Introduction: How to Cut Perfect Circles With a Table Saw

Table saws are great at cutting straight but when its time to cut circles most people think of other tools, bandsaws, jig saws, hole saws, routers... etc

Well you can cut perfect circles on your table saw too, with a simple fixture!

What you'll need:

  • Table Saw
  • Short nails, staples, screws (1")

Step 1: Make a 'Burner Sled'

A 'burner sled' (a term I made up), is a sled that rides back and forth in your table saw's channel guide that you don't intend to use ever again - as opposed to just a regular table saw sled which had a nice fence perpendicular to the blade and lets you do lots of stuff. You could use one of those but you'll be drilling into it

Make your burner sled start by measuring the width and depth of your table saw guide channel and then ripping a piece of plywood to fit in the channel (shown)

Step 2: Make a 'Burner Sled' (cont)

Nails/screws/staple a larger piece of plywood to the channel guide key you just made.

Make sure you're fastening hardware doesn't go through both pieces and damage your guide channel.

This is a good time to mention not to forget to take off the fence that came with the table saw and put it aside.

Step 3: Position Your Cutting Piece

Your cutting piece can be any shape. This one is a square.

Place your cutting piece on the burner sled and push one of the sides up against the blade

Before you get a feel for this technique it helps to start with a much larger piece than the circle you intend to cut (a few inches at least) so if you intend to cut a 10" diameter circle, throw a 14" squire on there (2 inches of margin on each side)

Step 4: Attach Your Cutting Piece

Now screw your cutting piece to the burner sled, but not too tightly - you want it to spin.

For best results drill a through hole in your cutting piece.

The distance from the screw to the blade will be the radius of your circle

Step 5: Cut Corners (literally)

If you don't already have a square cutting piece, make it one by moving the sled past the blade, clocking the cutting piece by 90 degrees and then running it though again.

Once you have a square, index the cutting piece by 45 degrees at a time and reduce your square to an octagon

(as shown)

Step 6: Cutting More Corners

Now cut off the corners of your octagon shape to make it whatever a 16 sided shape is called....

...hexadecagon (according to google)

Step 7: Finishing Cut

Once you have 16 or more sides you can keep the sled stationary and spin the cutting piece (slowly) to remove the rest of the material. The result... a perfect circle

Comments

author
Cabotage+ made it!(author)2016-11-11

Nice technique. Maybe add a feather board to the jig to prevent the circle from spinning kickback.

As for the glove thing, use them if you feel comfortable with them. If you don't feel comfortable with gloved hands don't use them. I prefer gloves because the dust dries my skin and I loose traction. And there's the splinter aspect.

Be cautious and follow manufactures instructions when mixing gloves with stopsaw. That tech relys on detecting your body's electrical charge. Some gloves are insulators that could prevent stop saw from activating.

author
bakerpj made it!(author)2015-08-23

the idea is very good, however, using gloves while operating a table saw is very unsafe. The glove provides no protection against the spinning blade and the glove can easily get caught in the blade and pull your body into the saw.

author
georgemorgan made it!(author)2015-08-23

Hi PJ with sincere respect as one blue collar guy to another, I believe your comment is dangerous and can cause people injures. I understand your sentiments. I have been running my own factory wood shop for 36 years and using a table saw at least every second day of my life. I have the "Feel" for the wood as it travels through the blade probably as you do. And don't use gloves myself. But these gloves are rubber dipped, providing a great grip of the material, especially for people without the experience of table saw use as you or I. I have had my employees wear these and other rubber\latex grip gloves since they had become available for the past 25 years as I remember. Just reached over 300 different employees in these past 35 years of business. Not one injury in these 35 years. Some would call them accidents but accidents don't happen. A lack of training and safety equipment will make an injury inevitable. Again I know what your thinking and respect how you run your saw. I bet you bring your fingers with in millimeters of the blade as I am use too as well. Gloves would drive both of us mad if we used them. But they are very useful and increase the level of safety for operators.

author
DavidR83 made it!(author)2015-08-28

Hi georgemorgan,

Just because you have lots of experience with wood working and table saws does not make wearing gloves while working on one any safer. I have cut myself on a table saw before after using one for years simply because it got trivial. In fact, most people who injure themselves on these are people with lots of experience. The original poster is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT and I feel that your ego is alot less important than the safety of others. Your giving out extremely bad advice when defending your decision to use them!

author
DiegoS4 made it!(author)2015-09-02

I think that if someone just started on this projects Is because THEY KNOW what Involves is this kind of crafting. Safety and Care is a personal obligation DavidR83 Don't be jealous, first be brave to shown your face and post a tutorial or some hub more positive. Your ego is the one who is big than your name...

author
DavidR83 made it!(author)2016-09-30

No jealousy here... just concern for giving bad safety advice. The technique itself is ingenous!

author
georgemorgan made it!(author)2016-09-30

I have always found this site to maintain a respectful civil attitude
towards peoples opinions and experience. For you to imply my comment is EGO driven is
the first time I've read any ignorant Troll comment on this site.
So congrats for that. In fact experience and Zero accidents DOES actually mater in my witness of the virtues of a better grip. It doesn't hurt our safety record to have a close friend whom happens to be one of the top Industrial Safety consultants and instructors in Ontario. As I've pointed out "A lack of training and safety equipment will make an injury inevitable." He has a question for you. When you cut your hand, did you have the gaurd on? If you can comment without being rude, I can at least respect your opinion. You also said, "In fact, most people who injure themselves on these are people with lots of experience." I'd like to read those stats. Where can I find them?

author
DavidR83 made it!(author)2016-09-30

"For you to imply my comment is EGO driven is

the first time I've read any ignorant Troll comment on this site.
So congrats for that."

