The Dale C. Maley Family Web Site

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Multi-Level Scroll Saw Butterfly

Somehow I ran across a neat looking multi-level wood butterfly. I bought the pattern from

After receiving the pattern, I entered it into Google Sketchup.

Material Selection

I usually try to rely on the natural colors of woods when I do my woodworking projects.  I believe the intent of this design is to have a 3 color butterfly laid on top of a blue sky. 

Since there are no blue woods in nature that I know of, I decided to stain or paint the base piece, or the blue sky.

Purpleheart wood is purple originally, but slowly fades to brown over the I decided not to use it on this project.

I decided to use maple, yellowheart, and red padauk, for the other 3 colors.

Blue Stain

Unfortunately, the closest stain color I have in stock is an aquamarine, not a real blue color.  I scroll sawed out 2 base pieces and stained them aquamarine. 

I just did not like the aquamarine color look at all.  I decided to try some blue enamel paint instead.........

I liked the blue color a lot better, so decided to go with it.

I originally intended for the piece with the most holes scroll sawed in it to be plain maple.  I made a mistake and glued this pattern onto my 2 yellowheart blanks.  I did not find the mistake until I had already spent 1 hour scroll sawing the yellowheart.  I decided to leave it alone, and make the piece with all the holes from yellowheart instead of maple.

Preparing the Wood Blanks

The wood in each of the 4 layers needs to have a thickness between 1/8 and 1/4".  To save wood, and money...........I decided to resaw standard 3/4" thick wood into 2 pieces. Then I could plane the 2 pieces down to about 3/16" thickness using my power planer.  Just in the last year I have made a sliding jig for resawing on my bandsaw that works very well. I used it to resaw all the boards needed on this project.

You can read about how I built this bandsaw resaw fixture here.

Scroll Saw Process

  1. Put pattern into sketchup
  2. Print paper pattern full scale from sketchup for each piece
  3. Stack pieces to be cut at one time, in this case 2 pieces
  4. Use blue masking tape to keep the stack together, plus give a surface to glue the pattern to
  5. Use white Elmer's glue to attach paper pattern to blue masking tape
  6. Scroll saw using #5 blade in this case
  7. remove paper pattern with blue masking tape
  8. Sand or file away and burrs from scroll saw

It took several hours to complete the piece with all the cut-outs on the scroll saw!!!!!!!!

I almost forgot to cut out the little circles, but since I left the blanks taped up after scroll sawing, I was able to just glue the little pattern onto the waste blanks, and cut out the circles.

Scroll Sawing Completed

Steps remaining to be done:

-remove burrs with sandpaper and small files

-remove paint from back of base piece with scraper or sander

-burn name and date on the back

-glue and clamp



On a project like this, you don't want any excess glue, because it is difficult to remove.  I used an artist's brush to apply my Titebond glue.  I used toothpicks to remove any excess glue that squeezed out.

I did the gluing and clamping in 3 steps......

1. Glue up base to 1st piece on top of base

2. Glue up top 2 pieces

3. Glue up circles onto base

4. Glue the bottom 2 and top 2 segments together

It would be difficult to glue and clamp up on the circles on the final assembly, so I glued them on before the final assembly.

Gluing and Clamping the small circles

For the top 4 circles, I made a small block from scrap wood..........that covered both the large and small circle at the same time.........then clamped it.  For the lower circles, I  used a nut the right size.

Final Finishing

I used a 1" brush and an artist's brush to apply a coat of clear gloss polyurethane.  It might have been easier to spray it, but I try to avoid spraying in my shop.

Finished Scroll Sawed Butterflies

Closing Thoughts on this project

The color combination turned out to be very attractive.  The blue paint on the base piece, with polyurethane on it, looks fine.

Since I have not done any scroll sawing for almost a year, I got refreshed on how time consuming it is to cut out pieces with many holes in them!!  My rear end can not take setting on the stool doing scroll sawing for long periods of I either stand......or take breaks and do other make it more bearable.