How to Cut a Circle with a Jigsaw

cutting circle with a jigsaw

If you plan to cut a circle out of wood or other kinds of materials, this can be accomplished with a number of different tools. The most versatile tool for this task is the jigsaw. The following tips will guide you on cutting a circle with a jigsaw. Almost any kind of material can be cut, provided you use the right kind of blade.

Step One: Choose the Right Jigsaw Blade

The standard blade that comes with most jigsaws is easy to use. Depending on the kind of wood you have, you might need a stronger blade with finer teeth or one with larger and wider teeth.

We've written a comprehensive guide on how to select the proper jigsaw blade.

Generally speaking, you want to select a narrower blade for smaller circles. For larger circles where the turn is not very sharp, a wider jigsaw blade will work just fine.

If you need to cut a circle with a jigsaw in other materials such as metal, plastic, or even acrylic, there are specific blades specially designed for cutting different kinds of materials.

choosing the right blades for cutting a circle with a jigsaw

Photo credit: sandy Poore on Flickr / CC BY-SA

​Step Two: Outline the Circle For Cutting

Once you have selected the correct blade for the material you are using, you are ready to cut a circle with the jigsaw. This is an easy task if you have a mold to draw your circle onto the material to be cut. If you don’t have a mold, you must determine or measure the radius of the circle you want to achieve.

​Drawing a Circle with a Compass

Draw the circle onto the material with your compass. Keep in mind there are compasses of many sizes. They can even hold different kinds of writing instruments for drawing your circle onto your material of choice.

While a compass is the most accurate way to draw a circle, many DIYers don't have one handy. There is an easy trick to drawing an accurate circle without a compass.

​Drawing a Circle Without a Compass

​If you don't have a compass, you can draw a circle fairly easily with just a few items you have around your house. You'll need a single nail, a piece of string, and a pencil or pen. 

Put the nail onto the wood where you want the center of the circle to be. Tie one end of the string to the nail, and then measure out the radius of the circle you need. Either tie or simply hold the pencil to the string at the correct length, and then draw a circle on your wood.

This will create a perfect circle, with hardly any effort. You can control the size of the cirlce by changing the length of the string.

Related: What is a Jigsaw Used For?

Using a Container to Draw your Circle

​If you don't want to go through the hassle of creating your own makeshift compass, you might be able to find a container around your house that is sized properly for the circle you want to cut. 

Any circular object will work, provided it is the right size. A water glass, a yogurt tub, a waste can... the list goes on and on. Simply find a container that is the right size, and use it to draw the circle you need.

cutting circle with a jigsaw

​Step Three:  Make an Entry Hole for the Jigsaw Blade

In order to cut a circle in wood with a jigsaw without simply cutting in from the edge of the piece of wood, you will need a drill that can drill through the wood to allow entry of the jigsaw blade. This ​entry point can be achieved with a single hole. 

Use a drill bit that is large, compared to the size of the jigsaw blade that you are going to use. This is so that you can easily fit the jigsaw blade into the hole you create. Even the best cheap jigsaw will be able to start its cut from inside a circle. 

Make sure that the hole you cut is inside of the circle you are making, so that the hole is on the wood you won't be needing. You can cut this hole in the middle of the circle, or you can place the hole closer to the edge of your circle. 

Step Four: Use Tape to Avoid Splintering Wood

If you do not want to splinter the wood when you cut a circle, ​you can use blue utility tape to prevent it.

You'll need to afix to the tape to one side of the wood, depending on how your jigsaw makes its cuts. If the jigsaw cuts on the upstroke, you'll need to place your tape on the top of your wood. And, if your jigsaw cuts on the downstroke, you'll need to place your tape on the bottom of your wood.

If you aren't sure whether your jigsaw cuts on the upstroke or downstroke, you can always place tape on both sides of the wood. Better safe than sorry, right?

After the cut in the circle is complete, the tape can be removed. ​

Related: Interested in going cordless? Read our cordless jigsaw reviews here!

​Step Five:  Secure the Material Prior to Cutting

Use clamps to secure your workpiece to a workbench or stable structure so you can cut the circle with safety and stability. It is possible to sandwich the workpiece with wood or use padded clamps to not damage the workpiece, especially if the outer workpiece is to be the final piece with a circle in it.

Not securing your workpiece is not recommended. This could result in injury or an imperfect circle due to the lack of stability while cutting with the jigsaw.

Related: How Thick of Wood Can a Jigsaw Cut?

​Cutting ​Material Other Than Wood with a Jigsaw

​While wood might be the most common surface to cut with a jigsaw, you can also cut a circle with a jigsaw into metal, plastic, and acrylic. While the general process is the same, there are a few unique things for each type of material to point out. 

​Cutting Circles in Metal with a Jigsaw

If you need to cut circles into a metal workpiece, use the same techniques to draw the circle and cut it. Securing it to the workbench is also important. Make sure you use the right kind of blade indicated for the kind of metal you have.

It is often important to use special oil for cutting metal to avoid over-heating. It is also recommended to use a slower cutting speed, at around 50% of the cutting speed of the jigsaw.

​Cutting Circles in Plastic or Acrylic with a Jigsaw

Plastic or acrylic materials also use the same processes and techniques. Draw the circle and fasten the workpiece with padded clamps. In addition, you will need the proper kind of blade. Special attention to the cutting speed is required.

Slow down the speed, so the material does not melt instead of being cut. In some cases, small amounts of water need to be applied with a syringe to control the temperature of the surface being cut. Sanding the edges of the circle is highly recommended to remove frays and imperfections.

Related: Bandsaw vs Jigsaw - When is each best to use?

Conclusion

Now you are ready to start cutting a circle with a jigsaw. It does not matter if you are making a circular hole in another shape, or if you have to simply cut a circle out of almost any kind of material. Use a compass, a guide, and a mold to produce circles drawn onto the surface of your workpiece. 

If you ​are cutting a circle with a jigsaw from wood material, keep in mind the anti-fraying tip of using blue utility tape. Pay special attention to the correct kind of jigsaw blade and temperature control, ​and make sure to  correctly secure the material to be cut to a table or workbench.

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