Cutting Curves in Wood

Written by brian connolly
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Cutting Curves in Wood
Thanks to power tools, such as the jigsaw, cutting curves in wood is convenient. (Chris Clinton/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Knowing how to cut curves in wood is essential for the decorative carpenter. The ease and innovation of electric power tools, such as the jigsaw and scroll saw, have made precision cutting considerably easier for curves than using handsaws. Whether you're creating shelving units, kitchen utensils or a decorative scenery item, learning how to safely cut curves in wood is an important step toward achieving your woodworking goals.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Jigsaw
  • Electric sander
  • 2 sawhorses
  • 2 C-clamps or EZ-grip clamps
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • ½-inch carpenter's chisel
  • Safety gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Compass (optional)

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  1. 1

    Place your wood section so that it lies horizontally between the two sawhorses. Attach the wood to the sawhorses using two C-clamps, or EZ-grip clamps, by tightening each end of your wood section to a sawhorse. Ensure that your wood section is attached securely.

  2. 2

    Draw out your desired curve shape on the wood using the pencil. Use a ruler to help you measure out the depths of each curve so that they are uniform, while using a compass as needed. Put on your safety gloves and goggles and turn on the jigsaw.

  3. 3

    Begin cutting at the end of your pencil drawing using the jigsaw. If you are beginning the curve in the middle of the wood section, carefully puncture a small notch in the wood using a ½-inch carpenter's chisel before inserting the saw blade. Gently cut out your curves by following the pencilled drawing on the wood surface. Continue until you have cut out all of the desired curves.

  4. 4

    Sand down the cut edge of your curves using the electric sander. Sand down the corners and outer edges, creating a hard, smooth or grooved edge as desired.

  5. 5

    Remove the two C-clamps or EZ-grip clamps by rotating the bolt counter-clockwise until your wood section is free of the sawhorses.

Tips and warnings

  • You can place a thin rag or fabric swatch between the C-clamp bolt and the wood to prevent scuffing or damage. If the wood is particularly thick, you may need to use a scroll saw instead of the hand-held jigsaw. Take your time as you cut out the curves to prevent the saw from making inappropriate cuts.
  • Always keep children and animals away from power tools. Remember to unplug and store away all dangerous tools, such as the carpenter's chisel, when finished.

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