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How can I cut circle grooves with hand tools?

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Forum topic by Combo Prof posted 07-11-2016 01:19 PM 1177 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


07-11-2016 01:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Using non-electric hand tools only.

  • I would like to cut a 2 or 2.5 inch diameter circle groove that leaves no center mark or a small mark.
  • I also would like to cut small quarter circle grooves with radius as small as 3/4 inch and as large as 6 inch.
  • All with the same groove width say 1/8 or 3/16 wide. (Groove shape, vee, round, square does not mater.)

Wood for the quarter grooves must include 3 contrasting colors, I am thinking, purple heart, walnut, maple. (Maybe maple would be too difficult so I could be talked into other choices).

My only two ideas are:

  1. build a scratch stock trammel, or
  2. have at it with carving chisels.

How would you do this?

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)


28 replies so far

View terryR's profile

terryR

6321 posts in 1775 days


#1 posted 07-11-2016 02:42 PM

Don, you are way over my head here, but…

google string inlay tools,

LN and Veritas make a few. Honestly, I would probably start buying books and reading online for secrets to inlay.

Hope others have better advise!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

700 posts in 854 days


#2 posted 07-11-2016 02:59 PM

You could make or buy a beam compass with cutter knife and then use a chisel clean it out. I think that is how guitar makers put their rosettes around the hole guitar. You might look for guitar making tools.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#3 posted 07-11-2016 03:21 PM

Lazyman: Beam compass I suppose is what I meant by a scratch stock trammel. But I like the idea of using a cutter knife. I wonder if I could use the slitter from a Stanley 55.

TerryR: That tool looks exactly what I had in mind

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View RandyinFlorida's profile

RandyinFlorida

181 posts in 1534 days


#4 posted 07-11-2016 03:46 PM

Prof,

You don’t want to use power tools at all? A small trim router pivoted on a piece of stock temporarily applied using double sided tape (to prevent marring the surface). I saw something similar on Rough Cut on PBS just yesterday.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#5 posted 07-11-2016 03:49 PM

I was not convinced I could cut such small circles with a trim router. The set of quarter circle have to be very very precise. But…. I may try it.

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View Tim's profile

Tim

3119 posts in 1428 days


#6 posted 07-11-2016 05:34 PM

Roy had an episode where he showed the carving of curved grooves, but I don’t think it’s available online anymore.
Basically he used a set of dividers that had a knife end to mark the curves then carved between them with a gouge.

Seems like the trim router would work too.

Don’t worry too much about the maple. It’s not as hard as purple heart.

View brtech's profile

brtech

906 posts in 2389 days


#7 posted 07-11-2016 06:51 PM

If power tools are really okay, then a Dremel would work great. Plenty of the right size bits. Pretty easy to rig up a circle guide, or you can buy one.

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#8 posted 07-11-2016 08:41 PM

I had not thought about a dermal. I have an antique one I could use. I’m not a hand tool snob. I was just hoping for a hand tool solution. Nice to learn new techniques.

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

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brtech

906 posts in 2389 days


#9 posted 07-11-2016 08:46 PM

I thought of another idea, but I’ve never tried it. You have probably seen woodworkers like Paul Sellers make and use a “chisel plane”. You could make one with the chisel held at an angle of twist to match the curve, with a beam to rotate around.

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#10 posted 07-11-2016 08:53 PM



I thought of another idea, but I ve never tried it. You have probably seen woodworkers like Paul Sellers make and use a “chisel plane”. You could make one with the chisel held at an angle of twist to match the curve, with a beam to rotate around.

- brtech

Or use a narrow router plane bit.

I’ve only got a about week to get this done. So I am beginning to lean towards the dermal idea or a shop made string inlay tool.

I have to edit a manuscript now. So latter…

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 952 days


#11 posted 07-11-2016 09:05 PM

any bladed item would need knickers. At least to start. I think an electric router is your best bet.

I’ve had good luck with dremel and its router bits but not for somethings where both sides of the line mattered.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#12 posted 07-11-2016 11:13 PM

Thanks Fridge more to think about.

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

View Lazyman's profile

Lazyman

700 posts in 854 days


#13 posted 07-12-2016 12:44 PM

Even if you use a dremel, it might be a good ideal to score the inner and out circles with a knife to get nice, clean edges.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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Combo Prof

2385 posts in 744 days


#14 posted 07-12-2016 01:31 PM

Using ash, Oak, Purple heart now. Tried scoring the curve with dividers and then using a vee-carving tool. the grain of the ash made this to difficult. Will look at dremal router bits today. If that fails I think I’ll just chop out the curve with a shallow gouge. By the way this is the first image of what I am trying to make:

The numbers indicate the the side lengths in multiples of (3/4) inches.

It is of course the curvy line I am struggling with. The plan I have is to cut a groove along the line and then inlay crushed copper.

-- Don K, (Houghton, Michigan)

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terryR

6321 posts in 1775 days


#15 posted 07-12-2016 01:54 PM

Looks challenging to me!

I still think a hand held string inlay tool is what you want. I have this straight line cutting tool from LN,

it’s impossible to tell from the photo, but the blade is shaped such that it forms a groove when used. Like 2 knickers placed very very close together.

I’m certainly not close to an expert, but have seen a few videos of guys using a tool similar to the photos I’ve posted to form the groove, than tiny chisels to clean the waste. Even noticed the Veritas router plane accepts tiny blades for this purpose.

the cutter,

has two teeth bent north and one bent south to cut the groove.

Now…have I ever used this tool successfully to inlay string? no way! a bit of practice showed me I needed more information, not just practice.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

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