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How do you cut Spruce sheet

Local Model Shop robbed again.

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Erfolg17/11/2012 15:29:24
11565 forum posts
1274 photos

I have decided to build a model again. As is now usual I went to the LMS, only to find he has been broken into and many hundreds, probably thousands of pounds worth of stock stolen. This being mainly IC cars.

I normally buy my spars and TE stock and sometimes LE stock there. Unfortunately he had very little. Why, you may think. Well having to replace the more expensive items, leaves little money for the little things like balsa and spars. So stock is low in this area.

I have at home some spruce sheets, which could be made into spars, that is if I knew how. I have tried using a craft knife. It works in a wobbly edge sort of way. I have tried sawing using a tenon saw, it works again after a fashion, the last part being very difficult, without jamming the saw and breaking the spar.

Does any one have a good method to undertake this process.

My sheets are 1/8".

As an aside the MS, needs support more than ever. It is "My Hobby Shop" in South Manchester, Northenden. Olly has in the past given them a mention. For railway lovers, he has a good collection of low cost (I think) second hand locomotives (OO/HO).

Pete B - Moderator17/11/2012 15:53:19
7616 forum posts
732 photos

The ideal way would be with something like a Proxxon circular bench saw but they are not

Why not place an order with SLEC (fill yer boots whilst you're therewink 2) and you'll get it within a couple of days. Quality is good and what you save on getting to the model shop and paying a little less for each strip will more than cover the postage.

Postage will be very reasonable. You pay £9 at the checkout and they refund the difference - on my last order, a building jig, spruce and piano wire, bits and pieces, I received £4.44 back, making the cost £4.56, which is pretty cheap these daysthumbs up


Chris Bott - Moderator17/11/2012 15:53:43
6709 forum posts
1392 photos
1 articles

Someone who actually knows will be along no doubt Erfolg, but what I'd try is this.

Lay the sheet flat on the worksurface and clamp it overhanging the edge by just a bit more than the sawcut (max support without sawing the bench).

Then saw a little oversize, holding the saw at as shallow an angle as possible to the work.
Towards the end, have the loose end supported either with help or by tape or something.
Once cut, plane it down to size.

What it probably needs is a table saw with a gate to set the wicth of cut.

Edited By Chris Bott - Moderator on 17/11/2012 15:53:52

Ernie17/11/2012 15:54:53
2518 forum posts
21 photos

Hi Erfolg, I wouldn't try it without a circular saw. A knife won't follow a straight edge as easily on spruce as it will on balsa. It will try to follow the grain. I use a Proxon circular saw which is just fine. I've often thought it would be possible to make one from an electric motor mounted below a board, with a saw blade and movable guide rail attached.


kc17/11/2012 18:08:07
6215 forum posts
169 photos

B&Q sell something like spruce in 8ft lengths of 6mm square for about a pound. Maybe they do something a bit smaller too.

If you want to cut your spruce sheet cut it a bit oversize as suggested, then plane to size inserting into a groove in a piece of timber. Someone with a router can cut a groove easily but you can fabricate it by using two pieces of timber bolted together with a spacer of the right thickness between.. By staggering the holes in the spacer various depths can be achieved. The timber need only be about 19 inches long to do half the 36 inch length before reversing to do the other. Some woodworkers put a sharp nail at the end of the groove to dig into the work & prevent the timber rising out of the groove.

Sharpen your woodworking plane first and set the backing iron for a fine cut ( 1/32 spacing? ) Anyone without a woodworking plane should look around for a secondhand Stanley. Footprint or Record or even a wooden one. Much better than cheap Asian ones.

I believe woodworkers call this gadget a Sticking Board.

Barrie Dav 218/11/2012 13:50:51
1012 forum posts
14 photos

Ernie is quite right. The grain will make the knife follow it. Take Pete's advice and go to SLEC.Their wood is absolutely first rate and the price is very reasonable and as far as balsa is concerned one can chose Soft, Medium or Hard grades.

