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    Circle cutting jigs?

    Has anyone had experience with the Carter circle cutting jig for use on a bandsaw? I may need to cut multiple circles from 10" to 36" from glued up materials. (No plywood!) Would a router do a better job on multiple pieces or should I just figure on edging with the router?

    All suggestions and input appreciated..

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    It is a pretty good kit as-is but can also be improved a bit with a few tweaks. If cutting large diameter circles on your bandsaw I do strongly suggest building a simple auxiliary table to attach to the side of your bandsaw to support the jig as well as the weight of the material you will be cutting. This is not necessary for small circles, but should be done for larger circle cutting as the jig is left suspended in mid-air trying to support the weight of of larger stock for larger circles. I went a step further and added some T-track to the side of my bandsaw to serve as an attachment point for both the circle-cutting jig and the auxiliary table to make setup and tear down quick and easy, but is by no means necessary, just a nice addition. Although my auxiliary table was designed to be easily removed have come to generally leave it attached as it is a nice added work surface and does not ordinarily interfere with use of the bandsaw unless one needs to actually angle the table at something other than 90-degrees. My table is built from either 1/2" or 3/4" MDF stapled to either 1x2s or 1x3s (I do not recall at this moment) around the perimeter to stiffen the MDF table and provide attachment points for the bandsaw and the single 2x4 leg with a leveler foot attached, all of which is secured with 1/4" bolts for easy knockdown into a compact package whenever I decide to remove the table. All was assembled in short order using my pneumatic narrow crown stapler with, if I recall, 1-1/2" staples and is plenty strong for what it needs to do (it could support my weight if need be, though I do not recommend that much weight on the table trunnion) and went together quickly with simple cuts to length on my tablesaw. I drilled some holes and routed a slot into the table to receive accessories like the circle cutting jig (as well as a work surface for my Kreg jig when I need to do pocket hole joinery).

    I added a sightline using some fine copper wire, to the magnified sight, to make it easier to get a good and consistent bead on the radius measurement scale as without one the parallax of viewing such from an angle can introduce som additional error. I also suggest using a piece of MDF (I do not recall at the moment whether it was 1/2" or 3/4", but I believe it is 3/4") plus a pair of strong 3/4" magnets installed in cups (which double the magnet strength) to make a zero clearance throat for your blade and to better support the material you are cutting a circle into at the blade as the material is otherwise floating above the table by the width of the aluminum T-tracks plus the spacer/bracket that mounts on the T-track as this will make accurate sawing much easier.

    But all-in-all it is a great basis for a circle cutting jig with minimum improvements required, save for the need of an auxiliary table to support larger circles, and it collapses down nicely between uses so that you do not need a lot of space to store it. I do not regret buying the kit and have used it on several projects to make both large (~4ft) and small circles (down to around 6"). I bought the kit when it first came out and was priced a good deal less than these days, making it even more of a no-brainer if interested in making larger diameter circles!

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    reggie, IF possible the best would be cut em over size bout 1/8 to 3/16, then use a flush trim bit. You will need to make master patterns, one of's not worth work but if you are going to make several of multiple sizes then make your masters, put trim bit in your router table, trim with MASTER UP bearing will ride on master and once setup you can smoke thru them
    need help holler. I know the tool that will be super help but you dont own my edge sander

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    I do mine in three steps. First cut about 1/4" deep circle, then using jig saw remove waste. Next using pattern trim bit get rid of waste left by saw. If you are making multiples, it's easier to make one perfect, then rough them out. Attach pattern and use router bit to finish up

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Ethan, could you post a picture of your set-up?

    "The American Republic will endure until politicians realize they can bribe the people with their own money!" Alex de Tocqueville"

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    I have used it several times. My problem is the "pin" on which the piece turns. It is an upside down cone. I have found that it is easy for wood to slip off of the pin. I wish it were a sharp pin. I wish I were handy enough to replace it with a nail tip or something similar.
    If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. -- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by JackLeg View Post
    Ethan, could you post a picture of your set-up?

    If I can get to it, but it will probably be a few days before I can and take some photos so please remind me as I get easily distracted!

