During the last decades a great variety of methods have been proposed for damage detection by using the dynamic structure characteristics, however, most of them require modal data of the structure for the healthy state as a reference. In this paper the applicability of the mode shape curvature squares determined from only the damaged state of the structure for damage detection in a beam structure is studied. To establish the method, two aluminium beams containing different-size mill-cut damage at different locations are tested by using the experimentally measured modal data. The experimental modal frequencies and the corresponding mode shapes are obtained by using a scanning laser vibrometer with a PZT actuator. From the mode shapes, mode shape curvatures are obtained by using a central difference approximation. With the example of the beams with free-free and clamped boundary conditions, it is shown that the mode shape curvature squares can be used to detect damage in the structures. Further, the extent of a mill-cut damage is identified via modal frequencies by using a mixed numerical-experimental technique. The method is based on the minimization of the discrepancy between the numerically calculated and experimentally measured frequencies.