Straight Edge?

ratneri

ilya
User
I'm just starting out woodworking, and don't have a lot of tools and jigs. I have a table saw I need to build a base for (so it's currently not usable), and a circular saw that I use quite a lot to make longer cuts, rips and crosscuts. I will probably build myself a simple rip cut guide for it, but have a question about what I could use as a dependable straight edge in the meantime. Honestly, I'd be happy with something very straight I could just clamp to some plywood, or some other medium, and run the circular saw up against it. In our old house I had used some hardboard, and a pine board to build it, but found that it stopped being straight after a while, so I'd prefer something that will last for a while.
 

BWhitney

Bruce
Corporate Member
While there are LOTS of commercial track-saw and straight edges available, I have found that a 6-8 inch piece of 1/2 inch MDF cut and marked so that the factory edge is used to guide the saw has worked for me. I also have straight edges from Lee Valley (and el cheapos) but when I need the 96 in length, the MDF is what I go for.

That being said, I also use clamp and straight edge combination from E. Emerson Tool Company that have been good to me.
 

bainin

bainin
User
I have one of these in the 5 or 6 ft version. I've been pretty displeased with it...on paper it looks like a good idea, but the clamping mechanism on mine is wonky and doesnt hold the line when
any side pressure is exerted on the guide. Not sure if I got a dud, or the product itself isnt that well designed.

 

Berta

Berta
Corporate Member
I have one of these in the 5 or 6 ft version. I've been pretty displeased with it...on paper it looks like a good idea, but the clamping mechanism on mine is wonky and doesnt hold the line when
any side pressure is exerted on the guide. Not sure if I got a dud, or the product itself isnt that well designed.

I don’t think you got a dud. Mine is iffy as well
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I made my own (one 5 footer for cross cuts and an 8 footer for full length cuts) and use clamps to secure it. An example of what I did is shown here: How to Build a Simple Circular Saw Guide for Straighter Cuts , I did not put a stop on the bottom though, just clamp it to my line. Mine was cheap to build, but with today's ply prices, might not be as economic. I recommend using 1/2" ply for the material. Mine is 3/4". so I do lose some depth of cut on thicker materials.

This works well as it also serves as a zero clearance backing to prevent tear out, and because the saw rides on it, will not mark veneered ply. I made mine double duty, so the circular saw rides on one side, and the router rides on the other.
 
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BKHam

Bradley
User
using a straight edge to cut things is one of my least favorite aspects of woodworking so i got a track saw. that may not be where you are at and i get it, its expensive. but the i think the Bora straight edge and saw guide are pretty well thought of. under $200.
 

ratneri

ilya
User
Thanks, ya'll, these are all good suggestions. I've tried the level approach. I have 4', but I find it's hard to clamp to things and get the saw by the clamps. I'll avoid the harbor freight clamp edges, since they seem kinda crappy. Maybe I'll do the bora, or build something with mdf, which I happen to have a sheet of, and 1/2 ply, which I also happen to have a sheet of. @BKHam , I would love a track saw, but alas, there's a baby coming in June, so trying to save our pennies.
 

sawman101

Bruce Swanson
Corporate Member
I also have a HF clamp, 50" I think is the size, and it doesn't work at 48", it's a real POS. Cheap and useless!
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
A strip of MDF or plywood factory edge works very well.
I bought the Bora guide. Problem I had is I cut up sheets on the ground on a bit of 2 inch foam. The clamp sticks down further than that. So, bask to just a chalk line. Sent it back. Maybe in the future I will get several more sheets of foam so I have the height.

I also have a HF 50 inch clamp and it works fine on 48 inches. The Bora is better made though.
 

Rwe2156

DrBob
Senior User
+3 on the factory edge of a sheet good. If you attach a 3-4' strip to 1/4" plywood you have a poor man's track saw. Just line the ply edge on the line and make the cut.
 

ShortRound84

ShortRound
User
I don’t think you got a dud. Mine is iffy as well
Yep these are hot garbage. They flex really bad on anything the the shortest cut.

I use this as a reference straight edge to check if your guides are straight

Taytools SES24 24 Inch Steel Straight Edge Guaranteed Straight to Within .002 Inch Over Full 24 Inch Length SES24 Taytools SES24 24 Inch Steel Straight Edge Guaranteed Straight to Within .002 Inch Over Full 24 Inch Length SES24: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific
 

ShortRound84

ShortRound
User
I would save your money, sell some old tools, and get the Makita tracksaw instead of spending on bora guides and other half measures. It works great and is pretty cheap if you get the corded version.
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
anyone ever try making something out of square tubing like this: Everbilt 1/2 in. x 72 in. Plain Steel Square Tube with 1/16 in. Thickness-801107 - The Home Depot

I laid it down on the concrete floor at home depot and it seems very straight
Not as strait as you think and 1/2 is way too flexible. Those pre-cut MDF shelves are pretty strait too. Notice the track saw tracks are quite wide.

The advice for the Makita is sound. A good blade is critical as is proper support of the work.
 

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