Cut Fretwork

The fretwork adds the perfect touch to this wall shelf. But before you sit . down at your scroll saw, there's a little preparation to be done.

PREPARING THE WORKPIECES. The first step is to size the workpieces. Instead of planing thick stock down to Vi, I decided to resaw the stock to the proper thickness. After planing the resawn stock smooth, I cut the pieces to finished size and mounted copies of the patterns you see on the far right to the blanks with spray adhesive.

PREPARING THE SCROLL SAW. Now that the workpieces are ready, make sure your scroll saw is too. First, it's important to have the right blade. For fretwork, I generally use a No. 5 reverse tooth blade and tension it so it will only flex Vs" tinder finger pressure. Then square the table to the blade.

Now you're ready to cut the fretwork. But the place to start is actually at the drill press.

STARTER HOLES. Because the fretwork involves mostly inside cuts, drilling starter holes will allow you to feed the blade through the workpiece to make those cuts.

With fretwork, what takes getting used to is rotating the panel as you work. To make this easier, I drill holes near sharp turns (Fig. 1). It's easier to rotate the workpiece inside a hole than in a kerf.

MAKING THE CUTS. After the holes are drilled, you can begin cutting. There's no set sequence, but I like to make the smaller cuts first. Cutting out the large areas first can weaken the workpiece and may cause it to break when cutting the smaller areas.

REMOVING WASTE. It's easier to remove the waste in small pieces, rather than all at once. For example, I'll cut sharp comers in two or three steps (Fig. 3). For other corners, the trick when rotating the panel is to push the workpiece against the sides and back of the blade (the edges that don't cut.)

Fretwork Patterns



For full-size fretwork patterns, go to:

Starter Holes. After mounting the pattern on the workpiece, drill starter holes to feed the scroll saw blade through.

Connect the Holes. By drilling holes at turning points, it's easier to rotate the workpiece and stay close to the layout lines.

Drill Vs" starter holes at outside corner locations of fretwork pat\

NOTE: Attach pattern to blank with spray adhesive

FRETWORK PATTERNS. Enlarge the patterns 200% and attach them to the workpieces with spray adhesive.

SECOND: Reposition workpiece to relocate blade at starter hole and start cut in other direction


Starter hole

THIRD: Reverse direction to continue removing waste

SECOND: Back out of cut and loop around fi the other side

Scroll Saw Blade Direction

Removing Waste. With intricate designs, it's much simpler to cut away the waste in small pieces, rather than one large cut.

Making several cuts from different directions in the pattern will leave sharp, crisp corners and edges.

Starter hole

THIRD: Reverse direction to continue removing waste

FIRST: Cut into the inside corner from the starter hole

SECOND: Back out of cut and loop around fi the other side

Victorian Fretwork Patterns

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  • bernd eichmann
    How to cut fretwork pannels?
    4 years ago

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