Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Life Changing Skill (AKA: How to Cut a Perfect Circle With a Table Saw)



You might not think being able to cut a perfect circle on a common table saw is life changing, but you may not be a DIY blogger, you may not be a perfectionist, and you may not loath using a jigsaw with your whole being.

Have you ever started watching something on YouTube, and next thing you know its 4 hours later and you are watching a tutorial on installing wool dreadlocks? Maybe not dreadlocks, but you know you have fallen down the YouTube rabbit hole before.

It was during one of these internet video time warps when I came upon this video:

Cut a perfect circle on a table saw MOLD ACRYLIC PLEXI MAKE A PARABOLIC MIRROR CUT A CIRCLE Dan R


Of course I needed to try this myself. I was a little worried about what it may do to my saw blade, but I already needed a new one, so I figured "why not?".

The first step is to determine how large of a circle you need to cut, or technically, the diameter. Once you know that number, divide it in half, and that gives you your radius. Starting from the top, center of your saw blade, measure out the distance of your radius, and make a mark on the table. This is where you need to drill a hole. 


Yes, you will have to drill a hole in the table portion of your saw. At first I didn't like that idea, but then I thought about it; my saw is a tool. Its sole purpose in life is to cut things, not look beautiful. Drilling a small hole in the table doesn't affect it's ability at all. 



The next step is to drill the same size hole in whatever you will be cutting. I chose to use something thin and easy to cut for my first attempt. I went with 1/8" MDF veneer. Just make sure you have a bit more than your radius length in all directions around that point. 


Lower your saw blade all the way down. Thread a small bolt through the hole in your material, and table top. I wanted to make sure the MDF I was cutting had no chance of flying off, so I chose to add a nut to my bolt and lightly tightened it. Not necessary, but it made me feel better. Make sure your material spins easily.

Raise your saw blade so about 1/16" of the blade is exposed. I lifted up the MDF so you could see what that looks like.


Lay the material flat on the table and turn on the saw. Use a scrap piece of wood or a push stick to hold the material down, over the saw blade. Spin the material all the way around one time. At this point, you should have scored a nice line. 


Raise your saw blade another 1/16" and make another pass. Continue to raise and turn until all of the material has been cut through.



That's it! You now should have a perfect circle. There will be a small hole from the bolt, but that's easily fixed with some wood filler. 

Be patient! The thicker your material, the more passes you will need. Don't be tempted to raise your blade more than 1/16" at a time, trust me!

Think of the possibilities this opens up! Artwork, clocks, tabletops etc. I already have a long list of circular projects in store. I don't care how nice of a jigsaw you have, you can get a good circle, but never perfect. This technique takes a little patience, but it really was simple. Give it a shot! And if you do, please send me a photo of what you do with your circle. 



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16 comments:

  1. That makes me nervous, but... whatever works for you! I use my router all the time to make circles. You can make all different diameters and you don't have to put a hole in your table saw for each! LOL

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    1. You don't have to drill holes in your table!! Just put a piece of plywood on the table with some double sided tape on the back. Drill into the plywood instead and save your table.

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  2. That's awesome! Hey just a side note your font is really hard to read. It's really small!!

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    1. I've been thinking the same thing about the font for months but I had gotten a new computer so I thought maybe it was that???

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    2. You ladies are totally right, my font sucks. I've tried changing it a couple times and it just reverts back. I've got to recruit someone who knows what they are doing. Thanks for the input!

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  3. I think its about time i buy a table saw. Quite easily the coolest use I've seen for one. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. Now I need to buy all of those tools you listed....or maybe find someone to make circles for me because I'd really like to build a few round ottomans and a round, wheeled seat for my bum while I'm working on my own furniture! You are so awesome. I hope I'm as cool as you when I grow up!

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  5. That is seriously awesome!! I really enjoyed the video too! Thanks for sharing Elisha, pinned it!

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  6. I love your blog and everything that I learn here. I enjoy it so much that I nominated your blog for the Liebster Award, recognizing and introducing folks to great blogs. I hope you have time to participate. Check it out over at www.encorecreations.blogspot.com

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  7. Great trick! Thanks for sharing your technique for cutting circles. :-)
    Blessings!
    Kim @ Curtain Queen Creates

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  8. Whoa! That is life changing! Great tip. Thank you for sharing at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a lovely weekend! ~Deborah

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  9. Ok this is awesome...it really is a life changer. No wavy edges from the jig saw, and sanding those edges later. Thanks for sharing

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  10. "to help women feel empowered and prepared to handle power tools" - nicely said. I consider myself as a very handy male, yet, just learned a great deal here and will share that with some of my male followers. Thx Elisha.

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  11. I'd tend to disagree that you can't do a perfect circle on a bandsaw. That being said, I think we're comparing apple/oranges. What you've presented here is perfect for doing larger circles. If you want to do smaller circles 300mm and smaller, a bandsaw with a homemade circle cutter is the go - perfect circles every time. Basically it's a flat board with a groove cut perpendicular to the blade with a sliding piece that has a pin inserted for somewhere for the piece to spin around on. The most important part is that the pin is inline with the front of the blade and the slider runs at 90deg. There's a few plans around the net for them. Takes all of an hour to build. Cheers for the post Pete

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