How to Cut Large Circles on the Table Saw.


Introduction: How to Cut Large Circles on the Table Saw.

About: I am a teacher who enjoys environmentally responsible woodworking. Most evenings will find me in the shop working with my now 8 year old son Shay who is both my greatest helper and biggest fan.
First be safe.  Know what you are doing and don't push the limits of your skills and equipment.  I take no responsibility for your actions!

Now the the 'don't sue me' is out of the way...on the the good stuff.  So here was my dilemma, I needed a way to cut a 2 inch thick maple hardwood blank into a 27 inch diameter table with a beveled edge.  The beveled edge is the part that makes this hard.  A router on a jig can cut the circle but not beveled, dido with a jig saw.  The tablesaw was the key to this.  Also it gave me a very smooth cut needing little sanding.

The video I made clearly illustrates the process and if you look through the few 'you're an idiot you could of' rage comments you can see how they all neglect to handle the bevel.  As to the safety concerns, well I found it to be very stable and smooth, not as safe as a jig-saw but better than a router in my opinion.  Nothing is without risk I guess but let me address the main issues:

It will spin, tear your arms off and rape your dog!
      -I found no evidence for this.  The mechanics are little different than a simple cross-cut sled.  If you have a European saw or are left handed and have set up your table to the left then spin of any is impossible as rotation will move the material out of the blade.  While mine didn't move, I feel sure if it had it would have pinched and jammed the blade.  Big deal.  Your dog would be fine.  If you are worried about it add a clamp to the cutting sled.

The off-cuts will fall alongside the blade jamming it, tearing off your arms and raping your dog!
     -I addressed this in the video and stopped the saw every few cuts to remove them.  This was clearly written by someone who didn't watch the video.

You are going to lose a finger! (dog is fine on this one)
     -Speaking as someone who has lost a bunch of one finger to the jointer I can say that is something I am very careful of.  I think an over abundance of armchair expert caution or bad camera angles made it look closer than it was because my hands never got closer than 6 inches to the blade.  Be careful, that is your job, not mine.

NOTE:  In the main video I edited the video description to include a link to an online Fine Woodworking article on using this exact technique.  I wasn't aware of it at the time I built this table.  Almost instantly all of the negative YOU ARE GOING TO DIE! stopped.  I guess when I do it it is ignorant and irresponsible but as long as Fine Woodworking does it well then that is a legitimate way to do it.  I maintain this just proves none of the people actually knew what they were talking about or stopped to really think about it.  If it was wrong when I did it was wrong when Fine Woodworking did it right guys?  Aggahhh the internet some times.



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    nicely done, great idea.
    one idea/trick i use to avoid my dog getting raped or losing my eyesight to flying wood debris during such things is to put a tape around the sawblade to minimize the agony of parts getting stuck between the blade and the table. usually on all sides of the blade, as during such projects the height and angle of the blade won't be adjusted anyways. The one thing you have to watch out for with this is that the table is really clean before applying the tape to avoid it being rolled up and screwing with the movement of the wood on the table.

    Very nice. I admire your willingness to use your brain and come up with a way to make your table top. It is unfortunate that there are D bags out there that drink the haterade and have nothing better to do than criticize others for doing what they can't. Congratulations to you for making a nice looking table.

    Awesome video! It looks like even the Woodworking World is filled with Social Justice Warriors crying about free tuition and wood safety. I've got an old leafblower taped to my table saw, strategically aimed at my contractor bag to catch all stray wood, but I should be able to cut this out.

    Just kidding! Thanks for posting this!

    I've used this same technique cutting tops for end tables and butcher blocks, as well as with a minor offset to cut the blood groove on the butcher block top (I didn't have a bowl cutter bit at the time)

    Yes saw a place or two where he might have been a little unsafe by not letting the saw blade come to a complete stop before clearing the built up cut off chunks. I also agree with the 2nd video almost all cuts are made by using only straight cuts with only the final small cuts are made by using the circular spin. As far as using the splitter or the blade guard I totally agree with him. I found out years ago that the Blade guard only gets in the way and you can't do half the stuff you want to do with the blade guard or the splitter in place. I removed mine years ago and have never regretted it as of yet, and I have built a lot of projects without it over the years. In fact I couldn't even tell you where my blade guard is. I think it is buried in a box somewhere in my storeroom. He is totally right about one thing - For safety Sake, "YOU" personally have got to pay attention to what you are doing every second as nobody else can do it for you, or ANY TOOL is DANGEROUS regardless if they are hand tools, or power tools. Enough said. SO ALWAYS THINK SAFETY - BE SAFE, AND HAVE FUN IN ALL YOUR WOODWORKING PROJECTS.

    Absolutely LOVED the second video....

    great idea, I do woodworking also and I never would have thought of that. Question: The dowel was glued into the table top, sticking out on the bottom and rotating inside of a hole in the sled?

    1 reply

    Yes and then when I was done I cut the dowel off flush.

    Huh. I can't believe people (at another site I assume?) complain about the safety hazards they perceive. Now I'm not the most handy person when it comes to high-power tools, but it's quite clear that:
    a) You had your hand on or near the emergency stop button 90-95% of the time during the rough cuts.
    b) You were religious about waiting for the blade to come to a full stop before putting your hands near the blade. (I'd have to remind myself to do this and not be an idiot about "meh, that's slow enough".)
    c) You stopped and cleared the blade every single time there was a risk of it becoming jammed.

    I guess some people just always feel the need to tell others how they'd do it better. I REALLY want a house with enough space to operate a table saw now. :(

    How adorable is that child?! Love his ear protection! Well done video, I liked the attitude of "stand back! I'm going to try circles!" Oh, and I think you meant "large circles" rather than "lage circles"