Drawing and Cutting Circles

What do you do when the circle size you need isn’t included in a pattern? Personally, I don’t know too many people who can draw a circle perfectly, let alone do it more than once. Here are a few ways to make templates and cut small to medium circles, easily and quickly:

With school supplies on the shelves, it's a great time of year to find a drafting compass!
With school supplies on the shelves, it’s a great time of year to find a drafting compass!

A compass is something you may remember from highschool. It is two arms joined with a pin that allows the arms to be stretched out, with a point on one end and a marking device (usually a pencil) on the other. The pointy bit is used to firmly fix the exact center of the circle, and the pencil is used to scribe the circumference.  

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If you need a circle that is 5″ wide, you set the point on the zero-point and the tip of the marking device on the 2 1/2″ line. This is great for exact measurements. The ones you find in an office supply store can only make circles up to a certain size, so make sure to check and see what you need.

The Olfa Circle Cutter works on the same principle as a drafting compass.
The Olfa Circle Cutter works on the same principle as a drafting compass.

The Olfa Circle Cutter is essentially a “cutting compass”, that is to say, a compass with a cutting blade instead of a marking device. It  can cut up to 8 1/2″ circles You can see a video about it here.

If you don’t need exact circles (for example, if 1 1/8″ is good enough to stand in for a 1″ circle) , consider making your own printable circles in a word document! I use Google docs, and have found that I can easily make perfect circles to print out. While it is nearly impossible to make them an exact size, I find that I can make them “close enough” to the size I want.

To insert an image, go to the "Insert" tab and select "Drawing"
To insert an image, go to the “Insert” tab and select “Drawing”
When the new window for the drawing pops up, I select the icon with a circle and square, which are vector shapes. I select what I want, in this case, a circle.
When the new window for the drawing pops up, I select the icon with a circle and square, which are vector shapes. I select what I want, in this case, a circle.
To keep the circle a true circle, hold down the "Shift" key while you click and drag the mouse button. Otherwise, you will end up with more of an oval!
To keep the circle a true circle, hold down the “Shift” key while you click and drag the mouse button. Otherwise, you will end up with more of an oval!
After I click "Save and close", the circle will be transferred to my document. At this point, I use the measuring tool to check the approximate size. This circle is almost exactly 2".
After I click “Save and close”, the circle will be transferred to my document. At this point, I use the measuring tool to check the approximate size. This circle is almost exactly 2″.

 

I have a number of these docs with different size circles that I can easily print out as necessary. Plus, there are a number of other interesting shapes from the menu I would consider using for other projects that I don’t have to draw out myself.

And say what you will, but nothing is as handy or easy as plopping down a cup, a bowl, or other round object and tracing around it.  My longarm circle templates often do double duty! These are some quick and easy tools for making small to medium circles, some more accurately than others. Come join me next week when I show you how to scribe BIG circles!

 

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