If you only have a jigsaw in your workshop and you want to make straight cuts or crosscuts, a simple jigsaw guide and crosscut jig will help you do so.
This jig serves both as a jigsaw guide as well as a jigsaw crosscut jig. It is made from plywood, you’ll only need a jigsaw to build it and it will come in handy for a lot of workshop projects. But the best part is, it really doesn’t cost much to build it and you’ll have a nice addon to your workshop.
If you are building a workshop on a budget you should consider making this jig, definitely helped me with my projects. I’ve used this jig for countless projects over time and I am really happy with how it works.
The main purpose of a jigsaw is to cut curves and angles and other complex cuts—this is where the tool excels. But you can also use it to make straight cuts. While achieving straight lines can be a bit challenging, it’s definitely achievable. The most effective method for straight cuts is to utilize a jigsaw straight-edge guide.
How to Make a Jigsaw Guide and Crosscut Jig Video
For a practical demonstration, watch the video linked below titled “How to Make a Jigsaw Guide and Crosscut Jig.” It provides a step-by-step guide.
Table of Contents
*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 when using any power tool.
What you'll need to build the Jigsaw Guide
Birch Plywood – (300 x 400 x 12 mm)
2x Aluminum L Angle – (400 x 11 x 14 mm; 300 x 11 x 14 mm)
M4 Bolts (Countersunk) – 15 mm, M4 Nuts Washers
Handle or a Piece of scrap wood (200 x 28 x 18 mm)
Double-Sided (Carpet) Tape – https://amzn.to/3tPMGpM
Sandpaper Sheets – https://amzn.to/41OMx2p
Machinist Square – https://amzn.to/48fT6xw
Speed Square – https://amzn.to/3RO67Hy
Wood Glue – https://amzn.to/48ltKhJ
Hardware Assortment Kit – https://amzn.to/41PodgQ
Painters Tape – https://amzn.to/3SpPylR
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How to Avoid Tear Out With a Jigsaw
Working with a jigsaw requires precision to achieve clean cuts, but tear-out – splintering along the edges – can be a common challenge. Here are a few straightforward strategies to prevent tear-out and improve your jigsaw cuts:
- Choose a sharp, fine-toothed blade: A blade with a higher teeth per inch (TPI) count is less likely to cause tear-out.
- Apply tape over the cut line: Masking tape along the cut line can help support the wood fibers and minimize splintering.
- Cut with the finished side facing down: This technique ensures that any tear-out occurs on the less visible side of the workpiece.
- Use a backing board: Placing a piece of scrap wood beneath your workpiece can provide additional support to the fibers, reducing the risk of tear-out.
How to make a Jigsaw Guide and Crosscut Jig
Step 1: Cut the Jigsaw Base
I began by using a jigsaw to cut a piece of birch plywood measuring 400 x 300 x 12 mm.
Try to make a perfect rectangle, it will be easier later on when fixing the aluminum guide to the base. Apart from that make sure one of the longer sides is a perfect straight cut.
If a jigsaw is your only tool and you’re puzzled about making a straight cut without a guide, there’s a simple solution. The key is to use a long, straight piece of wood or a level as a makeshift guide. This approach allows for straight, precise cuts even without a specialized jig.
I used a straight piece of wood that served as a guide to cut out the plywood base.
NOTE: Achieving a perfect 90-degree angle cut with a jigsaw can be challenging. These tips will help you not to end up with a skewed cut when using a jigsaw:
- The likelihood of a skewed cut increases with the thickness of the material.
- Progress slowly while cutting and try to keep the jigsaw in a straight position
- When using a guide, avoid applying excessive pressure against it with the jigsaw, as this could result in a skewed cut.
- The most important thing- use a jigsaw blade specifically designed for long, straight, and precise cuts.
Step 2: Attach the Straight Edge Guide
First, you need to cut two aluminum L angles. One serves as a guiding rail for the jigsaw the other one serves as a stopper for right-angle cuts/crosscuts.
- The guiding rail is the same length as the longer side of the board.
- The crosscut L angle is a little bit shorter than the width of the board. The reason is that we will cut off the wood excess after fixing the guiding rail.
You should end up with 2 aluminum angles as shown in the picture below.
NOTE: One aluminum angle goes on the top of the jig the other one on the bottom.
Fix the Guide Rail in Place
Measure the width of the jigsaw and the center of the jigsaw blade. The center of my blade is a little more than 40 mm (jigsaw shoe included).
Tape a double-sided tape on the angle and tape it to the base at a distance slightly greater than 40 mm.
Drill several holes for M4 bolts in the guide rail. Flip the board over and enlarge the holes to countersink the bolts.
Tighten the bolts and cut off the wood excess. That should give a nice straight edge.
Step 3: Attach the Crosscut Fence
Turn the board and draw the line where the crosscut fence will be placed. If your board is a perfect rectangle you can use a ruler marking gauge to mark the line. Otherwise, you’ll need to make adjustments until you get a perfect 90-degree angle between the guiding rail and the crosscut fence (a long rectangular ruler will help).
Follow the same previous steps mentioned above and fix the crosscut fence to the board.
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Step 4: Cut the Shape of the Jigsaw Guide
Mark the position of the handle first, then draw the design of the jigsaw guide.
Don’t attach the handle yet tough, do so after cutting the shape (it would be difficult to cut the inner parts of the guide). For the handle, I am using a piece of spruce wood.
Draw the design of the guide and get rid of wood excess. The guide will be lighter and it will be easier to work with.
Don’t forget to cut out the center. That will allow for holding the cut piece while making crosscuts.
TIP: For short 90-degree cuts with a Jigsaw you can use a speed square.
Once the shape is cut attach the handle with glue and wood screws. You can optionally sand off the surfaces and round the edges of the handle to get rid of any splinters.
Using a Jigsaw Guide and Crosscut Jig
There are a few ways how to use a jigsaw guide.
- Make straight long cuts along a line using the guiding rail – draw a line on a piece of wood you want to cut. Attach the jigsaw guide along the line and cut. You can use the handle to press down the guide or attach the guide to a table with clamps and cut using both hands.
- Make crosscuts with the crosscut fence – since the aluminum crosscut guide is attached at 90 degrees to the cutting edge your cuts will end up right-angled. You can make both long and short cuts. For short cuts, you can use the space in the center of the guide to hold down the piece.
I was quite happy with the results, especially with the crosscuts. The guide is very easy to use, portable, and very convenient for cutting smaller pieces.
Just keep in mind – if you want to make perfect 90-degree crosscuts make sure the L angles are perpendicular to each other. It is definitely worth spending a bit of extra time on this part since that determines how accurate the guide will be.
If a jigsaw is the sole tool in your workshop, crafting a homemade jigsaw guide like the one above can significantly help your projects, as it did mine. The guide excels in assisting with shorter straight cuts and crosscuts up to 400 mm in length. Moreover, thanks to its compact size, this jig is simple to store and easily available whenever you need it.
If you need help with longer cuts, I’d suggest using this guide – jigsaw guide for long straight cuts. This one can be used separately or in combination with a jigsaw station.
I hope you found this article useful and feel inspired to build your own jig! It is a versatile tool, easy to use, and very much helpful when starting with woodworking.
Now if you’re ready to build a few circular saw guides check out this article: DIY circular saw guides for your workshop.