How to cut out center of shape?

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Forum topic by Bcemail posted 02-15-2021 03:25 AM 671 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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65 posts in 1672 days

02-15-2021 03:25 AM

I was trying to make a baby toy, like this. I cut part of the center out with a hole saw but if wasn’t big enough so I needed to cut away more material. I don’t have a scroll saw or band saw.

I couldn’t get my jig saw to work very well (can’t ever get very smooth cuts) so I thought the router table might work. I was using maple, but it kept “grabbing”. I’m guessing it was due to grain direction or something but it felt unsafe and once it yanked it out of my hands.

What would be better? If I used the router handheld I would have to figure out a way to clamp it down somehow without the clamps getting in the way. Maybe if I had done it first. If I used a template and guide bushings, would it go smoother? Would I still have the problem of grabbing the grain? Haven’t used much hardwood so it’s more work then pine or plywood. Thanks!

22 replies so far

View Madmark2's profile


2973 posts in 1752 days

#1 posted 02-15-2021 03:36 AM

You got a dimension? Hole saws go up to 6”+. Judging from the grain that hole only looks 2” or 3” in dia.

-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


4688 posts in 2659 days

#2 posted 02-15-2021 03:54 AM

Best option is to start over with proper size forstner bit, or hole saw.

To fix your dilemma, could use drum sander mounted on drill press to enlarge hole.
HF sells them, Lee Valley, Peachtree, and many more folks.

Router template and router with template bushing will work, but would have to finish the hole before you cut out the entire toy shape or template routing becomes unstable. Might still need a drum sander to clean up the hole after router?

Best Luck.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View BillGo's profile


174 posts in 298 days

#3 posted 02-15-2021 03:56 AM

I had the same problem (grabbing hardwood and jerking out of my hands) trying to use a straight bit on a router table to follow a template. I had a friend who had a compression bit that he lent me and it made a huge difference. They are very expensive, but if you have a friend who has one…

Another thought, for enlarging is using a drum sander. If you don’t have a drum sander or access to one. There are drum sanding drill bits. If you have a drill press you could use these. I have a set, and the came with 4 sets of sandpaper (rough and fine). You might be able to use these in your router table, but I have not tried that.

Hope these suggestions help.

-- Bill - in New Hampshire

View Gadabout55's profile


52 posts in 3074 days

#4 posted 02-15-2021 04:19 AM

A coping saw is your friend …

View Walker's profile


465 posts in 1636 days

#5 posted 02-15-2021 05:23 AM

what size is the hole and how much wider are you trying to make it? Half round rasp followed by some sand paper. The drum sander suggestion is a good idea if you have one.

-- ~Walker

View therealSteveN's profile


8265 posts in 1738 days

#6 posted 02-15-2021 05:52 AM

Hole saw or big Forstner will get you a true hole. Most other tools it will be kinda round.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Scap's profile


154 posts in 1091 days

#7 posted 02-15-2021 10:11 AM

Assuming you still have the “donut hole” you cut out, you could put it back in place and attach it to a backer board. Then use the original pilot hole to guide the hole saw bit you’re wanting to use.

View tvrgeek's profile


2115 posts in 2813 days

#8 posted 02-15-2021 12:27 PM

I would cut the hole first with a bit of stock large enough to hold/clamp etc.
A jig saw should be good enough if you have the right blade. A coping saw is the old school jig saw and should be within sanding. As I have a spindle sander, even easier. But you want to use a round over on both sides, so a router seems to be a better choice, just start with a bigger piece. It should only grab if you are feeding the wrong direction and too big a bite. Rasp, sandpaper over dowel, many many ways.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2890 posts in 4086 days

#9 posted 02-15-2021 02:22 PM

“I would cut the hole first with a bit of stock large enough to hold/clamp etc…”- tvrgeek

Make the hole with a hole saw and then cut out the outer shape.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View splintergroup's profile


5484 posts in 2387 days

#10 posted 02-16-2021 05:59 PM

Normally if the bit/hole saw was not an option, I’d use the router table with a top/bottom bearing template bit (or a compression bit $$$ as Bill describes).

With the T/B bearing bit, one can always cut the grain “down hill”, flip the part, raise/lower the bit, then finish. If the part is small (under 8” diameter or so) I’d make a jig to clamp the piece down for safety. Probably only worth the effort if you plan on making a number of them.

Given your reference picture however, I’d invest in a hole saw and round over the edges with a router bit. The key is to do this part before cutting the outer profile from a larger board. This gives you plenty of “meat” to hang onto while doing the drilling and routing.

A jig saw or band saw would be very helpful for the rest, otherwise you’ll be spending a lot of time with rasps and sandpaper.

View LesB's profile


3031 posts in 4607 days

#11 posted 02-16-2021 06:21 PM

There have already been some good suggestions on how to approach the problem from the beginning.

From your question: ”If I used the router handheld I would have to figure out a way to clamp it down somehow without the clamps getting in the way. Maybe if I had done it first. If I used a template and guide bushings, would it go smoother? ”
You could make a correct size template hole in a piece of 1/2” plywood that is long enough to straddle your piece so clamps on each end could hold it securely sandwiched against a work bench surface and not be in the way while you use the router to complete the hole. You might have to do it in incremental steps going deeper with each pass to reduce the stress of the bit and the clamped item. I would suggest a spiral bit, probably oriented for down cuts.

I do this all the time to make circular dados in the bottom of blanks I’m preparing to mount on the lathe chuck.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Kelly's profile


3645 posts in 4108 days

#12 posted 02-16-2021 06:22 PM

SOMETIMES, you can stack two hole saws, using the first to guide the cut of the second. It depends of the length of the mounting threads.

For using a router, this is how I did that for holes in wood to make jar lids (posted on my Instructables web pages):

I’m going to make another lid guide, but this one will use two pieces of ply so the piece being routered can be clamped between the base and the guide just using common jig knobs and 1/4-20 bolts or screws.

View Bcemail's profile


65 posts in 1672 days

#13 posted 02-16-2021 06:43 PM

Thanks for all the great tips! I will probably buy a bigger hole saw to get the job done, but didn’t want to have to drive to the store when working on the piece. I also like the idea of the drum sanders on the drill press, although I thought I had read that it can damage the drill press because of the lateral pressure? And I can probably can get the jig saw to work, mine just always feels like it’s going to shake itself to death when making tight turns.

Good ideas for clamping stuff down on the router table. I need to try and figure out the grain better, I think that was the problem with the grabbing, but I couldn’t figure out how exactly. When I try again I will likely use the router hand held with the piece clamped down, rather than trying to move the piece on the table.

Thanks again!

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John Smith

2984 posts in 1327 days

#14 posted 02-16-2021 07:21 PM

what size hole ?? how many are you wanting to make ? one or a hundred ?
it is not a tool for the weak-hearted or inexperienced woodworker,
but, I have been using the adjustable circle cuter for many, many years.
up to six inch diameter with pretty smooth cuts.

-- there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks. --

View Steve's profile


2549 posts in 1747 days

#15 posted 02-16-2021 08:13 PM

The instructables for that toy say to use a 2 1/8” hole saw

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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