I'm a big fan of Harvey Ellis design furniture so all my work has at least a
couple of arched cuts. My current project has 12. After botching several
pieces of nice oak I have arrived at what I think is essentially a foolproof
technique for cutting uniform arches. The set up seems a bit time consuming
but I am confident that it is faster from start to finish and with MUCH
better results than other methods I have tried.
Step 1: Lay out the arch on a piece of inexpensive hardwood that will be
your template. Of course this involves some geometry but I'll leave that out
of this post.
Step 2: Use a 1 x 2 or 1 x 1 to make a bow. Run a wire from one end to the
other and devise a way to tighten the string to get exactly the bow or curve
you want. That is, tighten it to make it match the curve you laid out on
Step 3: Rough cut your template on the bandsaw. The rule I use is "don't
remove the pencil line" and I find that this give me the most consistent
Step 4: Align your bow with the pencil line curve and screw it in place at 3
points minimum. Depending on the length, more may be better.
Step 5: Use a flush trim bit on your router table to clean up the bandsaw
cut to match the bow. Remove the bow and you have a perfect template.
Step 6: Use the template to scribe the curve on each work piece.
Step 7: Rough cut each work piece on the bandsaw as in step 3.
Step 8: Mount the template on a work piece with double sided tape or screw
it in place. DO NOT scrimp on tape!!! Don't ask me how I know this :-(
Step 9: Clean up the cut on router table as in step 5.
This technique was my own idea but it may be well known and old news to some
of you. If you already knew about it please don't make fun of those of us
who are still in the process of discovery.
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On 17 Nov 2003, Jim Martin spake unto rec.woodworking:
It's probably unnecessary to add this, but this will only work if the
batten you are bending is of uniform grain and density. Before continuing
with your other steps, flip your tensioned batten over and make sure that
the arch is symmetrical. Otherwise you could end up with twelve identical
Jim what you have discovered is called "Pattern Cutting" There are numerous
ways to make the pattern.
When doing any kind of freeform curve ie: not a radius, you make only half
the arch then use the same method to make the full arch.
Actually you ar making a pattern to make a pattern. in some complex
situation i have had to make 5 or 6 patterne to make the final pattern.
If your arch is a segment of a radius then swing your router like a compass
to make the pattern.
Pattern cutting is used when you have many peices to make of the same size.
Heavy pattern cutting can be done on a shaper, but i shouldn't mention that
I use ply for templates, make the 5/8 variety for symmetry. Do yourself a
favor and make the template long enough to rest on your pattern bearing
before the bit engages. Else, starting pin. They run fast away....
NB, save the patterns. Just your luck someone'll take a fancy to the piece
the week after you pitch 'em. DAMHIKT
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