Yea I seriously doubt that. But in all honesty, if you are offended by the comment than I will apologize for it. In hindsight, yes, I probably should not had said it... But it does not mean that wearing gloves while operating rotary equipment is by any means safe and I stand by original statement that doing so is a very bad idea.

And as far as stats... I have none, but I know more seasoned construction and shop workers that have years of experience who are missing fingers for the simple fact they got sloppy... and not during their apprenticeship either...

In regards to the video and the technique, yes.. Ingenious. I've already used it.

author
dcnblues made it!(author)2015-11-04

PJ...Just to add my 'two cents' to the gloves vs. bare hands debate: My grandfather started teaching me how to use (and NOT use) a table saw in about 1960. They didn't have any of the safety features new saws do...he had all of his fingers, and wanted me to keep mine! I have also been a performing musician for nearly fifty years, so my hands come in handy! I routinely wear gloves, BUT...I am sure that they fit tightly without restricting movement, and that they have rubberized fingertips. That alone, however, solves nothing except protection against splinters! The best (and, IMHO, the only) way to protect yourself against serious harm, is to use a variety of 'push sticks' (and 'featherboards, to whatever extent possible) to handle wood (and other materials) in close proximity to moving blades, bits, etc. If you can't find one that suits your purpose, make one!! In cases where I feel that a cut demands that I put my body parts too close to the 'business end' of a tool, I come up with an alternate method (or tool) for making that cut. Finally, I know that it's often inconvenient, but leaving the factory-supplied guard on the tool goes a long way toward preventing various injuries...especially from 'kickback.' I still have all of my digits, and precious few scars.

author
lynnwoodstarbuck made it!(author)2015-12-31

One other thing we can all do, is contact the manufacturers of these table saws that we all individually own or use, and ask them to install sawstop technology on all of their table saws to reduce chances of loss of limbs. A huge safety enhancement that needs to be universally used.

author
srafique made it!(author)2015-12-29

yes.

author
Derlander made it!(author)2016-07-08

I've done circles on radial arm saw and tablesaw, for tablesaw place stock on a board clamped to the saw over blade, slowly raise blade about 1/8 inch rotating stock one compete turn, then raising blade another 1/8 inch keep slight downward pressure on stock as it is rotated

author
FerreiraN made it!(author)2016-02-28

Yonatan24, this is a "How to Cut Perfect Circles with A Table Saw! tutorial. Gee...

author
Yonatan24 made it!(author)2016-02-29

Yeah... I know that...

I was just saying that it is probably way easier to use a jigsaw

author
ihart made it!(author)2016-02-29

It's more accurate to use a tablesaw. A bandsaw is another good option. A jigsaw will work but will need to be sanded... a lot.

author
wk_ made it!(author)2016-02-29
I was just saying that it is probably way easier to use a jigsaw

Then why not to ask about CNC already ;)

author
OrestH made it!(author)2016-02-29

Great idea! Thanks.

author
Intensescroot made it!(author)2016-02-28

Was just looking for a way to cut a circle for a vertical wind turbine blade assembly I'm building, and this is the ticket...THANKS!

author
ragman99686 made it!(author)2016-02-28

Great idea if you don't have a band saw. Same principle. Love new tricks for a beginner

author
goaskal made it!(author)2016-02-28

I did this many years ago and used a woodscrew for the pivot. Slightly loose became too loose and the disk, a perfect circle, ended up flying across the shop. I was unharmed but learned an important lesson. A woodscrew can work but a machine screw with a washer and locking nut or such is much safer. Thanks for the 'ble

author
Caddywoman made it!(author)2016-02-28

Genius

author
thinkdunson made it!(author)2016-02-28

i bought a circle cutting jig for my dremel, but those routing bits are so incredibly slow. this'll be a lot faster.

author
thinkdunson made it!(author)2016-02-28

if you want a circle without a center hole, you could put a nail through the bottom of your burner jig and just press down to pin your piece in place. you'd have to be MUCH more careful as you cut, but you're left with just a tiny hole on one side of your circle.

author
Thunderfinger made it!(author)2016-02-28

Excellent jig especially if you have to make a lot of those circles.. Much easier than using a jig saw if you have say... 100 circles to cut..

author
canewkirk made it!(author)2016-02-28

Well done !

author
man_thas_cool made it!(author)2016-02-28

This is really cool!

