How to cut a round hole in particle board

Circle-cutting with a router

Manual milling machine allows you to cut out of wood or plywood circles of various diameters. But its dimensional capabilities are limited by the length of the radial guide, which is included with the unit. For example, the drill guide in the photo is only 250 mm long.

Custom Made Circle Cutter, GHP Associates

However, experienced craftsmen know many ways around this limitation and are happy to share their findings with others. Here’s one of those ways I’ll talk about.

On the principle of the hand router and the general order of its use, you can read here

Choosing the right drill bit

Regular twist drill bits are inexpensive. They are considered universal and are designed for drilling through wood, metal, and plastic. As a rule, their tips are sharpened at a 118° angle for most applications.

But because of such blunt angle the drill may deflect to the side in the beginning and tear out the wood fibers at the output, therefore leave such drills for plastic and metal, and also for holes with diameter less than 3 mm in wood (in thin drills these disadvantages are expressed more weakly). For holes with a diameter between 3 and 13 mm choose drill bits with a central point, which are specially designed for wood. The tip of such a drill bit prevents it from going sideways at the beginning of drilling, and the lateral cutting protrusions (so-called undercutters) help to reduce chipping.

We hope that thanks to the above information the question of how to cut a figure out of plywood, will not cause you difficulties. Of course, shape carving on sheet material requires a certain skill and accuracy, but with the right tools, even a beginner should not have any special difficulties. In the video presented in this article you will find more information on this topic (also learn how to make a box of plywood with your own hands).

The other day I made this folding shelf from particle board. So for it needed to make about 15 heels of the same wood chipboard with a diameter of 80 mm. And as to saw with a hand jigsaw such quantity of blades not especially that would be desirable, and besides in the presence was not present a narrow saw for small radius. In the nearest toolshop I bought such circular saw Kontors, in common parlance a “ballerina”. In appearance, it was immediately clear that this Chinese drill bit is practically disposable, and to examine it is not necessary, because its cost of 300 rubles and change, speaks for itself. But because the regular drill bit for wood of suitable diameter in the store was not available, grabbed this “miracle” in the hope that 15 rounds I’ll somehow saw with it, and then this ballerina can be thrown in a long box.

The declared diameter of holes or rounds, which you can saw with this ballerina, ranges from 30 to 120 mm. The kit includes a wrench for assembling and disassembling ballerina, well, and to adjust the position of the cutters on the hexagon. Taper for soft materials. On the cross hexagon there is a marking in mmm, on the opposite side there is a similar marking but it is in bourgeois units.

By the way, by default the cutters are chamfered to face each other (photo below). Of course I do not understand much about machining of wood, but judging by the usual hand hacksaw, the chamfers of ballerina cutters should look in one direction, not at each other. I tried to cut the pancake with the default settings, I wonder if they have invented a wheel that I do not know about, but something worthwhile I have not turned out. The chipboard starts to burn, the cutters warm up, but they don’t cut into the chipboard willingly. Either I pressed too hard, or the speed should have been higher. But without a machine-tool or a frame, it is somewhat peculiar to drill with a Chinese drill at high revolutions, while propping up the planks with your feet. That’s why I turned one of the cutters on one of the holders, and after that, things went much faster and easier.

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Actually the test results of Chinese balerinka on pieces of wood chipboard. Since practically everything in this ballerina is crooked and clamped as hell, I tried to align the cutters not with the available ruler on the hexagon, but with a caliper, measuring the distance from the drill. To the output rounds were obtained without jagged edges, drilled about half the thickness of the chipboard and then unwrapped the sheet and cut to meet.

The photo below for clarity shows not yet cut a nickel, so the width of this groove must match the width of the cutters. I do not know about the science, but I tried to do it this way, well, maybe a little wider, that the cutters just cut out chipboard edges of cone-shaped chamfers. So once the cutters have touched the plane of the chipboard and outlined two strips on it, it is worth interrupting work and measure the distance between these marks and, if necessary, adjust the position of the cutters on the hexagon.

