7 Best Ways to Cut Circles in Wood – Which Tool to Use?
Cutting wood accurately is typically pretty easy. Cutting more intricate shapes, like triangles, can be done with a simple ruler and a pencil. However, one shape stands above all in difficulty— the circle.
Luckily, circles are not used for many projects. In most cases, you’re going to be working with straight lines. However, when circles are called for, it is essential that you get them right. This requires falling back on tried-and-true techniques and breaking out special tools.
In this article, we’ll discuss the easiest and most accurate way to cut circles out of wood, including the best tools you need for the job. Whether you need a top for your handcrafted table or various-sized circles for the giant bubble art mural you’re making, this guide will help you master the techniques you need and select the perfect tools for the job.
Comparison of Our Favorite Picks for 2023
|Best Overall||Rockler Circle Cutting Router Jig||
|Best for Small Circles||HYCHIKA Hole Saw Set||
|TACKLIFE Belt Sander||
Truthfully, there are probably dozens of ways to cut a circle. However, some techniques are more straightforward than others. We’ll take a look at seven of the techniques we consider to be the best. These are the easiest ways to cut a perfect circle without spending much money.
The 7 Best Ways to Cut Circles in Wood
1. Circle Cutting Jig – Best Overall
Circle-cutting jigs are made to cut circles out of wood. That’s their only purpose, and they do it quite well. These machines take all the guesswork out of the process and ensure you get a near-perfect circle every time. If you want to jump right into your project without much trial and error, it is the tool to use.
Of course, because they are only used to cut circles, they probably aren’t going to be used much. Unless you specialize in crafting round furniture, you’ll likely only pull this tool out occasionally. It can seem like an unnecessary splurge, especially if you’re on a budget. Still, we stand by this method as being the most straightforward option.
Most of the jigs even come with instructions. All you have to do is give them a quick read, and you’ll be prepared to make perfect circles in minutes. You’ll secure the pivot point to the position you want to be the center of your circle. Then, you’ll slide the router out to the desired radius length, and you’ll be ready to go.
For this method, we recommend the Rockler Circle Cutting Router Jig
- Cut circles from 10" to 52" in diameter
- Tough, long-lasting phenolic core
- Includes mounting hardware to fit a variety of routers
2. Plunge Router
Plunge routers are pretty straightforward tools and are perfect for cutting out circles. If you already have one, you may attempt to cut out a circle by hand. This is possible, theoretically, but you’ll likely need to be a magician to cut out a perfect circle using just a plunge router. Sometimes you do not necessarily need a perfect circle; just going at it with a router may be accurate enough.
In most cases, we recommend using one of these routers with a circle-cutting jig. It is a natural, uncomplicated way to ensure your circle is as accurate as possible. It requires minimal measuring and no complicated math. All you need to know is the radius of your circle, and you’re good to go.
If you decide to purchase one of these tools, we recommend the Makita RT0701CX7 1-1/4 HP Compact Router Kit
- Variable speed control dial (10,000 - 30,000 RPM) enables user to match the speed to the application
- Smooth rack-and-pinion fine depth adjustment system for more precise settings
- Slim and ergonomically designed body for increased comfort and control
3. Hole Saw – Best Saw to Cut Small Circles
Plunge routers and circle jigs are great for larger circles but won’t work for smaller ones. If you need to cut out very tiny circles for your project, purchasing a hole saw is the easiest thing to do. They are explicitly designed to cut circles and are exceedingly accurate.
Using a hole saw is very easy as well. You need a backer board to prevent blowout, but that’s it. Most of the hole saws are pretty thick, so they should be able to cut through most wood without any issue. If you need to double the cutting depth, you can flip the wood over after you begin sawing and see through the other side. The pilot hole will help you stay in line and produce that perfect circle.
Take it slowly with these saws; they aren’t the most powerful tools in the world. Give the teeth time to eat through the wood to reduce the number of burns. We recommend the HYCHIKA Hole Saw Set
- 🌟【19 PCS ACCESSORIES】 HYCHIKA Hole saw kit Including 13pcs size saw blades: 19mm, 22mm, 28mm, 32mm, 38mm, 44mm, 51mm, 64mm,...
- 🌟【HIGH QUALITY & FAST CUTTING】The hole saw drill bit cutter blades are carbon steel and heat treated, with black surface, ensure...
- 🌟【WIDE APPLICATIONS】 HYCHIKA Saw blades are durable and reliable to use on workpieces, suitable for cork board, thin PVC board,...
4. Belt Sander
A belt sander can help you make a small circle in some types of wood. There are a few ways you can do it. The easiest way is to measure out and draw your circle on your workpiece and then use the sander to get the desired shape. The circle likely won’t be perfect, but it should be close enough.
