I have a piece of thin redwood that I am turning into a clock face for a Christmas present. I need to be able to drill a hole in the center. But the wood is not good circle. It's circular..ish. But it's not a circle. The diameter ranges between 14 1/4 inches to 14 and 1/8.

I have tried using the intersection of the longest distances, but I keep getting different results.

I even tried balancing it on a nail (from the unfininshed back) and marking the tip. That got me a hole that was way off.

I tried using a square, but the intersections vary with every attempt. I'm thinking of just guesstimating after getting varying results. Is there a better way to do this?

1 Answer 1


I have tried using the intersection of the longest distances, but I keep getting different results.

This is normal, and not a problem. What tends to happen when you are trying to find the approximate centre of an uneven shape is that crossing lines taken from various points on the circumference, or edges, yield a small clear area.

Approximate centre

Once you get to this stage you can just eyeball the 'centre' quite accurately.

Even if your circular piece of wood were much more uneven than it is you can use this technique to get an acceptable result since it's so easy to guestimate the centre of this much smaller shape left by the marking out.

Paper circle
If you'd prefer a different methodology so you can 'weight' the circle within the uneven shape visually, simply draw a 14" circle1 on a piece of paper or card stock, cut the circle out with scissors, place on your redwood and move it around until you like how it looks. Make a mark through the central hole and you're done.

1 If you have no compass large enough, just make yourself a rudimentary beam compass from a strip of thin wood (even stiff card will do). Drill/poke two holes in your beam 14" apart, pin it to the paper through one hole using anything suitable, push a pen tip or pencil through the second hole and rotate. You can use this or a "string compass" to draw circles of any diameter you'll ever require.

  • 2
    I would absolutely go with the "template" approach.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 7, 2023 at 15:01

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