A circular saw is one of the very basic tools every workshop should have. It is one of the most common beginner power saws and a great tool to use when you are starting in the craft. Due to its versatility, in many cases it can replace a table saw if used correctly.
Circular saws on their own are good at making short precise cuts but when it comes to cutting large workpieces you might struggle a bit. Well, it is doable but difficult.
Nevertheless, an easier and better option would be to use a circular saw guide rail. Unfortunately, these jigs can be quite expensive. But why not make a guide track for a circular saw by yourself?
Making a saw track is a fairly simple and quick project and it will help you so much in your workshop. You don’t need to buy new tools, you can make a saw track for the circular saw with the tools you already have in the workshop.
With the instructions and video provided in this blog post, you will learn step-by-step how to make a DIY circular saw track guide.
Table of Contents
- Free DIY Circular Saw Guide Plans
- Circular Saw Guide FAQ
- How to make a Circular Saw Guide Track
- How to set up and use a Circular Saw Track
- Circular Saw Guide Video
- Jigs used for the project
*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. If you are not feeling comfortable with a certain technique look for other options on how to do it.
What you'll need to build the Circular Saw Guide Track
Circular Saw Track
Birch Plywood – (700 x 335 x 12 mm)
2x Birch Plywood – (35 x 25 x 12 mm)
Handle – 140 mm length
4x wood screws
2x Aluminum guide rails – (700 x 14 x 12 mm)
14x bolts ø4, 1,6 cm + washers, nuts
Metal Drill Bit ø4,2 mm
Double-sided (carpet) tape
Forstner bit ø20 mm
What is a Circular Saw Guide?
A circular saw guide is a tool that ensures precise and straight cuts when using a circular saw. It acts as a guide to help keep the saw on track along the intended cutting line. This guide is essential for various woodworking and DIY projects, such as cutting plywood, lumber, or other materials accurately. By preventing the saw from wandering off course, it guarantees clean and professional-looking cuts.
RELATED: Best Circular Saw Guide Rails
Why should I build a Circular Saw Guide?
There are several reasons why to make a saw track. These are the 2 most important ones:
1) Price – You can easily spend hundreds of dollars on a track saw. If you are building a workshop on a budget that is probably not the best way to spend your tool funds. Instead, if you feel like spending the extra money, consider buying a good blade for the circular saw.
This homemade DIY track saw cost me around $15. That is for the material I used. It might be different for you but still, you will be able to build it for a fraction of the price a new track would cost you.
2) Make long straight cuts – I didn’t have a table saw so being able to make long straight cuts was quite a difficult task. Especially when I needed to precisely cut a large plywood sheet.
NOTE: If you are looking for a track guide that would help you make crosscuts at specific angles then this guide is not built for that.
How hard is it to build a circular saw track?
Not hard at all! This is an easy project for beginners requiring very basic tools.
The project is straightforward and the cuts are simple. You can build the entire saw track in a few hours.
This would make a great weekend project.
Do you need a lot of tools to build a circular saw track?
No, you don’t! Just a circular saw, a hand drill, and a (hand) saw!
Additionally, you can use a jigsaw to cut out the main shape of the circular saw track, but it is not necessary. A jigsaw is great for making short straight cuts, crosscuts and inside corner cuts, however, a hand saw will work just as well.
Let's Start Building!
The circular saw track consists of 2 main parts – the base, and the guiding rails.
The base is made of birch plywood, and the guide rails are from aluminum L angles. Plywood is a great material for making woodworking jigs. It is strong, durable, and doesn’t warp easily. All the material is easily available in a local store. The overall dimensions are 700cm x 335 mm.
NOTE: The circular saw track is designed for a Makita Circular Saw. Similarly, it can also be made for other types of circular saws.
Before we get into the building read the information below on the material.
The most important piece is the aluminum guide rails (at least one of them). They should be lower than the height of the fully lowered circular saw. In this way, the guide rails don’t interfere with the circular saw and the largest possible saw depth can be used.
