How to make a circle jig for cutting wooden circles

How to cut circles out of wood with a jigsaw table

Cutting a circle of wood by hand is often tricky, although the tests I have done so far with this jigsaw table have been quite satisfactory. Anyway, the best option is to make a circle jig to cut the circles in wood. A woodworking jig such as this simple one that I make in this blog post.

So, let’s see how to make a circle cutting jig and how to use the jig to cut circles out of wood on the jigsaw table.

Plywood base of the jigsaw table cross cut sled

To make this simple woodworking circle jig I am going to use the jigsaw table miter cuts sled I had made (and which is the same as the base of the crosscut sled I had also made), which, as some of you already know, did not work very well. It is nothing more than a piece of thin plywood with a couple of runners underneath that fit to the sides of the jigsaw table, and it slides facing the cutting blade.

Screw the board to the jigsaw table sled

To cut the circles I will need some space on the right side, so as the plywood base of this sled is too small I will screw to it a piece of a pine board I had in the workshop.

Increasing the surface of the circle cutting jig with a board

I screwed it flush to the back edge of the thin plywood base, and offset as far as I can to the right, but so that if necessary I can still clamp it with a clamp on the left.

Cut a slot in the circle jig with the jigsaw table

Now I take the sled to the jigsaw table again, and turn it on to cut a slot in the wood. Whenever I use this circle jig the jigsaw blade will fit into this slot.

Draw some lines perpendicular to the slot

And the radius of the circle to be cut will be perpendicular to this slot. Then, I draw a couple of lines perpendicular to the slot.

Measure and mark the cutting radii on the lines.

And on these perpendicular lines I will mark the radii that I consider necessary. As I said, I mark the radii on these lines. On one line I mark even numbers (even centimeters) and on another line I want to mark odd numbers (odd centimeters).

Drill the holes for the pivot points of circle jig

And with a fine drill bit I drill pilot holes at all marks. I drilled them by hand, but it is more accurate to drill with a drill press or with the help of a drill stand. And if at some point I need to make a circle whose radius does not coincide with any of the marks I made, I just have to draw another perpendicular line to the slot, mark the necessary radius and drill the corresponding pilot hole.

Making the pivot pin of the circle jig with a screw

As a pivot pin I can use a nail, but I think that a nail would deform the circle jig holes and they would loosen if I cut too many wood circles. That’s why I prefer to use a screw, but I had to file off half of the thread.

Screw the pivot pin on the radius to be cut

This way I can screw it into the corresponding hole and it will stay firm as many times as I need to use it.

Using the jigsaw table jig to cut wooden circles

Now the trick to use this jig for cutting circles is to put the jig on the jigsaw table in a way that the line where the radius I am going to cut is, and which is perfectly perpendicular to the slot, is right on the teeth of the jigsaw blade. When the circle cutting jig is in position, I have to put a clamp behind it to act as a stop. This way I know that when I go to cut the circle, the jig will go to its correct position marked by the stop.

Drill a pilot hole in the center of the circle to be cut

To cut the circle I want, I cut a square of wood slightly larger than the circle I want, and I drill a guide hole in the center.

Fit the center of the circle in the pivot pin.

And now I fit that hole in the screw that will be the pivot point, and that I already screwed in the position corresponding to the radius of the circle I want to cut. I have to make sure that the surface of the wood is perfectly flat on the surface of the circle jig, and I have to be careful in case that the tip of the pivot screw protrudes from the top, lest I get it in my hand when I press on the wood.

Make a straight cut until the jig reaches the stop

And now I can start cutting the wood circle. I turn on the jigsaw, put the circle cutting jig on the jigsaw table and begin to cut the wood straight, not allowing the workpiece to rotate. This way I will cut straight until the circle jig runs into the clamp that I put as a stop.

Turn the wood on the circle jig until the wood circle is cut out

And now holding the circle jig against the stop I start turning the wood, the workpiece, as I cut the circle. I have to cut little by little, but it is easy and I just have to be careful at the end of the cut, lest the saw gets into the inside of the wooden circle and spoil it.

It is better to let it come to the end smoothly and not try to go backwards and forwards to improve the end of the cut. It is preferable to take away the wood circle and sand with the disc sander the small imperfection that may remain.

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