Wooden Compass. a Shop Tool for Circle Drawing and Dividing.

Introduction: Wooden Compass. a Shop Tool for Circle Drawing and Dividing.

About: Come spend some time in the shop. I'm a hobbyist woodworker and professional computer geek in Northern California. I guess my projects will vary widely, and I have no clue what I plan to make next...

I needed a large radius circle for a project I was building, but I didn't have anything large enough to use as a template (bucket lids and whatnots) so I built a simple wooden compass.

I can also use it to draw pretty pictures....


Wood - In this case a 1 1/2 square piece of scrap cherry about 16" long
Hardware: 5/16 bolt, a washer and a wing nut
Compass point: A drywall screw
Drawing point: Small pencil (like from mini golf places)
Finish: Shellac in a ranch dressing bottle.


Table saw
Band Saw
Drill press

Step 1: Cutting the Pieces

As stated I had a scrap piece of cherry in the shop from another project so I used it.

I ripped it on the table saw down the middle.

That gave me 2 halves: 3/4" x 1 1/2" x 16"

Step 2: Shaping

I then drew a rough shape on the wood and took it to the band saw for shaping.

After that I fired up the sander and cleaned up all the rough lines and tool marks.

Both of these operations can be done with hand power tools, (jigsaw and palm sanders) or even non-power tools (hand saw, planes, files and sanding blocks) Whatever you have.

Step 3: Drilling

Next  drill a hole for the bolt:

I used a 5/16" bit and drilled straight through both halves. Then I switched to a 3/4"  forstner bit and recess a hole for the washer and wing nut.

Again, this could easily be doe with a hand drill or even a brace.

Step 4: Pivot Point

I'd been mulling over how to make a pivot point when a light bulb suddenly came on.

I had tons of them...

I drilled a 1/8" pilot hole in one of the ends and then drove a medium drywall screw into the leg. I took that to bench grinder and smoothed it into a sharp steel point.

If you have a Dremel you could use that in place of the grinder.

Step 5: Pencil Hole & Finish

Lastly I drilled a 3/8 hole in the second leg and inserted my stubby pencil.

I then put a coat of shellac on it.

Step 6: Completed

Here it is all completed. A simple project but quite useful!

Thanks for looking.

I also have a video how-to that shows all the steps.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    A gigantic compass! I've made one of those. I remember the big compasses they had in schools for chalk boards. Yours reminds me of those. With your table saw you could make yourself an arc bow too. All an arc bow is is a thin strip of wood you hold a bend in with a string. It is handier than it sounds if you layout furniture. I've actually used my arc bow much more than my gigantic compass.


    9 years ago

    Good idea check out the number of circles on this project.

    13, 8:10 PM.jpg

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Are you building a rocket ship!?
    Can I hitch a lift....