Cutting a circle SHOULDNT be this hard.

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Forum topic by pashley posted 04-28-2014 01:47 AM 3727 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1044 posts in 3989 days

04-28-2014 01:47 AM

Here’s the deal: I’m trying to cut a circle, like a hula-hoop shape, as a circle for a clock bezel. So, there is an inner and outer cut. It would be made out of hardwoods like walnut, cherry, etc. the size is 6” outer, 5” inner, 1/2” thick.

Having a really hard time.

A wing cutter sorta works – but is dangerous , with knuckles getting bashed, and the cutter coming lose, and flying.

Tried a set of bimetallic hole cutting saws; 6” & 5”, but when you take their kerfs into account, the resulting circle was too small. Plus, it was really tough on my floor drill press.

Can this be done with a either a full size or trim router somehow? On a lathe? I’m not looking to make just one, but dozens….

-- Have a blessed day!

22 replies so far

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19819 posts in 2128 days

#1 posted 04-28-2014 01:54 AM

I made checker pieces with the router. Used a hole saw to cut a circle in a piece of luaun. Then with the router and a 1/4 bit with a collar to ride against the pattern. I kept the hole, but you could cut out the hole and then with a bigger pattern make a second circle bigger than the first if you get my drift. Made lots of pieces and I actually need to make another set of pieces out of oak and walnut.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1306 posts in 1905 days

#2 posted 04-28-2014 01:59 AM

Do it on a router. drill a center hole.
mount the piece on a piece of wood just tack glue it using hot glue..
make sure you are gluing the rim as well as other areas.
set the router bit to just pierce the bottom, or not… you can use an xacto to do the final piercing .

Cut the outter .. leave the waste there for your router to ride on.
Now cut the inner.. if you glued it with hot glue it should not fly apart.
Now pry out the outter waste. And now gently pull your ring off.

OR take a piece don’t go all the way through, do the outer, and inner, move to the next. When done use a band saw or tablesaw to remove the back of the piece and let the rings fall out.

-- Jeff NJ

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147 posts in 2936 days

#3 posted 04-28-2014 02:02 AM

I’d use a router circle cutting jig.

1. Screw work to a piece of scrap (thru scrap from bottom into center area of your ring that you’ll throw out) with 2 screws.
2. Cut the outer circle.
3. Adjust your jig 1” (plus bit width) smaller and cut the inner circle.

Shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes each.

View NoThanks's profile


798 posts in 1800 days

#4 posted 04-28-2014 02:19 AM

I would make a frame that you could put your subject pc in the center.
Then I would make 2 templates (measured to fit your router base)
(ignore measurements on drawing, there just to show different size templates)
I would put template 1 in the frame and rout my inner circle.
Then I would put template 2 in the frame and rout the outer circle.
Maybe use some double sided tape to hold your subject pc down in place until your done.
If everything is good and square you could rout half way through, flip over, then double tape down and rout the other half.

-- Because I'm gone, that's why!

View JAAune's profile


1864 posts in 2588 days

#5 posted 04-28-2014 03:12 AM

I use a simplified version of the one in the article linked below.

Finewoodworking on Bandsaw Circle Cutting Jig

-- See my work at and

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3919 days

#6 posted 04-28-2014 03:31 AM

Have you considered making it in four parts on a router
table using a pair of templates with hold down clamps,
one for the inside, one for the outside?

I have a pin router and it is the right tool for the job
of making that sort of cut, but I don’t expect you’ll
want to buy a pin router just yet. It can be accomplished
on the router table using a bearing guided pattern bit.

If doing it as one piece, removing a lot of material with
router is tiresome so I would tend to scrollsaw the inside
out to 1/16” or so and then put it on the router template
to clean it up.

The inside router template has a hole in the middle and
clamps around the edges. The outside template has
the clamps in the center and no hole.

View Woodknack's profile (online now)


12531 posts in 2652 days

#7 posted 04-28-2014 04:23 AM

You mention a lathe … that would be much faster than a router. Fasten your bezel blank to a faceplate or glue block with carpet tape. Using a parting tool buzz right through the face grain making the outer perimeter then through the face grain again for the inside perimeter. Done.

