Circular Saw Guides: Why You Need One & How To Make Them Yourself

Circular Saw Guides

A circular saw is an extremely useful and versatile tool for any woodworker to have in their workshop, however there are some other key items that you need to make the most out of your new power tool and that will ensure you get a professional finish from your projects.

If you’ve just invested in a circular saw for the first time, you may not have a circular saw guide in your tool collection yet, however they have a key role to play when cutting straight lines using your latest tool. Having the right circular saw guides is very important to any keen DIY or professional woodworker, but the good news is that if you don’t have either of the essential saw guides yet, you could always make your own!

Here’s a quick guide to circular saw guides. You’ll find out more about why they’re so useful and you’ll also learn more about how you can make one yourself.

Why Do I Need A Circular Saw Guide?

If you’re cutting large sheets of plywood, you want to get the job done quickly. The best way is to use a circular saw guide. You can easily line it up with the marks that you’ve drawn, clamp the guide down and then run the saw quickly along it ensuring a professional quality cut.

There are two kinds of saw guides which can be used with a circular saw to carry out cuts which are just as good as any made on a table saw in terms of accuracy and speed. You can even build your own easily and quickly in a couple of hours using a sheet of plywood or MDF.

A Quick Guide To Making Your Own Guides

What You Need

4×8 foot sheet of 0.5” MDF or plywood
Wood glue
3 number 8 x 7/8” round headed screws
1 ¼” washer
Circular saw
Cordless drill
Dust mask
Drill bit set
Safety glasses
Framing square

Making A Straightedge Guide

The first key piece of equipment that you’re going to find essential when using your circular saw to complete your woodworking projects is a straightedge guide.

A straightedge guide ensures you are able to make completely straight cuts measuring as long as 8 feet in length using a circular saw. Ideal for ripping cabinet parts or shelves, it can be used with plywood up to 4×8 feet sheets. You can customize your guide to match your own saw ensuring you are able to just align the guide’s edge along your cutting marks before clamping it down. There’ll be no need to measure backwards from your cut line in the same way that you would need to when using a standard straightedge.

  • Draw a line 6 inches from your MDF sheet’s edge.
  • Saw along that line using the circular saw.
  • Flip over the 6 inch strip onto the rest of your MDF sheet.
  • Align both saw-cut edges.
  • Clamp down the fence into this position and draw a line along your factory edge. This is the line you’ll use to ensure the fence remains straight while you clamp and glue it.
  • Flip over the fence one more into its first position.
  • Spread some wood glue onto the face down surface.
  • Align the fence’s factory edge with the line.
  • Allow the fence to hang over the guide’s end by two inches.
  • Clamp down the fence.
  • Allow the wood glue to set for around 20 minutes.
  • Run the circular saw down along the fence in order to separate the remainder of the sheet from the straightedge guide that you’ve made.

Making A Crosscut Guide

  • Another important tool that you’ll need when embarking on woodworking projects at home with your circular saw is a crosscut guide.

    A crosscut guide is invaluable when making right angled cuts, enabling entirely square crosscuts on any piece of wood measuring up to 18 inches in width. Similar to a straightedge guide, you are able to customize your crosscut guide to suit your own saw so that you’re able to just line the guide’s edge up with the cutting mark before clamping it. You can then simply run the saw along your fence making the cut quickly and easily.

    • Cut a square measuring 22 inches from the MDF sheet’s corner.
    • Cut a strip measuring 3 inches in width from the rest of the sheet’s factory edge.
    • Cut that strip into 2 pieces measuring 22 inches in length.
    • In one of those pieces, drill a hole measuring 1/8 inch in one end of the piece and a hole measuring 3/8” in the other end. This forms an adjustable stop to be screwed onto the base’s bottom.
    • Align the stop’s edge with the base’s factory edge.
    • Attach using an adjustment screw and a swivel screw.
    • Ensure your stop is at a 90 degree exact angle with the fence.
    • Build your guide then perform a test cut, checking it using a framing square.
    • If you cut isn’t square, you should loosen your adjustment screw, nudge your stop, retighten your screw and then perform another test cut. Mark a reference guide by the stop before adjusting it in order to more accurately gauge the distance.
    • Repeat until you are getting entirely square cuts from the guide.
    • Drive one more screw into the base through the stop adjacent to your adjustment screw. This will lock your stop firmly in place.

    Follow this handy guide and you will find it easy to create two of the most important tools to accompany your circular saw on your own without having to invest in a store bought version. You’ll have the added convenience of having tools which have been properly customized to your own saw, reducing the amount of time and effort you need to expend on measuring back as you would need to with a store bought guide, and you’ll also have the pleasure of knowing that you made your own equipment with your own hands!

    What’s Next

    Learn more about circular saws and see which models our experts recommend. Visit our in-depth buying guide!

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