If you own a circular saw, then you’ll definitely want to know about one of the most useful saw jigs out there: the circular saw guide, also known as a track saw guide. This woodworking jig opens up a world of possibilities by allowing you to make incredibly precise long straight cuts. Whether you’re working on long rip cuts, crosscuts, angle cuts, or even resizing larger wooden boards, this guide has got your back.
Unfortunately, track saws can be quite pricey. As an alternative, you can make your own DIY circular saw guide. It is a fantastic and cost-effective alternative to shop-made saw guides. You won’t need a lot of power tools to build it – just your circular saw will do the job just fine.
This saw guide features a t-slot that makes it easy to attach the guide to a workpiece or workbench using clamps. You can even use homemade t-track clamps or standard t-slot clamps for added versatility.
The beauty of homemade circular saw guides lies in the fact that there are countless variations to choose from – short, long, with/without guiding tracks, designed for different purposes. For further inspiration you can take a look at the best DIY circular saw guides and build one based on your specific needs.
In this article, I’ll guide you through the process of building your own circular saw guide step-by-step. We will be using plywood and HDF (MDF) as our primary materials, both renowned for their strength, durability, and ability to withstand pressure.
How To Make a Circular Saw Guide Video
If you want to see how it is done, watch the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to build a circular saw guide.
Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- What is a Circular Saw Guide?
- What is a Track Saw Guide?
- What are the Slots on a Track Saw Guide?
- How to Make a DIY Circular Saw Guide (Step-by-Step)
- Step 1: Cut the Wood Pieces for the Base
- Step 2: Cut the Bottom Clamping Slot
- Step 3: Assemble the Track Base
- Step 4: Make the Upper T-track
- Step 5: Finish the Guide
- How to Use a DIY Track Saw Guide
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
The material you will need to build it
Circular Saw Track
Sheet of plywood for the guide
HDF Strips for T-slots
Ply (Base) – 700mm x 130mm x 12mm
HDF (Base) – 700mm x 140mm x 4mm
HDF (Base) – 700mm x 84mm x 4mm
HDF (T-tracks) 2x – 700mm x 13,5mm x 4mm
What is a Circular Saw Guide?
A circular saw guide is a woodworking tool that helps achieve precise cuts with a circular saw. It acts as a straight edge guide, allowing for perfectly straight and accurate cuts in various applications. Here are the key advantages and disadvantages of using a circular saw guide:
Pros of a Circular Saw Guide:
- Enables precise straight cuts: The guide ensures accurate cuts, whether for rip cuts, crosscuts, or angle cuts.
- Versatile functionality: It enables a wide range of cuts, including straight cuts, bevel cuts, and compound cuts.
- Portability: Circular saw guides are typically lightweight and portable, making them easy to transport to different job sites.
- Cost-effective alternative: Building a DIY circular saw guide is a budget-friendly option compared to purchasing an expensive track saw.
- Universal: Can be used with almost any circular saw.
Cons of a Circular Saw Guide:
- Setup: Setting up and aligning the guide properly can take some time, especially for precise and exact cuts.
What is a Track Saw Guide?
A track saw guide is a woodworking tool that helps achieve accurate and precise cuts with a circular saw. It consists of a guide rail or track that the saw glides along. Here are the key advantages and disadvantages of using a track saw guide:
Pros of a Track Saw Guide:
- Precise straight cuts: The guide ensures accurate cuts, even for long and angled cuts.
- Versatile functionality: Offers various applications, such as ripping, crosscutting, and bevel cutting.
- Robus build: Provides better stability and control, resulting in cleaner and smoother cuts.
- Setup: The edge of the guiding rail determines where the cut will be made.
Cons of a Track Saw Guide:
- Price: Initial investment required to purchase a quality track saw guide.
- Proprietary: Can be used with specific track saws only.
What are the Slots on a Track Saw Guide?
The slots on a track saw guide are channels or grooves that serve multiple purposes.
- Firstly, they allow you to attach the guide securely to your workpiece or workbench using clamps. This ensures stability during cutting.
- Additionally, the slots provide flexibility by allowing you to connect two or more guides together. This is useful when you need an extended guide length for cutting larger materials.
- Furthermore, the slots on the track saw guide can be compatible with accessories like T-track clamps or stops, adding versatility to your cutting setup.
Let's start building!
Making a DIY track saw involves making the straight edge guide along with the sliding base and the T-tracks for clamping and attachment.
