I have built a few circular saw guides for my workshop, from very basic ones to more complex ones. Each of the guides has its advantages and their use varies according to the situation. There is a guide for straight short cuts or a guide for crosscuts and perpendicular cuts. Together, these 3 guides are the only guides you will need for your circular saw.
This circular saw straight edge guide is a more elaborate guide I’ve built so far, but definitely worth having in the workshop. The guide can be used to make both longer straight rip cuts and crosscuts. It can be used to cut and break down larger sheets of plywood and can make any degree miter cut.
If I were to decide again which of the three circular saw guides I would make first, it would be this one, precisely because of the possibility of cutting large boards.
The circular saw track contains several pre-drilled clamping holes along the board for fixing the guide and cut material to the workbench as well as an anti-slip tape attached to the bottom of the guide when used without being attached to a desk.
The circular saw is attached to a shoe, which can be very easily mounted on the track. Such design in comparison to a simple cutting straight edge guide holds the circular saw the entire time straight in position making sure the cuts are always straight and precise. This applies especially to the starting and ending cuts.
I built the guide in about 3 hours and all the material needed is readily available in any hardware store. I used birch plywood for the base and the circular saw shoe and an aluminum angle bar and a flat bar for the track.
This is not a project for complete woodworking beginners and some experience is needed. For starters, you might want to build this circular saw guide first. Also, make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions while working with a circular saw.
How to build a circular saw straight edge video
Step-by-step video guide on how to make a straight edge guide for a circular saw.
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Table of Contents
- The Material you will need
- General Questions
- 4 tips to make straight cuts with a circular saw
- How to make a Circular saw straight edge guide
- Step 1: Measure and cut the shoe for the Circular Saw
- Step 2: Cut 4 strips and attach them to the shoe
- Step 3: Make a plunge cut
- Step 4: Make a sliding bar
- Step 5: Cut the slot for the shoe
- Step 6: Attach the sliding bar to the shoe
- Step 7: Add a guide rail for better shoe stability
- Step 8: Add anti-slip tape
- How to use circular saw guide
- How to cut straight with a circular saw
- Tips for achieving the best result with a circular saw
*Safety is your responsibility. Make sure you know what you’re doing and take all necessary safety precautions while working with power tools, especially with a circular saw. Safety comes first!
Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool.
Material needed to build a Circular saw straight edge
Circular Saw Guide:
Plywood – 120cm x 22,5cm x 1,2cm
Aluminum L Angle – 120cm x 1,5cm x 1,6cm
Circular Saw Guide Shoe:
Plywood 0,9 – 16,2cm x 34cm x 1,2cm
Plywood 1,2 – 16,2cm x 2cm x 1,2cm
Aluminum flat bar – 38cm x 2cm x 4mm
Aluminum L Angle – 20cm x 1,4cm x 1,2cm
Drill bit – 2mm
Forstner bit – 35mm
M6 Bolts, M6 Wing Nut
Wood screws, File
Sandpaper, anti-slip adhesive tape
4 tips to make straight cuts with a circular saw
- Use a DIY circular saw cutting guide or a shop-made guide. A circular saw guide will help make accurate and precise cuts every time.
- Use a speed square. Using a speed square is one of the best and easiest ways to make short and precise cuts.
- Use a circular saw fence. Once attached to a circular saw the fence follows the edge of the material cut resulting in clean straight cuts.
- Use a track guide for circular saws. The circular saw rides on a track which allows for making long straight rip cuts and crosscuts. The guide can be also easily adjusted and can make cuts at any angle.
I am using birch plywood for the build. Both for the saw edge guide and the shoe. For the track, I am using aluminum bars. A 4mm thick aluminum bar that is attached to the bottom of the shoe slides in the slot and one aluminum angle bar serves as an additional guide for the wooden shoe.
You could also use a wooden runner (bar) instead of the aluminum one, but the aluminum bar won’t change its shape as much due to external conditions.
The saw guide can be used freely thanks to anti-slip strips, or it can be clamped down to a workbench with hold-down clamps. The cut circles on the track are designed specifically for this purpose.
This circular saw guide rail is the jig you want to use if you want to cut large sheets of plywood.
Circular saw straight edge guide parameters:
- Total dimensions – 120cm x 22,5cm x 1,2cm
- Straight cuts up to 120cm in length
- Quick assembly, quick setup
- Cutouts and drilled holes for easier manipulation and saw guide attachment
To build the saw guide you will need a circular saw, a trim router, and a hand drill. Some of the cuts can be made with a jigsaw instead of a circular saw. To cut smaller pieces and for more delicate cuts I am using a jigsaw table.
