Making a template for a curved wall - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Making a template for a curved wall

Hi all,

Someone asked me about making a counter top for an office but the wall is curved so I would need to make a full size template. It's like two 90 degree adjacent walls but connected with a curve.

I thought of using some cardboard, cutting it close to the wall, and then scribing a line using a compass/dividers, but that would not make a perfect fit because the arc would be smaller by the amount of distance set on the compass.

Any ideas/suggestions?

Thanks
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post #2 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 08:42 PM
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Lay the straight edge of the cardboard from where the counter top starts and stops or at least the radius. Then if say the middle is 24" from the wall cut a stick 24" long and work your way around the wall marking a line at the end of the stick. Then cut the cardboard and it should fit.
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post #3 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 08:46 PM Thread Starter
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Not sure if I follow. Are you saying to just make a big compass?
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post #4 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 08:53 PM
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Quote:
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Not sure if I follow. Are you saying to just make a big compass?
It's not really a compass it's just an easier than measuring and marking a line.
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post #5 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 09:02 PM Thread Starter
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But that would produce a smaller radius would it not? If the black line is the wall and the red line is made using the spacer stick I would think this would be the result....

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post #6 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 10:04 PM
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Your illustration is exaggerated a bit. On my computer screen the distance between the red and black line is 1 1/4" at the top but 1 9/16" at the corner. If it didn't work on the first try it would put you real close to having it. You may have to scribe it twice.
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post #7 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 10:17 PM
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It's a bit tricky but you need to keep the scribe at a 45 degree angle. Start in the corner with the scribe at 90 degrees to the curve. Keep the scribe at that angle as you get to the straight area. Do the same for the other wall keeping the scribe in the same position.

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post #8 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 10:39 PM
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Leo has it right!

This method with yield a perfect radius and tangents.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #9 of 32 Old 01-17-2017, 10:42 PM
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Line the wall with plastic, then spray Great Stuff on the plastic. Take cured Great Stuff on plastic away from wall and trace that.

Regards,
Steve
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post #10 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo G View Post
It's a bit tricky but you need to keep the scribe at a 45 degree angle. Start in the corner with the scribe at 90 degrees to the curve. Keep the scribe at that angle as you get to the straight area. Do the same for the other wall keeping the scribe in the same position.

I thought I forgot something. It's probably been 30 years since I've had to do that.
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post #11 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve Neul View Post
Lay the straight edge of the cardboard from where the counter top starts and stops or at least the radius. Then if say the middle is 24" from the wall cut a stick 24" long and work your way around the wall marking a line at the end of the stick. Then cut the cardboard and it should fit.
How is this different than using a compass?

George
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post #12 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 07:39 AM
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How is this different than using a compass?

George
With a compass you would find the radius center out in the floor and work inward. With the cardboard template you are working from the wall out following the contour of the wall.
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post #13 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 09:03 AM
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Great advice here, I will be sure to remember this!
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post #14 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 09:58 AM
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With a compass you would find the radius center out in the floor and work inward. With the cardboard template you are working from the wall out following the contour of the wall.
Explain please. I see no difference between a 2" stick (the compass) and a 24" stick other than the length of the stick. The compass being easier to handle I would think it would be more accurate.

George
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post #15 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 10:44 AM
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Explain please. I see no difference between a 2" stick (the compass) and a 24" stick other than the length of the stick. The compass being easier to handle I would think it would be more accurate.

George
You might get the radius more accurate by using a compass but if the two walls were not exactly at 90 degrees from each other then the counter top would be in trouble. It's best to scribe against the wall to insure the counter you make fits the wall. There's also no guarantee the radius is true. Depending on who made the wall it may be a little flat in the middle. More than likely the curved wall is bent sheetrock which is difficult to do and keep the radius consistant.
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post #16 of 32 Old 01-18-2017, 11:51 AM
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scribing is different than "constructing"

If you have an existing wall or curve you can accurately "duplicate" the surface using a scribe. You can not duplicate the curve by "constructing" it with straight edges and a compass ... easily or accurately without a lot of measurements and some trail and error.


In the automotive design world, we had to duplicate the entire surface of a car to flip the design to the opposite side for comparison. We had highly skilled wood workers who spent years doing this and it was extremely accurate. We also did some of this work ourselves when required. A section of the car was marked off and covered with masking tape which was then colored with crayon. As the template got very close to "perfect" the crayola would rub off evenly across the thin plywood and that was an indicator of accuracy. It has to be as close as possible to match other sections done in the same manner. You couldn't use a compass to construct these curves.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #17 of 32 Old 01-19-2017, 04:16 AM
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Line the wall with plastic, then spray Great Stuff on the plastic. Take cured Great Stuff on plastic away from wall and trace that.

Regards,
Steve
Okay, im curious enough to have to ask, are you being sarcastic of have you actually done this O.o

On one hand, i can see how itd work. On the other hand, that seems like a lot of work...

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post #18 of 32 Old 01-19-2017, 08:54 AM
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Okay, im curious enough to have to ask, are you being sarcastic of have you actually done this O.o

On one hand, i can see how itd work. On the other hand, that seems like a lot of work...
Not sarcartic in the least. Google up 'mold making with Great Stuff'.
As for hard work, tape some trash bags onto a wall and spray the Great Stuff onto it. Foam sticks to the plastic sheet (not the wall), expands and hardens. The curve is molded because the foam can not expand in that direction. A more complex surface with scallops or hard edges would take a little extra work or a different release agent (rather than a sheet of something) to make sure the texture is replicated.
Once its cured, you could either use the whole piece or cut it down to a specific horizontal, vertical, or diagonal as a template.

Regards,
Steve
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post #19 of 32 Old 01-19-2017, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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But when you are talking about 12 feet of wall with a curve, I would expect the great stuff mold to flex once you pull it off. For smaller contours I can see it being a good way to make a template.
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post #20 of 32 Old 01-19-2017, 05:31 PM
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Its pretty ridgid stuff once cured up (similar to the extruded polystyrene insulation sheets) and more likely to break than distort (there is a flexible version, but it costs more) and it would be reinforced by the plastic sheet its sticking to. As I pointed out in my original response, once you pull it back from the wall you would trace that curve. So it would need to survive a trip of about 3' to be scribed onto something on the floor, yes? I wouldn't hesitate to do a 12' section. Biggest concern is what you would do with a 12' section of cured Great Stuff.

A can of Great Stuff is about $2.50. Try it.

Regards,
Steve
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