All Replies on Band Saw Circle Cutting Jig Problems

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View KevinVan's profile

Band Saw Circle Cutting Jig Problems

by KevinVan
posted 1621 days ago

29 replies so far

View 1yeldud1's profile


290 posts in 1676 days

#1 posted 1621 days ago

What size radius were you trying to cut ???

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 1785 days

#2 posted 1621 days ago

Radius would be 8 1/4” or 16 1/2 diameter. My Bandsaw is a 14” Powermatic.

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View rsmith71's profile


269 posts in 1676 days

#3 posted 1621 days ago

I freehanded my bowls on the bandsaw and sanded them smooth. I found that marking them inpencil them making stright-in relief cuts every so often (no set places, just where ever looked good) from the sides kept the blade from binding or wandering nearly so much.

-- Robert - Haven Wood Crafts

View alanealane's profile


365 posts in 2524 days

#4 posted 1621 days ago

The guys who have woodworking shows on TV like Norm Abrams and Scott Phillips usually use a bandsaw jig for circles 2 to 3 or more feet in diameter. At least I don’t remember seeing them use a bandsaw for a diameter as small as yours. I think they both use a router on a circle-jig for the smaller circles.

Maybe that’s no help to you, but it might vaguely explain your difficulties…

I think that the way you worked it out—freehand, followed by sanding with the jig—was very excellent use of an alternate technique. To me, that’s the beauty of woodworking…there’s definitely more than one way to ‘skin a cat’—or slice a board—whichever you prefer… ;-D

Your frustration is understandable, but sometimes what works for some people just doesn’t pan out for others. I’m usually in the ‘others’ group, so I often find another way to effectively do what I want in the shop. I end up being even more satisfied with the result because of the journey I took to get there.

Keep it up!!

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View 1yeldud1's profile


290 posts in 1676 days

#5 posted 1621 days ago

On that small of a radius I would place the jig on the “dead” centerline of the blade. I then would make an initial cut aprox. 1/4” inside or outside (depending on which section you are saving) then I would re-set the jig as you origionaly did and cut the radius to the desired size. I beleive with that small of a radius you must clear the stock out of the saw kurf to eliminate the binding

View lew's profile


10003 posts in 2389 days

#6 posted 1620 days ago

I regularly cut circles much smaller than yours with my jig.

My stock thickness is usually equal or less than 1”, but as much as 3”. I usually use a 1/4” blade but sometimes a 3/8”.

For the least amount of binding, the center line of the jig should be at the front of the blade teeth.

Make sure the tension is correct. Sometimes the blade drift can tend to pull away from the cut and cause this to happen. Take it slow and easy.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 2526 days

#7 posted 1620 days ago

The size of the circle has nothing to do with it. A 2” circle will cut the same as a 36”. I believe a 1/2” blade is too wide for cutting circles. I use a 1/4”. I also can’t see the center line in reference to the teeth having anything to do with binding. Once the stock is turned into the blade you should be able to spin the stock pretty quick. The only things I could think that could cause binding would be a dull blade, the stock not sitting flat on the table, or the table not square to the blade. Check your setup, because like Lew said, not enough blade tension could contribute to it also.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View russv's profile


262 posts in 1803 days

#8 posted 1620 days ago

i also own a powermatic bandsaw. i have cut circles out many times using the method you described and never have a problem. i would suspect something in the way your saw is tuned might be the problem.

you might moving the pivot point around to see how it changes the tracking. make sure your bearings above and below the table are rolling free and are adjusted properly. blade alignment is critical.

it has to be in the saw set up some how.


-- where to go because you don't want no stinking plastic!

