Cathie Anderson

Rancho Cordova startup hopes woodworkers turn circles over its tools

Dennis Ruggiero couldn’t find tools on the market that would allow him to easily produce 3-D representations of his graphic ideas. These objects were made out of wood or plastic.
Dennis Ruggiero couldn’t find tools on the market that would allow him to easily produce 3-D representations of his graphic ideas. These objects were made out of wood or plastic. Circle Perfect Tools

The four founders of Rancho Cordova’s Circle Perfect Tools are not circular thinkers, but they are single-minded. They talk of little other than making it easier for hobbyists to produce precisely spaced, perfectly round O’s.

The tiny startup makes tools that do just that for woodworkers and plastics crafters, they say, and a $25,000 Kickstarter campaign will spread the word. If successful, it also will provide the capital to expand production. With six days left to reach their crowdfunding goal, they must raise $7,000 or forfeit the $18,000 pledged so far.

Circle Perfect Tools was born out of graphic artist Dennis Ruggiero’s passion for drawing geometric graphic designs. He started doing them by hand, just before the birth of his third child, Devaron Ruggiero, now 36. Then at some point, he began to feel limited by those two-dimensional representations of his ideas and toyed with the idea of working wood into the shapes he wanted.

“I searched for a long time for tools that I could use to help turn my 2-D drawings into 3-D artwork, but the existing tools fell short of my particular needs, so I designed my own.” Dennis Ruggiero told me. “I soon realized I might have something other woodworkers might want, and that is why we started Circle Perfect Tools.”

His son Devaron Ruggiero agreed. So did Devaron’s mom, Dennis Ruggiero’s ex-wife Connie Ross, and her husband, Ron Ross. They talked about it for years, each of them suggesting ways to create the right tools and finally, four years ago, they began working in their spare time to make their ideas a reality. They began in the Rosses’ garage and moved to Dennis Ruggiero’s garage.

A year ago, they felt they had enough spadework done to merit renting workshop space at 3362 Monier Circle. Dennis Ruggiero quit his job, moved in with his son Devaron and focused his energies full time. Ron Ross, a street-cleaning supervisor for the city of Sacramento, also retired and began managing manufacturing. Connie Ross recently retired from doing accounting for the state of California and now does it for the startup. The Rosses put off a move to Florida and instead invested a portion of their savings into the business. Devaron Ruggiero, a software consultant, acts as a chief technology officer, building the website, setting up the Kickstarter campaign and readying the business for the world of e-commerce.

“If Kickstarter is not successful, we’re not stopping,” Devaron Ruggiero said. “We’ll try sites like etsy.com and Shopify, where we can take pre-orders. By April, we want to be selling on Amazon.”

If the startup doesn’t get the $25,000, they won’t be able to buy machines that would allow them to produce more of their tools, he said, so they will just have to ramp up sales slower than they wanted. If you watch the Ruggieros and Rosses in their Kickstarter videos, the one thing you will notice is that very few of their Circle Perfect Tools are actually round.

Sure, there are the degree gears. About the size of a vanilla wafer, they allow hobbyists to quickly drill circular holes at set angles. There’s also a degree scale, which looks a bit like a giant, circular protractor. It also can function as one, along with being a compass or ruler. But combined with other Circle Perfect Tools, it has many more uses, including being a visual guide for drilling or routing holes.

The workhorse tools in the Circle Perfect Tool lineup generally have straight edges. For instance, they produce a circle guide that sits on top of waist-high router tables, the stationary woodworking machines used to hollow out wood for cabinetry, furniture or other decorative pieces. The circle guide, made out of a durable plastic like all the other tools, is a rectangular panel about a quarter-inch thick. It features guiding lines, measurements and holes for equipment or mobility.

“The existing circle guides in the market force you to use this awkward router in your hand, and that makes it nearly impossible to cut holes in small pieces of wood,” Dennis Ruggiero said. “You also have the router cord getting in the way. With our tools, you can rotate small or large pieces of wood or plastic around the router bit.”

There’s a similar tool for drill presses, upright machines used for drilling holes. All the tools are available to Kickstarter backers at discount prices that won’t be available once the products go on sale, Devaron Ruggiero said.

“Not every family is going to need our tools,” he said. “We’re not a hammer; these are specialty tools. But there are millions of woodworkers alone out there.”

In a survey conducted on behalf of Wood magazine, National Family Opinion found that roughly 5.5 million U.S. residents participate in woodworking as a hobby. It doesn’t take a master woodworker to master Circle Perfect Tools, Connie Ross said. After a short tutorial, she created a clock, she said, and one of her daughters and a niece have also made decorative wood pieces.

Call The Bee’s Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Follow her on Twitter @CathieA_SacBee.

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