It’s been far too long since I got out into my workspace and did anything (too cold, other personal stuff). So I decided today was the day I would try to replace my circle saw guide. The idea of a saw guide is not new and, I’m sure, nearly everyone has made one at one point. the idea is simple: You have a base that the shoe of the saw sits on and a straight edge on one side that the shoe rides against to give you a straight cut. Well, for reasons that can be summed up as ‘I suck at this’, even with a saw guide, I tended to get cuts that looked more like bananas than not. so, I decided to try a different tack: a home-built track saw. Again, not a new idea and lot’s of people have built them. Most of the ones I’ve seen, though, put the bar/rail on the bottom of the saw and the groove in the board/shoe. This seems like it would make the saw harder to use without the board and limit what you can do with it (angles and such come readily to mind). Therefore I decided to try putting the groove on the saw and the rail on the shoe like a ‘real’ track saw. The things I had to work with were: Some laminate flooring left over from when we re-did our kitchen; A piece of oak Screen Trim (1/4×3/4×48”); And the remains of my previous circle guide.
The laminate flooring is cool to work with. It’s inherently flat and has super straight edges to work from. It’s basically like MDF or Hardboard so use appropriate caution when using it.
The screen trim is nice because it’s oak but you HAVE to pre-drill and be careful not to get too close to the ends with screws or it’ll split.
The first step was to lay out the marks for the trim, I somewhat arbitrarily chose 4” from one factory edge and laid out the trim. I glued and screwed it with 1/2” #6 screws and let it set. Yes, during this process I split one of the ends. Ah well.
The next step was to determine the size of the new shoe and cut it out of my old guide. My say’s shoe was almost exactly 5” wide by 10 1/2” long. I got this out of my old guide easily. Then I cut a 1” strip off of the one side that still had a factory edge on it and glued that to the metal shoe of the saw.
You may be wondering how I ensured this strip was parallel to the blade. Well, the answer is I presumed the edge of the shoe was parallel and aligned the strip to that.
Next, I took another, short piece of the same trim, placed it on the meal shoe of the saw and butted the remainder of the new laminate shoe up against it with a paper shim in between and glued it down. The Blade guard had to be partially retracted for this process.
Next I went ahead an plunged the blade through the new shoe, making a zero-clearance slot and, finally, I used my new ly minted groove-saw to cut the reference edge on the base.
Using these materials I only lost 1/4” of cutting depth on the saw when NOT using the track and only 1/2” WITH the track. Plus, The saw works just fine without the track for cutting freehand angles and such. This is not the best quality project but I made it with stuff I had on hand, tools I already had and it works reasonably well. If you decide to do this, I’d recommend a good 1/4” ply, 5mm ply or hardboard for the track base and shoe as they’ll keep a large portion of your cut depth. For the rail, the screen trim was great but you could use a aluminum or steel bar or even more of the plywood / hardboard.
Good luck and keep the sawdust flying!
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