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Circle Cutting with the Router

Circle Cutting with the Router
So you are working a project that needs to have some circles cut.  I was faced with an interesting dilemma when starting work on a child's table top.  Cutting a perfect circle in a piece of wood can be a daunting task if you don't have a lot of tools.  There are
basically three choices.

  • Jig Saw
  • Band saw with jig
  • Router

Jig Saw

If you think the jig saw is an inexpensive idea, you might want to rethink this idea.  Jig
saws do a nice job of removing stock and cutting some irregular shapes.  The problem
is that the blades tend to bend slightly if you put any sort of pressure on the tool while
cutting the stock.  Then you end up with an edge that is not 90 degrees and that is unacceptable.

Band Saw

You can cut some really neat circles with a band saw rigged up with a circle cutting jig.  These do an awesome job of cutting the circles and can cut a variety of different size diameters.  The challenge is first of all that you have to have the band saw and the
bigger the better.  The second is that you have to make the circle jig which makes
another project you have to make before getting to the real project.  If I were to be
making a lot of circles or doing some production work, this would be the route that I
would pursue.

Router

Believe it not, routers can cut very accurate circles and they can do it in a variety of
diameters.  You need a good
circle jig.  You can buy these jigs in several different sizes
depending on the size project you are making.  They are readily available and work with
a trammel system.  The router is mounted to the circle jig and in essence it becomes a
giant base plate for the router.  Measurements are pre printed on the jig and you choose the diameter that you prefer.  

The only drawback of the system is that you have to have a small pivot hole in your
stock to put the reference pin into.  This system is not a "gitter done fast" system.  You have to take small bites out of the wood which requires you go around the stock several times.  This is good form anyway in the router and router table world.  The great part
about this system is that you will get a perfect circle cut everytime.  You can use just
about any size plunge router with a circle cutting jig.  Most of the jigs are made of clear
acrylic.  The good ones are pre drilled for your mounting your router so the guess work is eliminated in mounting your router to the jig.  Who needs another project to complete
your original project, right?





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Circle Cutting with the Router