Cutting a Circle on the Table Saw

With the right jig, it's quick and slick. March 17, 2005

I need to cut a round wood susan tray on the tablesaw. As I remember, an old cabinetmaker told me to cut a square bigger than I need and drill a hole for a dowel in the middle, drop the square on a template with a dowel sticking up, then somehow drop it on the blade and spin it around. Does anyone know the exact process?

Forum Responses
From contributor L:
Are you sure he didn't say bandsaw?

From contributor R:
I cut my homemade lazy Susan disks on the table saw. Yes, I have a router with jigs, a band saw and all. Tried them, but keep coming back to the table saw because it leaves edges so smooth you hardly have to sand them at all.

You need to attach an auxiliary table or whatever method you can think of so you drive a nail with head cut off into the top of your table saw. Then from the center of the blade measure over Ĺ the distance of the size of circle you want.

Lower the blade all the way down, set the stock on the pivot pin, now raise the blade 1/16 inch at a time and spin your stock. This is not as fast as a band saw, but you donít have to mess with sanding the edge.

From contributor P:
Ditto on the above post. What I've done is rough cut the circle with a jig saw to about

1/16 of the line. Make a jig, usually a scrap piece of 1/4 inch or whatever with a runner strip that fits the miter gauge slot, then determine where the center point needs to be on the jig, perpendicular to about where the blade starts to cut when it is raised 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Then ease the jig forward until it starts to cut, then just spin the work piece around to finish cutting. Makes a nice finish cut.

From contributor L:
Cut the circle somewhat close to the line. Using the saw to plunge up through the wood (to make a circle) seems awfully dangerous, especially when you make it around the circle and the outside board releases. Good way to send wood flying. I recommend contributor P's way over contributor R's. Contributor R's way will surely work, but it has inherent dangers.

From contributor R:
Although Iíve cut many circles this way without any flying wood, I can see the added safety of contributor P's method and plan on using that next time.

From the original questioner:
Thanks a ton. I made the circle a couple of days ago with my tablesaw and it came out perfect. It maybe took 10 minutes to template and one minute to cut the circle. A once-over with the sander and it was done. The only thing I did different was put the nail in up from the bottom so I didn't have to cut the head off.

From contributor F:
I feel it is unnecessary to pre-cut the circle before using the table saw (extra time). The key here as far as safety goes is that the blade is completely lowered when you mount the blank on your axle. Then the blade is raised only 1/16" at a time. Spin the blank 360 degrees and raise again 1/16" max and so on until it is cut all the way through. I have made many a circle this way. No wood flies anywhere and it feels as safe as ripping a board.