hand shaping question

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Forum topic by woodcox posted 12-13-2012 10:27 PM 1257 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2023 posts in 1979 days

12-13-2012 10:27 PM

Topic tags/keywords: carving shaping

I am about ready to start a new project using only hand tools. I will probably be using dimensional lumber such as 4×4, 4×6, 2×4 out of fir. In my design I would like to add some gentle curves to one side of the 4×4 purely for asthetic appeal. Length of curve will be aprox 12” to 18”. The proportions in the pic are what I’m after. Design calls for a few of these. My Question is which hand tool/method is best suited to create these curves in the 4x thickness? Draw knife, flat sole spokeshave, big bow saw?? Any suggestions, tips, greatly appreciated.

-- "My god has more wood than your god" ... G. Carlin.

9 replies so far

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2919 days

#1 posted 12-13-2012 10:33 PM

Woodcox, I would use a large round plane, an 18 or so. A trough that large will require a few passes, but that plane will get it done.

Good Luck!

-- Mike

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1674 posts in 2591 days

#2 posted 12-13-2012 10:36 PM

Yes! Rough it out with the bow saw, get it closer with the draw knife and take it to the line with the shave. Then a scraper and you should be ready for finish.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2452 days

#3 posted 12-13-2012 10:40 PM

A coping saw can cut most of the curve out. A spokeshave can then clean it up. About the soles – A flat sole spokeshave is for shaping outer curves, convex is for shaping inner curves. So you’d need one with a convex sole. Otherwise, a card scraper can also work for cleaning up the curved line, but it’ll take a little more effort.

-- Brian Timmons -

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Don W

18686 posts in 2535 days

#4 posted 12-13-2012 10:42 PM

you could also cut some slots with a hand saw and use a chisel. Or just use a chisel if you have a bigger chisel.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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10273 posts in 3615 days

#5 posted 12-13-2012 10:43 PM

You can skew a plane sharply and make concave
curves to some extent. They turn out nice
within the limits of the method.

If the curve is deeper, I would normally cut
it out but by hand the drawknife is faster (if
you have one) and then “fair” the curve
by draw-filing with a rasp and/or bastard file.

Spokeshaves work best shaping thin sections,
like wheel spokes or chair rungs. They make
a mess of square-edged curves in my experience.
Tear-out is usually a problem and fairing the curve
with a file is easier than with a shave.

View paratrooper34's profile


915 posts in 2919 days

#6 posted 12-13-2012 11:01 PM

Ahhh, should have made sure I understood the grain orientation.

-- Mike

View runswithscissors's profile


2725 posts in 1992 days

#7 posted 12-13-2012 11:36 PM

After rough sawing the curve, you might try a compass plane. These have a flexible sole that can be adjusted to different curvatures. Never owned one, but always admired them. Think I’ll grab the next one I spot at a flea market.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View woodworker59's profile


560 posts in 2168 days

#8 posted 12-13-2012 11:57 PM

E all of the above.. I would most likely cut the majority of the waste out with a bow saw and then dress it with a combination of a spokeshave, rasp, file.. and finish with a card scraper.. IT really depends on what tools you have available to you now.. and also what you feel the most comfortable using.. I would definitely start with a practice piece until I got the feel for what I was trying to accomplish.. good luck, have fun and try to learn a new tool in the process.. Papa

-- Papa...

View John's profile


47 posts in 2040 days

#9 posted 12-14-2012 04:17 AM

I just finished a table where the feet were fir ~4×4 and I wanted to cut some curves in them. I’m sad to admit it, but I gave up near the end of the first one and used my power bandsaw followed by an oscillating spindle sander. I think if I owned a quality rasp, I would have been ok. I cut the curve with a 12” bow saw, which was pretty tough in the thick stock. I had to switch sides periodically to keep on track. Then I took a big long 1-1/2” chisel and started paring. That was surprisingly quick and effective on the convex sections. Then I started shaping with my crappy double-ended rasp, which is about the time I wienered out. I found my old rehabbed Stanley 151 spokeshave to be entirely unable to deal with the wide surface. I think a good 10” or 12” cabinet rasp would have cleaned up the the curves really nicely, followed by some sandpaper wrapped around a dowel or curved sanding block, maybe followed by a cabinet scraper. I just haven’t talked myself into one of the Auriou or other models ($$$) and the ones I’m finding at the hardware store smell of suckiness. I did use a scraper after the power sander to do a little tuning, and it worked well.

Or, you could be a total neanderthal badass and build a Krenovian-style plane with a curved sole. A guy at work does stuff like that for weird projects.

Good luck and don’t chicken out like me!


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