# How does one make a perfect circle on a table saw?

I have seen videos related to cutting circles on a table saw. I would love to try this but I am hesitant to make a jig that, to me, seems to be extremely dangerous. Here is a video of Matthias Wandel using his jig to cut a rabbet into the circle, which seems like it'd be even scarier.

How does one make this jig and do so safely? Are there any gotchas that should be considered when executing this jig?

• It would be helpful if you included a link to one of the specific videos or jigs for complete context.
– rob
Apr 23, 2015 at 16:06
• Just added a link to Mathias Wandel's video about making a cyclone where he uses his circle jig to make a rabbet in a circle. Apr 23, 2015 at 16:17
• Reminds me of how you can make elliptical grooves on a table saw. Instead of rotating to make a circle you push the stock through at an angle. You have to start with a shallow depth of cut and increase small amounts until you have the desired contour.
– Phil
Apr 23, 2015 at 17:18
• Jimmy Diresta just made a video which has exactly this "problem" and his solution at 8:55. youtu.be/UKWIZM9aI5Y?t=8m55s I would still probably use one of the other methods that have been mentioned though. Aug 19, 2015 at 16:46

Take a sled and add a pivot as far away from the blade as you want your radius. (riving knife and guards can remain in place)

As preparation rough cut your piece on the band-saw.

Then put your piece on the sled and attach it to the pivot. Clamp it down to avoid the piece rotating while you are cutting and make a cut. Unclamp, rotate, clamp and cut again; rinse and repeat until it is round.

To get it perfectly round while not rotating the wood against the blade is nearly impossible. The last passes would require very accurate turns.

Instead if you have a motor and some shaft and bearings handy you can attach you can attach a pully to the wheel and work on it like a lathe.

The main advantage of this last step is that you are turning the wheel on its own axle so even if you make a mistake when mounting the bearings/putting it on the shaft you can true out the wobble.

• Yes alternatives here are most likely the way to go as I have never seen the situation where a table saw was the go to tool for doing this. Apr 24, 2015 at 19:28
• I'm curious why you'd use the TS to make the circle if you already have a band saw to make the rough cuts. A band saw is much better suited to making curved cuts than a table saw is... Dec 13, 2023 at 14:31
• @FreeMan This answer doesn't require a bandsaw though, but you can use a jigsaw for the the rough cut Jan 2 at 10:31

I'm of the same mind, Peter. All the plans I've seen require removal of too much safety equipment.

There are too many other tools that would suffice- from a band saw for smaller circles to a jig saw or router on a commercial or shop made trammel for large ones.

e.g.

Band saw-

Or router..

Or for a jig saw..

• I used a band saw jig to cut some circles, and it wasn't easy. I might not have made my jig particularly well, since i was under pressure from the frigidity 6 year old to hurry up and help him get his Christmas presents made. I'd still prefer that to the table saw, though. Apr 23, 2015 at 16:35
• Agreed. A friend of mine has a novel way of doing it- he has a pivot point on a box that fits on the corner of his workbench. He pulls the band saw over close to the bench and sets the casters on both so that neither can move. He pops the box (which is tall enough to make the box surface and band saw table coplanar) on the bench and locks it in with a vise. That provides a fixed pivot for the saw. Apr 23, 2015 at 16:50
• @Freeman some bandsaw circle-cutting jigs are better-designed than others. It's also important to use an appropriately-sized blade and have your bandsaw tuned properly.
– rob
Apr 23, 2015 at 17:02
• Umm... that wasn't supposed to be frigidity ... Apr 23, 2015 at 17:18

What I think makes most of such jigs dangerous is that they allow rotation of the work piece while cutting. That is not a safety issue per se, but at the begging of the process, the work piece is not a circle at all which makes it awkward to work with.

Here's what I suggest

1. use a sacrificial board like a table saw sled, this will become the "jig", but it really is just a sacrificial board
2. Put the circle-to-be board on top of it, mark the center (depending on the desired radius) and place is accordingly (there should be the a distance between the blade and the center as big as the desired radius)
3. Screw the upper board to the sled. Position the screw at the center of the radius
4. Add a second screw. This one locks the upper board from spinning around.
5. Feed that into the saw. This is not different from any other two board being securely connected. It's just "one thicker board".
6. Pull back, unscrew the second screw, rotate the top board a bit, srew the second screw back in. Go to 5. until you have a sufficiently round work piece.

These are just my thoughts. I do not have a table saw.

I agree with TX Turner that other tools might be better suited for this task or will be much safer to use.

• If your degree of rotation is sufficiently small, and your "2nd screw" placement accurate enough, you can make a donut! :) Apr 23, 2015 at 16:33

Trying to cut finished circles on a table saw is about as unsafe an idea as I can think of. The reason that the Wandel setup works is that the rabbet is not much deeper than the tooth depth on the blade. This means that any wood fed into the blade at an angle encounters teeth and gets cut.

For any cut deeper than the tooth depth, this invites disaster. Wood which is fed into the body of the blade at an angle will do one of two things: if the blade is moving downwards, the wood will burn due to friction and the piece will stall - if the blade is moving upwards, the piece will be picked up and thrown.

Neither is a good idea.

• A deeper cut can be accomplished by a series of shallow cuts. Apr 26, 2015 at 20:13

I use my table saw to cut circles. I've never had a kickback. I've never had burning from friction. I've never had stalls. I still have 10 fingers. It's not fast, but it works.

• I make straight cuts until the piece is mostly round(ish), blade-width or less remaining to cut off.

• I only raise the blade maybe 1/8" higher than the wood thickness.

• I do not turn the piece if it will cause the blade to bind (too much material left).

• I clamp the sled down before I start turning the workpiece.

• I always come out with a near-perfect circle with smooth edges. WAY better than with a jig saw, and less sanding when finished.

• Hi, welcome to StackExchange and Woodworking. If I were to do this on a TS this is pretty much exactly how I'd do it, the key thing I think being the succession of straight cuts that get you close enough that you can then do the rotating cut with pretty much absolute safely. I do think however that this is a task that is more firmly in the domain of the router. In addition to the method being more straightforward and adaptable to various radii, it's faster; and with a sharp bit and a final pass it's possible to achieve a surface that needs only the most minimal hand sanding, if that. Dec 14, 2023 at 9:11