A jigsaw is a great and versatile tool that can be used for many workshop projects. It was one of the first tools I bought for the workshop and it is a great help for any woodworking project.
If you are building a workshop and considering getting a tool for it, I would recommend getting a jigsaw as one of the first tools (after a drill). You can easily make straight cuts or curves and depending on the blade, you can cut through different materials, such as wood, plastic, ceramic, or even metal.
Some time back I built a crosscut guide for a jigsaw which is, as the name suggests, particularly suitable for crosscuts and short straight cuts. Nevertheless, I found that the guide does not serve well for long straight cuts, so I decided to build a DIY jigsaw guide rail (jigsaw straight cut guide) that will help me do so.
This is definitely one of the best and easiest jigsaw guides you can build. You’ll save money and it will definitely help you with your projects and creations.
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*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.
Material you'll need to build the Jigsaw Guide Rail
Baltic Birch Plywood – (600 x 140 x 12 mm)
4x Planed Spruce Wood Stripes
– 2 for guiding rails – 600 x 28 x 13 mm
– 2 for stoppers – 84 x 28 x 13 mm
Wood Glue, Wood Screws
Wolfcraft Spring Clamps
How difficult is building a jigsaw straight cut guide?
Building a straight-cut guide for a jigsaw is quite simple! It’s a beginner-friendly woodworking project that involves a few cuts and screws. You can easily finish it in a day, and you don’t need any special tools—just a jigsaw and a hand drill, which are likely already in your workshop. So, don’t worry, it’s a straightforward task that can greatly enhance the accuracy of your jigsaw cuts.
Can I cut a straight line with a jigsaw?
Absolutely, you can achieve a straight line with a jigsaw, although it can be a bit challenging to ensure a perfectly clean cut.
Jigsaws are primarily designed for cutting angles, curves, and intricate shapes, which they excel at. However, if you need a straight cut, there’s a trick – you can use a straight piece of wood, a level, or a jigsaw straight cut guide. This simple accessory helps guide the jigsaw along a straight path, ensuring greater precision and a smoother result.
So, while jigsaws are versatile tools, having a straight-cut guide on hand can enhance your ability to create accurate straight cuts for your woodworking projects.
RELATED: How to Cut Straight with a Jigsaw
How do you make a clean cut with a jigsaw?
Follow these 4 tips to make a clean cut with a jigsaw:
Select the Right Blade: Choose the appropriate blade based on the material and the type of cut you intend to make. Opt for a reverse tooth blade to minimize burrs on the underside of the cut. Alternatively, a dual-cut blade, equipped with teeth in both directions, can further reduce burring on both sides, ensuring improved cutting results.
Secure with Masking Tape: Before cutting, apply masking tape (painter’s tape) along the cut line. This technique helps hold the wood fibers in place, reducing splintering and tear-out, resulting in a smoother and cleaner cut.
Adjust Speed and Pendulum Action: Set your jigsaw to an appropriate speed for the material you’re cutting. Additionally, if your jigsaw has a pendulum action feature, adjust it according to the thickness of the material. A higher pendulum setting is suitable for thicker materials, while a lower setting is better for thinner ones.
Guide with a Straight Edge: Use a straight edge or a jigsaw guide to maintain a consistent cutting line. This ensures greater accuracy and reduces the chances of veering off course during the cut.
RELATED: How to change a jigsaw blade
The jigsaw guide rail we are making is made from plywood and spruce wood. Other materials such as MDF or HDF can be used as well. It lets you make cuts up to around 500 mm in length, depending on your jigsaw’s type and size.
How to Make a DIY Jigsaw Guide Rail
Step 1: Build the Jigsaw Guide Base
I started by measuring the jigsaw base plate cover. Using the cover will let the jigsaw slide easier in the track with less effort when pushing (tracks for this jigsaw guide are made out of planned spruce wood).
The width of the shoe cover for my jigsaw is 84 mm – take the width of your jigsaw into account when building the jigsaw guide rail.
Cut a rectangle for the jigsaw base. The base is 600 x 140 x 12 mm and is made out of birch plywood.
