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Speedway Scroll Cuts
By Ian Gill

Ian Gill and some of his creations

My circuitous route to being a Speedway scroll saw-er can be traced back to an August evening back in 1963. It was the night I first saw speedway when my father took me, aged six, to Long Eaton's Station Road track. I wasn't sure what was happening amidst the dust, the noise, the chrome and the crashes but I came away wanting to be a speedway rider! I actually wanted to be the next Danny Dunton who top scored for the Archers that night.

I remained an avid fan of Long Eaton through to their closure in 1997 but my hopes of being a rider never materialised until 2012 when - mid-life crisis - I went along to a training school at Scunthorpe. My goodness, how much fun was it! From the moment of pulling on the kevlars - ex-Nicki Pedersen - I was totally hooked.

For almost two years, I lived the dream. I had my own 500cc bike and graduated to racing in Amateur meetings picking up a few trophies along the way. But then, I literally 'hit the wall' and progress was halted in an instant as I met the Scunthorpe safety fence with some very serious damage resulting. To me, rather than the fence, I hasten to add.

A nine-month rehab left plenty of time to contemplating new hobbies as the days of playing sport were well and truly over.

I saw a video about scroll sawing and it looked both challenging and interesting (and safer than riding speedway!) so I bought my first machine.

But, when it arrived, just what to make? I didn't want anything too complex so I designed a pair of Long Eaton Rangers race-jacket shaped book-ends. Not exactly splitting the atom, but a challenge nevertheless and I was so proud of my efforts, I posted a picture on Facebook.

Suddenly, I had lift-off! A friend on Facebook, Terry Akiens, asked if I would make him five Leicester Lions race jackets and to let him know the cost! I had, inadvertently, made a sale! I made the set for Terry and he kindly shared them on Facebook. Within a week orders flooded in; I had 40 in one of the early weeks. It was a bit stressful, certainly chaotic, but very enjoyable.

That was three years ago and since then I have literally made hundreds of pieces of Scroll Saw Speedway art and I like to think that standards have most definitely improved. Some of the cuts I make these days are so tricky that I could only have dreamed about reaching that standard when I first started. The photograph above shows my first piece of work and one of my latest creations.

My work has - unbelievably - gone to all corners of the globe and various pieces are on display in the speedway Museum at Paradise Park, a venue that we have exhibited at for three years (under our KG Creations banner) for the Celebration of Speedway. The largest piece I've created so far has been a 20 sq. ft. mural of ex Bradford rider Sid Sheldrick, which is on display in Florida.

For something along the lines of one of my rider portrait/action pictures there are probably around 8 hours work involved with at least the initial couple of hours researching and locating suitable photographs to work with as not every photo works due to shadows, lack of definition etc.

I then use a computer programme to change the image(s) into black and white format (the black areas being those which will be cut out). There is still a considerable amount of work to be done before I can achieve a cutting plan suitable to work with. I use a combination of - hi-tech this! - Tippex and black felt-tip to alter the computer-generated image to a suitable cutting plan. As my experience has grown, I now know much quicker what changes are required for the plan to work.

For a portrait, the key areas are the eyes, the mouth and the nose of the rider. If we don't get those right, the picture simply will not work.

Then it's cutting time. I use various combinations of 3mm veneer-faced plywood and thin mdf sheet for the portraits and race-jackets and the ply is very unforgiving if you make a mistake, so it's very important to concentrate.

The blades I use for cutting are 1/100th of an inch in thickness and are good for around 20 minutes of cutting before they have to be replaced. An average 14 x 11 portrait/action picture will take around 4-6 hours of cutting time, so I get through a fair few blades!

There are a couple of small videos in the Blog on our website - https://kgcreations.co.uk - which shows how we make both a portrait action picture and a race jacket.

Once everything is cut, I use Danish Oil to enhance the wood veneer. If it's a race jacket, then there are numerous coats of primer, enamel paint and lacquer to be applied before it's deemed finished.

Quite a lot of the work I do is suggested by speedway fans with 90% being retro work, and the missus is always trying to get me to diversify into other sports or pop culture and whilst I have done a few pieces in those genres, my main enthusiasm continues to remain in the speedway world.

So there you have it. A speedway story with a difference created by That Bloke dahn t'shed!


This article was first published on 1st March 2020

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