As you might imagine, you’ll need to go very slowly to cut out a circle properly. Also, this method doesn’t necessarily work for large circles since you’ll need to turn and tilt the workpiece against the sander belt quickly.
If you need a single circle and don’t see yourself cutting any more circles soon, this method may be all you need. Belt sanders are used for various tasks, and you may already have one. For those who need a specific recommendation, we recommend purchasing the TACKLIFE Belt Sander.
5. Band Saw
Band saws are well known for their ability to cut out shapes, including circles. However, this takes quite a bit of experience. Not everyone can easily hand-cut a circle with a band saw. But, if you’ve been using a band saw for years, you may be able to do it after trial and error. The easiest way to use this saw to cut circles is to figure out how to pivot your workpiece from a fixed position.
Some people do it using a piece of plywood and a nail. Nearly everything you do is going to require cutting into the middle of your workpiece, which may or may not be possible depending on your project.
We do not recommend going out and buying a band saw just to cut circles. They are expensive, and this method is far from foolproof. It also assumes that you already have experience with a band saw. However, if you already have a band saw sitting in your workshop, you might want to try this method before purchasing a new tool for the job.
If you purchase a band saw to cut circles with, we recommend picking up the WEN 3962.
- 3.5 amp motor creates cuts up to six inches deep and 9-3/4 inches wide
- Uses 72-inch blades anywhere from 1/8 to 1/2 inches in size
- Spacious 14-1/8 x 12-1/2 inch work table bevels up to 45 degrees
6. Table Saw
A table saw is probably not what you were thinking of when you first started reading this list, but using a table saw for cutting circles can produce remarkable results when it is done correctly.
This is a longer process, but it can be helpful for those who already own a table saw. First, you have to get your circle somewhat circular. Just cut off the corners until you have something vaguely the size you want. Next, you will get another piece of wood and set up the pivot point for your workpiece. For this, you’ll need to measure the radius from one side. Your workpiece will turn around this pivot point, getting cut to precisely the correct radius on each side.
You will have to nail through your workpiece or cut off a notch on one side for the workpiece to sit on. This method may be unusable for specific projects since holes in your workpiece aren’t always aesthetically pleasing or functional. That is one of the reasons we rated this method much lower than the others. For those who want to purchase a table saw, we recommend the TACKLIFE Table Saw.
Jigsaws can be used for several projects, and you will probably get your money’s worth. There are many ways you can use a jigsaw to cut a circle. You can attempt to do it by hand, but it probably won’t get you a perfect circle. If you’ve used a jigsaw extensively, you may be able to get away with just doing it by hand. However, most people will need a guide to cut something that looks vaguely like a circle.
If you’re on a budget or already have a jigsaw, it is a valid way to make a circle. We recommend the BLACK+DECKER BDEJS600C Smart Select Jigsaw
- HIGH PERFORMANCE ELECTRIC JIG SAW - 5 amp electric jig saw with a 3⁄4” blade orbital action for increased precision
- CURVE CONTROL TECHNOLOGY - Four curve settings for maximum control over rounded cuts
- BEVELED CUTS - Makes beveled cuts up to 45 degrees
Buyer’s Guide – Deciding on the Best Ways to Cut Circles in Wood
As you can see, there are many methods for cutting out a perfect circle. Choosing which method to use can be difficult, so we wrote this quick buyer’s guide. In this section, we’ll review the factors you should consider when choosing a method.
Most of these methods cost a little bit of money. You can save money by using tools you already have lying around. If you already have a jigsaw, you might as well use the jigsaw instead of purchasing another tool. This is especially true if you’re on a budget.
If money is not a problem, we recommend buying the circle rig we mentioned as the first option. It is the easiest way to make circles. If you don’t have one, purchasing the rig and the router will cost you a bit of money, but it is by far the easiest and best option.
Some people can hand-cut circles with a jigsaw, but it’s difficult. If you’ve never used a table saw before, you probably should not try to use one to cut a circle. Use the machine you’re most experienced with, and you’ll get the best results.
If you have little experience with power tools, we recommend purchasing the circle jig we mentioned. It is easy to use with practically no experience, which is why we rated it so high.
The Circle Size
Most of these methods are only suitable for cutting circles of a particular size. If you need a small circle, you don’t want to use a circle-cutting jig. Instead, you probably want a hole saw specifically designed to cut perfect circles. The method you choose will depend on the size circle you will cut.
Several methods and tools help you cut circles out of wood. Some are better than others, as you have seen in this article. We hope we helped you choose the correct method for your situation. In general, we recommend using a circle-cutting jig for larger circles.
This method is simple and great for those of all experience levels. It will create a perfect circle every time if you do it correctly. If you need to make smaller circles, invest in a hole saw. That’s precisely what they are for, and they aren’t inexpensive.