One of the trickiest parts of woodworking is cutting circles in pieces of wood. Not only do you have to have the right tools for the job, but you also have to know how to approach each cut to make it perfect. If you are into woodworking, and if you want to learn how to make outstanding circle cuts every time, read on and follow the instructions carefully.

Step 1

The first thing you have to do is to get a base router that has a single rod installed at the base. Place it where you want it and hold it down with bar clamps. Drill a hole through the end of the wooden fence rod. A single nail will serve well as a pivot point.

Step 2

If you can, get a router with an adjustable point because it will allow you to raise and lower the point on the go. That apparently gives you more options, and you can use the router to cut circles of various depths and dimensions.

Step 3

Now you have to set the radius of the arc of the circle. Do that by lining up the cutter flutes with the axis that stretches from the cutter’s center to the trammel point. You should make the diameter smaller if you want to make inner circles and arcs, if you wish to make external circles, increase the diameter.

No matter which one of these jobs you want to do, always set the radius between the closest cutting edge and the trammel point. Some projects are easier so you can find the trammel point just by pressing the point of the router to the surface you’re working on.

Step 4

If you don’t want to damage the surface of the circle you want to cut out, place a thin piece of timber between the wood and the pivot point. Secure it with some tape, and you can continue working without risking any damage to the wood.

Step 5

If you need to cut with a huge radius, you can’t do it with a single-rod trammel as it often flexes during use. That leads to uneven cuts of the curve and the radius also loses shape during the process. So, if you want to make this kind of circles, use a twin-rod trammel saw or a flat-beam saw that already has a sub-base for the router. If you don’t have one, you can make it yourself.

Step 6

Most simple beam trammels can produce cuts up to 600mm in radius. Beam trammels are made out of clear plastic. There’s a little scale on it that lets you set up the radius you need and then just fit everything into your router’s base. The width of the trammel prevents the router from tipping, and that gives you perfectly accurate cuts every single time.

Step 7

Keep in mind that your router must swing freely when you decide on using a trammel. Keep your eye on the center point, making sure that the piece is where you want it.

Also, feed the wood against the cutter’s rotation to decrease the forces along the trammel rod axis. If you pull it away from the center, you can quickly lose the center point, and you’ll have start all over again. Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what direction to cut to, so remember this – always cut anti-clockwise on the outside and the opposite when working on the inside.

Step 8

The trammel center point is not always needed, especially if you plan on making curves on large pieces of wood. If that’s the case, you can improvise a bit and use scrap material as a pivot point, which you can place anywhere on the bench.

Step 9

One of the things you’ll have to keep in mind is the center hole. If the trammel point makes the hole bigger, you’ll lose the accuracy, and you won’t have a perfectly matching cut when you make a full circle. If you want to make several identical cuts on the same center point, you should probably replace it with a small rod that fits into the hole of the pad. That will help you create identical circle cuts, but still, you should be careful because other things can go wrong.

For example, the cable often tends to get in the way when you’re trying to make circular cuts, so try to attach it to the ceiling or above the bench so that it won’t get in the way.

Maintaining a smooth and steady movement with the router needs some practice, but you can do things to make the process quicker. Swing the router as you cut as far as you possibly can. When your arms cross, just switch hands and continue cutting the circle. Don’t stop cutting while changing hands, to make sure you get a perfect circle in the end. If you pause while you switch hands, the router will create a burn mark on your wood due to friction.

Step 10

The smallest possible radius of a circle cut is the same size of the base of your router, which is often too big for smaller cuts. Trammels with guide rod holes can help you make cuts as small as 25mm in diameter, but that’s going to be tricky because the pivot point is now mounted underneath the router.

Step 11

If you don’t want to do everything by hand, buying a template with predrilled holes of various diameters is a great idea. You can use a guidebush or a straight cutter and combine it with the pre drilled-holes and a template profile cutter; you can make holes of almost any size. Of course, you’ll need some time to master the process, but practice makes perfect, right?


Cutting circles and curves into wood is a tough task without the right tools. Some craftsmen can make perfect cuts every time, but it took them decades of practice to get to that level. If you don’t have that much time to practice, all you need is a base router table, a trammel rod, and you’ll make some sweet circular cuts in no time at all. Good luck!