The jig features two convenient t-slots (upper and bottom), allowing you to clamp the guide and the workpiece to a workbench or to add another guide and prolong the edge of the base. The base is made of 5mm HDF, which allows for the circular saw to slide along the track easily and does not take much from the cutting capacity of the saw blade. The guide is made of a 12mm plywood piece, which is sufficient for a T-track to be sunk into it.
Saw guide properties:
- Material: Baltic birch plywood, HDF
- Total dimensions: 700mm x 230mm x 16mm (27.6 inches x 9.1 inches x 0.6 inches)
- Clamping and attachment: Homemade/ Shop made T-track clamps
How to Make a DIY Circular Saw Guide (Step-by-Step)
Step 1: Cut the Wood Pieces for the Base
The first step is cutting all the plywood and HDF wooden pieces for the base (find the measurements at the top of this article).
The best and quickest way how to cut the pieces is by using a table saw. Although if you don’t have one you can easily use the circular saw. As a temporary guide, you can use a spirit level or any other long straight piece of wood or metal.
NOTE: Using an HDF board for the track is a great choice. HDF is strong and does not warp or bend easily. Additionally, the straight and smooth surface of HDF provides optimal conditions for the saw to glide effortlessly along the track.
Step 2: Cut the Bottom Clamping Slot
Start by marking the slot on the plywood piece using a marking gauge. Then, use a trim router to cut the slot along the marked lines. You can use a long piece of wood or aluminum as a guide or a dedicated router slot-cutting jig.
Finally, smooth out the slot with sandpaper, ensuring a clean and polished finish.
Step 3: Assemble the Track Base
To assemble the track base, start by gluing the two HDF pieces to the plywood piece. This combination will create a T-slot where you can conveniently attach clamps. Be careful to avoid getting any glue inside the track itself, ensuring it remains clean.
To ensure a strong connection, insert screws around the T-slot area, securing the HDF boards firmly in place.
NOTE: Start by gluing the smaller HDF board first. Once the glue has dried, insert spacers into the slot before attaching the second board. This way you will ensure that the boards are perfectly parallel to each other.
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Step 4: Make the Upper T-track
Start by cutting two thin HDF strips. Once you have the strips ready, measure and mark the desired position of the t-track on the track base. Use a trim router to carefully cut slots.
To secure the HDF strips in place, you can apply a small amount of glue to the outer slots. Be cautious not to let any glue get into the center slot. Additionally, if you want you can add a few screws to reinforce the attachment of the HDF strips.
NOTE: There are different methods available for making custom t-tracks, and the approach described here is just one of them.
Step 5: Finish the Guide
To complete the guide, the next step is to trim off the excess wood from the saw track. At this point, the width of the track should be slightly wider than the distance between the edge of the saw base plate and the saw blade.
Once the excess wood is removed, the new edge of the cutting guide will serve as a reference for making accurate cuts. This ensures that your cuts will be precisely aligned based on the position of the new edge of the guide.
And this is what the finished saw guide track looks like.
How to Use a DIY Track Saw Guide
These steps provide a more detailed guide on how to effectively use this homemade track saw guide during your woodworking projects.
- Begin by drawing a straight line on the workpiece to indicate where you want to make the cut.
- Position the edge of the saw guide directly on the marked cut line.
- Secure both the guide and the workpiece in place using clamps to ensure stability during the cutting process.
- Place the circular saw onto the saw guide, utilizing the plywood as a guiding fence to maintain a straight cutting path.
- Adjust the depth of the saw blade to the desired cutting depth.
- With a firm grip on the circular saw using both hands, slowly guide the saw along the track, steadily making the cut.
To sum it all up, a saw guide is a must-have jig for your circular saw. It’s a versatile tool that allows you to make straight cuts and explore different cutting techniques.
The best part is, it’s much cheaper than buying a saw track from the store, and you won’t need any extra tools besides your trusty circular saw. As for the material you will need a piece of plywood or you can use some scrap pieces of wood you can find in the workshop.
By building this simple cutting guide, you’ll not only save money but also have the satisfaction of creating something yourself. It’s a great DIY project and a fantastic way to have fun and gain more experience in woodworking.
How to Build a Circular Saw Cutting Guide
Woodworking Jigs I used to build it:
While building the circular saw cutting guide, I only used a ruler marking gauge that made the process easier. You can build the guide with just the circular saw you already have, no other tools are necessary.