Dragonfly Addendum as 9 page pdf

Dragonfly Addendum

Oval Wire Eyes

One way to make dragonfly eyes is to wind craft wire (such as Artisan or Parawire) into a spiral.  You can find instructions on how to wind wire into a spiral using round nose pliers and chain nose (unserated) pliers on YouTube, such as: .  Round spiral eyes do look okay, but real dragonfly eyes do tend to wrap partly over the top of the head, and oval eyes are a closer approximation of this.  You don’t need the round nose pliers for these ovals.

Bend over tightly about ¼” (experiment to get the amount of oval you desire) of the end of the wire as in Figure #1.  Then, using the same technique as in the video for a round spiral, begin winding the wire around using the chain nose plier as in Figure #2.  Figure #3 shows the completed oval.


Figure #1:  Starting the spiral.  The longer the bent over section the more oval the eye will be.


Figure #2:  Starting to wind the spiral with chain nose pliers.


Figure #3:  The completed oval spiral.

You can try to just smush the spiral to fit the dragonfly’s head with your fingers, but, particularly if you flatten the wire after winding, it is easier to pre-form the wire to fit a hemisphere.  Your dragonfly’s face should be turned to a hemisphere for this.  You can use a dapping block (here’s a set from Contenti: ) to form the spiral to fit a hemisphere.  I made my own dapping block from a piece of steel using a ½” and 5/8” ball end mill.  I turned a short piece of wood to have a hemispherical face.  To use, place the oval spiral in the appropriate concave recess of the dapping block.  Place the hemispherical convex face of the punch over the spiral and tap with a mallet as in Figure #4.  Repeat for the other spiral eye, except orient the second so it winds the other way so you’ll have symmetrical eyes.


Figure #4:  Make the spiral fit the dragonfly’s face with a dapping block.

Flat wire shows more of the color, and expands the wire somewhat so you’ll have smaller gaps between the wire.  See Figure #5 to see the difference.  To flatten the wire, place the spiral on a smooth piece of metal that can serve as an anvil.  You could hammer the wire directly, but you’ll get smoother results if you use a strip of steel long enough to hold with your fingers well away from the hammer (say 1/8”x1”x12”).  Cover the entire spiral with the strip and hold the strip by the other end. Hammer over the spiral.


Figure #5:  Flattened and round wire spirals.

Glue the 1/8” pewter wire (for joining the head to the thorax) into the head.  Clamp the end of the wire in a vise with the location for an eye facing straight up.  Put on latex or nitrile gloves.  Place a small drop of CA glue on the head and then place the eye where you want it as in Figure #6.  Give the glue a chance to set, then readjust the head in the vise and repeat for the other eye.


Figure #6:  Glue the eye to the head.

Sheet Metal Eyes

You can also make eyes out of any reasonably malleable sheet metal, such as pewter, copper, or aluminum.  Draft your own ellipses (about 1/2” x 3/8”) or use the ones in the pattern sheet.  You can saw them out using a scroll saw or a fret saw.  It is much easier to control the saw if at least two teeth are engaged at all times.  You can arrange this by cutting multiple eyes at once or by adding layers of cereal box cardboard to add thickness.  You can just tape everything into a pad, then glue on pattern with spray adhesive.  To keep the layers from vibrating when cutting, you can cover both sides of the sheet metal and/or cardboard with blue tape, and glue the pad together with spray adhesive.

After cutting out the eyes, separate the layers and remove the tape.  Then use a dapping block to form them to fit the hemispherical face of the dragonfly.  Figure #7 shows two dragonfly heads with copper eyes that have been patinated.  The eyes on the left were patinated with a vinegar/salt soak.  The eyes on the right were heated with a torch, then sanded lightly. 


Figure #7:  Sheet metal eyes of patinated copper.

Head/Eye Blank

You can construct a blank for the head where the eyes are built in.  The two pieces are cut with matching V’s and glued together.  The blank is angled on the lathe so that the eyes will be above center.  Start with two pieces of wood that are 1” x 1” x 1-1/2”, one piece the same as your dragonfly body, and the other of a contrasting wood such as holly, as shown in Figure #8.


Figure #8:  Head/Eye blanks.

Stack the blanks and tape them together securely (it doesn’t matter which is on top).  Divide the top surface into thirds by measuring in 1/2” from each end and drawing lines across the top.  Mark the middle of one line.  Draw lines from the middle mark to the ends of the other line making a V, as in Figure #9.  Saw the lines on a bandsaw as in Figure #10.