View TheDane's profile


3741 posts in 2297 days

#9 posted 1620 days ago

I ran into a similar problem last weekend … found a video on Stu’s Shed that showed a jig that worked pretty well for me. (

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View alanealane's profile


365 posts in 2524 days

#10 posted 1620 days ago

I apologize if I was misleading in what I said above. I was speaking from a non-experienced perspective, and it might have been better if I kept my mouth shut…LOL
It seems that I really had no idea what I was talking about as far as the size of circle a bandsaw can cut, so I’m sorry. But I’m sticking to the “more than one way to skin a cat” line of reasoning!! ...Those poor skinless cats. ;-D

I’ve never yet had a project that called for cutting circles in wood, but it may come up in my shop in the future.

I hope you can get this worked out successfully!!

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

448 posts in 1639 days

#11 posted 1620 days ago

I agree with Closetguy, 1/2” is too wide a blade. Tension and tracking and a nice sharp blade are the key to getting that to work. Try adjusting the tracking slightly and see if it improves. Since the top wheel is crowned, where the blade runs over the wheel determines how parallel it runs in relation to the edge of the table.

I have used a circle jig lots of times on my PM 14”. Smaller radii too.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View donjoe's profile


1360 posts in 1664 days

#12 posted 1620 days ago

I cut 10” and 12” circles with no problem using a 1/4”blade. The only thing is I have to enter the work piece right on the cut line. If I try to start by making the blade come to the cut line I have the problem you are talking about. Most of the vids I’ve seen (if you watch closely ) they have the starting spot right on one edge of the stock cut line even if they have a certian portion of waste on three sides.

-- Donnie-- listen to the wood.

View PurpLev's profile


8476 posts in 2282 days

#13 posted 1620 days ago

you are using a 1/2” RESAW blade – which is great for RESAWING as it’s wide and likes to stay true to the STRAIGHT cut line. but WILL have a hard time doing curved cuts as it’s not meant for those.

use 1/4” blade or narrower (I use a 3/16” blade for scroll work and curved cuts)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View 1yeldud1's profile


290 posts in 1676 days

#14 posted 1620 days ago

If the gentleman doesnt want to purchase a 2nd blade he can set up and remove the majority of the stock using straight cuts until he is about 1/16 away from the line – then set up his jig and use his existing blade – I agree that the 1/2 inch blade is too wide but I think he can make this blade work by making multiple cuts

View Hoakie's profile


306 posts in 2669 days

#15 posted 1620 days ago

Have you tried filing the back of you blade to round over the edges . This can make a big difference

-- John H. [To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. ~Edison]

View TheDane's profile


3741 posts in 2297 days

#16 posted 1620 days ago

I have one of the Bandsaw Blade Files Hoakie posted the link to … any new blade that goes on my saw gets the treatment with this little doo-dad.

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View KevinVan's profile


91 posts in 1785 days

#17 posted 1619 days ago

Thanks for the insight guys….

I think the culprit here is the blade. It makes sense that the resaw blade is just trying to do its job, Cut Straight! DoH!

The ¼” blade I have is old and probably junk.

I’m looking at the Olson 3/16’’ x 10 reg. from Rockler. Think that’s’ a good choice?

-- ALS IK KAN “to the best of my ability,”

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#18 posted 1544 days ago

I was experimenting with circle cutting jigs for some specialty projects. And experienced the same problem KevinVan experienced. One of the effect not made clear was the blade kept pushing out, as if tracking was off, or some other problem.

Just for reference, I’m using a 3/16” 3TPI blade on a Powermatic 14” band saw. The blades I’m using have been excellent, until I tried them with the jig. Thinking the blade was toast, I installed a new one, but suffered the same effects.

I checked tracking and reset the bearing guides, but the problem repeated. Since life had been good up to the point of the jig AND my first few circles turned out good [and quick], I presume the problem lies either in the jig, or its application (a 1 D 10 T error).

donjoe appears to be he who has hit the band saw on the head. In the course of my experiments, the jig was not set to repeat from the exact same point used making the first couple circles. I walked the wood into the blade by sliding the jig on the miter track, then started my cuts. As such and without a stop block, I may have overrun my line or otherwise set myself up for binding blades.

