt Scroll Saw then cut the Corian on the 3-4 speed setting, approximately 900 - 1000 strokes per minute. In addition, use a Protractor Square to make sure that your saw table is square to your scroll saw blade. 

 

Why can't I cut a straight line on my scroll saw?   The reason that the work must be feed on an angle is because of the "set" on the teeth of a scroll saw blade.  The more "set" to the teeth the more debris will be removed from the kerf and the faster & cleaner the cut will be.  All scroll saw blades have some sort of "set" to the blade except precision ground blades which start out as a regular blade with a set to the blade and then it is ground off making it flat on both sides. This type of blade will cut much hotter and burn up faster because the debris can not be tossed out of the kerf and thus it remains in there and burns up.

So if the blades you buy have an aggressive "set" to the teeth like the Artisan blades, (which make them perfect for cutting plastics and acrylics) you will have to "angle" your work that much more to cut a straight line.

Reducing Frictional Heat:

 Use a Diamond Hone to "modify" your scroll saw blades.  This will make them more efficient in tight radius turns, thus reducing the frictional heat caused by the sharp corners in the rear of the blade.  

To use the Diamond Hone, place the hone on the back side of the scroll saw blade and let it "round over" the rear of the blade to remove the sharp corners.  This will aid in reducing the heat build up and burning caused by the friction from the sharp corners of the blade.

Telling the difference between Solid Surface materials:

For us scrollers, there is no easy absolute way to tell one solid surface material apart from another just by looking at them at a glance. There are a few tricks you can use. Knowing the manufacturers colors is a useful tool. Try to obtain sample color charts of the solid surface material you will be working with. When a scrap is found, match it to a color chart and to the manufacturer.

The best and easiest way is to ask the fabricator where you are getting the scraps from whose product they are using. DuPont prints in black lettering directly on the back of each sheet the lot and run number of that particular color. This way a certified Corian fabricator can "match" sheets of Corian and get a virtually "seamless" seam when making a counter top. Wilson Art, Surell, Avonite and Fountainhead put labels on their products with similar information. However, you will be lucky if you find a label or the writing on the material you obtain because after all we are getting scraps. Another way one can tell the difference is by listening to the material when you strike it lightly with a hammer or similar tool. There is a definite "ping" to the other solid surface materials. Corian when hit is more "solid" sounding.

If you can not tell the difference when you get a piece of solid surface material, when you start to cut it you will be able to tell. First, the "smell" when cutting the material is different. There is a "sweeter" smell with other solid surface material when it is cut and the saw dust debris is different. The debris of other solid surface material (polyester) leaves more "powder" debris than Corian.

 

Polishing Your Corian Project:  You can make an inexpensive polisher with an old oil burner motor or any other motor that is 1725 RPM.  Use one wheel for the Acrylic Scratch Remover (ASR-1) polish and the other wheel as a buffer.

Thermoforming (bending) Your Finished Corian Projects:

Corian and other acrylic solid surface material such as (Wilson Art - Gibraltar) can be heated in a conventional oven at 340 degrees for approximately 10 to 15 minutes.  This allows the solid surface material to be heated thoroughly. If you try to thermoform a polyester material such as Surell, Fountainhead or Avonite, it may break when heated.  

After the solid surface material is heated for the desired time frame, it can be "bent" into the desired shape.  If you are using a form or jig, make sure that it is ready.  Do not heat your solid surface material and then get your jig ready. In addition, if you use a jig or a form, make sure that you do not place any pressure directly on the surface of the solid surface material because it may leave an indentation when it cools. 

When working with heated solid surface material, you must wear thermally protective gloves to work with the product in a safe fashion.  Do not "force" the solid surface material into shape.  Forcing will cause fracturing or possibly discoloration of the piece.  After heating allow the solid surface material to cool for at least 30 to 45 minutes before continuing to work with the product.

 

Finishing (Polishing) Corian and other solid surface material

You can finish Corian using only 220, 300, 400, 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and get  a good looking project.  However, to get that professional highly polished look, a 5" random orbital sander and 5" Special Aluminum Oxide (AO) discs are the suggested tools for properly finishing your Corian project. These special AO discs have larger crystals imbedded in a cushioned backing to allow for a smoother finish.  See Corian Sanding Supplies for details, CSK-3 Corian finishing kit.  Use a soft 1/2" thick back up pad to aid in sanding the contoured edges of your counter top.

 

Finishing Steps Guidelines (see sanding grit conversion chart below)

For A Matte Finish: 600 AO discs.

For A Satin Finish:  600, 800, 1500 AO discs.

For A Gloss Finish: 600, 800, 1500, 2400, 4000 AO discs.

For A High Gloss Finish : 600, 800, 1500, 2400, 4000, 12000 AO discs.

 

*** Please Note: Not everyone's idea of a particular finish is the same. Depending on the color, fewer or more steps may be required in order to achieve the look you desire. It is a good idea to check the finish between grades until you satisfied with your finish.

 

Also Note: To obtain a HIGH Gloss finish on your Avonite surface after using the 12,000 grit AO pad use 3M Finesse polish with a buffing wheel.  This is for just a HIGH Gloss finish - all other finishes just the CSK-3 kit will work fine!

 

Helpful Hints:

  1. For contouring the edges of your counter top or project, use the soft back up pad (BCSK-3) to sand those hard to reach areas.
  2. Light pressure should be used to control the sander. The sander should be moved in a random pattern, or in circular motions to "blend" the scratch pattern. Mr. Solid Surface suggests alternating a North/South, East/West pattern, covering the entire surface.
  3. The sander should be in contact with the surface before it is turned on. Remove the sander from the surface prior to turning the sander off.
  4. The beginning condition of the Corian material will determine your starting point. For deeper scratches, start with 300AO disc and then follow with the next grit sanding disc until all of the damage is removed. Make certain to wipe away any sanding debris prior to continuing on with the next step to avoid contamination scratches. Also check the scratch pattern left to make certain that the surface was completely sanded.
  5. Each additional step should be used for approximately 1-2 minutes per square foot or until the previous scratch pattern is completely removed. Gloss finishes may require additional time.

Trouble Shooting:
Swirl Marks In The Finish
: Do not skip steps. Spend approximately the same amount of time on each step. Be sure to wipe the surface completely in order to remove the sanding residue before moving onto the next step. Move the sander in a consistent pattern. Apply less pressure - excessive pressure will change the orbit of the sander causing "fish hooks" in the finish.

Finish Not Glossy Enough: For sanding Discs grades 600 thru 1500 use a standard back-up pad. Change to a soft back-up for grades 2400 thru 12000.

Milky / Hazy Appearance: Repeat the last step using a spritz of water.

Artisan Scroll Saw Workbook by John Nelson (Book)
$14.95

Artisan Scroll Saw Workbook by John Nelson (Book)

Corian Back Up Pad
$12.95

Corian Back Up Pad

Corian Sanding (refinishing) Kit
$24.95

Corian Sanding (refinishing) Kit

Making Noah's Arc   3-D Project
$19.95

Making Noah's Arc 3-D Project

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