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by BKind2Anmls View Post
    I have used it several times. My problem is the "pin" on which the piece turns. It is an upside down cone. I have found that it is easy for wood to slip off of the pin. I wish it were a sharp pin. I wish I were handy enough to replace it with a nail tip or something similar.
    I have found that certain center punches have a conical tip very similar to that of the Carter jig pin, so using the center punch to make the center hole in the stock helps to reduce the wandering a good bit. But if it remains a problem you can replace the original pin with a setscrew of the same diameter and thread pitch and simply drill a hole ever so slightly larger than the setscrew (so it does not bind, then you will not have a conical tip to wander off of (you may then want to use some light threadlock on the setscrew to prevent it rotating with the stock if you make this change).

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehpoole View Post
    It is a pretty good kit as-is but can also be improved a bit with a few tweaks. If cutting large diameter circles on your bandsaw I do strongly suggest building a simple auxiliary table to attach to the side of your bandsaw to support the jig as well as the weight of the material you will be cutting. This is not necessary for small circles, but should be done for larger circle cutting as the jig is left suspended in mid-air trying to support the weight of of larger stock for larger circles. I went a step further and added some T-track to the side of my bandsaw to serve as an attachment point for both the circle-cutting jig and the auxiliary table to make setup and tear down quick and easy, but is by no means necessary, just a nice addition. Although my auxiliary table was designed to be easily removed have come to generally leave it attached as it is a nice added work surface and does not ordinarily interfere with use of the bandsaw unless one needs to actually angle the table at something other than 90-degrees. My table is built from either 1/2" or 3/4" MDF stapled to either 1x2s or 1x3s (I do not recall at this moment) around the perimeter to stiffen the MDF table and provide attachment points for the bandsaw and the single 2x4 leg with a leveler foot attached, all of which is secured with 1/4" bolts for easy knockdown into a compact package whenever I decide to remove the table. All was assembled in short order using my pneumatic narrow crown stapler with, if I recall, 1-1/2" staples and is plenty strong for what it needs to do (it could support my weight if need be, though I do not recommend that much weight on the table trunnion) and went together quickly with simple cuts to length on my tablesaw. I drilled some holes and routed a slot into the table to receive accessories like the circle cutting jig (as well as a work surface for my Kreg jig when I need to do pocket hole joinery).

    I added a sightline using some fine copper wire, to the magnified sight, to make it easier to get a good and consistent bead on the radius measurement scale as without one the parallax of viewing such from an angle can introduce som additional error. I also suggest using a piece of MDF (I do not recall at the moment whether it was 1/2" or 3/4", but I believe it is 3/4") plus a pair of strong 3/4" magnets installed in cups (which double the magnet strength) to make a zero clearance throat for your blade and to better support the material you are cutting a circle into at the blade as the material is otherwise floating above the table by the width of the aluminum T-tracks plus the spacer/bracket that mounts on the T-track as this will make accurate sawing much easier.

    But all-in-all it is a great basis for a circle cutting jig with minimum improvements required, save for the need of an auxiliary table to support larger circles, and it collapses down nicely between uses so that you do not need a lot of space to store it. I do not regret buying the kit and have used it on several projects to make both large (~4ft) and small circles (down to around 6"). I bought the kit when it first came out and was priced a good deal less than these days, making it even more of a no-brainer if interested in making larger diameter circles!

    A Picture is worth a thousand words.....

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by chris_goris View Post
    A Picture is worth a thousand words.....
    As already mentioned above, I will try to get some photos in a few days if you all help remind me as I can not do so at the moment.

    Most of what I describe becomes pretty self explanatory as upgrades when you actually have the jig setup and start using it, fortunately the bits and pieces are also pretty inexpensive, just some MDF (I believe the piece was less than 2ft square) with a scrap 3/4" MDF off-cut about 4-6" square used to make the zero clearance insert/support, some 1x2 strips used as table aprons, a 2x4 for the leg, and a pair of 3/4" neodymium magnets and mounting cups attached to the zero clearance piece to secure it to the table. I also used a leveling foot on my one table leg to make it easy to level the table even if on an uneven floor (and which avoids needing a precise leg leg length).

