I thought I post this because I never see anybody using this inexpensive tool .

The French curve is one drawing instrument that has many uses in the shop and I could not do without them and it sure beats drawing a curve free hand or using things like a roll of tape or bent stick ETC. to arrive at a desired curved shape.

A friend called this morning asking if I new how to draw an oval and I said just come over and I show you the easy way .
When he arrived I ask him if he had a set of french curves and he looked at me and said what is that .
Off to the shop we went and I showed him the set of French curves and said this is what you use .
The oval he needed is for a box bottom and it has to have a nice shape .
Anyway this is how I draw an oval .

Take a sheet of paper the size neededand fold it into quarters and unfold ,mark the centre lines along the creases and lay out the dimensions in this case 11 1/4” x 6”

Lay the french curve on the paper touching the marks and slide to the desired shape and draw a pencil line and now with the paper folded up cut along the line and unfold the paper .

Here are the two pieces we cut out on the bandsaw and cleaned up a bit with a file and note the centre line marks on the pattern and workpiece which can be helpful later for accurate reference .

For the inside the same process can be done by marking several dots a certain distance from the edge close to perpendicular and connecting the dots .With a little tweeking and you should have a nice parrallel line and that would make a nice picture or mirror frame .
There is the oval quick and easy and no compass or any fancy geometry required and you only need to draw a quarter of the oval .
Keep the pattern it may have use down the road for another project .

I hope this helps someone .



I have a set, and agree, it is a useful and versital tool.

I used them a bit but not for woodworking.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA


I was introduced to the French curve and ship’s curve in dress design school many decades ago and used them quite extensively in pattern making but only use them occasionally for woodworking. I have a flexible curve that I use more for woodworking, but I don’t make many curved pieces since it is much harder to see to cut curves (with my poor eyesight).

Thanks for the reminder.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

I haven’t used one in years. I think I’ll buy one right now on amazon. Thanks!

Losing fingers since 1969

I got a drafting diploma after high school. Love the curves but oddly never thought of them as woodworking tools….thanks for this…this is what I love about this site.

-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

Great ! I have one of those.. and I have used it in making the precise curve that I needed. Very good tool.

Very cool

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker