I sure can't picture a safe way to cut a circle with a tablesaw, but if
you have a good jigsaw, you can get or make a jig for that, and it will
come out almost as clean as a router. Can be as simple as a small flat
aluminum bar nailed to the center of the circle and connected to your
jigsaw. Router with a circle-cutting jig would be a great way to clean
up after a freehand bandsaw or jigsaw cut. Wood magazine just had
plans for an easy, cheap, expandable router circle jig - essentially
make an offset sub-base out of 1/2" ply with an arm coming off one
side, and carefully measure distances from the edge of your router bit
to a hole on the arm for the center of your circle. Does that make
sense? Easier done than written - basically make a
squash-raquet-shaped piece of plywood, with the 'head' the same size as
your router base, and put holes in the 'handle'.
Hmm. Fixed wooden platform with pin 2 feet from the tablesaw edge.
Rotate wood on top, and the edge moves towards blade.
There was a jig like this in Tolpin's book on tablesaws.
I would have something on top to prevent flyoff.
But your hands would be 1 1/2 feet away from the saw.
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If he's got a bandsaw, it's hands down the best choice.
http://www.mikescomputerinfo.com/circlejig.htm which requires some
imagination, or perhaps a look at this excessively elaborate pay-to-play
Of course Norm built one on TV, too.
A trip to the paper book place should turn plans in most standard texts,
though Duginskie's is the one I'd buy or read.
If you like routers, you can move the router with trammels
Or mount your pivot and leave the router in the table. Recommend spiral
bits to help out over the splinter-prone uphill parts.
Quite possible and there are circle cutting jig designs specifically for the
table saw ... but, IME, you have to rough cut the circle first, and it takes
a few passes and lots of futzing to get it done. You do get a very clean
In my little part of the woodworking world a router and trammel is much
preferred over other methods. It is just too easy to make a trammel router
base out of 1/4" sheet stock for any router.
Heck no. You can cut clean circles with a router all day long. All it takes
is a piece of plywood bolted to the base of the router with a nail for the
center of the circle. Of course there are fancy factory made jigs and
fixtures but they don't perform the function any better. I've heard of
someone doing a large doorway arch by laying it out in a parking lot and
using a router. The key to using the router is making multiple passes. The
result is cleaner than any saw can do.
I went way cheaper...lol
I use a pegboard scrap, about 6" x 14" long, with the router stuck on the
pegboard with double sided tape and a short sheet metal screw as the pivot..
Almost any size circle is possible, just pick the hole for the pivot point that
works, put a straight bit in the router and set it for whatever first cut depth
that you're comfortable with... then just set for more depth and run the circle
again until cut..
I threw it together when I needed a round top for a 50 gallon drum for my DC...
worked so well that I kept it as a "jig" and hung it on the wall...
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Now that's getting cheap! My first large circle jig came from a source with
history. In 1980, I bought some 3/8" exterior plywood to board up my windows
for a hurricane. I kept those boards in the attic for years. I finally cut
off a piece to make a quick and dirty router circle jig. I think, figuring
time value of money, this jig was virtually free.
Our mutual point is that cutting precision circles with a router does not
take any precision at all in equipment.
Cut a square from your stock on the table saw so that its side is
slightly longer than the diameter of your circle.
Then use a single-runner table saw cut-off sled that is at least slightly
wider than the radius of your circle. Assuming the runner rides in the
left miter gauge slot, the right end of the sled should end right at the
blade. Roughly in the middle of the sled from front to back, measure
from right edge over to the left the radius of the circle and mark the
spot. Find the center of the square you cut (By intersecting diagonals
the corners is an easy way) and drill a small hole there. Using a screw
that fits snugly in the hole but turns freely, screw the square to
the sled at the marked spot. the screw shold not bind the square from
pivoting. Raise the blade and cut the corners off the square by running
the sled & square through the saw blade. You may want to cut the
corners again from the resulting octagon. Now, with the saw running,
slowly move the sled towards the blade until the blade just starts
nibbling on the underside of the workpiece, and start rotating. After
a full turn, move the sled slightly forward again, and repeat until
the circle is completely cut.
I have used this method (Which I believe I first saw in one of
Cristofero's books) many times and it is safe and makes a perfect
circle that requires very little if any sanding. After the first few
cuts you will quickly get a feel for how much you can advance the sled
for each rotation.
I had a job cutting circles out of plastic for museum displays. most of
them were 5 to 10 inches or so in diameter. the tolerance was (IIRC)
.005". (five thousandths of an inch). I used a jig that took me maybe
15 minutes to build and produced circles that consistently measured
within .002" of spec. basically a router trammel with an adjustment
mechanism. easy, cheap and accurate.
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