Erfolg18/11/2012 14:44:35
11565 forum posts
1274 photos


Hmm, yes, I agree, hence the wobbly edge I mention.smiley

Colin Naylar18/11/2012 15:28:39
231 forum posts
16 photos

Hi Erfolg

I have user my scroll saw in the past on 4mm pine from B&Q. Not totally satisfactory but I contrived and clamped a guide onto the saw table (aligned with the blades slight offset in cutting direction) and took it very slowly. It was better than the stanley knife and the only option at the time.

Doug Ireland18/11/2012 16:34:27
2088 forum posts
42 photos

I have a circular saw attachment for my Dremel that will cut 1/4" ply with ease, should work fine with your thinner wood Erfolg.

Dylan Reynolds LaserCraft Services18/11/2012 16:49:04
1704 forum posts
661 photos

Ernie, working in the cabinet industry and using purpose built machines like table saws etc, I certainly wouldn't even entertain the idea of strapping a blade to an electric motor to produce a home brew saw, with all the machines at my disposal, cnc drill, routers, saws, table saws, bench saws, hand held routers, beam saws, the table saw is considered THE most dangerous machine in the workshop and they have to be treated with great respect, they WILL kill you long before any other machine will come close. I have seen the mess first hand as to what one can do if you lose concentraion for even a split second. Please, please please dont even entertain the idea, its not worth it, especially when you can buy one from machine mart or the like for £50.

A properly set up cheap table saw will do the job just fine with the correct blade fitted and care taken, but failing that, as mention above, cut oversize and use a properly set up plain with a sharp blade on the bench or in a jig.

Olly P18/11/2012 18:07:17
3215 forum posts
181 photos

Pity for the shop, feel for him, as he is a really nice bloke, who will help out anyone who asks.

I will have to 'pop in' next time I need anything, but not likely to need anything for a while. iirc he would let you use the lathe in the shop for a small fee too....

Regards cutting the Spruce, what about a SLEC edge cutter? I have one and it is great for cutting spars/strip from sheet.

Erfolg18/11/2012 18:42:19
11565 forum posts
1274 photos

Olly I also used the lathe to drill out spinners (collets) to larger shaft sizes. I would buy a new drill from "Toolstation" to ensure it cut well and true.

I do not use him enough either, I also try.

I think I bought almost all his Solafilm stock over time.

He always seems to be knocked back by those who break in on an apparently regular basis, whatever he does.

Ernie19/11/2012 07:40:01
2518 forum posts
21 photos

Hi Guys, and especially Dylan, Thanks for that bit about safety. I regularly use a proxon circular saw, which is not unlike what I'm proposing. It's no more dangerous than all the other bits in my workshop.

I've had more grief from scalpel blades than anything else

A bench mounted circular saw is a very useful bit of kit, Any safety hints Dylan?


Dylan Reynolds LaserCraft Services19/11/2012 07:48:27
1704 forum posts
661 photos

The main thing to consider when using saws of this nature are your fingers, the fences and saftey guards are there for a reason, and ALWAYS use push sticks, especially when cutting very small pieces like we regularly do, read the instructions about cutting small pieces, one of the main things people do wrong with these saws is cutting from the wrong side of the blade for piece being cut, not all cuts can be made aginst the fence, ie you wouldn't cut the end off a length using the side fence you would use a 90 deg push bar otherwise you could get kick backs, the main thing is read the instructions and use common sense.

If possible use an extractor, always wear saftey glasses and NEVER wear gloves!

