A Simple Way to Draw Large Circles




About: Some people can work on one project at a time. Not me.

About a year ago, I was working on my Boba Fett Jetpack project, and I had to draw some large concentric circles that were larger than I could manage with my compass. What to do? What to do?

Some people suggested using a string or building a large compass, but both of those ideas had drawbacks of being hard to control (string), or taking too long (compass). I needed something that would be fast and accurate.

Then, as I was considering different methods, I stumbled upon a super easy and very effective way to draw large circles.

All you'll need is:

  • a couple of pencils
  • a ruler or tape measure
  • a scrap of corrugated cardboard

Step 1: Find a Scrap of Corrugated Cardboard

When I first tried this, I used a piece of sintra pvc board, but honestly, a piece of corrugated cardboard (like from a shipping box or pizza container) works just as well but doesn't require a drill. Also, it is something I almost always have on hand.

Cut a piece that is longer than the radius of the circle you need, then:

  1. poke a hole in one side
  2. measure the radius from the center of the hole
  3. mark the spot on the other side.
  4. poke a hole in the spot that you marked.

Step 2: Draw Some Circles!

Now, position the cardboard where you want to draw the circle and put a pencil in each of the holes. Hold one pencil steady as you use the other to draw the circle.

This method is especially helpful if you want to draw multiple circles of the same size.

If you want to make concentric circles, poke a new hole for your second circle's radius, then use the same center point for both circles.

Step 3: Let Me Know What You Think

Already done this for years? Have a method that you like even better? I'm sure I'm not the first to stumble upon this method of drawing circles, so let me know what you think.

If the idea was new to you and you found this helpful, I'd appreciate your vote in the Unusual Uses Contest. :)



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9 Discussions


12 months ago

I love your common sense approach, particularly that all of the materials are available (and cheap)! Well done!


1 year ago

there is something wonderful about simplicity. This is beautiful. Thanks!

1 reply

Reply 1 year ago

Glad you've found it helpful. I still use the technique on a regular basis.


2 years ago

Hurry up and give this guy a medal, this method is fantastic.


2 years ago

Absolutely brilliant and thanks for the good instructions. I thought I was going to have to go and buy multiple circle templates .. this is much cheaper and more flexible for what I was wanting to use them for. Thanks again

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Thanks for the comment, and I'm glad to hear that it was helpful for you! When I first came up with the idea, I was very happy with the results, and not seeing anything like this when I searched online, I thought it would be cool to share with others. :)