Of course, any dedicated woodworker can cut large circles using a handsaw, jigsaw, or a router. Yet, if you want a real circle, you should use a router that comes with a spiral or straight bit.
The circles created by the router require less edge cleanup. Additionally, when cutting smaller circles using a router, I have learned that I would need to use techniques that seemed to be the opposite techniques used to cut larger circles.
Technique On How To Cut Small Circles With Router
You may encounter several problems when cutting circles, and some of these problems may include burning and tear out. Tear out usually happens when you reach the end grain. On the other hand, burning occurs when you pause to have a better grip on the circle. You can do better if you follow this excellent technique below on cutting circles with a router.
When cutting circles using a router, you need to make a trammel bar. Yet, you will encounter a limitation here because the minimum radius you can deal with is relative to the router base’s size. Hence, if you are going to make tiny circles, you need to be more innovative.
If you are going to cut small circles, you need to use a false base plate with a pivot pin. You can improvise using an MDF and attach it to the router’s base using two counter slots. This improvisation will get you the required radius of the small circle. It will help too if you cut a third slot to allow the cutter through.
The circle’s center should be at the pivot pin’s center. It will help if the pin has a convenient diameter like a 6mm diameter. Then, offset around 3mm from the radius of the circle that you need to make.
You can then set the radius accurately using a Vernier gauge. However, it will help if you make a test cut before the actual cut to ensure that you will not make a mistake. You should make sure likewise whether you want a disc or a hole cut because it may cause problems with the cutter’s width later.
Using Router with Pivot Pin
I have often used a CRB7 when cutting circles because the CRB7 can cut arc and circles in various sizes; moreover, it comes with a pivot pin stored magnetically in the base bridge. Its screw and its threaded grass sleeve can be mounted onboard the bridge for wider circles and arcs. I can also mount it just at the far side of the leather box opening for a much tighter radius.
The pivot pin can quickly drop into the predrilled hole drilled at the arc’s center I am cutting. Once set into the hole, I can select the circle’s exact arc by using the micro-adjust wheel in the bridge of the CRB7. I can accomplish circles and arcs from an inch and half diameter to 18 inches with this router.
The ability to work from a single pivot hole while letting me accurately adjust the arc of cutting enables me to create great concentric details. This capability to cut different sizes of arcs and circles brings a new dimension to my woodworking capability. It would also enhance your woodworking skills likewise.
Other Techniques To Use When Cutting Different Types of Small Circles on Wood
Aside from the above-mentioned best technique, you can also try other methods to cut small circles. Here are some of these additional methods:
Cutting Many Circles of the Same Size
If you are cutting the same size small circles, it will help if you have a female template like an oversized hole for compensating with the guide bushing. Afterward, you can cut using a plunge router. When making a template, your layout lines should extend beyond the hole’s dimension that you want to cut. Then, use these layout lines to locate the template.
It will help if you affix the waste circle onto the backer to make it stationary when doing the cut and to avoid the template from jamming the router bit.
Cutting Smaller Circles for Inlays
You can use a router to cut smaller circles for inlays. Like the technique mentioned above, you need to make a template with the diameter of the inlay size and the router bit. Afterward, it will help if you use a guide bearing bit that rides on the template for outlining the piece.
You can either use a stock that has the same dimension or thicker stock. Then, rip out one by one each piece. This process is quite simple and easy to achieve. All you need to do is attach the template using some pins along the waste area. You can then connect it with a hot melt.
Best Router Jigs for Cutting Small Circles
If you use a router, you will need a circle cutting jig to guide your router when cutting circles. There are myriads of cutting jigs on sale today, and it will help if you know which one to choose. Here are two of the best cutting jigs to choose:
CRB7 Universal Combination Router Jig
Jasper 400J Circle Cutting Jig
The Jasper 400J Model cutting jig is perfect if you are making speaker boxes. It comes with 120 different-sized cutouts that come in 1/16 increments. It is also wrought in a 3/8″-thick cast acrylic. If you make smaller speaker cutouts, midranges, and tweeters, this cutting jig is perfect for you.
If you want to convert your plunge router into a circle-cutting device with great precision, then you should get this jig. It allows you to engage in excellent craftmanship with its 120 sizes of cutouts. The cutouts may range from 7 inches to 18-3/16 inches.
You can leave this jig as a subbase of a router and use it with MDF, particleboard, plywood, solid wood, and even plastic sheet. This circle cutting jig fits almost 19 different plunge router models, including those of DeWalt 621, Bosch 1615, Freud FT200E, and many other plunge routers.
Milescraft 1210 SmallCircleCompass – Router Circle Cutting Jig
The Milescraft 1210 Router Circle Cutting Jig is perfect for use by both professional and amateur woodworkers. This circle cutting jig can help you cut circles of different sizes ranging from 1.5″ in diameter up to 12″. With the use of this circle cutting jig, you can expand your router’s capabilities.
The Milescraft 1210 comes with built-in metric and imperial scales. It also has an easy readout window to let you set the cuts’ inside and outside diameters. Moreover, it is perfect for use in plywood, hardwood, and laminates. It can easily attach to the turn-n-lock circle guide that comes with it, providing the router with great accuracy when cutting circles.
As you engage in more woodworking projects, you will sometimes need to cut arcs and circles. Of course, you can make circles using different tools like a bandsaw, jigsaw, hole saw, belt sander, table saw, and router. But if you want a true circle that needs little edge cleanup, you should consider using the router.
You will find it challenging to use a jigsaw, or a band saw to create a perfectly circular cut. But with the use of a router with a circle jig, you will find cutting perfect circles a breeze. Always remember that if you have the know-how and the right tool, you can always raise your woodworking skills a notch higher.