Woodworking Curves And Arcs

Two ways to draw shallow arcs:

Creating a regular arc requires tricky calculations or an elaborate jig right? Not necessarily. A trio of nails and a strip of wood will do the job. Tack one nail at each endpoint of the arc, and tack the third nail at the apex of the arc, spaced evenly between the endpoints. Cut a thin strip of plywood or hardboard that’s at least a few inches longer than the length of the arc. Trace along the inside edge of the strip to draw your shallow arc.

A variation of this method is simply to insert the wood strip between the jaws of a pipe clamp and tighten the clamp until the strip bows to form an arc of the radius you’re seeking. This method is not as accurate, but it won’t leave any nail holes in the workpiece.

Make a simple trammel for drawing circle:

A trammel is a marking device that pivots around a centerpoint to create a circle. You can buy fancy milled steel woodworking trammels, or you can make your own with a thin strip of hardboard.

Just drive a nail through one end of the strip, then measure out from the nail toward the other end an amount equal to the radius of the circle. Mark a centerpoint for drilling a pencil guide hole at that point (usually, 3/8 inch diameter).

Tack the nail at the center of the workpiece, insert the pencil into the guide hole, then make a single revolution around the nail with the pencil to draw the circle.

How to draw an oval:

Draw perpendicular lines to mark the length and width of the oval. Measuring out from the point of intersection, mark endpoints for the length (A, B) and the width (C, D).

Set a compass or trammel to draw an arc that’s half as long as the length of the oval. With the point of the compass or trammel at one endpoint for the oval width (C or D), scribe hash marks on the length line (points E, F).

Tack nails at points E and F. Tie a string to the nails so the amount of string between the nails is the same as the distance from A to F. Pull the string taut with a pencil tip and trace the oval.

Making Arcs & Curves The Easy Way

In this video, I show you how to make arcs and curves quickly, accurately and easily. This method involves only a few simple tools: a hammer, some finishing nails, a piece of flexible trim, a pencil and your tape measure. This method ensures that you will have a symmetrical curve on your workpiece without having to do complicated calculations or math. You can use this method to create almost any edge shape that involves curves quickly and easily.

Marking Out Woodwork – CURVES

Showing simple ways of drawing curves and circles without a compass. Also shows a simple method of drawing an elliptical arch. Two other videos available, covering Marking Out ANGLES and basic Tools & Techniques for marking out woodwork.

How to Lay Out an Ellipse – WOOD Magazine

An elliptical tabletop is more interesting than a round one, but a round one is easier to lay out. This method for drawing an ellipse is about as simple as you’ll ever find, and dead-on accurate. It requires only a framing square and a few other common shop items.

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