How to make a DIY Circular Saw Guide
Step 1: Make the Circular Saw Guide Base
Draw the design of the saw guide on the plywood sheet and cut out the shape. The design is available in the video or as free plans above.
NOTE: Check the width of your circular saw and adjust the design accordingly.
A jigsaw in combination with a jigsaw guide track turned out to be a good way to easily cut out the shape. If you’re going to use a circular saw to cut out the shape you can use a straight edge to do that. I used an aluminum spirit level.
Sand all the edges and corners smoothly to get rid of splinters.
Step 2: Attach the Aluminum Guiding Rails
The width of my circular saw is 133 mm. Take into account the width of your saw to install the guide rails accordingly.
Tape one side of the circular saw to leave a bit of extra space between the rails for a better slide.
Cut the aluminum rails to size.
First, use double-sided tape to attach the guide rail to the base. Once the rail is in position, fix it additionally with screws and nuts.
Make sure the screws are flush with the bottom of the base.
To attach the second guide rail place the circular saw right next to the first one (with the tape on) and fix the second guide rail accordingly following the same steps as before.
NOTE: A thin aluminum bar can easily bend. Take care while placing the bar on the base.
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Step 3: Cut the Slot
This circular saw track does not have a stopper. Neither at the beginning nor at the end. I wanted to have as much usable space on the guide as possible. Although without a stopper you can easily cut through the guide – keep that in mind while building the track guide.
Place the circular saw where you want to start cutting.
First cut a very shallow slot along the entire length of the guide to mark a line.
Cut several “sight holes” along the entire length of the cut. I used a 20mm Forstner bit.
These sight holes will help you adjust the guide when making cuts.
Once finished with the sight holes cut a slot in the track saw. (Again be mindful that there is no stopper.)
Sand the slot to get rid of splinters and sand the surface of the guide track for the circular saw to slide easier. I used sandpaper of different grit sizes ranging from P200 to P800 to get a very smooth slide.
Step 4: Attach the Handle
I decided to add a handle to the base for better manipulation. You can press it down and fix it in position while cutting (although to get the best results, fixing the guide using clamps is still necessary).
NOTE: The handle I used was not high enough and my hand did not fit entirely. So I added additional pieces of plywood to add extra space.
Pre-drill holes for the screws and attach the handle to the base.
And this is how the finished circular saw guide track looks like.
How to use a Circular Saw Track
The steps below describe how to set up and how to use a circular saw guide track.
- Draw a line on the piece of wood you want to cut.
- Secure the cut piece with clamps.
- Place the circular saw track over the line and adjust it accordingly using sight holes.
- Fix the saw track to a workbench using clamps for better stability and accuracy.
- Mount the circular saw on the track and slowly make a cut.
NOTE: Keep in mind which side of the line you want to make the cut and place the guide track accordingly. Also, be careful not to cut in the workbench. You can use a thicker pad to elevate the entire guide and the circular saw.
This circular saw guide rail is really easy to make. It is quick to build, easy to set up, and inexpensive compared to the circular saw guides you get in the shop. You can really build this “track saw” for only a few tens of dollars. So why not save some money?
Instead, invest the money and buy yourself a good blade for the circular saw that will help you make clean and accurate cuts. Totally worth it!
This guide is intended for short straight cuts. Nevertheless, there are other saw guides that will come in handy. Check them out. Ready to build a circular saw guide track now? HAPPY BUILDING!
DIY Circular Saw Track Guide Video
If you want to see how to make a circular saw guide, check out the full video below for a step-by-step guide.
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SAFETY: Power tools can be dangerous, including circular saws. Always be cautious and careful when using any power tool. It is necessary to follow certain safety guidelines to avoid any injury. Read this blog post before operating a circular saw: 9 common circular saw safety mistakes and how to avoid them.