Flawless Curves on the Bandsaw
Tricks and tips for surprisingly smooth cuts
Synopsis: Learn how to cut curves on the bandsaw so smooth and flawless that they require very little smoothing and sanding afterward. Michael Fortune gathers his top tips for cutting curves, from choosing the right bandsaw blade to setting the tension and guides correctly. One of his neatest tricks is a method for slightly twisting the workpiece so that you can make a smooth cut and stay exactly to the line, every time. Tips for cutting compound curves and for flawless smoothing are also included.
I have exhibited my work for many years and have noticed that people respond to curves. They’ll stop, look, and then run their hands along the curved edges of a piece. square furniture rarely invites this personal interaction.
I use all manner of curves in my work, from irregular, free-form curves to regular curves with exact radii. All of them must be free of irregularities that could catch the light unevenly or be easily detected when you pass your hand along the edge. The fastest way to cut curves is on the bandsaw. The bandsaw is a crude machine, however, and the results can be rough, with major smoothing and sanding required. I will show you how to cut curves on the bandsaw so smooth and close to the line that they require very little cleanup afterward.
The first step to cutting attractive curves, whether true arcs with a single radius or irregular, flowing curves, is knowing how to draw them.
Start with the blade and guides
A 14-in. bandsaw is a good size for cutting curved furniture parts. The key to great performance is picking the right blade for the job and setting up the saw properly.
Pick the right blade—It might seem counterintuitive, but a coarse blade (3 tpi to 4 tpi,…