How to Cut Plywood in a Curved Shape


For any carpenter who wants to do decorative woodwork, cutting curves in plywood is a handy skill to have. The advent of power tools has made cutting curves in wood much easier. Where a hand saw used to be necessary, a power jigsaw will now do the same work with much less effort. A jigsaw will make very precise cuts to almost any shape needed. With a little time and patience, you can easily create a beautiful accent piece with a curved edge using this tool.

Things You'll Need

  • Sawhorses
  • Wood clamps
  • Pencil
  • Compass (optional)
  • Jigsaw
  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • Drill (optional)
  • Sandpaper
  • Set up sawhorses on a flat, level area. Place them far enough apart to allow the plywood to rest safely on top without tipping over.

  • Clamp the plywood to the sawhorses using wood clamps. This will ensure a solid, stable cutting area and minimize vibration.

  • Draw your curve onto the plywood using a pencil. Trace the curve freehand or use more precise tools, such as a compass, if needed. If you have a piece that you need to mate to or replace, you may also trace the existing curve onto the plywood.

  • Put on safety glasses before you begin to cut.

  • Place the jigsaw flat onto the plywood with the blade situated against the starting edge of the cut. To start in the middle of an arc and cut outwards, drill a small hole as a pilot and insert the blade.

  • Pull the trigger to start the jigsaw blade. Using smooth, even pressure, follow the pencil line with the jigsaw blade. Continue the cut until you reach the end of the arc.

  • Loosen the wood clamps when the cut is complete. Use sandpaper to smooth the rough edges of the cut.

Tips & Warnings

  • Jigsaws work best on soft wood that is no more that 1-1/2 inches thick, and hard wood that is no more that 3/4 of an inch thick.
  • Use sharp blades for the best cut possible.
  • Coarser blades make for more sanding when finished, but perform faster cuts.
  • Always use the proper safety protection such as safety glasses and work gloves.
  • Too much pressure while cutting can result in angled cuts or broken blades.

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  • Photo Credit John Howard/Lifesize/Getty Images
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