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How to work with (cut) curved wood

856 Views 14 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  WoodenDreams
So, I am trying to build an ottoman for an Adirondack chair, and I hit a snag. Up until now, I have always worked with squared lumber. However, for this project I need to use staves from a wine barrel that are curved.

My question is this, how do I cut my curved staves to have them look like the attached ottoman image. That is, how do I cut them on my table saw. Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.

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Using a hand saw, jig saw, or even a band saw is much safer way to cut those staves

If you must use a table saw, suggesting making a special cross cut jig that matched the stave curve, and has multiple quick release clamps (or equivalent) to keep the stave clamped into jig.

Inside of charred oak barrels have heavy charcoal surface. Everything it touches will be black. It's also not safe to breath charcoal filled sanding dust, so make sure to use a sander with vacuum dust removal.

FWIW - I would not want to sit in chair made with charred barrel staves. Would be worried about getting black lines on my clothes, and looking like a prison escapee. :-(0)

Best Luck on project!
My first thought is bandsaw. Are you talking about a rip cut or crosscut?
Looks like that curve should be bent instead of cut. Pretty simple to do if you think about it. ......... Jerry (in Tucson)
Thanks for the replies, I have had this project in my back pocket for some time, and the wife told me she wants her garage back so I'm trying to make it happen this weekend.

It appears I will need to both crosscut and rip the staves I have to allow them to lay parallel across the top of the ottoman. For the crosscut, I think CaptainKlutz has a good idea of using a hand or jig saw. To crosscut on the table saw seems a bit precarious. For ripping the staves, I'm assuming that the table saw is my only options. Assuming the height of the stave is not greater thank my saw blade.

Nubsnstubs, I'm uncertain what it means to bend, but I am starting with the staves curved already. I just need them down to size to work with for this project. Below is the image of the starting staves.

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Make a simple carrier jig that bears against your fence on one edge and meets the blade at the other. Put hold down clamps on the ends the hold down the ends of the staves. I'm thinking in terms of the curve facing up. You may need to carve something additional to hold the ends down well.
.. For ripping the staves, I m assuming that the table saw is my only options. - spaine
Would make rip cut with band saw. It is no different than a TS cutting against a fence, except it removes potential for kick back if stave has a twist.
Use a 1/2 wide blade 6-10TPI depending on thickness, move slow and steady with curve ends pointing up, and keep the stave pressed flat to table in front of the blade as you push through. If they are long lengths, have a helper support the ends; so you focus on keeping stave against table/fence at blade.
If the curved wood gets too far above table, it will get pulled down, maybe violently; requiring a change in underwear.
IMHO - Change in underwear is better than wearing a stave through belly from TS kick back.
I.E. Lessor of evils choice.

I don't think I would be comfortable doing the rip cut on the table saw. Question is do you have a bandsaw and if yes does it have a fence? Still may need a plane to fine tune the edges along with a funky clamp jig.
Band saw is the correct answer. A jig saw will get you a cut, but probably not a very good one as the flat plate of your saw is going to ride over the curve hump of the staves.

To crosscut the bandsaw or a handsaw would make good cuts. Just be sure to use a good hold down for the staves if hand cutting.

And is there a finish that will show off the barrel charring without transferring color when the chair is used?
Use the jointer on the first side then run the second through the table saw rolling it as you push it through.
No jigs or clamps necessary
CommonJoe, That has me looking away so I won't have to see it.
Use the jointer on the first side then run the second through the table saw rolling it as you push it through.
No jigs or clamps necessary

- CommonJoe
While I think I would use my band saw for the rip cuts.
I've done similar to what Joe says here. Works well, but you must be really paying attention.
Good push stick, commit to the process. first time trying things like this, I would make a pass with the blade out of the way to work out the details of how I am going to control the roll and keep it against the fence and all.
Once I feel good about how it has to go, bring the blade up and do it.
Plenty of cuts, maybe this one would be helpful if, sometime even require a second person on the outfeed side to complete the cut.

Crosscut on the table saw too with an appropriate size fence attached to the miter gauge. Curve ends down.

Just think it through before the saw is on.
Good luck and be safe.
If they were bent laminations a TS is fine I just did a slew with no problems b/c they are not twisted.. That said I would not without a splitter. I did all the xcuts on BS

Funny I just finished a modification to Michael Fortunes garden chair that is similar.

IMO the downfall of an Adirondack is the steep seat and tilted back. I suggest you straighten the back or that chair will be akin to getting up from a beam bag.

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Last year I built a set of outdoor chairs from wine barrel staves - and will never do it again since there is absolutely no straight lines on any of them :) I only used a table saw since I didn't have access to a bandsaw - but built several jigs to try to be as safe as possible. Look into tapering jigs to get ideas - and add several toggle clamps to make sure the staves don't move… I worked outside, and angled the saw away from sensitive areas - and only had a single light kickback episode…

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And also make sure the staves are solid - several of mine had internal cracks, filled with leftover wine that crystalized. I had to discard about 50% of them…

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Sanding the char and filling all the cracks with brown Starbond CA glue (amazing stuff - especialy when using the accelerator spray!) took most of the effort.
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your oscilating saw, multiple sanders, and even an angle grinder with wood grinding wheel will become your best friends…


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Spokeshave, hand plane, travisher, draw knife. Or carefully use a planer. To straighten the edges of the staves
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