What Are Flexible Curves?

Written by kyle fiechter
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In woodworking, a spline is a flexible strip of wood, rubber or metal used for drawing curved lines or as a flexible ruler. Splines are often called flexible curves, which usually refers to a rubber or plastic spline that can easily be reshaped and is useful for measuring and drawing lines.

Flexible Curve as a Ruler

Flexible curves can form to the shape of curved wood. They hold their shape to give precise measurements on curved objects and for increased ease of use (the rubber or plastic generally encases flexible metal so the shape does not spring back). These rulers are calibrated and usually include both metric and imperial units; non-calibrated flexible curves are also available.

Flexible Curve for Drawing

Because flexible curves hold their shape, they can be used for drawing lines and mimicking irregular shapes. The flexible curve is formed to the curvature of a piece of wood, then removed and placed on another block of wood. A line can be drawn along the edge of the flexible curve to create a copy of the curved piece of wood. Flexible curves sometimes have an inking edge (a raised lip edge) and a pencil edge for increased ease of use.


Flexible curves commonly come in lengths of 12, 18, 20, 24 and 36 inches. They are often nearly square, measuring 3/8 inch high by 1/4 inch wide.


The cost of flexible curves ranges from about £5 to £9 in January 2011. Flexible curves with higher prices often have longer lengths and are calibrated so they can be used as rulers.

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