Figure #9:  The taped and marked Head/Eye blank.


Figure #10:  Sawing the V-lines.

Separate the blanks by removing the tape.  Select the dragonfly body wood piece with a V-point and the contrasting piece with a V-notch, and discard the other two pieces (unless you want to make a dragonfly with a light body and dark eyes).  Spread a thin coat of wood glue on the inside of the V-notch and then clamp the two pieces together as in Figure #11 and allow the glue to cure overnight.


Figure #11:  Clamp the pieces together until the glue cures.

Remove the glued up blank and lay it down so that the V visible surface is on the side.  Find the midpoint of both ends and draw a 70 degree line to the edge.  The lines go to opposite sides as in Figure #12.  Trim the blank along the lines on the bandsaw.  Draw a line parallel to the sides from the V to the trimmed end and wrap the line down the trimmed surface.  Measure down 1/4" and make a mark as in Figure #13.  This will be a center for mounting the blank.  Repeat for the other end.


Figure #12:  Lay out the trim lines for the blank.


Figure #13:  Find the mounting centers.

Mount the blank between cup centers (so that you can tweak the alignment) on the lathe with the eyes towards the tailstock end as in Figure #14.  Turn the blank so at least the center portion is round.  Hold a pencil against the edge of the V and turn the lathe on briefly.  Check if the pencil line hits the top of the V of the other side.  If the pencil line misses the top of the other V as in Figure #15, readjust the mounting and try again.  A mis-aligned blank will have eyes with different sizes.


Figure #14:  Mount the blank between cup centers.


Figure #15:  Turn the blank round and check alignment.

Once the alignment is satisfactory, turn a short 1/8” tenon on the tailstock (eye) end of the blank as in Figure #16.  Mount the blank via the tenon in your chuck and bring up a cone tailstock center for support.  Use a parting tool and calipers to size the blank to the size of the dragonfly’s head as in Figure #17.  Then reduce most of the blank to that diameter.


Figure #16:  Turn a short tenon on the eye end of the blank.


Figure #17:  Size the blank to the maximum diameter of the head.

To help find where the dragonfly’s face should start (too close to the headstock and the eyes won’t be separated—too far and they’ll be too small) make pencil lines where the V’s are on both sides of the blank.  Then make a line half way in between these lines as in Figure #18.  The middle line should indicate about where the V will be in the middle of the blank.


Figure #18:  Make lines aligned with the V’s and one midway in between them to locate the approximate start of the dragonfly face.

With a skew and/or spindle gouge make a V-cut a little to the headstock side of where the face should start as in Figure # 19.  Then start rounding the face.  You should adjust the cut so there’s a little bit of room between the eyes when looking from both sides of the blank.  Then round over the face with a spindle gouge.


Figure #19:  Start a V cut to find where the face should start.

Mark the length of the head on the blank as in Figure #20.  Make a parting tool cut to define the back of the head and start rounding over the back as in Figure #21.  I had been making too many heads with spiral wire or metal eyes when I photographed this sequence and made the face a hemisphere.  Instead, round over both the face and the back of the head from the middle of the head so that the eyes will be oval.


Figure #20:  Mark the back of the head.


Figure #21:  Define the back of the head and start rounding it over.

Continue to shape the back of the head and cut off the nub.  Cut a drill starting dimple in the back of the head as in Figure #22.  Use tape to mark a drill bit (that is the size of the minimum diameter of your bead drive) about 1/8” less than the length of the head.  Drill into the back of the head as in Figure #23.


Figure #22:  Cut a dimple in the back of the head to drill centered.


Figure #23:  Drill a hole for the bead drive in the back of the head.

Remove the head blank and mount your bead drive.  Mount the head loosely on the bead drive and use a tailstock center to push the head onto the bead drive firmly as in Figure #24.  This will help mount the head centered.  Using tailstock support as long as possible continue shaping and refining the face until the nub is removed as in Figure #25.


Figure #24:  Mount head centered on bead drive with the aid of a tailstock center.


Figure #25:  Finish turning the head.

Sand and polish the head as in Figure #26.  Figure #27 shows eyes that are more oval when I could pay full attention to my turning instead of half to my camera (or at least that’s my excuse).