    The only expensive part was some Pinnacle T-track (the 4" high super T-track or similar such name) that I cut a section out of just to make mounting both the auxiliary table and one end of the Carter Circle Jig very easy, but I could easily have done without, I just really wanted a good way to mount any future jigs to the left side of my bandsaw table and to make such mounting more convenient so that I would only need to drill 2 or 3 mounting holes for the T-track into the side of my cast iron table rather than many such hose or needing to resort to clamping mechanisms that might get in the way of some as yet uncontemplated jig that might someday get built. Using the T-track simply allows me to mount things anywhere along the length of the cast iron table (there is a top and side section of T-track that can be used as attachment points). This was my only real extravagance in my upgrades but it allows for a lot of flexibility and I only had to drill 2 or 3 mounting holes to secure the T-track to the cast iron table.

    But I really like the Circle Jig with these mods as it is a very nicely made jig and it is practically a rule that I need to modify such tools and jigs to make them my own. And the auxiliary table has been a very handy additional work surface, much more useful than I had expected when I first created to accompany the jig for larger circles. I even have threaded inserts i stalled in the table to bolt my Kreg pocket hole jigs to when making pocket hole joinery, so the table has become multipurpose.

    But I will definitely try to get some photos for you all, I just have to clear some space and, hopefully, dig out the Carter jig so that I can reinstall it since I do not normally leave it installed on my bandsaw (which I mostly use for resawing and joinery rather than circles). Hopefully I can get to everything as I have not spent much time in my shop the last few years, so things can get buried under other things as things get shuffled about the garage.

    In my experience the jig gets one very, very, close to a true circle when done correctly and all it takes is some moderate sanding to remove the tooth marks and a very small irregularity at the point where the blade started the initial cut (as you initially fed the stock into the blade you can get a very shallow irregularity that sands out easily). You get the best possible results if you use a narrow blade (I typically run a 1/4" to 1/2" blade depending upon circle radius) with a relatively high tension and setup your blade guides and guard so that the blade guides are as close as practical to the stock as this greatly reduces blade deflection that can interfere with the accuracy of your cut (if there is too great an unsupported span or inadequate tension you get the equivalent of a barrel cut as the stock tries to deflect the blade and your circle is not as true, but adequate tension and setting up the blade guides as close to the stock surface as practical, coupled with using a blade width aporopriate for your desired radius and material thickness pretty well avoid that unwanted deflection -- but this was an early mistake I had made when I cut my first circles on the bandsaw so I wanted to mention such. The added zero clearance insert made from MDF also helps to constrain the lower portion of the blade which also seems to improve accuracy and reduces deflection a bit. If practical, I like to use my Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander to smooth the circle edges as it does a wonderful job and leaves glass smooth edges in most woods, but I have also used my band sander and even sanding blocks to clean up the edge of the cut circle and they come out beautifully.

    Remind me in a few days if you do not get any photos and I will try to make such happen.

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    I have one and use it about once or twice a year. It works well. As Ethan says if doing anything larger than your band saw table you need outside support. I have a outfeed stand with ball bearings that can be turned over to a roller stand and that works well when making things like the 20" diameter base for my home-made 20" disc sander. If you were closer, I'd offer to let you come over and try it out. There is an accessory for it that allows you to use it with a face plate and go directly to the lathe. I got that thinking it would be super useful and have never really found a need for it.
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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Reg didn't say how many circles of a given diameter he'll need or how thick each circle will be.

    Maybe this will work to make an accurate pattern for the other "finished" circles or maybe it could do the finished circles instead.

    http://go.rockler.com/tech/40982-Circle-Cutting-Jig.pdf

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    My philosophy is always try a router first; either cutting circles or trimming toe nails!

    A router will make short work of cutting circles and if you have a sharp upcut spiral bit and perform climb cuts for the piece you want to save; round or hole, you'll have a finished piece in one step.
    You will have to use Bruce Wrenn's router docking tip so you never have to let go of the handles, untangle the wire or hose, while the router is always facing you all around the circle.
    Always be yourself because the people that matter don't mind, and the ones who mind, don't matter.