Here it is with a ringmaster but you can do it with a parting tool.

-- Rick M,

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1867 days

#8 posted 04-28-2014 04:35 AM

I’ve used a trim router to cut circles successfully. I took 1/8th to a 1/4 on each pass. I used a circle jig which is really easy to make. Cut the outside first and then cut the inside. Be careful at the very end because there is nothing supporting the inner circle once it’s cut free from the outer circle. The router is attached to the inner circle so it can gouge into the outer circle if you don’t pay attention to it.

View oldnovice's profile


7412 posts in 3639 days

#9 posted 04-28-2014 04:59 AM

I would use templates, router bushings, and a jig to hold everything for cutting like Iwud4u posted.

If you have a good selection of bushings and bits you can rough cut with one combination and then change to a smaller or larger bit/bushing combination, depending whether you are doing the inside or outside to give you material for a finish/clean up pass.

By changing bushings/bits you can get an offset as little as 1/64”; i.e. using a PC bushing 42027, 11/32” O.D. for the rough cut with a 3/8” bit provides an offset of 1/32” from the template edge by then changing to a 13/32” bit you can remove 1/32” closer to your template and remove material for a cleanup cut.

You can do similar cleanup cut by changing to the next smaller/larger bushing!

I have used that process for a number of projects as I don’t have a lathe!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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495 posts in 2596 days

#10 posted 04-28-2014 05:01 AM

You could use that, it might be an easy solution. The easier is to make your own jig like that.,43000,43001

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8566 posts in 2848 days

#11 posted 04-28-2014 05:12 AM

Maybe ask the good folks at Microfence and shortened the learning

Great advice above and good luck with your decisions.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3919 days

#12 posted 04-28-2014 05:13 AM

Also, one can establish the outer rim reasonably quick
using a template. The waste can be removed in a
jiffy using the bandsaw with a guide block to follow
the template. Try it – it works much better than
you’d expect. Then the cut is finished with the
disk on the same template base. Since the middle
is still present, screws can be used to secure the

Now you have a disk you want to make into a donut.

A birdsmouth fixture can be made for the router table,
similar to the sort of jig used to hollow out bowls on
the table saw. I still think the waste is best removed
so you don’t have to excavate material with the end
of the bit and I also think the part quality will be better
with fewer rejects. Also keep in mind the end grain
is going to be obnoxious to both cut out accurately
and sand effectively… another reason to make the part
out of 4 mitered sides with splines as end grain
exposure is minimized and the breakage danger
due to the short grain reduced as well.

A tool like a little 4” Dremel table saw or (way better)
a linotype saw/trimmer can be used to make 1/16”
wide spline slots.

View shipwright's profile


8223 posts in 3069 days

#13 posted 04-28-2014 05:27 AM

This is how I made somewhat similar rings for the 6” port lights in my cabin doors on my boat.
The blank is glued up in two layers, fastened to a faceplate and turned. Mine were only about 5/8” wide and about 1/2” thick. You can see how they look finished and installed here.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View doitforfun's profile


199 posts in 1879 days

#14 posted 04-28-2014 10:28 AM

I made a circle jig for my router table.

I put a stop block on the edge so the y-axis is always set to 0 and then I can just measure the radius using the fence rule to make the cut (minus the radius of the bit, of course). The work piece gets slid under the jig and screwed to the center. The only difficult part is raising the router into the work. I don’t have a power lift but the jig holds the work pretty secure and I duck my whole body under the table while making the lift just to be sure. LOL safety first. I can cut circles from about 3” to 18”.

-- Brian in Wantagh, NY

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3989 days

#15 posted 04-28-2014 02:24 PM

All very interesting ideas.

I don’t have a lathe currently, and have no desire to buy one in the near future. So I like to stay away from that.

I think the router is the way to go in some fashion. I’d like to make up some sort of jig, so that I can easily repeat the cut and get consistent results.

-- Have a blessed day!

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