I’ll go back out and try: 1) starting on the cut line; and, running in and stopping with a stop block (set for the cut line). Barring nuclear incident related to improper jig use, I’ll report back the results.

It would be helpful if more of the sites offering circle jig plans noted start positions and such. I’d be surprised if KevinVan and ol Kelvancra were the only ones to suffer this fate.

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#19 posted 1542 days ago

Okay, I’m back from the lab, uh, the shop and I’ve learned a few things:

1) This things can be made several ways. One approach allows you to push a piece of wood which is wider than the diameter of the circle you are cutting into the blade, then start cutting. The other requires you to either start at the edge of the board, or pre-cut a notch to start from.

I’m partial to the former, because it saves a step.

2) A simple circle cutter, can be thrown together in about five minutes. Nicer, more versatile jigs take longer, of course.

3) You must position the pivot pin in line and just in front of the blade, or it will bind it. Sliding into the wood and starting the circle cut back from the blade as little as a quarter of an inch bound the blade each time. Moving up to the blade did not.

View alanealane's profile


365 posts in 2524 days

#20 posted 1542 days ago

kelvancra, what do you mean by “position the pivot pin in line and just in front of the blade ”?

-- Lane Custom Guitars and Basses

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#21 posted 1542 days ago

The circle jig I made yesterday was just an 8”x8” piece of 3/4” ply with a miter guide glued and nailed to the bottom. The miter guide was secured so that the left side of the plywood just kissed the blade.

I then ran it though the band saw and shaved off one gazillionth inch of plywood. Now I could measure from the blade side to get the radiuses I needed for five circles I’d be repeating regularly.
I then drilled holes that would accept my [low tech] rivets (snipped to about a quarter inch, or just under. Each hole was for a different diameter circle, of course.

Because the radius dimensions would have put the holes for the pivot pin very close together, I shifted their positions forward and back. This required me to move the jig forward or back in the miter tract to line each pin hole up just in front of the blade required moving the jig forward and back.

To make the jig quick to align, I just used a square to scribe a line from the center of the pivot pin hole to the blade edge of the plywood. I used a felt tip marker to darken the lines and to write the circle diameter for each pin hole.

To operate, all I have to do is push the jig forward until the line of the pivot hole I am using lands immediately in front of the blade. Since I have a couple of those wonderful switching magnets, I set one down at the end of the jig and turn it on, to act as a stop.

Now, I drop my over-sized piece of wood on the pivot pin, push it into the (by then running) band saw and, once I hit the stop, start turning.

If need be, I can try to take some pictures of this ridiculously simple (and easy to store) beast for posting.

SIDE NOTE: You can test for the binding problem this thread started from by backing up just a quarter inch and see what happens.

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#22 posted 1542 days ago


by now you’ve probably solved your band saw blade delema. Still, for the benefit of others, I share my experience with Olsen band saw blades:

I purchased a couple 3/16”, 3 tpi Olsen band saw blades from Western Tool. For thick work and rough cutting, they’ve proven a good purchase. They are real work horses – I’ve pushed a lot of oak through them, including when I was too lazy to switch to a half inch (also an Olsen blade), and they just keep going.

As noted in a previous post, I thought one had gone south, but it was just my ignorance in positioning my circle cutting jig.

View bvdon's profile


456 posts in 1649 days

#23 posted 1140 days ago

I tried this for the first time tonight with no experience (no research either). Using a 1/4 inch blade, tried to cut 3/4 cherry to a circle with a radius of about 3 inches. Within two minutes the blade came off the wheel and got crimped in that process! $30 down the drain!

Some good tips here. One, I need to file the back of the blade, two use a little more tension. Next time I will experiment with a softer, thinner wood, larger radius until I get this right.


View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1273 days

#24 posted 1140 days ago

Leave your bandsaw blade alone. Do it with the table saw. Quicker (especially after the first one) and more accurate.

