DIY Network

How to Make a Compass

This compass is made of wood pieces, a knob, a pencil and a carriage bolt. It draws larger circles than most workshop compasses. Use these instructions to make perfect circles with a handmade compass.

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make perfect circles with a handmade compass
  • Time

    30 Minutes

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Glue Spacers to the Compass

Start with two pieces of wood. Glue a 1" spacer to the front of the compass and a 3" spacer to the back. The spacers need to be a little wider than the diameter of the bolt on the knob.

Step 2: Mark the Compass

Clamp the pieces together and allow them to dry. When dry, remove the clamps and mark out the locations for your pencil and carriage bolt. The hole for the pencil should be located 1-1/2" from the front edge of the compass. The mark for the carriage bolt hole should be 1/2" from the front of the compass.

mark out locations for pencil and carriage bolt

Step 3: Drill the Holes

Drill the holes with a drill press. Each of the holes should be drilled into the center of the piece. Use a spacer to keep the legs of the compass from squeezing together.

drill holes with drill press

Step 4: Cut a Kerf, and Finish the Compass

With a band saw, cut a kerf down the center of the front of the compass, toward the pencil hole (Image 1).

Use a grinder to create a point at the end of the knob bolt (Image 2).

Attach the carriage bolt and knob. Slide the pencil into the hole. The kerf will provide tension to keep it in place.