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Project by kiefer posted 08-20-2014 10:51 PM 3421 views 10 times favorited 31 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I thought I post this because I never see anybody using this inexpensive tool .

The French curve is one drawing instrument that has many uses in the shop and I could not do without them and it sure beats drawing a curve free hand or using things like a roll of tape or bent stick ETC. to arrive at a desired curved shape.

A friend called this morning asking if I new how to draw an oval and I said just come over and I show you the easy way .
When he arrived I ask him if he had a set of french curves and he looked at me and said what is that .
Off to the shop we went and I showed him the set of French curves and said this is what you use .
The oval he needed is for a box bottom and it has to have a nice shape .
Anyway this is how I draw an oval .
Take a sheet of paper the size neededand fold it into quarters and unfold ,mark the centre lines along the creases and lay out the dimensions in this case 11 1/4” x 6”

Lay the french curve on the paper touching the marks and slide to the desired shape and draw a pencil line and now with the paper folded up cut along the line and unfold the paper .

Here are the two pieces we cut out on the bandsaw and cleaned up a bit with a file and note the centre line marks on the pattern and workpiece which can be helpful later for accurate reference .

For the inside the same process can be done by marking several dots a certain distance from the edge close to perpendicular and connecting the dots .With a little tweeking and you should have a nice parrallel line and that would make a nice picture or mirror frame .
There is the oval quick and easy and no compass or any fancy geometry required and you only need to draw a quarter of the oval .
Keep the pattern it may have use down the road for another project .

I hope this helps someone .


-- Kiefer

31 comments so far

View Woodbridge's profile


3718 posts in 3229 days

#1 posted 08-20-2014 10:55 PM

Thanks for sharing the tip. I agree with you that french curves are very useful. I have a set in my shop as well.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4152 posts in 3920 days

#2 posted 08-20-2014 11:07 PM

Indeed. Now the Neanderthalers don’t need a computer. ;) Then again, ellipse tools have been around for millenia. I have a lot of old drafting equipment. No sliding T-square, but the table for it. I think I have every size of the French curves, also have 45-45-90 and 30-60-90 triangles in a few sizes. Compasses, etc., I even have some antique slide rules. That’s what we used back in the day in the US Navy.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View jaykaypur's profile


4017 posts in 3219 days

#3 posted 08-20-2014 11:12 PM

I don’t have one of these but after seeing this, it is now on my BUY NOW list. Thanks for the lesson…..I learned a new trick today!

-- Use it up, Wear it out --------------- Make it do, Or do without!

View hotncold's profile


788 posts in 2356 days

#4 posted 08-21-2014 12:08 AM

I’ve used my French curve templates to draw curves, arches, etc…but I never knew this. What a great tip!

-- Dennie - Tennessee

View hoss12992's profile


4172 posts in 2704 days

#5 posted 08-21-2014 12:19 AM

That is really cool, and you explained it very well. I would be totally lost with out my french curves. Great job buddy

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3103 days

#6 posted 08-21-2014 12:25 AM

Nice write up on using a French curve. As a old timer, I forget people didn’t grow up drafting the old fashion way.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4120 days

#7 posted 08-21-2014 12:46 AM

A definite handy tool for many uses. I have a set I bought at Office Depot and frequently use them.

View DocSavage45's profile


9009 posts in 3654 days

#8 posted 08-21-2014 01:56 AM

This is in my tool kit as well. Bought some new ones as the old ones were broken.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4387 days

#9 posted 08-21-2014 02:12 AM

I have that curve but never used it for an oval.
Thank you very much my friend.
That is a very handy trick.
I always learn something when I watch your posts.

View eddie's profile


8565 posts in 3425 days

#10 posted 08-21-2014 02:15 AM

thanks Klaus im like your friend didn’t know the use of those instruments, great instructions too .will defiently use and learn more on them after i get a set ,i guess ill be looking for the french curve for dummies book too :)

-- Jesus Is Alright with me

View doubleDD's profile


9547 posts in 2854 days

#11 posted 08-21-2014 04:12 AM

I have a few sets of these french curve sets. They are life and time savers. great for use on trim work also. It’s so easy to change the radius with a turn of curve. Thanks for posting Klaus. Hope others can get great results with these.

-- Dave, Downers Grove, Il. -------- When you run out of ideas, start building your dreams.

View mikethetermite's profile


601 posts in 4077 days

#12 posted 08-21-2014 05:52 AM

I have a French curve but never used it for an oval.

Thanks for the tip,

-- Mike The Termite ~~~~~ Working safely may get old, but so do those who practice it.

View Jim Rowe's profile

Jim Rowe

1116 posts in 3124 days

#13 posted 08-21-2014 08:03 AM

These are really useful pieces of kit to have around when you need an elegant curve on a a project. A must have in the tool draw.

-- It always looks better when it's finished!

View stefang's profile


17039 posts in 4145 days

#14 posted 08-21-2014 08:18 AM

I have a French curve Klaus, but have never used it to make an oval. Thanks for the lesson.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Jim Jakosh's profile (online now)

Jim Jakosh

24990 posts in 3917 days

#15 posted 08-21-2014 10:37 AM

That is neat Klaus. I have not tried to complete an oval with them. I have three french curves: Gigi, Fifi and Monique and I use them all the time for matching curves to radii to make an appealing look.

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

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