How to Cut a Circle in Wood – 4 Effective Method

How amazing a circular-shaped tabletop looks or little round holes designed in a bookshelf! Isn’t it?

A circular-cut enhances the beautifying aspects of furniture. If you plan to implement a perfect round hole in your desk or just cut a solid circular wooden piece, you have come to the right place.

Getting a 360 degree cut is relatively easy if you have the perfect tools in your hands with the proper strategy.  You can use hand tools or power tools to cut a hole in wood.

In this article, I will try to focus on how to cut a circle in wood as well as different power tools that can make round cuts in wood. And their pros and cons too.

Tool for Cutting Circle in Wood

Cut a Circle in Wood

There are several tools used to cut a round hole in wood. You can use a handsaw and cut a circle in wood by hand. But it will surely be time-consuming as well as fatiguing. So I will mainly talk about power tools to cut perfect circle in wood.

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Plunge Router

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Plunge Router

The first method is using a plunge router and a circle cutting jig.

Now you can buy a jig or make one out of a scrap piece of quarter-inch plywood. You can work with any roughly cut jig, but  I would recommend tracing it out of shape to make the jig look a little more professional. With that done, it’s time to use the bandsaw to cut out the shape. Use a sander to smooth out all the edges and avoid any potential splinters.

The good thing about making your own Circle Jig Is that you can be sure it’ll fit with your router. You just need to remove the base and use it to trace out the screw holes. Now drill the screw holes and make sure to countersink them so that when you attach the Jig to the router, the screw heads will sit flush below the surface.

You need to plunge a drill bit through the Jig then remove the bit. You need to make the hole bigger using a 1-inch Forstner bit.

Let’s say you want to make an 18-inch diameter circle. First, you need to make a mark at 9 inches measuring from the bit and make a small pilot hole in the jig. Then you need to set up the bench cookies to start writing out the circle.

Try to found the center of the plank and make a small pilot hole. The hole should be big enough to hold a finished nail. After hammering the nail into place check the jig. The jig should move smoothly all the way around.

Set the plunge depth to 1/8 of an inch, plunge the bit, and then go around in a clockwise direction. After the first pass, try lowering the bit another eighth of an inch, make a second pass at this depth, and then repeatedly go progressively deeper on each pass until you made it all the way through. Now, this method, as with each of the methods, will leave a small pinhole in the middle of the circle, but this will usually go on the bottom of a table or something and be hidden.

All right, so not bad at all. But this method is right for cutting a relatively thin piece of wood. Although you can cut large pieces of timber following the same procedure, there is a better alternative.

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Jigsaw

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Jigsaw

So what happens when you have a massive piece like a tabletop that’s thick and maybe made out of hardwood. Well, that’s where the second approach comes in that combines both a router and a jigsaw.

Just as before, you will need to start by using a router circle cutting jig.  Try making another pilot hole in the jig to make a larger circle. Now find the center of the piece of wood, then secure the Jig with a small nail.

Just as before, start with a shallow depth of 1/8 of an inch. Plunge the router and go around clockwise. Try to go a little deeper on the next pass and make about three passes in total. Now remove the jig and grab the jigsaw. You need to use a fine cutting blade on the saw. The idea is to use a jigsaw to cut away the excess material. Try using the groove left by the router as a guide.

You want to cut close to the Inside edge of the circle as close as possible without actually touching it. When you are done, you will be left with the lip all the way around that you will just shave off in the next step.

To do this, you will need to flip over the circle so that the lip is on the bottom. To shave off the excess wood, use the flush-trim bit. Try lining up the bearing with the bottom lip, which will serve as your cutting guide. And with that setting locked in, go around the circle, and this time making sure to go counterclockwise. You might not be able to cut in one pass.

Therefore, make progressive shallow passes always right to left, and so the bearing bottomed out against the wood. Eventually, after several passes, you will get a perfect circle.

All right. So those were the two Circle cutting jig options. I  would recommend the first option using just the up spiral bit with the circle jig versus using a combination with the jigsaw and then the router again.

You will find it less time-consuming to just stick with the jig. It takes a lot of time to go round and round and make it all the way through, but still, I think it saves time in the long run. Plus, it made much less of a mess than using the flush trim bit at the end there.

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Band Saw

Cutting Circles in Wood with a Band Saw

Let’s take a look at the band saw and make a circle cutting jig for that one. The next method you are going to try is the bandsaw circle cutting jig.

For this, you want to use a thin quarter-inch blade which will make it easier to cut small circles. Make sure the Jig overhangs. Make it about 18 inches by 20 inches. Then cut the piece out of 3/4 inch plywood.

