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Wood for Christmas Ornaments

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  • Wood for Christmas Ornaments

    I am going to cut a few small(ish) Christmas ornaments, and have a question for those who have done similar items in the past.

    The plans usually call for 1/4" thick wood.

    What works best - 1/4" baltic birch plywood, or a hardwood that is 1/4" thick?

    Thanks!
    Egon likes this.
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  • #2

    Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

    It depends on the size and usage. I used to cut 100+ every year when I was doing the craft show circuit and preferred hardwood as it looked nicer and there were more options. I stuck mainly with closed grain woods such as cherry, walnut, and maple. My main ones were tree ornaments and never had issues with breakage. Once you get larger than tree ornaments I switched to Baltic birch. Another tip if you are not aware is to stack cut your ornaments. Go 3 high and it makes it easier to control while cutting and you get a 3 for 1 deal.
    Jamie www.turneddesignsbyjamie.etsy.com

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    • #3

      Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

      Originally posted by jaywood1207 View Post
      .....preferred hardwood as it looked nicer and there were more options. I stuck mainly with closed grain woods such as cherry, walnut, and maple. My main ones were tree ornaments and never had issues with breakage. Once you get larger than tree ornaments I switched to Baltic birch. Another tip if you are not aware is to stack cut your ornaments. Go 3 high and it makes it easier to control while cutting and you get a 3 for 1 deal.
      Jamie - thanks!

      What was your source for 1/4" hardwood? Or did you resaw yourself?

      Resawing is not something I have tacked. As far as I can see, resawing a 3/4" board would give you two 5/16" boards, which allows you 1/16" to smooth the cut side. Is that about right?

      As to using baltic birch - how does it look for any sort of ornament, given the way the edge of plywood looks?

      Yes, I was figuring on stack cutting.

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      • #4

        Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

        I would resaw or in a lot of cases as I was newly separated and money was tight I would take wood off my mothers wood pile and saw off slices. I would have to check but I believe mine were around 1/8” to 3/16” thick so resawing 3/4” wasn’t a problem. The 1/4” Baltic birch didn’t have as much visual appeal in my opinion vs hardwood but there is nothing wrong with it. I made some larger hanging ornaments out of it and also some framed pictures. I would say you generally wouldn’t notice the edges unless you looked for them. When you look at the ornaments your eyes are drawn to what is cut vs the edges.
        Jamie www.turneddesignsbyjamie.etsy.com

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        • #5

          Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

          I cut mine from box cut-offs and such; 1/4 inch thick hardwood as Jamie said. There are always scraps around here that make nice Christmas tree ornaments. I think that the nicest ones I have made are of walnut, cherry and Indian rosewood but maple and other close-grained woods can look pretty nice too, especially so if the design is intricate enough to draw the eye away from the lack of interesting grain. I made a few from Baltic Birch plywood but I found that they splintered rather badly on the tiniest details. Also, I don't stack cut my ornaments as I don't find that works well with the more intricate designs that I prefer.

          My 2 cents

          Ken

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          • #6

            Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

            Baltic Birch is what I usually go with. As far as ornaments go.
            Last edited by Matt Matt; 11-21-2018, 07:15 AM.

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            • #7

              Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

              Not having done it but would cutting the figure in a thicker solid wood and then resawing slices work?
              Egon
              from
              The South Shore, Nova Scotia

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              • #8

                Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

                Originally posted by Egon View Post
                Not having done it but would cutting the figure in a thicker solid wood and then resawing slices work?
                Egon - most scrollsaw cut patterns have very thin parts that would never survive contact with a saw blade.

                They can be very, very delicate. Even more so when cut from 1/4" wood of any type.

                Sanding can also be problematical. When cut so thin, wood has very little strength left.
                Egon likes this.

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                • #9

                  Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

                  Originally posted by scrollsawhero View Post
                  Baltic Birch is what I usually go with. As far as ornaments go.
                  I am finding that even Baltic Birch, when cut with a modified geometry/reverse tooth blade, can show a LOT of splintering or tear out on the back.

                  Stack cutting with a throw away piece on the bottom may solve this. I have to try it more, to see what is needed. Would love to use something like cheap hardboard as the bottom layer, to save money on something you are deliberately going to scrap, if hardboard will provide the support needed.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Wood for Christmas Ornaments

                    Robert, I use skip tooth blades with BB and aircraft plywoods when cutting ornaments, toy parts or model aeroplane components and the tear-out is minimal. A trick that works well with thinner plywood pieces is to attach the ply to cereal box cardboard or Bristol board with 3M 77 before you cut (with the card stock down), BUT for really intricate cuts, the card stock can still be a bear to remove. There are different spray adhesives and you need the temporary bond one; sorry that I don't have the exact specification right at hand but it is available on the company website. There are probably other sprays that do the same thing; I only have used 3M which is why it was referenced. FWIW, I have had great success using this stuff to adhere patterns to very soft woods (balsa!) with no difficulty.

                    Some ideas for you to consider. I have not enjoyed great success with Reverse tooth PGT blades in thin ply stock!

                    Ken

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