In general, if you need to cut a few holes or pancakes, this Chinese ballerina is quite possible to use. But for big amount of holes it is better to get a normal wood drill bit. By the way, if you have never worked with ballerina, then I advise to start training with regular crowns (a piece of pipe or tape with teeth on the edges). For ballerina tool is somewhat specific and requires some skill and adjustment before use. And in awkward hands, this drill bit turns into a pretty scary limb mixer, well, or a centrifuge for throwing cutters into the forehead.

Send a message to the author: Nikolay Golovin. 26.10.2015

Cutting round holes in plywood

Often, when repairing or installing various wood products, you need to drill a perfectly round hole. In this article we will try to highlight all the ways in which you can cut such a hole. Variants with and without special tools will be considered.

A hacksaw with a very narrow blade, jigsaw, hole saw, and circular file are the hand tools you can use to cut around a curve.

It is the narrow blade that provides maneuverability to the hacksaw, but for the same reason it is extremely difficult to guide it. You need a steady hand and an attentive eye to avoid deviations from the marking. Do not try to work fast when doing this. On the contrary, it is better to move forward in small jerks. This will help you hold the handle of the saw more securely and guide it precisely along a given mowing line.

How to cut a circle cleanly out of metal with an angle grinder

To cut a straight circle from sheet metal with an angle grinder, the master recommends using a simple homemade device, which is easy to make from a profile tube and a metal plate.

First of all we cut a piece of square sectional tube of a suitable length. Drill two holes in the workpiece.

Insert screws into the drilled holes. At one end of the profile pipe we fix a metal plate with a groove. Fix it with the nut.

If you need a simple grinder, which can be quickly removed from the table, then pay attention to the collapsible grinder, which is easy to make from an electric drill.

Tips for cutting

Choosing the tool

When starting to work with sheet materials, many craftsmen have only an idea of how to perform a straight line saw. Therefore, the question of how to cut an even circle of plywood, many may be stumped. Indeed, an ordinary or circular saw is not able to cope with the task. Shaped sawing is most often performed with the following tools: Manual jigsaw

  • Manual jigsaw. The easiest tool to use for sawing. With the jigsaw, even the thinnest work can be done by hand, but it is practically not suitable for thick material or long cuts.
  • Electric jigsaws. Here you can use two types of devices:
  • A normal one, with a vertically positioned saw blade;
  • Artistic, in which the role of the cutting element is performed by a steel blade.
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Ordinary jigsaws are useful to you when working with thick plywood, for example, when making a bed with your own hands. But if you are looking for a way to cut letters out of plywood or make other complex elements (such as parts of a child’s construction set), it is best to use a model with a band saw. A model for artistic sawing

Tip! Naturally, there are several varieties of saws and blades for each type of jigsaw. The right choice of cutting element is a prerequisite for a high quality product.

  • In addition to jigsaws, a furniture router can also be used to make curved cuts. Despite all the difficulty in operation, the quality of the cut holes is many times better than most models of plywood saws. With the help of a router, you can make a wonderful rocking chair out of plywood sheets with your own hands.

It is also worth remembering to use hand tools, but we will talk about their use in the relevant section.

Tips for cutting plywood

Cutting from plywood has a few nuances that the craftsman must take into account:

  • First, you can saw only on the dry material. High humidity leads to increased resistance in plywood, so excessive force will either begin to delaminate the veneer or the saw will break.
  • Change saw or cutter blade as soon as you see the first signs of bluntness.
  • If we are cutting from plywood with an electric jigsaw, the main miter saws of the cut should be placed along the fibers of the veneer in order to get cleaner edges. And it is easier to work across the fiber with a hand saw: there will be some more chips, but there is less risk that it will be jammed or move aside from the marked mowing line.

A saw for rough work: the edges of the workpiece will need to be filed

Advice! When transferring drawings for cutting from plywood to the workpiece, try to place the template in such a way that the elements to be removed fall on the areas with defects: knots, chips, stains, etc.д.

Shape cutting techniques


As we noted above, the jigsaw will come in handy if we are looking for how to cut a word out of plywood or make other parts with complex shapes:

Jigsaw carving: photo of the finished product

  • If the construction has through areas. make start holes with a thin drill bit.
  • Insert a saw or a jigsaw blade into the hole. We fix the free end of the jigsaw with a fixing screw or clamp.
  • Make a kerf along the planned mowing line, pressing the workpiece to the workbench. The saw moves either automatically (for electric shape jigsaws) or manually.

