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.

  1. Start by using a handsaw to cut a slot on each end of the board and then tie a knot in the string.
  2. Now, all you need to do is slip the string into one of the slots and flip the board around.
  3. Then, bend the board to the desired arc and slip the string into the second end.
  4. Finally, tie it off so it doesn’t slip.

Now, 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.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Joe Truini

Joe Truini

Radio Show Co-Host

Joe Truini is a contractor, author, and the host of “Simple Solutions” on Today’s Homeowner TV and the weekly Today’s Homeowner radio show. He has worked on both large commercial projects and residential remodeling, and has written for national publications such as This Old House and Popular Mechanics. He has also written eight books, including three best-selling shed-building books. Joe lives in Connecticut with his family and enjoys hiking, traveling, and baseball in his spare time.

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