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!
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!!!
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.
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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