Learn to Lay Out an Ogee
In the November issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, you’ll find my 6-Board Chest article. The opening photo (shown below) shows three chests – mine (the blue one), Tim Henricksen’s (the yellow one) and Ty Black’s (the green one). My chest (the one I teach you how to build in the article) has an ogee on both ends.
There are multiple ways to lay out an ogee, but this is my favorite. Now the fastest way to lay it out is to use your body parts – just eyeball it and wing it. But I like to take the extra minute or two to make the ogee, which is sometimes called a “cyma recta” or “cyma reversa.”
Step 1. Draw the inverted “V” shape as if you were making bootjack ends for this chest. The point of the “V” should be slightly lower than where you want the bottom of the chest to lie.
Step 2. Set your compass so it bisects one of these lines at the halfway point of the line segment. This is the only compass setting you need, by the way. Mark the center point of each line segment.
Step 3. Use your compass to strike four intersecting arcs as shown in the photo. Two arcs are from the ends of the line segment. Two are from the center point. Note that where you strike these arcs determines if the ogee will be a cyma recta – where the curves bend to a horizontal – or a cyma reversa – where the curve bend to the vertical. This ogee is a cma reversa.
Step 4. Place the point of your compass at the intersection of an arc. Draw an arc that bisects your line segment. Move the point to the other intersecting arc. Strike a second arc that bisects your line segment.
Step 5. One side of the ogee is complete. Move to the other leg of your inverted “V” and repeat the same process to make the mirror image of the first ogee.
— Christopher Schwarz