Cutting Wood Circles With a Table Saw Jig

This inexpensive, homemade table saw jig will overcome the problems encountered in woodworking when you want to cut wood circles.

| November/December 1984

  • wood circle, table saw jig - diagram
    With this table saw jig you can cut almost perfectly round wood circles.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff
  • wood circles, table saw jig - trimming a circle
    To round out the edges of the "roughed-out" circle, slide the jig forward until the stock contacts the table-saw blade, and — holding it firmly — rotate the circle slowly clockwise around the stove bolt.
  • wood circles, table saw jig - cutting wood
    Before you begin your cut, drill a hole in the stock, fit it over the bolt at the appropriate hole in the jig, and slide the jig stock forward smoothly until it has passed completely through the blade.

  • wood circle, table saw jig - diagram
  • wood circles, table saw jig - trimming a circle
  • wood circles, table saw jig - cutting wood

After looking at the price and quality of most of the new toys available at nearby stores, I decided that my whole family would be much better off if I used my husband's table saw to make some wheeled push or pull playthings for our daughter. However, I soon discovered that it's not at all easy to cut perfectly round wood circles for wheels!

At first, I tried using a jigsaw, but the task was both time-consuming and difficult. My next idea, slicing narrow rounds off of big dowels, proved to be quite expensive. It also wouldn't be economical, I decided, to buy large-diameter hole saws or circle cutters for this limited application.

After some thought and experimentation, I came up with a table-saw jig, which — when used with caution — allows me to cut out circles of various sizes, down to a minimum of about six inches. The jig could also be used on a router/shaper table to put a decorative edge on the homemade wheels. Best of all, the device can be made from scrap wood and inexpensive parts that most folks probably have lying around their shops.

First, cut a piece of 3/4" plywood to about 12" x 18". Then cut another strip of wood to fit the miter groove of your saw. (Mine is 3/8" x 3/4" x 12".) Now, place the second strip in the slot ... put the plywood on top of the strip (position it so the edge of the plywood runs parallel to the blade) ... and nail, screw, or glue the plywood to the mitergroove strip.

Next, drill a series of 1/8" or 1/4" holes across the top of the plywood. (The distance from any particular hole to the saw blade will correspond to the radius of the circle you'll cut.) Countersink the holes on the mitergroove side of the plywood, and, finally, locate a 1/8" x 4" or a 1/4" x 4" stove or machine bolt, which you'll use to "lock" the stock to the jig to make a circle of a particular size.

To actually cut a disk, first find a piece of stock that's large enough (thickness doesn't matter) and drill a hole in the middle of it. Make sure the hole will slide over the machine or stove bolt but is small enough not to flop as the wood rotates around the bolt. Now, place the stock on the bolt at the appropriate hole on the jig, and place the jig in the miter groove of the saw. After making sure that the stock is not contacting the blade, turn on the saw.

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