author
ChadC15 made it!(author)2016-02-28

I did this exact thing last year (I'm the homeowner) and our contractor made fun of me and brought over a jigsaw for me to borrow. I told him I was alright with my way. I hammered a few bolt inserts into the wood and wrote 4" 5" 6" etc. for various radii so I could change it up. I still have the jig (burner sled, I mean). It's so much better than a jig you don't even have to measure the wood or draw lines on it. Any scrap will do.

author
jack+ruby made it!(author)2015-12-29

Cool! How precise can you get with the circle? I.e. what's the runout? Are you within an inch? 1/100th , 1/1000th?

author
Rick+V made it!(author)2016-02-28

The accuracy will depend on how snug your channel guide insert is, and how snugly the center screw fits in the hole you drilled. I am sure it is easily possible to keep the diameter within 1/32" or less, which would be virtually unnoticeable on any wooden disk.

author
lokithecat made it!(author)2016-01-15

what table saw do you have?

author
keebie1+ made it!(author)2016-01-05

I have tried many ways of cutting a circle, this is the easiest and best way of getting a perfect circle every time. what a great idea.

author
angelarea1968 made it!(author)2016-01-03

I love this tutorial! I can not cut a decent (much less, "perfect") circle with my jigsaw and I LOVE using my tablesaw!!! Thank you & what a SMART IDEA!

author
guipozjim made it!(author)2016-01-01

Simple! But very efective. A nice diy!

author
bbkong made it!(author)2015-12-31

In the debate about gloves/no gloves on a table saw I can only relate my own experience and let others decide for themselves. I was cutting 2" strips off 1" walnut one afternoon wearing gloves and it only took one tooth of the blade to jerk my hand into it and open up my thumb like a biscuit. Alcohol, superglue, duct tape (in that order) and 3 months later it looks normal again but there's a numb spot where a nerve was severed/obliterated. I now keep that glove nailed to the shop door to remind me not to wear gloves around that tool. The drill press caught me like that once too a few years ago and sprained everything on my left hand like Bruce Lee grabbed it.

My best advice is to NEVER take your eyes off the spinny stuff that rips flesh.

Of course, YMMV.

author
Lovetra made it!(author)2015-12-31

I am an 80 year old woman with limited income. I find due to my
husbands disabilities I have to pick up the slack he can't. With
co-pays there isn't money to hire things done. I am not a "slacker"
using tools but I DON'T always have the experience to accomplish what I
need nor the experience to always keep my self safe. I tried this and, needing a circle that I had no other way of cutting and felt comfortable with the accomplishment in part due to the discussion on safty that made me think about my fingers before I started. ItI loved it! Thanks!

author
amansour1 made it!(author)2015-12-31

or cut it with a laser cutter instead of risking loosing you hand

author
scoop302 made it!(author)2015-12-30

very nice. I have a bandsaw and many jigs for my routers, but I want to try this as a fast way of turning a circle without bringing out al the other equipment. Thank you for your idea.

author
diamondemb made it!(author)2015-12-29

Just in time for a project I'm working on.
Thanks!

author
bcraun made it!(author)2015-12-29

Many of the safety concerns voiced could be minimized if the blade height is set to protrude no more than a 1/4 of a tooth above the material. Chance of tear-out is reduced as well.

author
billbillt made it!(author)2015-12-29

I love it when cyber nannies battle!...

author
cjbikenut made it!(author)2015-09-28

Nice Idea Well executed!

author
lenshilt made it!(author)2015-09-19

If you want to make multiple copies, draw the circle on the wood, cut outside it on a band saw, then use a router to do it. A carbide router bit with a ball bearing on the end. If you are going to make a LOT of multiple copies, soak the edge of the original with CA, and it'll last a lot longer.

author
Zeppelin+Design+Labs made it!(author)2015-09-16

Wow, scary but very clever and effective.

author
MonicaO made it!(author)2015-09-15

Thank you for the tip!!

author
MonicaO made it!(author)2015-09-15

Though I've used my table saw more than a few times, I am a novice who would love to take a class one day to expand my knowledge. I do appreciate the detailed written and visual instructions. Thank you!!!!

author
Harbor+Miles made it!(author)2015-08-31

Simple instructions! Love it. Thank you.

author
patricklogsdon made it!(author)2015-08-30

Nice tutorial!!! Well presented and easy to follow. THANKS!. I'm going to do this today!

author
mr_marte made it!(author)2015-08-29

Nice!!

author
Smartfelly made it!(author)2015-08-27

Clever jig, that probably makes some pretty precise circles. Is that single screw really enough to keep it from pivoting without holding on tight with your hands?

To everyone waving it off saying "everything is dangerous": stop it. All kinds of people with all kinds of skill levels are looking at this, not all of whom may realize the risks involved with table saws. There was a time you didn't know what a table saw was. It hurts less to throw in a "be careful" than it does for someone to find out on their own. I work in a makerspace and worry about this stuff, so sorry if it sounds preachy.

author
MikeI4 made it!(author)2015-08-27

Never ever wear gloves when working with a table saw. It's better to lose a finger than the whole arm.

About This Instructable

514,427views

1,188favorites

License:

More by KurtH3:How to Make an Enchanted Pumpkin CarriageHow to Make a PVC TelescopeHow to Make a PVC Periscope
Add instructable to: