Last updated: August 11, 2021

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A circle cutter is a tool with which you can cut circles into almost any material. A circle cutter has one or two adjustable blades, also called cutting edges. These allow you to cut out circles with individual diameters from, for example, paper, metal, wood, aluminium, tiles, plaster and many other materials. There are different circle cutter models for the different materials.

You can find out which is the right circle cutter model for you in our big circle cutter test 2021. We have listed and compared the advantages and disadvantages of the different circle cutter models. This should make your decision to buy the right circle cutter as easy as possible.




The most important facts

  • A circle cutter is a tool with adjustable cutting edges (knives). This allows you to cut or drill circles with individual circle diameters exactly into different materials.
  • There are different types of circle cutters: The hand-operated circle cutters are more commonly used for drywall or to cut circles in paper, plaster or leather. The machine-operated circle cutters, which are set on drills, are more practical for cutting through stronger materials such as wood or plastic and acrylic.
  • A distinction is made between HSS circle cutters and HM circle cutters. The reason for this is that not every blade cuts through every material with the same precision. The range of applications for circle cutters is very diverse, as you can cut almost any material with the right circle cutter model.

The Best Circle Cutter: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a circle cutter

What is a circle cutter and how does it work?

With a circle cutter you can cut out circles with individually adjustable diameters precisely and cleanly.

The tool, which is derived from the hollow drill, has adjustable cutting edges (knives) and is suitable for a wide range of materials.

With the tool aid you can cut out sheet metal and wood as well as paper and polystyrene.

In the centre of the circle cutter is a guide pin or guide drill, which is connected via an arm to one or two knives, also called cutting edges. The guide pin is placed in the centre of the circle to be cut.

When you start the drill, the blades rotate with the drill head and cut the circle. With a hand-held circle cutter, on the other hand, you move the arm with the blade yourself. This way you can cut the circle into your workpiece yourself.

Where is a circle cutter used?

A circle cutter is always used when precise holes have to be drilled or sawn in materials. This is the case with installation work. There, the circle cutters are used for holes with a diameter of 50 mm or more.

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Circle cutters are used for all kinds of installation work to cut holes in materials without tearing.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Kachmar)

How much does a circle cutter cost?

You can buy a hand-held circle cutter for as little as €5. Drill attachment circle cutters range in price from €15 to €50.

What types of circular cutters are there?

As already described, there are two types of circle cutters:

  • Hand-operated circle cutters
  • Drill attachments

A manually operated circle cutter, also called a hand-held circle cutter, has the advantage that it can be used flexibly anywhere and does not consume any electricity.

A drill with a circle cutter attachment, on the other hand, can drill holes with the power provided by the drill.

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To cut circles precisely from wood, you need a circle cutter with a drill attachment.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Olson)

What are the alternatives to a circle cutter?

An alternative to the circle cutter is the hole saw.

The hole saw is also a drill attachment that you can use to cut circles in materials. The difference is the size of the adjustable diameter. Hole saws are suitable for cutting smaller diameters up to 12 cm. With a circle cutter, on the other hand, you can cut holes more than twice as big, up to 30 cm.

In contrast to the hole saw, holes cut with the circle cutter are also free of tear-out.

Decision: Which circle cutters are available and which is the right one for you?

Before you buy a circle cutter, there are a few aspects you need to consider in order to find the right circle cutter for you. Basically, there are two different models of circle cutters:

  • Hand-operated circle cutter
  • Drill with circle cutter attachment

Which circle cutter model is the right one for you depends mainly on the material you want to cut with it. In the following section we explain the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Hand circle cutter

Hand-held circle cutters are manually operated and therefore tend to be used for cutting out softer materials.

Advantages
  • No need to be connected to the mains or battery
  • Inexpensive compared to drill attachments
Disadvantages
  • Less power (solely muscle power)
  • More time-consuming

Hand-held circular cutters are suitable for use in drywall construction, for example to cut out plaster precisely. At home, you can use hand-held circle cutters for handicrafts.

Drill with circle cutter attachment

The second type of circle cutter is an attachment for the drill. Below we have compiled the advantages and disadvantages of the drill attachments:

Advantages
  • Power of the drill is available
  • Faster cutting
  • Precise work
Disadvantages
  • Connection to mains or battery required
  • Cheap models can give an imprecise result

For materials such as wood, plastic, metal, sheet metal, stainless steel or tiles, you need drill attachments.

HSS circular cutter or HM circular cutter

To ensure that you always get a clean result, there are specially made circular cutters for different materials. The different blades or cutting edges are suitable for different materials.

