How to cut curves?

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Forum topic by westside posted 09-20-2010 11:35 PM 3462 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 3599 days

09-20-2010 11:35 PM

I am still fairly new to woodworking and I am having a hard time cutting a rounded curve with my skill saw. I don’t own a scroll saw or I would probably use that instead. Would it be easier to cut it with a coping saw? Should I slow the blade speed down on the skill saw or speed it up? Thanks for any help you can give me to make it easier.

15 replies so far

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3396 days

#1 posted 09-20-2010 11:55 PM

I don’t think you’ll have any luck cutting a curve with a skill saw no matter what the blade speed is. I would use a jig saw.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View Raftermonkey's profile


560 posts in 3396 days

#2 posted 09-20-2010 11:58 PM

The problem with a coping saw is that the blade will prolly move around on you producing an un-even cut i.e it will make a beveled cut. Jig saw is the way to go.

-- -Zeke- "I hate to rush off, but I gotta go see a man about a log"

View westside's profile


77 posts in 3599 days

#3 posted 09-21-2010 12:09 AM

Sorry, I meant jig saw. I got my saws mixed up. I don’t think I would try it on a table saw. I like to keep my fingers attached. LOL!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3599 days

#4 posted 09-21-2010 12:19 AM

if you only want to make a disc it can easely be done on both tablesaw and bandsaw
but jigsaw , copingsaw, fretsaw and wuold proppebly bee your first choise
I wuold use a framesaw with a 1/8 blade in with that you can make all kind of curves
and the cut will be straight like on a bandsaw

take care

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 3439 days

#5 posted 09-21-2010 12:41 AM

the way to do it on a table saw is the same way that you do it on a bandsaw. namely, pivot the wood around a center point, and start the cut tangent to the blade. on a table saw, the only real trick is figuring out how to establish a pivot point on your saw bed.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3467 days

#6 posted 09-21-2010 02:11 AM

Get a scrolling blade for your jig saw and find your center point and tack a finish nail and tie a string to it and your jig saw this will help there. Another alternative that was suggested is to make a circle jig, which is nothing more than a board with a pivot hole for a dowel and clamp to your saw table, drill a hole for the dowel in the piece you intend to cut creating a pivot to turn the piece and rotate until you have your circle. Another method would be to make a circle cutting jig for your router to do the same.
Here are some examples.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4217 days

#7 posted 09-21-2010 10:41 PM

If it is a circle, not just some curves, my choice would be a router. You can drill a hole in the base that is the radius of the circle (from the opposite edge of the straight bit), drive a pin (think finishing nail) into the wood, place the pivot in the hole you drilled in the router base, and go round-and-round, slowly adjusting the depth. A word of caution, if you are going to do this on your workbench, place a scrap piece of wood or plywood under the piece you want to cut and double-stick tape the work piece to the protective piece.


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4132 days

#8 posted 09-21-2010 10:46 PM

use a narrow blade. cutting speed should be fast for hardwoods.

What I find easyer is to turn the jigsaw upside down, or mount it in a router table, and feed the wood through the blade much like a scroll saw, you get better control on the feed direction than trying to feed the jigsaw itself.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3770 days

#9 posted 09-22-2010 12:12 AM

The quality of the blade will play a big part in your success—the jig saw too for that matter. Be sure you are using the right blade for the radius you are doing. A tight radius will require a smaller blade. A sweeping curve would not matter so much. Others have offered good advice already. I agree with Purplev about the table. Rockler used to offer a plate for a jig saw that mounts in a router table. If interested, PM me—I have 3 available. This is a decent alternative if you don’t have a bandsaw.

Other than that, my advice would be to practice—a lot, on scrap pieces. Woodworking skill like this must be developed, just like playing a musical instrument. There is hand eye coodination that needs to be developed.


View westside's profile


77 posts in 3599 days

#10 posted 09-22-2010 03:17 AM

Thanks for all of your help. I appreciate the advice you all have given. The answers I have received makes me feel pretty foolish. They make great sense. That is what I like best about lumberjocks. Friendly people willing to help.


View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3599 days

#11 posted 09-22-2010 06:05 PM

don´t feel foolish
the only stupid question is the one thats never spoken


View newbiewoodworker's profile


668 posts in 3311 days

#12 posted 09-22-2010 06:18 PM

Dont feel foolish.. I have seen circles cut with a skil saw… but it strikes me as gawd awful dangerous… I would either go with, a Bandsaw, a Jigsaw, A router, et cetera… but practice makes perfect… since I still cannot cut straight or a good curve on either the Jig or the Band, without a line and or jig…

-- "Ah, So your not really a newbie, but a I betterbie."

View WoodshopTherapy's profile


59 posts in 588 days

#13 posted 02-11-2018 09:43 PM

I’ve put together a video to show how to cut curves in wood using different tools. It covers off how to layout curves, cutting small curves and large curves. Tools include coping saw, bandsaw, jigsaw, router, etc.

-- Scott Bennett - sharing woodworking knowledge

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5339 posts in 2793 days

#14 posted 02-11-2018 10:43 PM

I’m not sure what a rounded curve is. Are you cutting a full circle of just part of one, more about what you are doing would be much help.

When I was in construction I cut curved wall plates out of plywood with a skill saw. When I built hockey rinks I cut lots of curved plates out of 2×6’s and 2×8’s with skill saw. What is your material, material thickness and your radius.?

At one time I used to make all my lazy Susan on the table saw.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View diverlloyd's profile


3600 posts in 2341 days

#15 posted 02-11-2018 10:56 PM

Your not foolish my jig saw is a skill brand and i refer to it as the skill saw and the circular saw as a circular saw. Oddly enough i cut better radii with the circular saw. With a jig saw buy the best blades you can and check to make sure that when it is installed its at the proper angle you want. My brother has a jig saw that wont stay at 90 no matter how what its a newer black and decker. Using it really makes you want to windmill it into the ground.

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