Steel stud for a straight edge?

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Forum topic by Lumber2Sawdust posted 07-26-2012 03:37 AM 16676 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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139 posts in 3064 days

07-26-2012 03:37 AM

I’m working on a project and I want to use a router to “joint” a straight edge on two 8 foot slabs. In order to accomplish this, I need a decent 8’ straight edge.
I looked at the big box stores and they sell 8 foot levels, which run about $100.
My next thought is a sheet of plywood. I could keep a 12” wide piece of ply for future use as a straight edge, too.

I took a tour around the store and I saw a rack of steel studs. By eye, they look pretty straight. They have a U-shaped profile and are pretty rigid so they won’t flex. The cost $5-6. For the price, and the easy storage, I’m thinking about giving it a shot.

Has anybody else used a steel stud for a straight edge? Do you have any other repurposed items that you use for a straight edge instead?

18 replies so far

View tomd's profile


2175 posts in 3969 days

#1 posted 07-26-2012 04:23 AM

No, but why not ?

-- Tom D

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


722 posts in 3472 days

#2 posted 07-26-2012 04:49 AM

Aluminum U-channel, steel struts also work.

I also use MDF molding and dimensional trim. If you find a piece that has a damaged edge and the other edge is fine, you can often get it for a big discount because it won’t sell for it’s intended purpose. But all I need is one good edge.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2463 days

#3 posted 07-26-2012 05:08 AM

I know at the blue big box store that they have a long straight-edged ruler that is $10. I want say it’s 8’ long, but it could be shorter (maybe 7’).

I like the fact that it is easy to clamp down to a surface so I can use it as a cutting guide for the circular saw or router plus get consistent straight lines.

Do those studs have square angles or do they have a slight round to them? If they are even slightly rounded at the corners, it could be difficult to draw straight lines.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 3064 days

#4 posted 07-26-2012 01:03 PM

Thanks for the replies.

Doss, the studs to have slightly rounded corners. If I can establish that the material is straight (draw a line, flip it over and draw a complimentary line to see if they match) then I will be using it more as a guide for a router then for actually drawing accurate lines.

For a $5 investment, I’m going to give it a shot. Worst case, I can return the unused stud and it wouldn’t cost me anything.

View jmos's profile


902 posts in 2569 days

#5 posted 07-26-2012 01:15 PM

You can look and see if they have an aluminum right angle extrusion; I’m drawing a blank on the proper name, but it’s bent at a 90deg angle, usually with a sharp right angle on the outside. It’s pretty rigid, light, and usually quite straight, I just don’t know if they carry it in 8’ lengths. I saw a Chris Schwarz video where he used a pair of 3’ long pieces as winding sticks; straight, cheap, and won’t fall over.

-- John

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3058 days

#6 posted 07-26-2012 02:30 PM

I have used a steel stud for an edge guide many times without any significant problem.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Gshepherd's profile


1727 posts in 2400 days

#7 posted 07-26-2012 11:14 PM

I have used that steel they use for hanging garage doors with all the holes in it….. Later if can come in handy for other things as well….

-- What we do in life will Echo through Eternity........

View MrRon's profile


5192 posts in 3442 days

#8 posted 07-27-2012 08:06 PM

Will a steel stud work? It all depends on how straight you need it to be. All the items mentioned, were not designed to be straight edges, although they are reasonably straight, but no guarantee. steel and aluminum shapes you find at big box stores can be mangled by store personnel and end up not-too-straight. I have a Starrett 5 ft straight edge, but it cost $100 +. For woodworking, I use a piece of plywood about 12” wide as a guide for a “Skil” saw. It’s about as good a straight edge you will find.

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2442 days

#9 posted 07-27-2012 08:13 PM

the term for the garage door hangers is “angle iron” and could be pretty handy in the right situations.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View dhazelton's profile


2793 posts in 2496 days

#10 posted 07-27-2012 09:23 PM

Angle iron.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19007 posts in 2767 days

#11 posted 07-28-2012 12:37 AM

I use an old bed frame. Its angle steel, good and straight, cost nothing, I can drop it, throw it and it just comes back for more. Its not 8”, but angle can be purchased fairly reasonable.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MrRon's profile


5192 posts in 3442 days

#12 posted 07-28-2012 04:13 PM

You can find old bed frame angles at a local Goodwill or Salvation Army outlet for 2 or 3 dollars.

View rejo55's profile


190 posts in 2441 days

#13 posted 07-28-2012 04:32 PM

I have used aluminum angle many times, mainly because it has a good, sharp corner. “Course, I don’t work to the 10/000 inch, so it does fine for me. My best buddy, (the last of the big-time Alabama rednecks) uses a piece of steel plate-3/4” x 6” x 10 feet. I ain’t quite the man he is.
Have a good’un

-- rejo55, East Texas

View Lumber2Sawdust's profile


139 posts in 3064 days

#14 posted 07-29-2012 12:24 AM

So I took the plunge and spent $6 on a steel stud. I “borrowed” an 8 foot box level from the tool department and checked how straight the stud was. I passed on the first one, but the second one I checked was very close over 8 feet.

I set it up my slabs and clamped on the stud. 15 minutes later I had to edges that are nicely jointed.

After clamping the ends of the stud to the slab, I was surprised that there was some lateral flex in the center. It was probably only 1/32 of flex. Close enough for the work that I do. That stud will be stored away in the rafters of my shop for the next time I need a long guide for the router.

Thanks for all of your suggestions.

View Sylvain's profile


751 posts in 2698 days

#15 posted 08-08-2012 02:08 PM

A bit late (coming back from hollyday travel)
look at :

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

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