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#25 posted 1140 days ago

I had my blades jump too, until I learned where to set the jib for the start of the cut. Once I had the pivot point two tenths of a gnat’s butt in front of the blade, the problem went away. I then glued a stop block on the underside of the circle jig so I could run the wood into the blade and, once I hit the stop, start spinning.

In the time it took the guy with the table saw to trim his wood near that scary blade, I can cut five of the circles he did (time to position it on the pivot pin not counted).

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#26 posted 606 days ago

The fact this thread is twenty-seven years old aside, it’s obvious I’m prone o ramble without getting to the answer. It was asked what was meant when we talk of having the pivot pin pin in front of the blade.

You could push a board down the fence and into the blade. If it helps and for the sake of this discussion, presume you stopped when the blade was half way through the stock. Once there, draw a line ninety degrees off that line, at the point where you stopped the cut. Your pivot pin would move along the line you just drew. It’s position would depend on how big a circle you wanted.

Now, if a square piece of wood with a hole just big enough to fit over the pivot was pushed into the blade [without turning it], until the blade was straight across from the [now invisible] pivot (the reason for the stop), you could start your circle.

If it helps, I’ve included a photo of my improved jig, which, like I mentioned, allows you to just push the wood into the [e.g., 3/16”] blade. Once the stop comes up against the table, just start turning.

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#27 posted 246 days ago

This post wanders a bit back in time, but it still contains valuable information. As such, I thought I’d share my an update.

As before, I extended the jig to the left to counter weight of the wood that will sit to the right of the blade. My latest version also has cut outs on the right to reduce the possibility of tipping when the weight of material being cut is laid on the right.

I also routered an inset and installed a rare earth magnet to hold extra pivot points (cut off rivets) and an Allen wrench for making adjustments.

I used some 3/8” thick aluminum stock I bought and cut to 3/4” for my miter tracks for the guide. I cut it long enough to stick about six inches out the back. The extended track allows me to back the jig up and ease the wood into the blade so I can avoid cutting the material to the diameter of the circle.

I just have to push into the blade until the stop, on the bottom front of the jig, hits the front of the band saw. Then I just start spinning to produce circles the dimension I set the pivot for.

As noted in previous posts, cutting can’t happen until the front of the blade is immediately to the left of the pivot pin, or the blade will bind.

The only changes I’d make in the future are:

1) Make the front stop adjustable, so it would work on any table. This would be a simple matter of cutting slots in the jig that would allow 10-24 bolts to drop down [and routing those so the heads set below the surface], at both ends of where the stop would mount. This would allow me to add knobs on the underside to adjust for other saws.

2) I would push the pivot pin to within about an inch of the blade, to allow smaller circles (just because).

View pintodeluxe's profile


3335 posts in 1447 days

#28 posted 246 days ago

The bandsaw method works fine. However for finish cuts like small round tables I prefer a router with a circle cutting jig. Perfect circles every time, and as a bonus the circle jig works as an oversized baseplate for edge profiling. Mine is a Jasper, but several brands are available.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Kelly's profile


193 posts in 1578 days

#29 posted 245 days ago

Is finish the only reason you prefer the router?

On the band saw, mine, generally, require only a little sanding. Since I’m rarely cutting more than 3/4” material, I can use a finer blade.

Like the router, the consistency of the diameter of the cut depends on the pivot and hole. Haven’t found need to measure, but I’m comfortable saying they are within 1/32” around. Of course, we are presuming no blade wander with the band saw.

My current table jig is set up for circles of from 2” to a little over 36” and placed in between two cabinet walls produce as little wander, pulse or whatever as my installation of the Susan allows.

I liked the results of my router, but found it a lot of work for the gain, if any. And that was offset when I sanded for round-over edges. Getting a 36” circle isn’t too much of a deal, but I like to avoid cutting over-sized on the band saw, then switching to the router for the final, or making three or four passes with the router, rather than one with the saw (a 36” only takes about thirty seconds to cut).

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