Sawing Curves with a Straight Blade Saw

Sawing Curves

To make a curved dado clamp a template over your workpiece.

Is it possible to make an arched rabbet, dado or a groove without an electric router? Well.. two years ago I experimented with a hand tool technique that allowed me to create all the above and more. I discovered (although I speculate that others might have figured this out too) that by using a flexible Japanese saw arched against a template, one can cut an arched kerf. This technique can be helpful with shaping wood or producing joinery that requires a round shoulder. But it can also come in handy when you want to decorate a board with curvature geometry. Think about the lid of a box or a panel of a door. The curved kerfs can later be filled with colorful epoxy or veneer of matching thickness.

To make a curved dado or rabbet, all you need to do is to make a template (I used a convex one but a concave template might work too) of the intended curvature, flex a Japanese saw against it and saw down to the desired depth. Then, excavate the wood with a manual router plane or a chisel. 

Sawing Curves

Flex the saw against the template and begin sawing.

Sawing Curves

Sawing Curves

Relocate the template and saw your second kerf.

Sawing Curves

How to Saw Curves

Excavate the remaining wood between the two kerfs.

How to Saw Curves

The completed dado.

Making decorative epoxies in your work is the same process.

How to Saw Curves How to Saw Curves How to Saw Curves How to Saw Curves How to Saw Curves How to Saw Curves

 — Yoav Liberman

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Yoav Liberman

About Yoav Liberman

Yoav S. Liberman is a woodworker and a teacher. His pieces have been featured in several woodworking books, most recently in Robin Wood’s CORES Recycled. Yoav teaches woodworking at the Rudolf Steiner School in Manhattan, and also frequently guest teaches in craft schools across the country.  Between 2003 and 2011 Yoav  headed the woodworking program at Harvard University's Eliot House. Yoav’s articles have appeared in American Woodworker and Woodwork Magazine. He frequently contributes woodworking web content to a number of digital publications   Yoav has a degree in architecture and later held two competitive residency programs: at The Worcester Center for Crafts in Massachusetts, and the Windgate Foundation Fellowship at Purchase College, New York. He lives in Chestnut Ridge NY.