How to make a circular saw straight edge guide
Step 1: Measure and cut the shoe for the Circular Saw
Measure the base plate of your circular saw. Mine is 30 x 13,2cm. Add around 2cm to the front, back, and sides, and cut a plywood piece that will serve as a shoe for the circular saw.
I am using a simple circular saw track to make the cuts.
Step 2: Cut 4 strips and attach them to the shoe
Cut 4 plywood strips and attach them to the plywood shoe tightly around the circular saw to fix the saw in position. I am using a jigsaw table for these delicate cuts.
Cut the front and the back strip to size. Attach the front strip to the base, wait until the glue dries, place the circular saw on the base for reference, and attach the back strip. Additionally, fix the strips with screws.
Repeat the process and attach the side strips around the circular saw.
NOTE: Since I had some leftovers in the workshop instead of wood strips, I am using aluminum L angles for the side attachments. There is no difference between those. Just make sure the thickness of the strips is higher than the thickness of the circular saw base plate.
Step 3: Make a plunge cut
To finish the shoe, make a plunge cut for the blade. Place the circular saw in the shoe, secure it with clamps and slowly make a plunge cut.
Get familiar with these circular saw safety tips before making a plunge cut and make sure you take all necessary safety precautions. Making a plunge cut with a circular saw needs practice. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, don’t do it. To make the cut you can also use a router or a jigsaw.
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Step 4: Make a sliding bar
Cut an aluminum bar (38cm x 2cm x 4mm) and drill several holes along its length. The bar will be attached to the shoe from the bottom in step 6 and will serve as a sliding bar/miter bar. Countersink the holes.
Round the corners of the bar to make it slide easier in a slot.
NOTE: I wouldn’t recommend a wooden bar. The aluminum bar will slide nicely in the wooden slot.
Step 5: Cut the slot for the shoe
First, cut the plywood for the circular saw cutting guide base to size (120cm x 23cm x 1,2cm). You can use a straight edge like a lever to make a long straight cut.
Mark the position of the slot – 5cm from the edge. Cut a slot in the cutting guide either using a router dado jig or any straight edge that can serve as a guide for the router (a lever or an aluminum bar would do fine). Sand the edges of the slot.
NOTE: The width of the slot equals the width of the sliding bar. It is better to make the slot tighter. You can always sand the edge and adjust. The right width of the slot should hold the miter bar tightly, allowing for a nice slide.
Step 6: Attach the sliding bar to the shoe
Apply epoxy on the aluminum bar, glue it to the bottom of the shoe and secure it with screws (make sure the screws are countersunk).
The distance between the edge of the bar and the cut slot on the shoe should be just a little less than 5 cm. Place the sliding shoe on the guide track and cut off wood excess.
Step 7: Add a guide rail for better shoe stability
First, drill a few holes with a Forstner bit along the cutting guide to be able to fix the guide and cut material with clamps to the workbench.
Place the shoe on the guide and mark the edge of the shoe in several places. Attach an additional aluminum rail along the marked places. The aluminum rail ensures better shoe stability and prevents the shoe from tilting. Thus, you will get nice perpendicular cuts.
To attach the aluminum rail, I am using double-sided tape and screws.
Step 8: Add anti-slip tape
Add anti-slip tape to the bottom of the cutting guide. This way the guide will hold in position without being clamped down to a workbench.
This is a great weekend project and one of the “must have” saw guides for your circular saw. It is definitely one of the jigs I am using the most for my projects.
How to use circular saw guide
Provided steps below describe how to use a DIY circular saw guide and how to cut straight with a circular saw. Keep in mind to use the right saw blade for the job. Every material requires a different type of saw blade. Also, keep safe and take all necessary safety precautions.
How to cut straight with circular saw
- Mark the locations for the cut
- Place the edge of the circular saw guide on the marks
- Secure the saw guide and the stock with clamps
- Position the saw on the guide track
- Make sure nothing is obstructing the cut, both above and below the guide
- Make the cut
Tips for achieving the best result with a circular saw
- To achieve the best result, cut slowly and steadily. Keep the circular saw in a straight position, hold it with both hands, don’t push too fast and let the circular saw do the work.
- In order not to damage your workbench or run your circular saw into concrete when working on the ground place an MDF desk or a rigid foam board under the cut material.
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I hope the information was helpful and now you are adding this circular saw jig to your next builds. 😉