Figure #26:  Sand and polish the head.


Figure #27:  More oval eyes when I was paying full attention.

Slotted Thorax

Wing styles that aren’t wire based can be mounted by cutting a slot in the thorax.  Cutting a slot in a completed thorax, especially on a bandsaw, would be difficult to do safely.  But you can easily cut the slot if you do it while the thorax is still attached to the still square turning blank.  Follow the sequence in the main article until you’ve drilled the hole through the thorax as in Figure #28.


Figure #28:  Thorax drilled and still attached to square turning blank.

Remove the turning blank from the chuck.  For relatively thick wings, such as laminated veneer or polystyrene, cut the slot on a bandsaw.  It’s safer with a fine toothed blade.  Set the fence so that the slot is about one quarter of the diameter of the thorax away from the top when the turning blank is against the fence.  Holding the turning blank well towards the rear so that your fingers are away from the blade, slowly feed the thorax into the blade until that slot stops about 3/16” from cutting through as in Figure #29.  Pull the thorax out and check the fit of your wings.  If the slot needs to be wider you can shim the turning blank with tape (for a minor increase in width), or folded paper or cereal box cardboard for a bigger adjustment, and then cut again.


Figure #29:  Cutting a slot safely on the bandsaw.

Thin slots for sheet metal wings can be cut by hand.  Try some cuts in scrap wood with various saws to see what saw that you have will give the best fit.  Clamp the turning blank by the still square portion vertically in a vise.  Then use a hand saw to cut the slot as in Figure #30.


Figure #30: Cutting a slot with a vise and handsaw.

Remount the turning blank as in Figure #31 and return to the sequence of the main article.  Figure #32 shows a completed slotted thorax.


Figure #31:  Remount the turning blank after cutting the slot.


Figure #32:  The completed slotted thorax.

Mesh Wings

Figure #33 shows a dragonfly with wings made of laminated veneer and mesh, or net, fabric. The interior lines suggest major veins and the mesh suggest the smaller vein networks of real dragonflies.


Figure #33:  Veneer and mesh winged dragonfly

Ordinarily when laminating veneer, I use three layers of veneer, but in this case I substituted paper to stabilize the veneer and make it crack resistant.  From top to bottom the layers are maple veneer/paper/mesh/paper/maple veneer.  3M #77 spray adhesive sticks everything together.  The inside holes are cut out, then the mesh glued in between the veneer/paper layers and then the outside is cut out.  Registration pins are used to keep everything in alignment.

Print out the pattern from the pattern sheet and cut two pieces of veneer, two pieces of paper and two pieces of cereal box cardboard to 2-1/2” x 8”.  Sand one surface of each veneer piece Lay out the veneer (sanded side down) and paper pieces on newspaper as in Figure #34 and spray with spray adhesive.  You can spray the pattern piece at this time as well.  After the adhesive gets tacky attach a paper piece to each veneer piece.


Figure #34:  Use spray adhesive to attach paper reinforcement to each veneer piece.

Sort the veneer and cardboard pieces for combining into a pad as in Figure #35.  From top to bottom you should have cardboard, then veneer/paper with veneer side up, then veneer/paper with paper side up, and then cardboard.  Tape the sorted layers into a pad with blue masking tape as in Figure #36, and then attach the pattern.


Figure #35:  Sort the layers for a pad.


Figure #36:  Tape the layers into a pad and attach the pattern.

Find some small brads to use as registration pins and a drill bit that matches the diameter of the brads.  Test drill on scrap wood and try inserting a brad to make sure you selected the correct size of bit.  At each corner of the pattern there is a cross (one cross is further from the corner so that the pad can only be reassembled one way).  Drill a hole at each cross as in Figure #37.  Insert a brad in each hole from the bottom, then clip the brad flush on top, and tape over the brad so it can’t fall out as in Figure #38.


Figure #37:  Drill for registration pins at the crosses on the pattern.


Figure #38:  Insert, clip, and tape over the pins.

Select a drill bit that is bigger than your scroll saw blade and drill access holes in all of the interior areas of the pattern as in Figure #39.  Then cut out the interior areas of the pattern on a scroll saw as in Figure #40.  I used a #3 blade.  You could use a fret saw if you don’t have a scroll saw.


Figure #39:  Drill access holes for all interior areas of the pattern.


Figure #40:  Cut out the interior areas on a scroll saw.

