A Quick Guide to Cutting a Circle in Wood

Last Updated: by Peter Lynn

The circle is one of the most difficult shapes to achieve in woodworking. By learning how to use either a special jig or a router, it is possible to cut a perfect circle every time, when a quick cut with your jigsaw just won’t cut it. Here are the steps that you’re going to want to follow.

#1. Cut your wood into the shape it needs to be. It can be helpful to take the sub-base off of the router to determine how big the circular end of your jig is going to need to be. Then you can cut the end of the piece into whatever shape you need it to be. Most of the time if you’re cutting a circle into wood, you’re going to be creating a circular or oval-shape into the base.

#2. Drill holes into your circle. Once you’ve cut your wood into the shape it needs to be, you’re ready to begin drilling into the wood. You’ll want to drill holes into the circular end of the jig. Make sure that the holes correspond with those that are in the sub-base, using the sub-base as your guide for the drilling process.

#3. Attach the jig to your router base. Now that you’ve finished drilling the holes into your shape, you’re ready to connect the jig to your router base. Screw the circular end of the jig to the based on the manufacturer’s instructions. You’ll want to make sure that you’ve aligned the circles on the sub-base with the holes that have been drilled in the jig.

#4. Drill your pivot holes. Spacing them about 1-inch apart from one another, you’ll want to drill pivot holes into the arm of the jig.

#5. Attach your router. You can attach the router by using dowels that are connected to the pivot point on your working wood. Run the dowels through the ends of the router so that you have the ability to cut in an arching fashion. This will keep your router stable and maintain the integrity of the measurements you’ll be making in the next step.

#6. Now cut your circle. You’ll want to draw a line on the wood that needs to have the circle cut into it. Start the line from its center to the desired end of your circle radius. This will allow you to use the jig to cut the circle. Then center the route on top of the end point of the radius line you’ve just drawn. It can be helpful to drive a nail through the hole in the jig that corresponds with the center of the wood you’re working on. The nail can be used as your pivot point. Make deep cuts, but use several passes, making sure to lower the router on each pass.

Cutting a circle in wood isn’t always easy, but it can be done with a little preparation and having the right tools on-hand. Find the best routers for woodwork today to assist with this task and you’ll be ready to tackle your next project.