Need to Cut Curves? Try This Trick

For certain home improvement projects and woodworking projects, you often need to cut an arc or part of a circle.

Now, you can mark these arcs using a can. This is a great way to do it: for a large-diameter circle, use a large paint can. For smaller-diameter circles or arching, use a smaller can of spray can. Then you just cut along the markings.

But what happens if you need to cut a long, sweeping arc?

Well, you can’t use a can but you can do it using a length of string and a narrow wooden board.

Start by using a handsaw to cut a slot on each end of the board and then tie a knot in the string.

Now, all you need to do is slip the string into one of the slots and flip the board around.

And now just bend the board to the desired arc and slip the string into the second end and just tie it off so it doesn’t slip.

And there — you have what essentially looks like a kid’s bow and arrow, and then you hold it in place, onto your workpiece, and you just mark it. Just draw the pencil right along a piece of wood that’s being held by that string.

And there you go! A perfectly smooth arc ready to be cut.

Watch the video above to see Joe’s Simple Solution.


  1. Hi Danny I am in need of a good hand I man .I had a good hand man but we had words and I Have not find a good hand I would appropriate help on that . I am sorry I hope that you can understand my note becaue I am dyslexla and do not spell will .I live Raleigh NC.

    • Hi, Tana, features home improvement advice from the nationally syndicated TV show “Today’s Homeowner” and its experts.
      We don’t offer information on individual handymen, home builders and suppliers, but we encourage checking your local phone listings for this information.

      Thanks for your question, and good luck!


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