Art Nouveau Coffee Table #6: Large Elliptical Cutting Jig

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Blog entry by Dennis Zongker posted 04-15-2015 06:03 PM 2031 reads 3 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: "Grind & Sand and Grind & Sand" Part 6 of Art Nouveau Coffee Table series Part 7: Tree & Water Reflections, Marquetry Practicing »

For the top of this art Nouveau style coffee table top which is 60” wide by 80” long, needing to cut a perfect ellipse onto 1” thick 17 ply apple plywood. To make this cutting jig I used 3/4” and 1” thick apple plywood which is very expensive and very durable and hardly ever warps.

A. Starting with the dovetail slotted base that screws to the bottom side of the top when cutting. The base is 1” thick 22” square, then route in two 1” wide 5/8” deep dovetail slots centered to each side.

B. Then using the bandsaw I cut off the corners of the base jig, I do this for making smaller elliptical circles. Next sand the edges straight and ease the sharp edges.

C. Next cut out the dovetail runners by cutting a long piece of hardwood at 1” wide x 5/8” thick and 24” long.
You will only need the runners to be 4” long, it’s best to have a longer piece for running through the router table. Set the router fence to where 14 degree does not remove any material at the 1” width bottom.

D. Using the drill press I dill in center holes for the insert nut, then using a insert nut driver to screw into the hardwood.

E. For the router base top cutting jig, use a 3/4” thick x 5 3/4” wide x 48” long of 13 ply apple plywood. Place the Porter Cable router base on top and trace out the radius at one end, and a 2 1/2” diameter at the smaller end. Then draw connecting lines. I use the bandsaw to cut out the jig and sand the edges flat and ease the edges.

F. Next cut out two pieces of 1” thick plywood to match the thickness of the base, and screw to the bottom face of the top routing jig. For the outer one match up the radius to the base this will help you see exactly where you are going when routing.

G. For the elliptical circle at 60” x 80” divided by 2 will give you your placement for drilling the holes into the base. 30” for your minor axis and 40” for your major axis, this will give you a 10” pitch which will just fit the base jig by 1” if you take the 22” base and divided it by 2 will give you a 11” pitch clearance.

H. The last step before routing out the top is to drill a small 1/2” diameter hole into the center to the jig. This will give you a place to see your center mark on the top. Then just square it up to make sure the cut will work then screw it down to the bottom face of the top.
I. When routing the top turn on the router in the base and set your cutting depth for about 1/4” making around 4 to 5 passes.

With this Elliptical circle cutting jig the maximum size would be approximately 88” 7’-4” at the longest point.

-- Dennis Zongker

11 comments so far

View grizzman's profile


7781 posts in 2723 days

#1 posted 04-15-2015 06:12 PM

ive only made a few jigs in my woodworking career, but ive always enjoyed it , making a jig that allows you to accomplish what is needed is so much fun for me, figuring out what i have to make in order to get er done , i love the thinking part, stretching my mind…thanks for this…gosh i wish i could be there to see all of this get done…what a great time this must be….i guess im sorta babbling…in easy terms, this is way cool

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View shipwright's profile


7085 posts in 2218 days

#2 posted 04-15-2015 07:41 PM

You are making me itch for a reason to build one of those Dennis. I have thought of doing so on several occasions just because they are such a cool jig but so far I haven’t had the need so I haven’t made one. Yours seems to be a fine, functional example and obviously does it’s job very well.
Keep having fun and enjoying the challenge.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View Woodbridge's profile


3451 posts in 1838 days

#3 posted 04-15-2015 08:34 PM

Its wonderful to be able to see this project being built. Your work is of such a high calibre and I do appreciate you sharing your processes and thinking with us.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View MyChipCarving's profile


574 posts in 2545 days

#4 posted 04-15-2015 09:48 PM

Your jig is way cool!

-- Marty,, 866-444-6996

View SawdustyDan's profile


60 posts in 596 days

#5 posted 04-15-2015 10:55 PM

I was wondering how you’d cut that top accurately. Now we know – you used math and science! And experience. A simple, yet elegant, solution. Kudos to you on this one, too!

I can see this jig, or a similar one, adapted with an equally-spaced series of additional holes toward the ‘jig end’ of the router base, that would allow one jig to be used for multiple size (and X-to-Y axis ratios) ovals. Just thinkin’ out loud…

Thanks, as well, for taking us along on your building journey!

-- Sawdusty Dan - Bellevue, NE - "Women and cats will do as they please. Men and dogs should just relax and get used to it." Robert A. Heinlein

View SteveGaskins's profile


621 posts in 2007 days

#6 posted 04-16-2015 01:42 AM

Great information, Dennis. Thanks for posting.

-- Steve, South Carolina,

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3127 posts in 3132 days

#7 posted 04-16-2015 02:35 AM


Even your jigs are works of art!


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Dale J Struhar Sr's profile

Dale J Struhar Sr

442 posts in 2550 days

#8 posted 04-16-2015 03:07 AM

Amazing job Dennis. Your jig is a work art itself.

-- Dale, Ohio

View Grumpy's profile


21459 posts in 3271 days

#9 posted 04-16-2015 03:21 AM

There is nothing like a good jig

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View dclark1943's profile


245 posts in 1607 days

#10 posted 04-16-2015 08:45 AM

Lookin good Dennis !

-- Dave, Kansas City

View Roger's profile


19711 posts in 2224 days

#11 posted 04-17-2015 06:57 PM

Holy Moly Dennis! You’re jig is a gr8 as the table coming along.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

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