I know most people on here will already know this but it doesn't huurt to be reminded

Ernie19/11/2012 10:22:04
2518 forum posts
21 photos

Thanks Dylan, Really, I know all this, but I do really need to be reminded. Push sticks for example, I never get round to using them. I will certainly have a look at safety, maybe you could do a whole thread on workshop practice


Barrie Dav 219/11/2012 10:52:30
1012 forum posts
14 photos

Last year one of my neighbours, a retired furniture maker, was using a shaper (it's like a very large bench router with a heavy multiple bladed cutter block 5" to 6" diam.) when his hand slipped he and took three fingers and his thumb off where they joined his left hand. Mincemeat, no chance of any repair. He was left handed.................

These accidents all happen so quickly. 'Turn on the brain before turning on the motor'. Think about the consequences of taking a chance. 'Oh, it's just a quick job'. It could be the last one.. Always use a push-stick where appropriate. Make sure that you have the space and that the deck is clear. Don't try to force the machine to cut beyond it's capacity. Keep blades and cutter sharp! If the blades are blunt you have to use more force to make the cut and when the cutter slips into your flesh....I need say no more.

I have a number heavy-duty woodworking machines in my workshop and after years of using them I treat them with the greatest of respect. That is not to say that little tools will not hurt you too, they 'B.....' well will.




Edited By Barrie Dav 2 on 19/11/2012 10:53:58

kc19/11/2012 12:14:22
6215 forum posts
169 photos

I believe the books say the spindle moulder ( shaper ) is the most dangerous machine but the statistics say that drilling machines cause more accidents. (drilling m/c is nearer face level and accidents caused by not bolting down work or machine vice )   Also radial arm saws are very dangerous especially when ripping which grabs the work and shoots it back at you ( so they say I wouldnt go near one after reading about the woman who cut off her arm with one at a remote farm)

I consider working with hand tools is much more satisfying and safer. Getting back to the original problem, surely cutting a piece a little oversize with a fine tooth ( hand ) saw and planing back to exact size will be quicker than visiting the shops? If you have'nt tried a japanese type pull saw and then a Permagrit block for sanding to size....... you should! Magic!

Edited By kc on 19/11/2012 12:19:58

Dylan Reynolds LaserCraft Services19/11/2012 17:22:33
1704 forum posts
661 photos

Hmmm an article on workshop safety, now theres a thought

The reason a table, bench or any other type of circular saw are considered the most dangerous is mainly down to the user, it is so easy to get complacent with them, especially when you use them properly and see how easy they are to use.

Just to add a small note on kickbacks, this occurs when a piece smaller than the blades diameter is cut using a side fence, its not the cut, its the exiting of the material, the blade at that point is rotating upwards and if the material isn't exactly square to the blade, ie gets jammed slightly against the blade, then there is only one direction for it to go, thats with the rotation of the saw which is airwards and back towards you!

Spindle moulders if again used correctly, are pretty much as safe as a machine can get, there are guards surrounding the actual cutting edge all around, and the material pretty much closes the 4th face, its when small material is usually being cut accidents happen because tehy are not the easiest of machines to use like this and generally guards are removed for ease.

All machines are dangerous but only as dangerous as the user - treat them with the respect they deserve.

One thinng that sticks in my mind is what my boss said to me when i first joine the company as the cnc operator/programmer "the minute you stop being scared of it, is the minute it will bite you".

But don't let any of this put you off, tools like these are a god send, just take the time to learn them properly, flying planes is dangerous also, you wouldn't stick your fingers in a revving prop now would you?

Edited By Dylan Reynolds on 19/11/2012 17:23:10

Edited By Dylan Reynolds on 19/11/2012 17:24:00

Dylan Reynolds LaserCraft Services19/11/2012 17:28:38
1704 forum posts
661 photos

I have actually just bought one of the Proxxon mini table saws and it does look quite a useful bit of kit, not actually used it yet, the side fence looks a bit small, but that easily fixable if its not up to the job, will let you know how i get on

julian19/11/2012 20:55:43
92 forum posts
1 photos

You could just call a local joinery company and ask if they would cut it for you.I generally cut my ply and solid timber,except balsa,at work.I have happily done this for modellers in the past.

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