Help - circle cutting

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Jeremy Nako

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Gurus...

Novice woodworker here struggling to achieve..

I'm building a small toy and want to cut some wheels from 18mm ply. Size isn't critical.. somewhere between 60-85mm radius.

I've tried cutting with a router and circle template and the results somehow manage to vary considerably in both size and quality ( I appreciate that my skills aren't great as yet)

I've tried a circular hole cutter in my drill, but the pilot bit is huge (too large for intended purpose) and without the pilot I can't even get the cut started.

Would the hole cutter work without the pilot if I used a pillar drill (on my shopping list..) or am I just going about this in totally the wrong way..?

Any suggestion / help greatly appreciated.
 

Cabinetman

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Hi Dee, Really good idea, at first I was thinking you meant something else which couldn’t have worked, but yes that will be super, (then all Jeremy has to do is find the centre )!
 

Richard_C

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Method from Dee looks good, wish I'd though of that.

In similar circumstances a while back I used the hole saw, which I think had a 6mm or 8mm pilot, then tapped some dowel into the hole with a smear of pva, then drilled the size hole I wanted.
 

DBT85

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Dee's solution should do well.

I assume for your template you were trying to route around the outside of something stuck down to the ply?
 

Woody2Shoes

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I think you need to make yourself a small circle cutting jig for your router. There are loads of YT videos showing different options Marius Hornberger has a nice design.
 

Jeremy Nako

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Cut a hole in a scrap piece of wood with the hole cutter using the pilot. Then clamp the scrap over your workpiece and use the first circle as a guide without the pilot.

Thanks, and that makes sense... but my drill is struggling to even cut the scrap piece, so I may need to rethink 😕
 

Jeremy Nako

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Dee's solution should do well.

I assume for your template you were trying to route around the outside of something stuck down to the ply?
No..I have an acrylic circle template and use the same bush and bit that I use for stencil routing. Having tried - what you'd think is a simple procedure - on numerous occasions I can't get a consistent result. I fully appreciate that this is down to my lack of skill.
 

Jeremy Nako

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I think you need to make yourself a small circle cutting jig for your router. There are loads of YT videos showing different options Marius Hornberger has a nice design.
Having watched the very interesting Marcus video
I think you need to make yourself a small circle cutting jig for your router. There are loads of YT videos showing different options Marius Hornberger has a nice design.
I've watched the very interesting Marius video, but the skill level to make that is substantially beyond my inability to route a simple circle using a template.
 

DBT85

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No..I have an acrylic circle template and use the same bush and bit that I use for stencil routing. Having tried - what you'd think is a simple procedure - on numerous occasions I can't get a consistent result. I fully appreciate that this is down to my lack of skill.
Ah so you're cutting inside the circle template? (assuming I read that right) Much easier to stuff that up if the bit you want is what's left inside the template.

If you want the circle ideally you want to be routing the outside of something, routing inside only needs a tiny error and it will show. Literally just get anything roughly the right size, double sided tape it down to something thin like some mdf or ply and make yourself a single wheel. You can then tape that down to the ply to use as an outside template (which might be easier to use than your random circular object), rather than an inside template. The tape will hold very well and you just need to make sure you've done the whole thing, much harder to stuff that up.

You could use your hole saw to make a circle about the right size and keep the bit that will, as always, get stuck in the hole saw and use your bush and bit to go around the outside of it. A template/pattern bit is well worth having, and also a flush trim bit (IIRC identical apart from one has a bearing at the top, one has it at the bottom), even it only a £10 one, though I think they get used more than most other bits so just upping that spend a little gets a green trend craft bit which will likely be better quality.

Marius' channel is very good and I think you could make that jig.

I think you're beating yourself up for getting something wrong that most on here would do the opposite way to how you have tried. If you want a circle of wood, route around the outside a circle template (or use a circle cutting jig). If you want a circle IN your wood, route the inside of a circle. It's certainly doable the other way around, but much more likely to end up pished.
 
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Davey44

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Gurus...

Novice woodworker here struggling to achieve..

I'm building a small toy and want to cut some wheels from 18mm ply. Size isn't critical.. somewhere between 60-85mm radius.

I've tried cutting with a router and circle template and the results somehow manage to vary considerably in both size and quality ( I appreciate that my skills aren't great as yet)

I've tried a circular hole cutter in my drill, but the pilot bit is huge (too large for intended purpose) and without the pilot I can't even get the cut started.

Would the hole cutter work without the pilot if I used a pillar drill (on my shopping list..) or am I just going about this in totally the wrong way..?

Any suggestion / help greatly appreciated.
I've been faced by exactly this challenge a number of times, and not being a router fan, used the quick and dirty method that you mentioned. I refer to using the pillar drill. I remove the pilot drill, clamp my workpiece to the table with a piece of scrap between workpiece and table. Then, with the pillar drill on a slow speed cut my circle. It's vital to use gentle pressure and lift the cutter frequently or it will overheat. If you have a compressor, blow out the dust that will have accumulated, or use canned air, or perhaps try the tip of a stiff brush. You'll get a circle which will probably need some finishing. Good luck.
 

HamsterJam

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Hi Dee, Really good idea, at first I was thinking you meant something else which couldn’t have worked, but yes that will be super, (then all Jeremy has to do is find the centre )!
Use a centre finder or combination square if you have one.
Otherwise you could stack the two pieces and drill the small centre hole first plus a couple of reference holes in the waste or cut to the same size/line up a couple of edges. Then separate the pieces and drill your template. The template can then be realigned with the workpiece using the reference holes or edges to drill out wheel .
 

Jeremy Nako

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Just an update..

Ive managed to get it done by using a hole cutter.. and buying a pillar drill which was on my list of equipment to purchase shortly anyway.

I retracted the pilot bit totally and cut very slowly. As I expected there was a lot of movement in the hole cutter (not to mention smoke !) but it was accurate enough for my purposes, and more importantly.. the results were round.

Thank you for all the suggestions.. I guess there's more than one way to skin a cat.
 
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