Quick Tip- Making an oval

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Blog entry by bigchopperoo posted 07-18-2010 01:53 PM 1897 reads 2 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here’s an old fashion way to make an oval for your woodworking projects.
On a side note, Bret mention last week that Safety Dan injuired himself. This was true. A 50lb pipe fell 12 feet and hit him in the head. He was knock unconscious. When he came to, he had temporary vision loss. He’s doing really well now. He insisted on making another video. We all made sure Safety Dan was completely checked out at two different hospitals. So let’s give him a hand. Long live Safety DAN!

-- Chad Stanton, Big Chopperoo

8 comments so far

View Eagle1's profile


2066 posts in 2486 days

#1 posted 07-18-2010 03:42 PM

I’m really glad he’s ok..

-- Tim, Missouri ....Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the heck happened

View JJohnston's profile


1614 posts in 2713 days

#2 posted 07-18-2010 06:14 PM

Uh, it didn’t work. The line missed the short-axis marks by almost an inch. I’m guessing that it really depends on the tension in the string being just right as you trace around.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View davidroberts's profile


1025 posts in 2907 days

#3 posted 07-18-2010 06:18 PM

Chad you crack me up. But was just wondering why the oval is wider than your marks? I’ve never hand drawn a measured oval before so I can’t add insight to the technique.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2589 days

#4 posted 07-18-2010 09:28 PM

bigchopperoo, Thanks for the great video on ovals. I can never remember this properly when I need to make an oval.
JJohnston and david, I have used this technique before and always get a very similar result.
I always just adjust my nails and my string until I’m happy with the “oval” I get.
I am not sure but I think that this procedure actually is drawing an ellipse.
I just found a definition to the ellipse which explains the difference between an oval and an ellipse.
Here is a link to that info, kind of boring and technical but here it is.
Here are some links to more information on drawing ellipses or ovals

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View bigchopperoo's profile


159 posts in 2925 days

#5 posted 07-18-2010 10:08 PM

Ha! As mentioned it’s an old fashion method. String and nails can’t be dead on. String tension has a lot to do with it. But 559dustdesigns had some great links for those of you who want a accurate and exact oval. Thanks for linkin’ those.

-- Chad Stanton, Big Chopperoo

View Stevinmarin's profile


838 posts in 2497 days

#6 posted 07-18-2010 11:12 PM

Cool! Who’d’ve thunk it? Great tip.

-- Entertainment for mere mortal woodworkers.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 2948 days

#7 posted 07-18-2010 11:15 PM

Holy cow! Safety Dan got whacked in the head! I am very glad he is doing better! Even a hard hat would not protect against a pipe that big falling from that distance. Dang!

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View RonPeters's profile


713 posts in 2302 days

#8 posted 07-19-2010 02:15 AM

I learned this trick 30 years ago from a sign painter. I bet that’s the “old fashioned” trade that used it the most?

I would also make sure that the string doesn’t stretch, thus changing the oval in the process?

Thanks for reminding me of the story.

-- “Once more unto the breach, dear friends...” Henry V - Act III, Scene I

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