A simple, non-beveled circle cutter?


True Grumbler
Dec 9, 2004
Sometimes it's hard to stop yourself from taking the easy way out. All the years I've been in framing, I have always insisted on never doing anything permanent, altering or damaging to original items. I have gone as far as to tell customers that if they want that kind of service, there are plenty of framers who will do it for them.

My latest headache is someone who wants me to mount some round medals (among other things) in a shadowbox. Here's the problem. They are not the right size to use the Mighty Mount coin mounts. I would like to just cut circle openings (non-beveled) and pop them in. Some time ago I used to have a very simple circle cutter that I believe was sold by United. Just a round plastic body (looked like a space station) and a blade at a straight angle. It adjusted to the smallest of circles. I no longer have it.

Now I've looked at United's catalog, and the closest they have is the Alto circle cutter. Two problems: the smallest circle it will cut is 1", and it cuts at a bevel.

If you have any ideas of either a cutter or a technique that I'm not finding, please feel free. I will not mount them with adhesive. They are irreplaceable, commemorative medals.

In the kit that came with my Gene Green Oval Maching was a small circle cutter. It would cut very small circles with a straight edge. I have used it to mount some coins and medallions. There was a thread a short time ago about Gene Green and it listed who the dealer was who bought out his business. There was also someone who said they had one they would sell. I am keeping mine.
In the past for coin mounting I have cut small openings by taking a piece of electrical conduit with the outer dimension matching coin size as a stamp to cut through mat board. Cut an 8" length and use a dremel tool etc. with a grinding bit to bevel the inside edge untill meeting outer edge. Now place sharpened edge on mat board and hit with hammer.

Always use a slip sheet beneath to be sure you cut all the way through. Also use a hammer such as a small sledge to be sure you make good contact with the conduit. Conduit cost is a couple of dollars and you will have most of the 10' length for other projects.
You could look for plug (dowel) drills at a woodworking store. I'm not sure if Home Depot or Lowe's might have them. I don't have any myself, but I've seen them. What they are is a hollow drill in various sizes so that when you drill into wood you make your own plug (dowel) to fill in a screw hole on cabinets and the like.

Something like that might work for you.
I have an old but still very useful tool called a Keeton coin cutter. It has a stationary blade mounted vertically on an aluminum base. The pivot point slides in a track in the base to adjust the radius of the hole relative to the blade position. It is quick, easy, and gives beautiful results. I also have a Keeton-made handheld cutter for bevelled circles, which is great too.
Whoever takes over the manufacturing of the Infinity Hangers should then proceed to revive the Keeton products.
:cool: Rick

P.S. For larger straight-cut circles I have improvised a jig by cutting a slot in the side of a piece of lath in which I hold a snap-bladed utility knife. Pivot point is a brad driven thru the face of the lath at just the right distance from the blade to provide the desired radius. Works nicely for cutting round foamcore backing, etc.
You can cut a reverse bevel slightly smaller that your coin size, and gently push it through the back side, friction will hold it there.
Cut a cirle just larger than the coins for the back mat and one just smaller than the coin for the top mat. The top mat holds the coins in place from the front and the bottom mat with a backing keeps it from moving any direction. I generally use reverse bevel on both. My old c&h oval cutter had a straight blade.

Eli's suggestion works also. You could also use toole, the fine mesh cloth.
Man, you guys have some creative ways of getting around an issue. :D

I did find in one of my catalogues an X-acto compass cutter. I may try that as well and see if it will do mat board. Today I actually tried a regular compass, and fit an X-acto handle into it. It worked OK if I went very gently the first few times around to start the groove. But, as it had no stop in it, it could very easily go out. With a 10+ opening mat though, I think I may need something a little more precise.

I think you guys are right about the reverse bevel. Maybe the Alto will work too.

Or I could just fabricate something myself I suppose. Gee, how many non-standard coin framings will I have to take in to pay for that amount of time? :D
There's also a Fiskar's circle cutter that does straight cuts. I don't know yet if it will do matboard. Michael's has it. I guess I'll be doing a bit of experimenting this weekend.
This was invented by a company in the North of Ireland



"Framing medals, coins and memeorabilia often requires cutting straight sided round holes in mountboard. This well designed and heavily engineered tool copes with the forces involved in dragging a blade through thick board round small radii. Cuts circles from ?"" to 8"" / 13mm to 200mm. A nylon roller acts as a support as head is moved, ensuring accurate depth control. Simple clamping system permits use of almost any narrow pointed blade such as Dexter 3 or 'snap-off'."

Dermot. :D ! That's perfect. I won't be able to get it for my current job, but I am definitely going to order that. Excellent design. Thank you. Thanks guys, you've been a geat help.
Doing a web search for "compass cutter", I also found that X-acto makes a heavier duty cutter than the compass one that United carries.


I still like Dermot's better.