Tired of using a 1×4 board or a long beam level to make your cuts? Like to make things yourself? You’ve come to the right place!
Everyone hasn’t got the money to buy a track saw for making straight cuts, which is a great tool by the way, but can be quite expensive. You could also buy a circular saw jig, but our guess is that if you’ve arrived here, that’s because you like to make your own things.
That’s why we decided to share our experience in making circular saw guides so you too can make your own guide for a few bucks!
Without further ado, let’s see what you need to make your circular saw guide and how to make it.
Overview of What You’ll Be Doing
Let’s have an overview of what you’re going to be doing to make your circular saw guide.
Basically, you’re going to be cutting a strip of plywood or MDF off. You’ll then move that piece on top of the remaining wood, and fasten them together. The strip that you’ll put on top is going to be the fence against which your circular saw will be sliding.
What You Need
How to Make a Circular Saw Guide
The order is very important here. Don’t skip any step.
Lenght of your Circular Saw Guide
First, determine the length you want for your guide. The full length of the plywood or MDF sheet might be too long for you. Maybe you want a 6-foot long guide for rip cuts, not an 8-foot long guide. Or, maybe you want to make a short guide for crosscuts. Maybe you want both. It’s totally up to you.
- If you need to, cut the plywood or MDF sheet to the length you want. Keep the two factory edges.
Width of the Fence
Then, choose the width you want your fence to be.
- Draw a line all the way across the sheet of plywood or MDF.
- Cut the sheet along this line. This cut doesn’t have to be perfect, your saw will be sliding along the other edge (factory edge).
- Once you have your fence, set it aside for the moment.
Width of your Circular Saw Guide
You won’t need the whole width of the remaining wood as a base for your circular saw guide. Your guide’s base should be at least equal to the distance between your circular saw blade and the edge of the saw’s shoe + the width of the fence + ½ in.
Also, at this point, it’s important to keep in mind that the 4 ft. factory edge of your sheet of plywood or MDF must be the bottom of your guide if you want to transform your guide into a square-cut guide later.
- Measure and add up the distances.
- Draw a line all the way across the remaining plywood to the minimum width required or more, as you see fit.
- Cut your guide’s base.
Position the Fence and Drill Countersink Holes
Now that you have your base, you’ll need to make countersink holes that are going to be used for fastening the base and then fence together. With countersink holes on the underside of the fence, the screws won’t be apparent and the guide’s base will stay flat.
- Flip the base over so the underside is facing upward.
- Grab your fence and place it on top of the base at the following distance from the edge of the base: distance between your circular saw blade and the edge of the shoe + ½ in.
- Make sure the fence is perpendicular to the base. Use a framing square and clamp everything. This is very important if you decide to make it a square-cut guide later.
- Draw lines on the base on each side of the fence.
Now that you have your virtual fence marked on the underside of the base, you can make your countersink holes.
- Mark the location of the holes: two by two, every 12 to 14 in. On the side opposite to the factory edge, the first two holes must be around 2 in. away from the edge.
- Drill ⅛ in. x ⅜ in. countersink holes.
- Flip the base over so the top side is facing upwards.
Fasten the Fence to the Base
- First, place the fence on top of the base symmetrically to the lines you’ve just been drawing on the underside. Use the same distance to position it precisely.
- Move the fence 2 in. toward the bottom of your guide. Don’t cut off the 2 in. piece of fence that goes past the edge on the other side of the base. This will help get better stability when starting a cut.
- Make sure the fence and base are perpendicular to each other using the framing square and clamp them.
- Flip everything over.
- Drive your screws into the countersink holes you drilled earlier. Start in the middle. Drive them enough to get the screw heads into the wood.
- When you’re done fastening, flip everything over again.
One Last Cut
Now, the edge on the cutting side of the base should be about ½ in. wider than the distance between your saw’s shoe and the blade. That excess wood was left on purpose, so you can create an edge that will mirror the factory edge of the fence now.
- Clamp the guide to your table.
- Cut the excess wood by running your circular saw all the way through the guide’s base. Make the edge of the shoe slide along the fence.
- And there you have it! Your circular saw guide is ready to help you make nice straight cuts!
How to Use your Circular Saw Guide
- Measure the distance you want for your cut and mark the front and back of the material.
- Put your circular saw guide on top of the material and align the edge of the base with your marks.
- Clamp everything to your table.
- Cut the material: make the edge of the saw’s shoe slide along the fence.
How to Transform your Circular Saw Guide into a Square Cut Guide
The circular saw guide you’ve just made can be oriented the way you want. It gives you the ability to choose between square cuts and miter cuts. But, alignment errors between the guide and the material you want to cut can happen, which makes the probability of inaccurate 90° cuts higher than zero. So, if you want to make a perfectly accurate circular saw guide dedicated to square cuts follow these additional steps:
- First of all, remember that you need a factory edge at the bottom of your guide.
- With your circular saw guide, cut a 3 in. wide piece of ½ in. plywood or MDF slightly shorter than the width of your guide. That’s your stop.
- Mark the edge you’ve just cut.
- Drill a ⅜ in. hole at both ends of the stop.
- Flip your circular saw guide over so the underside is facing upward.
- Put the stop on top of the guide’s base with the holes facing upwards.
- Align the marked edge of the stop with the factory edge of the bottom of your guide and clamp them.
- Screw the stop to the base with the washers. Make sure everything stays square as you do that.
- And that’s it. All you have to do now is run a test. Place the guide’s stop against the material. Then clamp everything to your table and make a cut. You should get a perfect square cut.
- If the cut isn’t perfectly square though, you can fine-tune it with the screws. As the holes are larger than the screws’ diameter, they can be used to adjust the position of the stop.
- Simply loosen the screws a bit, adjust the stop, and retighten the screws.
- Repeat until you get perfectly square cuts.
Need a Brand New Tool?
Check out our article featuring the best cordless circular saws of this year.
Learn More About Power Saws
Read our guides on how to use a circular saw and how to use a miter saw.