Disassemble the pad by removing and discarding the pins and slitting the tape with a utility knife as in Figure #41.  Sand away any burrs on the interior cuts.  Then place the veneer/paper pieces paper side up on newspaper and spray with 3M #77 as in Figure #42.


Figure #41:  Disassemble the pad.


Figure #42:  Spray the paper sides of the veneer/paper pieces with spray adhesive.

The bottom veneer/paper piece is the one with the registration hole further from the upper right corner when paper side up.  Push a fresh set of brads through the holes in the bottom cardboard piece and in this piece from the veneer side.  Then lay the mesh fabric over the piece as in Figure #43.  Start threading the brads through the top piece but don’t press it all the way down until engaging all four brads as in Figure #44.  Then press the top layer down firmly as in Figure #45.


Figure #43:  Insert new pins in the bottom piece and add the mesh fabric.



Figure #44:  Start all four pins in the top layer.


Figure #45:  Press the layers together.

Thread all four brads through the holes in the pattern piece as in Figure #46 and tape into a pad.  Then trim and tape over the brads as in Figure #47 


Figure #46:  Replace the pattern.


Figure #47:  Trim and tape over the brads.

Now saw out the wings on the outside lines of the pattern as in Figure #48.  Sand away any burrs on the exterior cuts.  You can finish the wing with spray lacquer if you wish at this point.  If you use a wire hook you can spray both sides at once.  Slide the thorax over the wing and check that the flat area of the wing front slides all the way into the slot.  Extend the flat area if necessary.  Slide the thorax on again and mark any excess that needs to be removed from the back of the wing with pencil as in Figure #49.  Trim to the pencil line with the scroll saw, then put a thin coat of glue on both sides of the thorax covered area of the wing and slide the thorax into place.


Figure #48:  Cut out the wings.


Figure #49:  Mark any excess that needs to be removed to fit the thorax.

Tissue Paper Wings

Tissue paper coated with lacquer sanding sealer becomes translucent and filmy looking.  Figure #50 shows a tissue paper and wire winged dragonfly.


Figure #50:  A dragonfly with tissue paper covered wire wings.

As shown in the main article, form wing wires around the templates, tape the ends and bend the ends down.  Don’t flatten the wire.  Place the wing wires on newspaper and spray with 3M #77 adhesive as in Figure #51.  Cut out eight pieces of tissue paper while you’re waiting for the adhesive to get tacky.


Figure #51:  Spray the wing wires with adhesive.

Place the wing wire adhesive sprayed side down on a piece of tissue as in Figure #52.  It’s easier to trim the paper if the tape holding the wing wires aligned lines up with the edge of the tissue.  Trim the tissue to a margin of about 1/4" around the wing wire and make relief cuts at right angles to the wire forming little tabs.  Make the relief cuts close together at tight curves. 


Figure #52:  Place the adhesive sprayed wing wire on tissue paper.

For the next step you need Lacquer Sanding Sealer and a brush.  I tried using brushing lacquer for this step, and it doesn’t dry fast enough.  As lacquer and spray adhesive share acetone as a solvent, the lacquer would often dissolve the bond between wire and paper before bonding the tab down, whereas lacquer sanding sealer dries much faster.  I thought adhesive might look mottled or cloudy.  Brush two or three tabs at a time with the lacquer sanding sealer and fold the tabs over as in Figure #53.  Repeat until all the tabs are lacquered down.  Repeat for the other wings.


Figure #53:  Lacquer down the tabs of tissue around the wire.

Once the lacquer sanding sealer has set, spread a fresh coat of lacquer sanding sealer over the wing and quickly press another piece of tissue on as in Figure #54, which will cover up the tabs making them less visible.  Let the lacquer sanding sealer set again, then trim the excess tissue with scissors as in Figure #55.  You can add additional coats of lacquer sanding sealer or spray lacquer if you like at this point.  Then remove the tape and mount the wings as in the main article.


Figure #54:  Use Lacquer Sanding Sealer to adhere another layer of tissue to cover the tabs.


Figure #55:  Trim the excess tissue.

Polystyrene Wings

Polystyrene is used as a plastic glass substitute for picture frames, and that’s the easiest way to buy it—just go to Michael’s or the like.  Polystyrene is clear and cuts easily with a scroll saw.  Figure #56 shows a dragonfly with wings made of polystyrene and a pattern printed out on a clear shipping label.


