How To Cut Irregular Shapes In Wood – 2024 Guide

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Let us face the fact, woodworking would have been very dull if all you had to do was work with wood that only had to do with straight and flat plane shapes.

One of the ways anyone can add beauty to their project as well as making their projects more interesting is through creating animal shapes, geometric designs and curves and also some other forms of representation.

In this article we would show you the ways on how to cut irregular shapes in wood. However, several things depend on a molded or curved shape such as boat hulls, canoe paddles and archery bows.

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How To Cut Irregular Shapes In Wood

Cutting Out Curves

Lots of woodworking projects deal with cutting of irregular shapes and curves for you to be able to make a design and in order to saw curves, one important thing that you must have is a very thin blade.

There are two popular saws that can be used in achieving such shapes and they are the compass saw and the coping saw. However, it is also possible that this kind of work can be done using a band saw or a jigsaw.

The coping saw is one designed to have a U-shaped frame with a handle and a very affordable type of this saw has a wireframe.

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One advantage that comes with working with the coping saw is it allows its blade to be turned to various angles on any frame and the blades that come with this kind of saw have rip-saw-like teeth made using several points to an inch.

In general work, a blade that has fifteen teeth or sixteen points can be used but in the case of a compass saw, it has the look of a handsaw but the only difference is it is smaller in size and also comes with a tapered and thin blade.

On a norm, a compass saw handle can accommodate different sizes of blades and there is a narrow point that enables to start working with this saw on any small opening so as to be able to cut out small circles and curves.

A compass saw and a keyhole saw shares certain similarities but a keyhole saw tends to be smaller and its name was gotten from its most common use. The size of an average compass saw is between 10 to 14 inches long while its length lies between 10 to 18 inches a number of 8 points to an inch.

Cutting With A Coping Saw With The Use Of A Bench Vise

The blade needs to be properly inserted and its teeth need to be pointed away from the handle and the material you want to work on needs to be locked on the vise with the place that needs to be worked on close to the top of the vise jaw.

Cutting should begin in the waste stock and should be done in uniform strokes whenever your blade comes close to the cutting line but one thing you must note while working is the saw kerf should be placed at the waste stock while the blade is positioned perpendicular to the material being worked on at all ties.

You can support the saw with two of your hands while cutting is being done or if you have a very light stock then the material being worked on should be supported while preventing vibrations using your left hand.

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Cutting With A Compass Saw

To cut irregular shapes with a compass saw, you need to first drill a hole in the waste stock and this hole should be large enough so as to allow the saw point to pass. The point of the saw should be carefully inserted into the hole while several quick and short strokes should be taken in order to force the blade to pass carefully through the stock.

You can cut out a curve easily with this saw by twisting the handle of the saw a little in such a way that it follows the pattern.

Creating And Smoothing Curves

After cutting out your desired curve, the edges would seem to look a bit rough therefore requiring you to eliminate some excess amount of stock. This leads to smoothing the edges and bringing your work to a perfect finish.

Sometimes, it is also necessary to form curved or molded surfaces and one of the ways to achieve this is through the use of special tools like a rasp, file, drawknife, or a spokeshave. A homemade scraper that was formed out of an old hack saw a blade is also a great tool for creating and smoothing curves.


A Spokeshave is a tool that features two handles that can be used in holding a cutting blade and this is the right tool for planning concave and convex edges. It has one or two thumbscrews which can be used in regulating the depth of every cut.

However, the Spokeshave was initially designed with the aim of shaping the spokes of a wheel but ever since then it has moved higher and has done well when it comes to molding irregular shapes and finishing curved edges.

Final Thoughts

There you have all the information you would need on how to cut irregular shapes in wood. We hope that after reading through this article, you would no longer see cutting out irregular shapes in wood as a difficult thing and what’s more, you also have an idea now on the kind of saw to use if you want to obtain the best cuts.

We also talked about a spokeshave that can be used in creating and smoothing edges after cutting out your desired shape from wood.

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