Variable capacitors are mostly used in radio tuning circuits and they are sometimes called 'tuning capacitors'. They have very small capacitance values, typically between 100pF and 500pF (100pF = 0.0001µF). The type illustrated usually has trimmers built in (for making small adjustments - see below) as well as the main variable capacitor.
Many variable capacitors have very short spindles which are not suitable for the standard knobs used for variable resistors and rotary switches. It would be wise to check that a suitable knob is available before ordering a variable capacitor.
Variable capacitors are not normally used in timing circuits because their capacitance is too small to be practical and the range of values available is very limited. Instead timing circuits use a fixed capacitor and a variable resistor if it is necessary to vary the time period.
A variable capacitor for a high frequency circuit of an electrical appliance includes a chip capacitor mounted on a multilayer circuit board and interdigital capacitors formed at inner layers of the circuit board. A wiring pattern for soldering the chip capacitor is connected with the interdigital capacitors via through holes formed in the circuit board. Capacitance select portions are cut so that the capacitance best-suited to the circuit is obtained. The through holes connected to the inter digital capacitors of the inner layer are selectively disconnected from the wiring pattern for soldering the chip capacitor, thereby obtaining a variable capacitor capable of absorbing fluctuations of the circuit for selecting the best-suited capacitance.