Working curved surfaces?

I'm building a Halltree and the plans call for curved arms, approx 2" x 4" x 15" in walnut. I cut them on a band saw to the pattern, and now have to make them smooth and pretty. On the front supports, I used a drum sander in the drill press to rough them to size, then a half round file, eventually sand paper. Seems like a lot of work!
What is a good way to smooth these puppies, or similar projects, in the future? I have the usual assortment of hand tools, but all seem to work with flat/straight surfaces. What did people use before power tools??? And making two pieces the same shape???
Any ideas will be appreciated!
Regards, Rich.....
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wrote:

I chuck a drum into my drill press. Other times I make custom sanding blocks and staple sandpaper to them. Draw the curved line, bandsaw leaving the line, sand to remove half the line. And yes, it's lots of work. Someday I'm gonna splurge for that $600 Grizzly spindle sander. Be extra careful with your lungs and walnut dust!!!
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Cabinet Scraper

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I use a good rasp. It is a Nicholson pattern makers rasp. It is fast and leaves a smoother surface than cheaper tools. I have spoke shaves and card scrapers I would use as well.
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For smoothing curves I use a flexible sanding block. Mine's just a piece of bending 1/8" bending plywood that's 2.5x16" with a wooden knob on each end. I put a 16" long piece of 3M psa Stikit sandpaper on it (the 2.5" wide rolls) and then sand the curve smooth after cutting it close on the bandsaw. If I'm making more than one (and many times even if only one) I'll make a plywood template first, and then use it to template rout the final piece(s). You can also buy flexible sanding blocks from automotive supply stores - they're sometimes called longboards.
JP
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rich wrote:

Spokeshaves, draw knives, rounding planes, ...
A veritable plethora of alternatives abound in the traditional toolkit.
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wrote:

Spokeshaves, coping saws, scrapers, compass planes, scorps, rasps, carving knives are examples of hand tools used to work curves. Identical pieces were marked out from the same pattern, and measure with guages, dividers, jigs, etc...
Many hand made antiques have parts that are FAR from identical, but very close looking in actual installation. If you stacked some of those parts, you'd be blown away how different some can be and still look good. I've seen this when disassembling pieces for restoration. The parts are often not interchangeable on hand made items.
Lots of antiques were in fact made in factories that had machines capable of duplicating or following patterns.
Nowadays, I'd make a pattern, double-sided tape it to the stock, rough it on the band saw. and finish with a pattern bit in a router. Final prep would be with a card scraper or sanding sponges.
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Thanks for all the suggestions. It sounds like I'm doing it about right, but a pattern and the router is one I didn't think of.
Rich.....
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