One of your workshop’s “must-have” tools is the jigsaw. A jigsaw was designed to cut precise yet complicated arcs in wood. For instance, a jigsaw comes with special wood-cutting blades of varying sizes and shapes. So when cutting different curves, you should attach the appropriate size of cutting blades to accomplish various wood carvings. This article explains how to use a jigsaw to cut a circle in detail. Below are guiding tips to help you create the best woodwork cuts and perfect circular shapes.
Instructions on How to Cut a Circle Using a Jigsaw
Cutting a circle using a jigsaw is incredibly simple. So much so that you need to do just seven major things.
- Choose an appropriate blade
- Draw the circle
- Drill the initial hole
- Install the baseboard
- Use clamp and workbench
- Set pressure and speed
- Begin cutting your circle
Note that this is merely an abridged version of the entire process, especially if you’re pressed for time. Later in the article, we’ll give full details to help you get right into it.
Cutting Circles in Wood: Facts to Remember
Cutting a circle requires precise measurements as well as motions, and a jigsaw is one of those tools you can use to achieve that. A jigsaw can cut various circle sizes, and you’ll first need to make a circular jig template to simplify your cuts on the wood. It is easy to miss a perfect circle when you cut wood in a freestyle manner, but using a jigsaw gives you the luxury of precise settings.
Once you have your project set up on the workbench, the next step is to select the appropriate size of the blade. Ensure you have the cutting blade adjusted to an angle of 90 degrees against the jigsaw’s shoe. Note that the setting of the cutting blade will determine the accuracy of the remaining steps. Although a jigsaw is designed to cut curves and beveled shapes, it is fragile, so handle it with care.
Unlike cutting circular shapes, making straight cuts can create jagged lines if you don’t use a fence guide. For bevel cuts, adjust the shoe angle and the cutting edge to align to the angle you intend to make. You can vary the jigsaw’s angle settings from 0-45- degrees. Set up the bevel shoe correctly to help reduce the effort needed for sanding. So, it’s straightforward to achieve clean, smooth cuts if you make the correct settings with your jigsaw.
Things to Do Before Starting Your Cuts
- When handling wood with delicate surfaces, always cover the jigsaw’s shoe with masking tape. Masking or painter’s tape help protect wood surfaces.
- To avoid spreading tear-outs while running the jigsaw, turn over the wood (show-side down.)
The method you will use to cut a circle is similar to what you are familiar with already. That is, using a protractor and a pair of compasses to draw a circle. Using a jig as a guiding template enables you to cut a nice circle using the jigsaw, and this is unlike drawing circular objects with a pencil.
Here’s How to Align the Jigsaw With the Jig
- Mark the starting point and measure the radius from the jig’s arm to the blade.
- Place the jigsaw in the proper position according to your markings.
- Switch on power to the jigsaw and guide its cutting blade smoothly along the jig’s arm.
- Ensure the length (radius) from the reference mark to the arc remains constant.
- Remember to keep the base of the jigsaw flat and square on the wood throughout the process.
You can buy ready-made jigs if you want, but you can fabricate one that you can customize to accomplish your requirements. Typically, you’ll need plywood measuring 6-inch by ½-inch, and you’ll also need a wood board that’s ¼-inch thick for the baseboard.
Quick Tips for Handling a Jigsaw
1. Use Clamp and Workbench
The workbench is the space where you place your tools and materials, while the role of the clamp is to secure the hand tool during the cutting process.
2. Set pressure and speed
Knowing the correct type of blade you’d need for your project is essential. Additionally, it would be best to have a narrow cutting blade with a circular cutting knife. So when cutting wood in a circular motion, you should apply minimal pressure on the jigsaw.
Remember that a jigsaw is a fragile piece of equipment that requires careful handling. So be careful not to damage the wood you are working on or destroy the blade during the process. You also risk loosening the fastening screws. Make repetitive back and forth motion cuts with the jigsaw on the workpiece to achieve a smooth curve.
3. Choose an appropriate blade
Jigsaw blades have limitations on what type of wood they can cut. Typically, jigsaw blades can cut as far as one and half-inch depth of timber. Therefore, keep in mind the capability of your jigsaw when cutting different types of wood. It is best to try your jigsaw on several small projects using different wood types before attempting to tackle bigger ones. This way, you’d know how to match your jigsaw to various kinds of wood.
How to Prepare a Jig or Baseboard
- Select a base piece that is bigger than the jigsaw’s shoe. Choosing a piece of timber measuring 3 inches by 6 inches would be an ideal mounting clamp to secure your jigsaw.
- Mount two L-shaped barrier pieces along the adjacent edges. These settings ensure the jigsaw is firmly secured in place as you guide it along the circular arc, preventing it from veering off the marked line and cutting through the jig.
- Take a long timber beam and drill regular holes on it. The “arm” to the jig helps maintain the radius you drew on the wood. This “arm” should be a rectangular piece measuring 3 feet by 4 inches.
- Secure the beam to the base having pocket holes
- Mark the blade’s position and drill one hole on the base. This is the hole through which the cutting knife will go.
- Mount the jig loosely onto the work surface. Note that the center point is the screw attached to the bench. This nail guides the jigsaw as it cuts the circle on the wood. The process is similar to using a compass.
- Drill a hole in the workpiece, which will be your reference or starting hole.
- Cut the circle and make sure you exert constant forward pressure on the jigsaw as well as the base.
Making a jig and cutting a circle is similar and overlapped so now that you know how to make a jig template let’s highlight how to use a jigsaw to cut a circle in wood.
Drill the Initial Hole
Drill a starting hole in the same manner as in step 7 above. A starting hole lets you cut a precise circular arc. Ensure that the starting hole can allow the jig’s blade to pass through. The thickness of the jig’s base should be ½-inch.
See that the lines from the starting point touch the circle’s arc and ensure you have ample space to adjust the drill.
Install the baseboard
In step 1 of making a circle jig above, we used a 1/4–inch thick plywood. Also, ensure enough room is available to allow free movement of the jigsaw, jig, and blade. Check and confirm that the settings don’t change with any activity. Again, check how far the cutting blade is from the jigsaw. Put a mark and drill a hole. Alternatively, you can stabilize the jigsaw using double-sided tape together with self-taping screws.
Begin cutting your circle
You’ve set up the jig and jigsaw and determined the radius from the jig’s arm. Now start cutting. Remember to place and secure the blade firmly within the starting hole. Start the motor briefly to ensure everything runs correctly.
The motor should run at maximum speed during the cutting process. Make sure to push the jig slowly and steadily. Apply a constant outward tension, at the same time as you apply continuous force on the baseboard. Repeat the process to make sure you obtain a perfect circle from the workpiece.
Use sandpaper to get rid of the tear-outs and smoothen your finished item. Remove the stickiness at the base of the jig using mineral spirit.
Pros of using a jigsaw to cut a circle
- It is used to cut angles and curves that ordinary saws can’t
- Apart from cutting curves in wood, jigsaws are also used to cut fiberglass and metal
- You can produce precise cuts using a jigsaw compared to what you can achieve with other types of saws
Cons of using a jigsaw to cut a circle
- A jigsaw is not ideal for cutting boards compared to a circular saw
- It takes time to learn how to use it
A jigsaw is perhaps the only hand-held tool used to accomplish intricate curve cuts in wood that you often see in beautiful wood-based artifacts and magazines. If you are a woodworker or carpenter who wants to create stylish woodwork curves, a jigsaw is for you. Still, it’s a versatile tool that’s better than an ordinary hand-held coping saw. And that sums up how to use a jigsaw to cut a circle.