Tablesawn Circles Barre VT
It's easy to cut perfectly round tabletops of almost any size on your tablesaw. All it takes is a simple jig (Fig A) and careful setup. With this method, you can safely cut dia-meters from 12 in. to within an inch of your saw's rip-fence capacity.
Why use a tablesaw? It's better than bandsawing or routing, especially for large-diameter circles. Unlike bandsawing, when you're working on the tablesaw, the blank is fully supported, so it's easy to control. Unlike routing, you stay in one place while making the cut and you don't have to deal with a tangle-prone cord. Tablesawn results are better, too. The circular blade leaves a cleaner edge than a bandsaw blade does and it won't tear out the end grain, the way a router bit can.
This tablesaw technique is similar to the approach used for cutting circles on a bandsaw. Using a clamped-on jig with a center pin, you make the cut by rotating the blank into the blade. Unlike the bandsaw method, however, you must start with a blank that's already roughsawn. Cutting the circle to final size takes several steps. Like turning a rough blank into a round on a lathe, you gradually cut down the high spots until the blank is perfectly round. Here's how to do it:
1. Draw the circle on the bottom of the blank, using a compass or trammel.
2. Use a jigsaw to rough-saw the blank 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. larger than the final diameter. Starting on the bottom face, draw a diameter line that continues all the way around the blank.
3. Enlarge the center hole that remains from drawing the circle to fit the jig's center pin. Mount the blank (Photo 1). Then install the retainers.
4. Before you position the jig, unplug your saw and install an alternate tooth bevel (ATB) blade with at least 40 teeth. Raise the blade fully. Set the rip fence so there's just enough room for the jig and blank to slide past the blade. Align the blank's centerline with the reference line you've drawn on the clamp rail (Fig. A).
5. Hold the jig against the fence, slide it forward into position and clamp it securely (Photo 2).
6. Lower the blade fully to locate the jig for the first cut. Spin the roughsawn blank to find its widest spot. Then reset the fence so the blade will remove about 1/16 in. from this point. A more aggressive cut wouldn't work; it would cause binding between the blank and the blade.
Mount the rough sawn blank on the jig. It rotates on the center pin. Align the blank's centerline with the reference line on the jig's rail. PHOTO 2:
Clamp the jig to the rip fence at the point where the tip of the fully raised blade, the top edge of the blank and the centerline meet. Lower the blade completely. Then position the blank for the first cut by adjusting the fence.