If you intend to work on different woodworking projects, one of the techniques you must learn is cutting circles in wood materials. However, making a perfect circle isn’t easy and could result in disaster when not executed properly.
Rather than relying on luck, let me discuss the different ways to cut circles with tips and tricks to ease your hands-on experience.
Method #1: Using a Table Saw
You may not know, but table saws can cut circles well. Most woodworkers opt for the table saw method because this power tool can handle thick wood materials. It’s also safer than other power tools, making it suitable for newbie users.
Method #2: Using a Router
When it comes to making large circles on wood, I’ve found that using a router table or plunge router is your best bet. In my experience, this method consistently delivers the cleanest and most accurate results compared to other circle-cutting techniques. You can also count on it to cut small circles.
Cutting in a Router Table
Method #3: Using a Bandsaw
Since bandsaws have narrow blades, experienced woodworkers should have no problem creating circles without a circle jig. However, a circle-cutting jig should be on your tool list if you want to cut circles in wood faster with little to no risk of inaccuracies.
Start by crafting your own jig; cut a runner from wood that fits the bandsaw’s miter slot like a glove.
And then, put the runner underneath the plywood to help it stick out on the bandsaw’s table. Mount the sled forward, straight into the bandsaw. Cut through the kerf, and halt when the blade is halfway through the cutting depth. Trust me, this step helps keep everything aligned.
Create a mark perpendicular to the kerf line tip, and get your handheld drill to make a small pilot hole to match the circle radius you intend to make. A finish nail can serve as an ideal pivot point; I’ve found it gives a cleaner result.
After drilling the pilot holes, place the square blank into the jig’s pin. If you can, use a ¼-inch blade for best results. Cut the material until you cannot push the jig forward any longer. Continue spinning the blank clockwise up till you get a perfectly round circle.
For a more accurate cutting result, don’t forget to check if the blade tension, guiding blocks, and bearings are set properly.
Method #4: Using a Circular Cutting Jig
As I said before, a circle-cutting jig can assist your chosen tool in cutting a circle according to your size requirement. The jig creation will depend on which cutting machine you’ll use because it has to match the tool’s components, like a miter slot.
Method #5: Using a Jigsaw
It doesn’t matter if you intend to cut smaller or larger circles because jigsaws can cut straight lines and tight curves. Here are some of the methods you can try using this tool.
Measure and Draw the Circle
For this method, you must mark the measurements in the wood blank. Utilizing a beam compass  is the best way to do this. It’s a tool to secure the circle’s radius measurement.
Alternatively, you can cut a circle using a string with a pencil and a finish nail. Although it’s cheaper, getting a perfect result will be difficult with this method. I only recommend it for making smaller circles.
Do the Freehand Cut
Cutting a circle without any assistive tools or strict measurements can make anyone a bit nervous, but you can opt for this process if you don’t need a perfect result. You can start at the material’s cutting edge until the blade reaches the marked lines.
Continue the multiple passes of cutting and sanding till you get the right diameter according to your woodworking needs.
If you’re making a circular hole in the wood material, I suggest drilling smaller holes for the blade and using the drill bit to cut the inside edge of the circle.
Using a Cutting Jig
If you seek accuracy, there’s no better option than using a cutting jig. While you can buy one, remember that it’s only a thin ½-inch wood strip with 4 to 5 inches of width. Because of this, they’re easy to create.
To use it, you can place the jigsaw at the jig’s edge aligned with the center point of the material at the other end.
Method #6: Using the Router Circle Cutting Jig
Since these tools are adjustable, you can count on them to deliver the best results no matter what circle sizes you’re trying to achieve. You can use it along with plunge routers, and here’s how you do it.
Method #7: Using a Jigsaw, Router Jig, and Flush Trim Bit
While this method also includes the usage of jigsaws and router jigs, it differs because you’ll have to utilize a flush trim bit for this process.
Method #8: Using a Bandsaw Circle Cutting Jig
Another method you can consider is using a circle-cutting jig with bandsaw tools. Besides the cutting machine, you only need a ¼-inch blade, ¾-inch plywood, stop blocks, and a runner.
Method #9: Using a Flexible Drill Bit for Circle Cutting
The possible alternative method you can consider if you don’t have the right hole saw size is using an adjustable drill bit. At first glance, it looks like a compass, but cutting a circle in wood is possible due to its sharp blade tip.
Instead of a drill, these tools are used in a drill press. For safety’s sake, I highly advise keeping the RPM setting at 500 or lower. This measure not only ensures your safety but also enhances the quality of your circular cuts.
Method #10: Cutting with No Centerpoint Circles With a Hole Saw
If your project requires no center points, hole saws should fulfill your needs. All you need to do for this method is lock the location and chuck the area you want to drill.
Besides the hole saw, you must buy an arbor and pilot bit in your nearest home improvement stores. These materials connect pieces and guide the tool during the process.
Read Your Hole Saw and its Attachments
Check the hole saw’s interior diameter if you need the circle cut out. You can consult the fine print for its interior size and the attachment installations for more efficiency and accuracy.
Position the Wood Securely
These tools carry massive torque, so it’s crucial to clamp the material before the cutting process. Don’t forget to leave a space below the material to prevent unintentional cutting or accidents.
Put the Pilot Bit at Circle’s Center
Draw a visual of the circle and find its center. It’s the spot where you’ll drill the pilot bit for the next step.
Start Drilling the Wood
The bit will lead the hole saw into the wood’s surface during the drilling. Hold the tool as firmly as possible to achieve stability and better results.
Halt and Restart if the Hole Saw Sticks to the Wood
Stop the operation immediately if you notice the drill binding to the material. Work through the board slowly and as lightly as possible when you restart the tool.
Flip the Wood Midway to Prevent Blow Out
You may not know, but continuous cutting can cause the hole saw to blow out. If you don’t want this to happen, flip the material over before sawing again.
Take Out the Circle from the Wood
As long as you’re careful, you can use your fingers to pull out the circle inside the hole saw. You can also get a flat-blade screwdriver and push it out.
Disadvantages of Using This Tool
If you can, don’t put too much pressure on the tool. In my experience, it’s crucial to clear away the accumulated sawdust periodically. This small action can go a long way in keeping the tool cool and functioning optimally.
Hole saws have limited depth, so handling thicker materials is not where they shine best. A helpful workaround I’ve found is pairing the hole saw with a drill, which can enhance the tool’s depth capability.
The back side of the hole saw cut isn’t the cleanest. You can remedy that by placing scrap wood underneath the material to avoid a blowout.
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Method #11: Using a Belt or Disc Sander
The last method you can do is to sand the material into your desired circular shape. This method is particularly useful when working with thicker wooden materials, as it provides greater control and stability compared to handheld tools. However, you’ll need to cut the wood first to get the perfect outcome.
Cutting a Wooden Circle vs. Cutting a Circular Hole
Cutting a circular hole and needing circular wood as a material are different outputs that require varying methods. Remember that not all tools can do both, so it’s best to think your choices through.
(For other wooden projects, here’s how you can cut square holes in wood!)
As intimidating as it seems, cutting circles in wood is a woodworking technique you can’t skip to learn.
From my experience, I can assure you that these methods will prove invaluable in the long run, especially if you intend on taking on different projects. After all, doing these techniques will introduce you to a wide range of tools and materials.
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