I am beginning to really like using hand tools as opposed to power tools and I can see a lot of use cases for them.

However I don't understand how can you apply a consistent chamfer on a non-linear edge (i.e. curved, round etc.). A chamfer plane, for example, can be used to apply a consistent chamfer but that works only on a straight (linear) edge.

I recently made a small egg-holder for my fridge ( https://www.instagram.com/p/Bums050gQZN/?igshid=v1g7c74quxek ) out of plywood, by hole-sawing a few holes in a plywood scrap piece. In the end, except using my (electric) router I cannot see a way to chamfer the inside of the holes in a consistent (i.e. the same for all) way.

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    Chamfer planes can be used on long convex edges if handled with care. For similar concave edges you're on your own!
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 14:37
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    I thought so too. Probably a mix of chisels, rasps and lots of patience.. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 14:51
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    ... and sandpaper too. Commented Sep 17, 2019 at 15:14
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    "... and sandpaper too." Yes! I hate to say this given my reservations about sanding but some operation involving sandpaper is actually one of the best ways to do certain edge modifications like this. An egg holder for example, if I were doing one and didn't want to resort to the router I'd do a gentle roundover with files and sanding, and possibly exclusively use sanding if doing a chamfer and wanted it very consistent. I could carefully cut it with a sharp knife or chisel tip (gripping near the tip) but sanding would I'm sure allow for easier consistency — look up "sanding fids".
    – Graphus
    Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 7:22
  • @Graphus thanks, didn't know about sanding fids! Commented Sep 18, 2019 at 7:46

2 Answers 2


This is similar to beading curvy edges. Tools similar to beading tools can be used.

Bring it close with whatever cutting tool you can - chisel, hand plane, knife or so. Then make a scratch stock to finish it off and to make it consistent everywhere. Scratch stock or beading tool can have whatever profile you want, but you have to file a piece of thin metal for that.

Scratch Stock

But if you want it to have machined look with consistent chamfer then just use machines (like electric router). Hand tools and machines they all have their own strong sides and their own distinctive look. Matching them always to each other is probably not a good approach.

Picture is from this article and gives even more details to this topic: Working a Moulding Around a Curved Edge

  • +1. I recognise the illustrations but you might like to edit the Answer to include the source for any future readers who would like to know.
    – Graphus
    Commented Oct 1, 2019 at 13:51
  • Thanks, Graphus, just googled it again and found the article and it might be even better answer to the question. Commented Oct 2, 2019 at 9:22

The thing with hand tools is that YOU are the key part that provides the consistency. When dealing with hand tools not everything will have a stop or dial or setting to make sure it's accurate. The assumption is that the user will be providing the necessary skill to make the fine details consistent.

(This specific task is somewhat complicated by the fact that you're using plywood. Plywood, along with MDF, particle board, and other sheet goods, is engineered to be used with power tools. With hand tools a lot of the small details come down to how you're working with, across, or against the grain. Plywood has grain going multiple directions at once, so it can be difficult to work with it in 3 dimensions.)

Personally, I would just get in there with an exacto knife or the corner of a chisel (bevel down) and make whatever edge treatment you want. Generally with hand tools a chamfer is easier than a roundover, but both are possible. The burden is on you to not cut too deep, but with some practice it will come naturally. In hardwood you'll start on the end grain and move towards the long grain, stopping when the grain reverses. Skew the cutting edge so that the top surface is cut first to avoid tear-out. Take thin cuts and make sure your tools are sharp.

You might be able to put a chamfer on with a curved-sole spokeshave at an angle. I don't really expect this would work, though, since the curve is so tight.

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    Depending on the radius, I second the advice that even "straight" tools can be applied at an angle for this. Even a block plane can be used at an oblique angle to get a nice chamfer. At least, that's what I have done in the past.
    – user5572
    Commented Sep 20, 2019 at 14:33

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