I cut the base width just a little bit more, not only to take into account 2 rails and the shoe cover but also a little bit of space between the shoe and the tracks that will allow for the jigsaw to slide easier.
The extra bit of wood can be cut off on a circular saw or a router table at the end if necessary.
NOTE: I used a thicker sheet of plywood for the base (12 mm). A thinner would work as well, 9mm perhaps, but I like how sturdy and solid is the jig. Also, the jigsaw blade holds better in the slot, with less chance of bending and the cut being skewed. You could also use other types of boards such as MDF or HDF.
NOTE: It can be problematic to make a straight 90-degree angle cut with a jigsaw. These tips will help you not to end up with a skewed cut:
- The thicker the piece you cut the higher the chance the cut will be skewed
- Progress slowly while cutting, apply pressure on the jigsaw evenly, and try to keep the jigsaw in a straight position
- One of the most important things – use a jigsaw blade designed for long, straight, and precise cuts. There are plenty of jigsaw blades on the market and each servers a different purpose
Cut the guiding rails and the front/back stoppers using a crosscut jig.
I decided to use planned spruce wood rails (600 x 28 x 13 mm). The jigsaw slides nicely in those and the extra width of the rails makes it easy to clamp the jigsaw track down to a workbench while cutting.
Step 2: Attach the Guide Tracks
1. Attach the first guide rail
First, glue one of the jigsaw guide tracks to the base. Secure the guide with hold-down clamps and wait until the glue dries off.
Additionally, if you will, fix the rail with a few screws. This step might be unnecessary but woodworkers tend to over-secure things. 😉
I am one of them so I inserted several screws along the track.
2. Attach the second guide rail
To secure the second track, put the jigsaw on the base, place the second track along the other side of the jigsaw, and adjust until you get a nice slide of the jigsaw.
Fix the track temporarily with clamps and secure it with screws. (I did not use glue for the second track). Take your time to position the track.
TIP: Tape one side of the jigsaw shoe with adhesive tape (e.g. electrical tape) when fixing the second rail. A tiny space will be created that will allow for the jigsaw to nicely fit the guide rail and slide easier.
3. Attach the stoppers
Measure and cut the stoppers so they fit nicely between the guide tracks.
Fix the stoppers with glue and screws.
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Step 3: Drill in Sight Holes
After attaching the rails drill in holes across the jigsaw guide. Not only it will be easier to place the jigsaw on the track, but the holes will improve visibility and it will be easier to follow a line while cutting
Mark the place of the first and the last hole on the guide, and then mark several places along the guide and cut the holes in.
To cut the holes in I am using a 15 / 20 mm Forstner drill bit.
Place the jigsaw on the track and slowly cut a slot.
Sand both the edges and the surface of the jigsaw guide a bit to get rid of splinters and allow for the jigsaw to slide easier.
How to use a Jigsaw Guide Rail
Using the jigsaw guide track is straightforward and user-friendly.
- Begin by drawing a clear-cutting line on the piece of wood.
- Position the jigsaw guide track along the marked line, making adjustments with the help of the sight holes for precision.
- Securely attach and stabilize the jigsaw guide in place.
- Before cutting, ensure there are no obstructions along the intended path.
For added stability, it’s advisable to clamp both the jigsaw guide and the workpiece securely to a workbench. This ensures a controlled and accurate cutting process.
NOTE: Keep in mind which side of the line you want to make the cut.
The guide is very easy to use. Simple, portable, and easy to set up. One of the best guides for a jigsaw you can make by yourself. You can make it in a few hours and it doesn’t cost much.
I was honestly surprised at how nice long and straight cuts I was able to make with this jig. Also, the cuts are clean and not skewed as sometimes happens while cutting with a jigsaw.
Nevertheless, for a clean straight cut, you should also consider using some of the tips mentioned above. It is mainly the combination of the jigsaw guide rail and the appropriate blade that will get you the best result.
It is a simple addon for your jigsaw. I’ve been using it for multiple projects, it is simple to make, easy to set up and it will get the job done.
DIY Jigsaw Guide Rail Video Tutorial
Check out the video below for a step-by-step guide on how to make this simple jigsaw guide rail for straight precise cuts.