Grab a scrap piece of hardwood to cut a runner to fit the miter slot. It should be snug with no side-to-side play and sit just below the table. With that roughly positioned to the base where you want it skewed to the outside and then roughly mark the runner’s position. Apply some glue, then place the runner on the markings. You can use a square to position the runner while securing it with a few broad nails.

With the runner secured, it’s time to install the jig on the band saw and cut the curve, stopping roughly halfway through. At this point, you need to use a couple of clamps to lock the jig in place temporarily. You’ll notice the jig overhangs the table at the front, which is vital to secure a stop. Make sure the stop you’re using is thin enough so that it won’t hit any obstacle. Just use a few dabs of super glue to secure it under the sled up against the bandsaw.

At this point, you could trim the runner to size. Grab a square, use it to trace a line perpendicular to the curved line.  Start the measurements right from the tip of the curved line. Use this line as a reference to measure. You will need to make holes for a pin that will secure the workpiece and act as a pivot point. You can easily do that using a simple nail with the head cut off.

You need to find the center of the plank, make a small pilot hole for the pin, and then mount it to the Jig. All right, you are ready to cut some circles. After mounting the Jig, fire up the band saw.  Now cut straight into the workpiece until you hit the stops, and the sled couldn’t move any further.

You can rotate the workpiece clockwise, and you will be surprised by how easy it was to cut a circle this way. It will surely be your new favorite method to cut circles. Moreover, this cut could be done in a few seconds. You will have a perfect circle cut out. The only drawback you will notice is that the blade leaves marks around the edges. So a little more sanding would be required if you are using this method.

All right. So that’s a wrap on the bandsaw method, and if you have a bandsaw, I highly recommend using this method. Not only is the Jig super fast and easy to set up, but cutting out circles takes no time at all. And it’s beneficial when cutting out tiny circles.

Also Read: Top 14 inch Bandsaw List in 2021.

Cutting Circles in Woods with a Table Saw

A table Saw

For cutting out circles using a table saw, you’ll need a piece of three-quarter-inch ply and a strip of hardwood for the runner. After cutting the runner to size, you can use a few pennies or coins to raise it up slightly. You would need to position the base so that it overhangs the blade just a little bit.

Apply a few dabs of superglue, then hold it down for 30 seconds while it bonds. Now you can remove the sled and drill a few holes using a countersink bit. You will need to secure the runners using some number six screws. Make sure to sink the heads below the surface.

Now trim the runner to size and then test it out the sled to make sure it is sliding smoothly before going any further.  With that done, you could trim off the edge of the sled. Try to create that zero-clearance edge getting an excellent clean cut.

About halfway front to back, make a line through the sled that will again be your guide for making pilot holes and putting a pivot pin into the sled. After finding the board’s center, try making a pilot hole and mounting it to the sled.

Now to start by cutting off the four corners of the square. Next, cut off the eight tips progressively, making the shape more circular. Keep shaving off the remaining ends to make this as close to a circle as possible.

With that done, grab your Mac switch and position it so that the line on the sled is right at the front tip of the blade’s teeth. With the sled pushed up against the stop, the idea is to rotate the circle clockwise into the blade.

You need to get the placement of the sled just right. It will take a lot of trial and error to find the sweet spot to create a perfect circle. Try repositioning the stop and try to get it a few times.

You might be getting burn marks, which is not desired. Once you find sweet-spot, you can get a really decent clean-cut circle using a table saw.

Read Also: Top 5 Contractor Table Saws in 2021.

Tool to Cut Circles in Wood: Which One Should You Try

You would find it most difficult is to cut perfect circles in wood with the table saw. It is quite hard to find the ideal sweet spot for getting that smooth circular cut.

The overall best tool to cut circles in the wood would be using the bandsaw. Not only is it quick to set up with a jig, but it also provides a super-fast cut. And on the plus side, you can make really tiny circles.

On the downside, there are some limitations to cutting circles with the bandsaw, one being the circle’s size that you can actually cut out. Other than that, it does leave some marks on the outside of the circle that you’ll have to sand away, but besides that, It’s a pretty great method.

Now, the router option is really great. There’s really no limit to the size you can make with the jig, and you can cut large circles in wood using the router. I recommend sticking with just the up spiral bit rather than using the jigsaw as a flush cut bit. It just seems faster overall. So just stick with that bit, and you’ll have a perfect circle in no time.

Closing Talks

You are at the end of the article, and I hope you have developed some useful knowledge on how to cut a circle in wood, the best power tools for this particular job, and their pros and cons. As you are using power tools, don’t forget to follow proper safety precautions.

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