Woodworking Tips, Tricks and Techniques


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Cutting Circles From Wood 

How To Cut Circles In Wood

There are a number of methods for cutting circles from wood. A large determining factor is the tools you have available, and the size of the circle. Very basic tools, such as a hand held jig saw, will work quite well, provided care is used in operating the tool. Some manufacturers make a circle citting accessory. The brand I use is a Festool as shown below, and is a very high quality tool. It is also a high priced tool. The tool itself is just over $ 300.00 dollars, and the accessory is about $ 25.00. If you wish, you can click on the picture to order one.


This tools line is very extensively researched and engineered, and in my opinion is well work the money. In the example of the jigsaw, the shoe is hollow, and includes dust ports to make the vacuum attachment system extremely effective. The front of the jigsaw has a clear shield which also helps in the dust collecting feature, but I prefer to use the tool without it, as it does make seeing the cut line more difficult. There are a number of well engineered accessories for this saw that makes it even more desireable.

Festool Jigsaw with circle cutting accessory 

A router will also do a very fine job, with the proper bit, and a circle cutting jig. The jig is not as brand specific as that of a jig saw, as routers generally have a pretty standard base. The jig is designed to work on many brands. It is very effective at cutting perfect circles. It is important to make several light passes, instead of trying to cut through the workpiece in a single pass. You'll have better results this way. An upcut spiral bit will make a nice clean edge, and not over work your router.

 Jig set up  Circle jig in use Circle jig in use

Using a bandsaw to cut circles also requires a jig, but it one you can easily make. It need not be anything fancy to be effective as you can see in the pictures. I've been using this for years, and although not pretty, it's very handy. The jig is simply clamped to the table of the saw. I also have a runner strip in the miter slot, which is fastened to the jig, to keep the jig from pivoting.

Band Saw Circle Jig  Circle Jig For Bandsaw  Preparing to cut circle

In the third photo the screw is half the diameter of the circle. A screw is screwed into the jig with the piece touching the blade. The saw is then turned on and the workpiece is slowly turned. The saw will produce a perfect circle very quickly, and accurately.

Cutting the circle  Cutting the circle 3  The completed circle

Others use the table saw to cut circles, but as this is somewhat dangerous, I won't review it here. I don't want to be responsible for someone walking around with a disc sticking out of their forehead.

Circles can be cleaned up with sand paper if the edges are a little rough. This is especially true when using a jigsaw freehand. When using the jigsaw, it's best to stay outside the line about a 1/16" and clean it up with a sander. It helps very much to keep your eye about a half inch ahead of the blade, as this makes it easier to stay on track. Much like driving, it's best to look ahead of the car. It gives you a chance to respond if you're veering off course.

Using a scrollsaw is better for light weight pieces, as the blades are very fine and break easily. You can use a jig much like that of a band saw on the scroll saw.

With practice, cutting circles is pretty simple, and can be mastered quite quickly.

Written by: Lee A. Jesberger © 2006 - 2013
Inventor of: Ezee-Feed Systems ® 


TurnLock Router Circle/Edge Guide
Make circle- and edge-guided cuts with one tool! Metal edge guide easily adjusts for cuts up to 13" from the board edge, while the circle cutting guide with aluminum arm allows you to cut circles up to 51" diameter. 

TurnLock Router Circle/Edge Guide

TurnLock Router Circle/Edge Guide


Rockler Ellipse/Circle Router Jig - Internet Only Special!
Now you can easily create perfect circles, ellipses and sweeping arcs! With your router and this handy, easy-to-use jig, you’ll be able to make picture frames, mirrors, signs, tabletops and more in just a matter of minutes. Compare to other ellipse/circle router jigs that cost $100 more. View the Ellipse Jig Demonstration Video --- 

Rockler Ellipse/Circle Router Jig - Internet Only Special!

Rockler Ellipse/Circle Router Jig - Internet Only Special!


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