Figure #56:  Dragonfly with polystyrene wings.

Download the full page pattern and print out onto an 8-1/2x11 clear shipping label.  Leaving the backing on, cut out one of the wing patterns and cut along the flat at the middle of the front.  Slide the thorax onto the pattern and trace the thorax with pencil.  Draw a smooth transition of the back of the middle of the wing pattern to the thorax as in Figure #57.


Figure #57:  Adjust the pattern to the thorax.

Remove the label backing and apply the label to the polystyrene as in Figure #58.  I put green (as the pattern color was blue) masking tape on the other side to protect the other side from scratches.


Figure #58:  Apply to label to the polystyrene.

Now saw out the wings using a scroll saw or fret saw as in Figure #59.  Remove the green protective tape.  My thorax fit a little loosely on the polystyrene so I used blue tape as a shim.  Apply CA glue to the thorax area on both sides of the polystyrene and glue the thorax on as in Figure #60.  Figure #61 shows the mounted wings.


Figure #59:  Saw out the wings.


Figure #60:  Glue the wings into the thorax slot.


Figure #61:  The mounted wings.

An alternative way to do polystyrene wings would be to cover both sides of the polystyrene with blue tape.  Print out the pattern on regular paper and glue a pattern onto the taped polystyrene with spray adhesive, then cut out on the scroll saw.  Remove the tape.  Place the cut out wings on top of the pattern and trace as many of the lines as you wish with an awl.  You can use wing at this point, or apply acrylic paint to the scratched surface of the wing and then wipe it away.  The paint will only remain in the scratches, making them more visible.

Sheet Metal Wings

You can also cut wings out of soft sheet metal.  Aluminum and copper work nicely, particularly if paired with legs and perhaps eyes of the same material.  Figure #62 shows a dragonfly with copper wings and legs and patinated copper eyes.


Figure #62:  A dragonfly with copper wings, legs, and eyes.

Sheet metal being cut on a scroll saw will behave much better if at least two teeth are in the material at all times, else it tends to jump and grab and even break blades.  There are two obvious ways to do this:  Make the material thicker or select a scroll saw with more teeth.  As the latter option cuts rather slowly for someone used to the speed of woodturning (or maybe it’s just me), I prefer to add thickness.  You can do this either by cutting several wings at once or by adding layers of something like cereal box cardboard.  It’s helpful if the whole pad is bound together instead of just being taped together at the edges.  That way you don’t have to retape the pad after sawing each exterior side, and you don’t have the layers vibrating when cutting.  As sheet metal is very flexible, you can easily remove layers fastened together with blue tape.

Cut out the pattern and either four layers of sheet metal or one layer of sheet metal and several cardboard to 2-1/2” x 7-1/2”. Cover both sides of each piece of metal with blue masking tape.  Spray one side of each taped metal and cardboard piece with 3M #77 adhesive.  Assemble a pad by stacking the layers adhesive side up, followed by the pattern, then press it all together firmly.  Select a drill bit larger than your scroll saw blade and drill access holes in all of the interior spaces.

First saw out all the interior spaces as in Figure #63.  Then saw out the exterior outline.  If you need to adjust the central area to each thorax, either use tin snips, or temporarily attach a thicker backing to the central area and use the scroll saw.


Figure #63:  Saw out the interior spaces first.

Abrade the thorax covered area of the wing and then glue the wing into the thorax with CA glue.  If necessary, you can shim the wing for a tighter fit with tape or veneer.

Filigreed Wings

There is also a pattern for filigreed wings.  As there’s more material left cutting out this is suitable for weaker materials, such as laminated veneer or pewter sheet.  Figure #64 shows a dragonfly with pewter wings and eyes.  Don’t try 1/16” pewter wire for the legs as it’s too floppy and your dragonfly’s belly will be dragging shortly.  The pewter sheet I used is the thinnest Contenti carries, and is 0.0312” thick.


Figure #64:  A dragonfly with pewter eyes and filigreed pewter wings.

Make a pad of multiple sheets or add cardboard as in the previous section.  I cut the interior filigree first, using a spiral scroll saw blade after drilling access holes with a drill bit the size of the spiral blade’s kerf.  If you have an ultra-high speed pneumatic carving tool you could use it for the filigree, but perhaps only on laminated veneer.  Mount the wings as in the previous section.