Type of circle cutter Explanation
HSS circle cutter The abbreviation HSS stands for High Speed Steel. HSS circular cutters are best suited for slightly softer, thinner-walled workpieces due to their tempering resistance, heat resistance and great hardness. Examples include plastic, steel, aluminium and acrylic.
HM circular cutters The abbreviation HM stands for carbide. With HM circular cutters you can work at very high speeds because they have more hardness and wear resistance. HM circular cutters are ideal for cutting in wood, tiles, bricks, plaster, stainless steel, panel work and plastics.

Carbide circular cutters are more expensive, but can be used more universally and are more durable than HSS circular cutters. When buying, you should also be aware that the maximum speed is always indicated on high-quality models. If this is not stated, you should reconsider the purchase of your model.

Buying criteria: You can use these factors to compare and evaluate circular cutters

Drill diameter

The drill diameter determines how big the holes are that you can cut out with your circle cutter.

You should therefore make sure that the drill diameter, which varies depending on the manufacturer, guarantees you a flexible range of applications. Therefore, before you buy, think carefully about the work you will use your circle cutter for.

With a drill diameter of 3 to 300 mm, you are guaranteed flexible application possibilities.

American manufacturers often specify the drill diameter in inches. It is therefore good to know that one inch corresponds to 2.54 cm.

Adjustability

The best adjustability is provided by circular cutters that are infinitely variable and can therefore be individually adjusted.

The big advantage is that you can always adjust a continuously adjustable circle cutter to your desired size with millimetre precision. The cutters can be moved freely over the arms of the circle cutter and can be tightened at the desired position.

Cutting depth

The depth of cut determines how deep you can cut the circle into your workpiece.

Therefore, before you buy, you must make sure that the circle cutter has a sufficient cutting depth for the work you are going to do. Most models have a maximum cutting depth of 3 to 4 cm.

The depth of cut is determined by the length of the blades.

So the longer the cutters, the deeper holes you can drill in materials. The disadvantage of longer blades is that they are not as stable as short blades when cutting. For example, if you have access to both sides of a thicker material, we recommend that you simply use the circular cutter on both sides to drill the hole.

Number of knives

There are circle cutters with one or two blades. Both models have advantages. A model with two knives cuts about twice as fast as circle cutters with only one knife. Single knives, on the other hand, cut more precisely.

Both knife sides of the circular cutter can never be set perfectly identical. There is always a small difference between the two knives.

The deficiencies that result are usually minor.

However, if you attach great importance to the precision of your cut circle, you should buy a circle cutter with only one knife.

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A circle cutter that uses two knives to cut circles in materials cuts very quickly. A circle cutter with only one blade, on the other hand, tends to cut more precise circles.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Dhammasaro)

Guide pin

Circle cutters also differ in the way the blades are guided. Many devices have a guide pin. To use the guide pin, you must first pre-drill a hole in the workpiece.

You can achieve very precise results with a guide pin, because the guide pin does not rasp out the hole any further. The blade is guided on a precise circular path. However, you need to invest an extra step and have a drill bit of the exact size.

Dirt trap

The dirt trap ensures that little drilling dust and dirt gets into the surrounding air. The dirt trap is a simple plastic tray attached to the circle cutter.

A dirt trap makes sense especially when working overhead

A dirt trap is particularly useful when working overhead, because the dust and falling dirt particles are collected by the plastic tray and cannot get into your eyes or lungs. In addition, you don't have to clean up any more dirt afterwards. The only disadvantage of a dirt trap is that the view of the working area can be somewhat restricted.

Facts worth knowing about the circle cutter

Can I cut laminated paper or records with a circle cutter?

Yes, you can cut laminated paper and records with a circle cutter.

However, it is important to note that not every circle cutter is equally suitable for every material. For example, you cannot cut strong wood with a hand circle cutter. Since the design, material and shape of the blades are usually made for cutting certain materials, there are also special circle cutters for different materials:

Special circular cutters are made for the following materials:

  • Paper
  • Plaster
  • Plastic
  • Wood
  • Sheet metal

Most circle cutters are suitable for several materials. However, the area of application determines which circle cutter is the right one for you.

What do I have to consider when working with a circle cutter?

As already described, circle cutters cut at a very high speed. This creates a very high temperature when working with a circle cutter.

Very high temperatures can arise when working with a circle cutter.

You can compensate for this temperature by spraying water on the blades of the circle cutter and, if you use it intensively, pause sufficiently in between to give the machine time to cool down.

In addition, you must always make sure that the blades of your circular cutter are well fastened. If the screws come loose, there is a risk of injury when working.

Image source: Wytr??ek/ 123rf.com

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