After all the arc elements are sawn through, we remove unnecessary areas and process the finished piece with a file or emery cloth. Finished hole


The furniture router is ideal for cutting out thick plywood. Of course, you can’t make a complex shape with it, but you can cut an arc or a circle with it:

  • Fix the standard ruler, which is part of the router, in the center of the circle with a self-tapping screw.
  • If the length of the ruler is not enough, you can assemble a simple bracket from metal profile or wooden slats.
  • Rotating the cutter at a fixed radius, we choose a groove around the circumference, resulting in a nearly perfect hole.
hole, particle, board

router mounting bracket: you can use it to cut almost any disc diameter

Please note! When calculating the diameter of the circle, the working tool dimensions must be taken into account. Instructions for the machine will tell you the exact numbers.

Not only can circles be cut in this way, but also individual arcs. for example, to make grooves for furniture brackets.

With improvised means

For shaped elements it is desirable to have special devices, but to make a round hole in a board of glued veneer can be necessary to any craftsman. Below we will tell you how to cut a circle out of plywood, when there is nothing at hand. Well, almost nothing:

  • A wooden plank with two nails is used for cutting from plywood.
  • One nail is hammered through the slat into the workpiece, precisely into the center of the hole being made.
  • We hammer the second nail into the slat so that the point comes out on the underside by at least 5-10 mm. The distance from the first nail must be equal to the radius of the hole you are making.
  • Rotating the bar, we draw a groove on the plywood with the point, deepening it with each turn.
  • You can use a strong cord instead of a stick. The working principle remains the same.
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The sharper the nail used, the faster the hole will be made. It should be noted that although the price of such a device is low, it is worth using it only when other methods are not available: the edges are still far from ideal.

hole, particle, board

Often when working with wood and wood-based materials it is necessary to drill a straight round hole. You can use a jigsaw or milling machine, but it is not always possible to have such a tool at hand, or it is simply inconvenient to use them for the job. The wood ballerina can make the task easier.

You can use an ordinary gas torch and an awl for this. Use a torch to heat up the awl and gently pierce the plastic. This creates a straight hole in the plastic and is quick without a drill. Instead of the awl, you can use a nail clamped in the pliers.

Ballerina drill. Circular adjustable drill bit with cutters. Designed for drilling large diameter holes in wood, plywood, chipboard. The center spiral drill bit is used to pre-drill into the material, while the sliding sharp bits cut a circular groove in the material.

Support the workpiece on the back side

Regardless of the drill bit type, when the metal goes through the wood, the unsupported wood fibers on the back side of the workpiece are torn and the output is chipped. Therefore, you should not forget to support the back side.material by cuttings

boards. The backing trim supports the fibers where the drill comes out and prevents a sharp increase in feed at the end. When making holes with a drill press, simply lay the trim under the workpiece, and when using an electric drill, secure it with clamps. If at the beginning of drilling the fibers around the hole are raised or small chips form, put masking tape on the surface, then mark the center and start drilling.

The Forstner drill bit

When it comes to drilling holes in wood (blind or through), it is Uncle Benjamin Forstner’s drill that is most often mentioned. The gunsmith invented the drill, which has been in use in workshops all over the world for 144 years. Well, let’s try it, too, so well this drill copes with the task of drilling a hole in our chipboard trim. But the very first impression was a little disappointing: it is written on the package that this drill bit is Fosner’s, i.e. the letters P and T are missing in the surname of the inventor. And this Condor company is really something interesting: the product seems to be intended for export, but the package says wrong dimensions, when in fact all is correct, and the names of the products are spelled incorrectly.

When we stopped the drill arbitrarily and took the bit out, we found that the result for the blind hole was just perfect. As we continued drilling, we were pleased with the result, which was at least one point better than the feather drill. The edges are perfectly flat, the inner wall looks smoother than in the previous experience, diameter 32.1 mm. Now that there is something to compare the feather drill with, the scores can be objectively distributed as follows: feather drill 4 points, Forstner drill 5 points. The deviation of 0.1 mm is considered noncritical, because for those very hinges it is better to make the hole a couple of tenths of mm more.

Input Output Inner surface after the cutter