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Splinter Guard: A Plethora of fails!

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” – Winston Churchill

Today I have broken things attempting to tweak the scroll saw / sewing machine with a splinter guard. The idea was that I would use a piece of transparent polycarbonate (scavenged from some old safety goggles) to sit between the presser foot and the work piece, both holding the wood down down and preventing any splintering of the edges.


Fail Number 1:

So to begin with I thought I would have some fun on the drill press and make some small holes in the presser foot. I could then put some small screws in, the sharp tips of which I hoped, would go through into the polycarbonate and keep it square on to the presser foot. A bit like this:

splinter guard pressure foot

The foot material was thankfully softer than expected and centre punching was easy. Here it is, marked ready for drilling.

Workpiece hold down

Precisely aligning it for drilling without a drill vice, using my home-made hold downs, was more than a little faff. But still, I ended up with two respectable looking holes.

small precise drilling
drilled holes ready

And then disaster struck… The self-tapping screws were a bit much for it :(

self-tapping split

Fail Number 2:

At this point I wondered what to do without a presser foot. And then I realised it didn’t matter. I could still use the upper part of the foot, and remove the split lower. But there was not room for holes or screws in this piece.

Idea: I would heat it up till very hot then, using pliers of course, carefully put it onto its fixing and push it down into the polycarbonate, allowing it to gracefully melt its own perfectly aligned recess. This fulfilled my criteria that it would be easy to replace the plastic, whenever I needed to change to different blades – I would simply repeat the process. Get the blowtorch out time!


And again, disaster!  In an Ironic twist, as I was faffing about trying to take a picture of the processes involved in this innovative new splinter guard method, the metal melted away like into a useless lump of plasticine :( :(

molten metal

This was not going back on the scroll saw, and at this point I was wondering what I would do, having thoroughly annihilated the presser foot…

Then I remembered… Spare sewing machine up in the loft!

Fail Number 3:

Moments later I was back with a new foot that just about fit after some grinding (that is the one in the first photo).  Screws wouldn’t work, and after liquefying the last foot, the blowtorch was out of the picture. I know, try the soldering iron, I thought… I would rest the presser foot in place, and gently heat it with the soldering iron until it began to form a comfy little home for itself in the plastic splinter guard. With the iron I could carefully control the heat and surely would not cause any more unwanted destruction.

What happened? Nothing… After 10 minutes trying various ‘heat exchange surface area’ expansion techniques I concluded this was a no goer. Just not enough power to heat the foot up enough it seems…


Maybe exasperation is a bit strong a term… In the end I decided to stick it to the presser foot with super glue. Which, wait for it… Actually worked OK.

But it still feels like a bit of a failed attempt. Why? Because I wanted to be able to easily replace the splinter guard every time I changed the blade, or when it was getting a bit tatty – which I imagine it will…  Still, for now it seems to be working, and I am getting splinterless cuts…

So what have I learned? Not sure.. That compromise is necessary I suppose. I will see how it works this way, and hopefully it will turn out as a success after all.

Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….” – Thomas Edison

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