Oval cut


I’m wrapping up a small white oak night table for one of my daughters and am planning to try to get one more project done before winter shuts me down.
I really want to give an older daughter a solid cherry, oval coffee table. My first hurdle is how to cut the oval without a band saw. I have considered making a guide/fence in the rounded shape I want for the jig saw, but I’m leery of the jig saw after recent experiences with a music stand project. I do want to round over the edges of the top in a bull nose fashion, so maybe it would remove any “mishaps” caused by the jig saw.
Any thoughts?

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

13 Replies

It’s going to be more difficult w/o a band saw to be sure. The way to do it is to make a template first from 1/4" MDF, cut it out w/ the jig saw then sand and smooth the edges until they are fair. Then trace the template onto to the table top and cut it w/ the jig saw staying slightly outside the line. Then attach the template w/ double stick tape and using a pattern bit in the router trim the ragged jig saw edge smooth. Remove the template. Then finally run a bull nose using a round over bit w/ a bearing.

Bondo Gaposis

+1 what Bondo said. Also because you will be hitting all grain orientations, this would be a good place to use a climb cut …….. only if you’re confident with it. It’s not hard if you secure the piece well and understand that the router will try to “run” and grip it correspondingly. It will prevent any tearout as the blades aren’t digging into the end grain that you will encounter twice on your way around.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.

I bet there’s a way to cut it entirely with the router using the string and 2 nails ellipsis method. I bet a jig could be made using something similar to this technique.

Losing fingers since 1969


I’ve seen the jig setup to which Brian refers, but it is quite complicated and there are some limitations on the maximum/minimum length/width. You can find one in Woodsmith magazine from December 1992 (Issue No. 82). I always wanted to build one but when my husband made oval tables, he just did as Bondo and Shipwright said.


“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Benjamin Franklin

They said it all…

I did some climb cut… Hold on that router/ wood (router table). Oak almost always grubbed the wood with me.

The only times I was successful is when, like Bondo said, I cut close to the line with the bandsaw/jigsaw.
It does give a nice results.

Practice on scrape first.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Sounds like Bondo’s method is the way to go. Thanks for the help.

Paul, would you climb cut all the way around? It seems to me that I would only climb cut the diagonal opposing “corners” where the bit would dig into the end grain. I’m sure that’s what you mean, but correct me if I’m wrong.
I’m out of town again, 200 miles from my shop and home. I won’t get home until late Friday night so I’ll make a final run to the mill on Saturday.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!

I climb cut any time I’m going into grain just as a matter of choice. Better bits will reduce the chance of chip out but why take the chance.
True you only need do it in the “into the grain” areas.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.


Voila. Ellipse cutting jig. I saw some commercial ones that were the same style while poking around the interwebs.

Losing fingers since 1969

Very similar to the Rockler jig.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Here’s one you may be able to copy/ build, or just buy it outright. Then use a router to make it with.


CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

The elliptical jigs are great, but then you have to do another project before working on the desired project, and you might not make something oval again for a long time. Seems like wasted time to me. I would go the way Bondo and Paul suggested. Quick, easy and accurate.

About the jigsaw, I owned quite a few DIY jigsaws through the years and none of them were any good. I finally bought a Dewalt quality jigsaw and it is remarkably accurate. There are other professional quality goo jigsaws out there as well. You will never regret the extra cost.

Mike, an American living in Norway

I’m sticking with Bondo’s method. It uses the equipment I have with no extra steps. I should have been more clear though. I guess it’s not a true oval table, but rather a square table with oval ends, if that makes sense.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!