Help with first crosscut jigs for circular saw

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Forum topic by jacobem3 posted 06-04-2014 02:59 AM 1533 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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30 posts in 1657 days

06-04-2014 02:59 AM

Topic tags/keywords: jig question

Hello! I’ve used circular saws on and off throughout my life when necessary for projects but I’m still a newb and my cuts have always left a lot to be desired. I want to learn to get the most accuracy I can out of my circular saw before investing in a table saw, especially after reading all the poor reviews of most saws under $1000 and 300lb.

I’ve got a Makita 5007MG with a Freud 24 tooth framing blade, some clamps and a small collection of squares – 6” speed square, 12” speed square and a few carpenter’s squares of various sizes.

My first mini project was a simple crosscut jig. My first attempt didn’t come out perfectly square, so I modified my technique a bit and also used a larger speed square.

I used 1×3 poplar for my second attempt, clamped a 12” speed square to the horizontal/zero-clearance piece with an Irwin pistol grip clamp, then glued up the guide piece with a spring clamp holding it against the horizontal piece and made sure it was trued up to the side of the speed square while the glue was still very wet.

It came out a little better. Measuring from the “southwest” corner/pocket up the length of the guide piece, the square seems to fit flush. With the speed square in the “southeast” corner (the one between the zero-tolerance cut end and the guide that touches shoe) there is an air gap out at the end of the square at the far end of the guide piece. I measured it at 0.022” over the 12” length along the edge of my speed square (measured using feeler gauges).

I was hoping to not see any gap there. A carpenter square on the end of the zero-clearance seems to fit perfectly flush, but it’s only a 3” wide piece of wood.

Is this something I should worry about or is 0.022” over 12” good enough? The next real projects I’m planning are a garage workbench, a dryer pedestal and a minimalist bed frame. I know none of those qualify as fine woodworking, but I’m trying to stop making sloppy cuts/projects.

I’m especially interested in learning to make rabbets, half-laps and dados as best I can with this saw.

Eventually I will probably get a finer toothed blade if I’m not happy with the quality of the cut with my Freud 24t. Will I have to make additional jigs for each blade or isn’t there enough variation in thickness to make that worthwhile?

Any insight is appreciated. Thanks!


9 replies so far

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30 posts in 1657 days

#1 posted 06-04-2014 03:17 AM

Just kidding about the dados… I just made some for the first time in some spare 2×2 and setting the blade depth with any precision was quite a challenge. Keeping the shoe level as the blade moves to the right was a challenge too. The entire process was pretty frustrating. The entire time I was thinking, “man, a big cast iron wheel to adjust blade depth would be so nice right now!”

View TheFridge's profile


10756 posts in 1690 days

#2 posted 06-04-2014 03:33 AM

2.2% of an inch over a 12” length seems like a lot.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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721 posts in 1769 days

#3 posted 06-04-2014 03:52 AM

You have quite a bit of variation over 12”’s. I would probably find that O.K. for rough framing but it’s pretty far off for any sort of woodworking where you can visibly see joints.

Most of the people I know that own track saws, or made their own with their circular saws (like myself) use them to rough cut sheet goods and then final dimension on the table saw. my 2 cents is even with a jig on your normal circular saw it will not be accurate or repeatable.


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1932 posts in 2098 days

#4 posted 06-04-2014 03:55 AM

This concept is the easiest straight edge in the world.
That, a good square and a pencil and you have to seriously work at messing up.

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30 posts in 1657 days

#5 posted 06-04-2014 04:21 AM

That jig is for making rips and it’s next on my list, but I am working on a crosscut jig right now, like this:

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1932 posts in 2098 days

#6 posted 06-04-2014 05:18 AM

You can use it for both, or just make a shorter one, which is basically what you linked. There are lots of variations out there, most people just use what they’ve got lying around. You’ve got a nice Makita, you’ll be making great cuts in no time.

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30 posts in 1657 days

#7 posted 06-04-2014 05:42 AM

I’m still learning and I could be missing something but I’ve done a lot of reading and it seems like the straight edge jig is for making long rip cuts where you measure and mark two points on sheet goods and line up the guide to those. That isn’t the ideal setup for short crosscuts on boards like 2×4, 2×6, etc.

The jig I’m trying to make right now gives a repeatable 90 degree reference that you clamp to the long side of the work piece. Sort of like using a speed square but it also gives you an easy sight on where the cut will be in the work, rather than having to always clamp a speed square backed off the width of the shoe.

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1932 posts in 2098 days

#8 posted 06-04-2014 07:29 AM

Nah, the one you want to make is just a different way of making any straight line jig. They can be short, medium, long, doesn’t matter. But if you’re doing individual 2x’s all you need is a speed square, or just a pencil, which is all I use. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to get those kinds of cuts straight. Now if you’re talking framing, precision matters even less because you’re going to cover it up with something – whatever that “something” is, that’s when you want to be meticulous. Go look at any house construction before the sheet rock is up, the skeleton looks perfect from way back but up close it’s always a mess.

Down the road if you’re going to cut long 2x’s use a miter saw or even a hand saw instead of putting those things on a table saw.

View MrRon's profile


5202 posts in 3447 days

#9 posted 06-04-2014 07:08 PM

It is a good habit to work as close as you can, even when precision is not required. The closer you work, the less will be the error. If you work to a 1/32”, you might end up with a 1/16” error. Working to .005”, your error might end up 1/64”; a much smaller error.

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