Draw Perfect Ellipses Every Time with This Simple DIY Jig

Easy Shop-made Ellipse Drawing Jig

 In Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

Our December 2011 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features a gorgeous table project by designer/craftsman Jeff Miller. His Arch Table includes graceful, sweeping curves in the base. To generate the shape of these curves Jeff uses a shop made ellipse drawing jig. It’s easy to make and crazy simple to use.

In the video below you’ll see how this jig works and how you can make one. Use the concept to make a jig that actually cuts an elliptical shape by mounting a router on the end of the moving swing arm in place of a pencil. The one in the video would be perfect for a coffee table top.

–Steve Shanesy

Want to find more shop-made woodworking jigs? The editors of Popular Woodworking Magazine have collected the best-ever published in the magazine on a CD “55 Best Shop Made Jigs,” available through the magazine’s online store, shopwodworking.com – one of the top sources of woodworking books, DVDs, and articles to download.

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Showing 4 comments
  • DaveB48

    Steve’s entire explanation of what a “true ellipse” is, including mention of two radiuses and transitioning in a smooth way, is incorrect. However, his jig does draw a true ellipse.

  • woodrome


    Nice video, however I’d like to you to expound on how you establish your length and width (overall dimensions) of your ellispe. Thanks. Keep ’em coming.

    • Robert W. Lang

      I’m not Steve, but an ellipse has a major axis and a minor axis, width vs. height if you will. On the jig, the distance from the pencil to the nearest dowel is one half the minor axis,and the distance from the pencil to the farthest dowel is one half the major axis.

      Bob Lang

  • woodmagnet

    AH-Ha! so that’s how it works,
    thanks Steve for enlightening

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