I intend to draw nested circles for a Mandala drawing. When the compass point is placed on the paper, it creates a tiny hole.

How do I keep the point from damaging the paper?


3 Answers 3


You will need to rest the point of the compass onto some other object first i.e. one that won't damage the paper.

Some sort of disc

A felt or rubber disc comes to mind. Something thin with enough friction so that the point and disc won't move about.

You could also just take a cut of eraser and jab it on the point as well. This has a small disadvantage of erasing while you rotate but could have it place in your techniques.

There is a product called a center disc that also serves this purpose. It has the added bonus of being transparent allowing you to center the point on its target and not damage the paper.

center disc

Image from art-design-glossary.musabi.ac.jp

Clear plastic has the added advantage of letting you see your work and centering your circle easier. So using a sufficiently thick plastic and cutting some small shapes would work just as well.

If you do make your own practice with them first to be sure the compass does not penetrate it as well. Or enough that it makes the plastic stick out as a point either.

Consider a different tool

A tangential answer to your question would be to use a plastic flat compass that bypasses this issue completely.

Protractor compass

Image from amazon.ca

This protractor compass has many holes littered along its length. You just need to grab your drawing implement of choice and insert it into the desired hole. Then rotate around like a normal compass. Pressure from your opposite hand (as seen in the photo from the users left hand) will ensure the tool remains rotating from a fixed point.

Look at the below zoomed in image of the above tool. You will notice the measurement markings which denotes the precise nature of the tool.

zoomed in compass protractor

Click image to enlarge

  • 3
    You hold the center in place, then place the pen at progressively further out holes.
    – Erica
    Jun 9, 2016 at 17:28
  • 3
    The illustrated tool in the answer above has an inner circular portion that, for large circles, is held stationary to the paper. Because of the relatively large area, it can be held stationary by applying friction over that area, without having a sharp point. For small circles, the outer portion of the device is held stationary, and the inner circular portion is rotated to inscribe the circle. Here again, the large area of contact allows it to be held stationary without having a sharp point. The downside is that it's unable to draw circles of size 20, or 21 mm, or smaller than 10mm.
    – user468
    Jun 10, 2016 at 1:12
  • +1 for that alternative circle drawing tool.
    – Willeke
    May 3, 2020 at 15:26

I have a subject of engineering drawing before and that is my problem also!

What works for me is to use a plastic cover, the transparent one that you commonly used to cover your books.

Because it is transparent you can still clearly see the pointer of your compass while adding an extra layer of protection.

Before I go to school I cut many small pieces of it and stick it to the container of my compass.


Most one-gallon water jugs at the grocery store come with mostly clear plastic lids that are thick enough to protect the paper, yet see-through enough for accurate positioning of the compass tip. If the water bottle lid slides around too much on the paper, you can rough it up a bit by rubbing it with sandpaper, with a file, on the bottom of a coffee mug, out on the sidewalk, or out on a rock.

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