Will it go round in circles?

Yes, I was born in the late 1960s, so that means I came of age in┬áthe 1980s. However, a quick look at my iPod, and you’ll see plenty of music from the 1970s on it. There was just something about the real horns, the funky bass and the awesome hair of the era that made that music something to listen to.

And, yes, you will find this gem on my iPod as well. Billy Preston’s 1973 hit Will it Go Round in Circles? Man, just check out the hair. And the horns.

Now, what does this have to do with woodworking? Good question. Since I’m going to build a round coffee table for the front room in my house, I am going to obviously have to cut out a circular top to make it happen. It seems like a no-brainer, but you have to remember that most woodworking tools are designed to cut nice straight lines.

A jigsaw

So, what can I do? Well, a jigsaw would be a good choice, and if you draw your circle well and cut closely to the mark, you can do a decent job of getting very close to a circle. For me, though, I don’t think I would go right to the line with the tool. While I can cut close, I would probably sweeten the cut with a sander.

No, if I wanted to cut a perfect circle right off the tool, I would probably want to find a centerpoint on the bottom of the glued up piece, then drill a hole and use some type of a jig that would cut the fixed radius on the piece. This way, I would be able to ensure that I could get the right size from the get go.

As far as I can tell, for a circle with a diameter of 36 inches, the best options are on the band saw or with a router.

Circle jig

The band saw route uses some type of jig (like this one from Fine Woodworking) to set a fixed pivot point. Form there, you feed the board into the band saw blade, and the saw does the work. No fuss, no muss. While it’s a great system, I’m not sure this one is for me. I never do well balancing boards on jigs and moving them.


For me, the easier option would be to build or buy a circle cutting jig for my router. With this, you drill the center point just as you would for the band saw jig, only you cut the top face down using the router bit to do the cutting in a few passes. With everything secured to your workbench on a sacrificial board, it should be a piece of cake to knock it out.

Now, to go get some lumber, put on some of that disco music and actually build the silly thing…


3 thoughts on “Will it go round in circles?”

  1. Man, even I was young when that jam came out.
    (But it was a good tune !)

    I have the best luck on the bandsaw for circles.
    I made one of those trammel jigs recently for my router, and my first couple of tries were passable but not terrific.

    When all else fails, I use that jig saw and go s l o w …

    Good post Tom

  2. I had to make two 12″ circles and did them with a pin on my table saw sled.

    Many cuts, 4 side to 8 side to 32 slowing cutting off the points then a slow spin to make it round.

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