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Quote Originally Posted by ehpoole View Post
    As already mentioned above, I will try to get some photos in a few days if you all help remind me as I can not do so at the moment.

    Most of what I describe becomes pretty self explanatory as upgrades when you actually have the jig setup and start using it, fortunately the bits and pieces are also pretty inexpensive, just some MDF (I believe the piece was less than 2ft square) with a scrap 3/4" MDF off-cut about 4-6" square used to make the zero clearance insert/support, some 1x2 strips used as table aprons, a 2x4 for the leg, and a pair of 3/4" neodymium magnets and mounting cups attached to the zero clearance piece to secure it to the table. I also used a leveling foot on my one table leg to make it easy to level the table even if on an uneven floor (and which avoids needing a precise leg leg length).

    The only expensive part was some Pinnacle T-track (the 4" high super T-track or similar such name) that I cut a section out of just to make mounting both the auxiliary table and one end of the Carter Circle Jig very easy, but I could easily have done without, I just really wanted a good way to mount any future jigs to the left side of my bandsaw table and to make such mounting more convenient so that I would only need to drill 2 or 3 mounting holes for the T-track into the side of my cast iron table rather than many such hose or needing to resort to clamping mechanisms that might get in the way of some as yet uncontemplated jig that might someday get built. Using the T-track simply allows me to mount things anywhere along the length of the cast iron table (there is a top and side section of T-track that can be used as attachment points). This was my only real extravagance in my upgrades but it allows for a lot of flexibility and I only had to drill 2 or 3 mounting holes to secure the T-track to the cast iron table.

    But I really like the Circle Jig with these mods as it is a very nicely made jig and it is practically a rule that I need to modify such tools and jigs to make them my own. And the auxiliary table has been a very handy additional work surface, much more useful than I had expected when I first created to accompany the jig for larger circles. I even have threaded inserts i stalled in the table to bolt my Kreg pocket hole jigs to when making pocket hole joinery, so the table has become multipurpose.

    But I will definitely try to get some photos for you all, I just have to clear some space and, hopefully, dig out the Carter jig so that I can reinstall it since I do not normally leave it installed on my bandsaw (which I mostly use for resawing and joinery rather than circles). Hopefully I can get to everything as I have not spent much time in my shop the last few years, so things can get buried under other things as things get shuffled about the garage.

    In my experience the jig gets one very, very, close to a true circle when done correctly and all it takes is some moderate sanding to remove the tooth marks and a very small irregularity at the point where the blade started the initial cut (as you initially fed the stock into the blade you can get a very shallow irregularity that sands out easily). You get the best possible results if you use a narrow blade (I typically run a 1/4" to 1/2" blade depending upon circle radius) with a relatively high tension and setup your blade guides and guard so that the blade guides are as close as practical to the stock as this greatly reduces blade deflection that can interfere with the accuracy of your cut (if there is too great an unsupported span or inadequate tension you get the equivalent of a barrel cut as the stock tries to deflect the blade and your circle is not as true, but adequate tension and setting up the blade guides as close to the stock surface as practical, coupled with using a blade width aporopriate for your desired radius and material thickness pretty well avoid that unwanted deflection -- but this was an early mistake I had made when I cut my first circles on the bandsaw so I wanted to mention such. The added zero clearance insert made from MDF also helps to constrain the lower portion of the blade which also seems to improve accuracy and reduces deflection a bit. If practical, I like to use my Ridgid Oscillating Spindle Sander to smooth the circle edges as it does a wonderful job and leaves glass smooth edges in most woods, but I have also used my band sander and even sanding blocks to clean up the edge of the cut circle and they come out beautifully.

    Remind me in a few days if you do not get any photos and I will try to make such happen.


    I guess I got 1000 more words....

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    Re: Circle cutting jigs?

    Joe, Bruce Wrenn's router docking tip? - got a link?
    "Complaining about a problem without posing a solution is called whining" - Teddy Roosevelt

    "May the grain be with you" - Roy Underhill

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