How to easily cut a circle using a RotoZip

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When our family gathers the dust comes away from the old family pictures. While gathering old pictures to share for my trip home, I came across an old leather box, tattered and torn. I opened the box and my memories flooded back. I knew there was a place for this in our industrial farmhouse living room. Inside was my dad’s collection of old compasses. I could see his rugged hands drawing & measuring on the maps he used during navigation.

How to easily cut a circle from plywood using a Rotozip

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Several months ago I bought a glass terrarium at pottery barn. It sat empty on the coffee table. The compasses are a perfect fit. It needed a wooden circle. I’m taking this opportunity to show you how to cut a circle using a Rotozip. A RotoZip is not my first choice to cut a circle but it can work on softwood and thin plywood.

What is a Rotozip

A Rotozip is a handheld power tool much like a small router.  It uses spiral bits to cut drywall and soft woods.  There are different bits to use for cutting different materials.  Make sure you’re are using the correct bit for wood.  The bits tend to dull quickly.  I like to keep new wood bits on hand.  There are several attachments for the Rotozip. Today I’m using the circle cutter.

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Note:  Follow the instructions to your model of cutter and Rotozip.

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The plywood is 1/4 inch thick.  The circle I want is 7 3/4 inches in diameter.

The steps to cut a circle

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  1. Set the circle cutter at the 7 3/4 mark.
  2. Drill a hole in what will be the center of the circle.  Make sure you can go completely around the circle and not fall off the edge of the plywood.  {not that it ever happened to me :?}
  3. I like to drill another hole where the bit will enter the plywood.  I’ve seen others drill down with the Rotozip bit.  My way is safer but can leave a nick in the circle.  Since I “do rustic” I’m okay with that.
  4. Clamp the plywood to your work table.  My plywood piece was small so I had to re-clamp three times to make it around the circle.
  5. Place the center of the circle cutter in the center hole and bit in the hole for the circle.
  6. Hold the Rotozip upright in one hand, turn on the Rotozip.  Hold the outer knob of the circle cutter with your free hand. Turn slow counter clockwise letting the bit do the work.

The part I did that the Rotozip is not made to do

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In other words, don’t do this!

I wanted a circle groove to place the terrarium.  The Rotozip is used with around 1/4 of the bit tip through the surface.  Oops!  But it worked okay.

I dry brushed the circle with a light gray chalk-based paint.  I brushed across one way then another.  Next, I did the same with a dark brown chalk-based paint.

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I love having my father’s compasses on display instead of in a box and nearly forgotten.

My first tool for making a circle…a router.making a circle…a router.  My second tool is a jigsaw.

Do you have something around your home you would like to display?

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  1. Andi Cacciatore says:

    What a beautiful way to honor your Father’s work! I have never heard of that tool but now I’m going to check it out. Thanks!

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