Wood Arts

How To Cut A Circle On A Table Saw

Many woodworkers may tell you that it is not a possible task – to cut a circle using a table saw. Ideally, a router (with a circular jig) or a band saw is usually used to cut large circles into wood, but these tools may not be readily available. With a little planning and effort, a table saw can achieve the same results.
Before you can begin to cut a circle using a table saw, you need to build a “sled jig”. This will not be a project that is a waste of time, because once you find out how easy it is to cut a circle using a table saw, it will be used multiple times.
How to build a sled jig
With a sheet of ¾ inch MDF (medium density fiberboard) or piece of plywood, cut to an inch less than the width and to the exact length of the table saw.
Next, cut a one inch strip of pine to the length of the MDF. It should also be the thickness of the miter gauge groove (usually ½ an inch). Glue and then secure (by screwing) the pine strip to the center of the MDF. Allow ample time for the glue to properly dry.
Now it is time to test out the sled. The piece of pine that was cut should fit snuggly into the miter gauge slot, but not so tight, that it would not slide smoothly. If necessary, hand sand any high or thick areas that would hinder the sled from moving smoothly. It is also important that the sled lies directly flush/flat on the table.
Once a test has been successfully completed, locate the center point of the board and draw diagonal lines from corner to corner. Obviously, the center of the board is the point where the lines cross.
Drill a small hole into the center of the jig, and gently drive a small nail into the hole, without causing damage to the top of the table saw. Next drill a small hole, halfway through into the wood stock and slide the original piece on the protruding nail.
The stock should now be lying at a 45 degree angle on the jig’s edge. Activate the table saw and slide the jig along the table, repeat this process on remaining three corners.
Continue turning the piece, cutting off more of the wood from the corners. This process should be repeated until all 8 corners have been trimmed.
The next step that is required, is that the jig be slid forward (until the center is touching the table saw blade). Clamping the jig in place, at this stage, is highly recommended. Spin the stock slowly, to allow the blade to cut, until the edges are round and smooth.
A few tips and warnings should be taken into consideration:
1. Always wear protective eye gear.
2. Saw off and file the nail, if it is long and overhanging.
3. For circles that are smaller than the palm of your hand, use a push stick for support and safety.
4. Keep the table saw free of scrap pieces of wood.

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