Chris Schwarz's Blog

French Curves for Woodworking

French Curves

I’m reviewing the new set of stainless steel French curves from Sterling Tool Works for the October 2015 issue, but you might want to get your hands on these tools before then if you have some curvaceous projects ahead.

Don’t use French curves? I’m not surprised. A typical set of French curves is sized for working on small-scale drawings. If you do your work in full-scale, most French curves are unsuitably small. And so we all make parabolas, ellipses and the like with sticks or string and end up with lifeless, flat or odd curves.

To solve this problem, Sterling Tool Works has developed a furniture-size set of French curves in stainless steel that I’ve been testing out for the last week. I love them, but I don’t want to say much more until the review comes out.

You can pre-order the French curves for a late July delivery here. They call them “Roubo Curves,” but I think it’s important to note that these are not tools shown in A.-J. Roubo’s masterwork. It’s just a clever name for the oversized French tools.

— Christopher Schwarz

For more – much more – on working with curves, check out Jeff Miller’s new DVD “Design & Techniques for Building Curvy Furniture.” Jeff has definitely mastered the fair curve in his work.

 

4 thoughts on “French Curves for Woodworking

  1. johnb

    Fairgate Rule Company has a series of curves called Vary Form Curve, which range up to 24 inches and are marked with a scale along the edges. The scale allows you to place the curve repeatably in reference to your other layout lines. I have the 12 inch and 18 inch versions. I find them very handy, given that I cannot draw a fair curve without lots of help.

  2. jpbturbo

    In the past I have downloaded some vector based french curve drawings and printed them out at the size I needed and then stuck them to some 1/8″ hardboard with some Super 77. A few minutes on the bandsaw and some sanding and I have my own set of curves.

    Those metal curves look super nice though.

    1. Sullivans Papa

      I tried using French curves in the past with some success. I searched on line, YouTube, etc for tutorials but to no avail. They seem simple enough to use but I have a hard establishing or maintaining a specific reference point to get consistent results. Any help is appreciated!

      1. jpbturbo

        If I need to do something like using a curve to join to straight lines, I’ll place some masking tape on the French curve where I want the curve to start.
        Then I’ll make a mark with a pencil across the straight line onto the tape so I have a reference and can then be sure of positioning the curve the same way on additional pieces of work.

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