Circular Saw Jigs: How-to create guide


There are two main jigs for the circular saw. You have crosscut and rip cut jigs. These jigs help making straight cuts with the circular saw.

In this article, I will show you how to make your own circular saw jigs

Circular saw rip cut jig

A circular saw crosscut jig is designed to create straight rip cuts along the wood grain.

Materials

  • 1/2″ plywood 11″ x 4′
    • Since most plywood is sold 4′ x 8′, a 4 foot jig will be able to rip almost any plywood strip to size.
    • You can also build a smaller 2-foot or larger 6-foot jig depending on your woodworking needs and storage space.
    • A 2-foot jig will need 1/2″ plywood 10″ x 2′, and a 6-foot jig will need 1/2″ plywood 10″ x 6′.
  • 1.5″ x 4′ 4″ strip of dimensional lumber or plywood
  • Wood glue
  • Screws or nails
  • Screwdriver or drill (for screws)
  • Hammer (for nails)
  • Clamps
  • Circular saw

Steps Overview

  1. Cut the plywood base
    • Cut 11″ by 4′ piece of plywood
  2. Cut the jig guide rail
    • Cut the wood 1.5″ wide and 4″ longer than your jig
  3. Mark the guide rail location
    • Place circular saw blade along the edge of the plywood base
    • Push the guide rail against the base of the plywood
    • Mark the guide rail location
    • Repeat marking for at least 3 more locations on the jig
  4. Secure guide strip to plywood base
    • Align the guide strip at the marked locations
    • Clamp guide rail and mark screw locations
    • Predrill and counter sink screws
  5. Cut the excess plywood base
    • Run the circular saw through the jig to cut off excess plywood base

Below are the 6 steps to make a circular saw rip cut jig in detail.

Step 1: Cut the plywood base

  1. Cut 11″ by 4′ piece of plywood

First, you will cut a 11″ by 4 ft piece of plywood. Since most plywood is sold 4′ x 8, a 4 ft jig will be ideal for most users. A 4 foot jig will be able to rip almost any plywood strip to size.

You can also build a smaller 2-foot or larger 6-foot jig depending on your woodworking needs and storage space. Likewise, a 2-foot jig will need 1/2″ plywood 10″ x 2′, and a 6-foot jig will need 1/2″ plywood 10″ x 6′.

It is good practice to make the plywood base square, but it is not essential to making a rip-cut jig. The guide rail is what will make the straight cuts.

Step 2: Cut the jig guide rail

  1. Cut the wood 1.5″ wide and 4″ longer than your jig

After cutting the bas, you will now cut a 1.5″ x 4′ guide rail. If you used a 4′ base then you will need a 4′ 4″ guide rail. Likewise, you will need a 2′ 4″ guide rail for a 2′ base and a 6′ 4″ guide rail for a 6′ base.

This guide rail can be made from dimensional lumber or plywood. If using dimensional lumber, get 1×2 or 2×2 dimensional lumber. That is because the number are approximate and a 1×2 is actually .75×1.5″ and a 2×2 is actual 1.5×1.5″.

It is essential to make the guide rail edge that will be in contact with the circular saw as straight as possible.

Cutting perfectly straight can be very difficult with minimal tools and jigs. We are creating a jig to cut perfectly straight, so you may not have a tool in your inventory. If you have a table saw, or a pre-existing jig for your circular saw, then you can use that.

If you do not have either one of those tools, then I recommend the speed square to metal leveler method. Both of these methods are very time consuming, however, if you take your time in cutting a perfectly straight guide rail, you can save money on more expensive manufactured jigs, or a table saw.

If you want to learn how to make straight cuts without a circular saw jig, check out my article “How to make straight cuts without a circular saw jig”.

Note: Remember which edge was the straight edge.

Step 3: Mark the guide rail location

  1. Place circular saw blade along the edge of the plywood base
  2. Push the guide rail against the base of the plywood
  3. Mark the guide rail location
  4. Repeat marking for at least 3 more locations on the jig

In this step, you will mark where the guide rail will be placed. First, you will want to place circular saw blade along the edge of the plywood base. When you place the blade on the edge of the plywood base, make sure the tooth of the blade is touching the plywood edge. This is because the tooth of the blade is the thickest part of the blade.

Next, you will push the guide rail against the circular saw base and mark the location. Next, you will align the blade, push the guide rail against the circular saw base, and mark the location for 3 more different sections on the jig.

Step 4: Secure guide strip to plywood base

  1. Align the guide strip at the marked locations
  2. Clamp guide rail and mark screw locations
  3. Predrill and counter sink screws

Next you will align the guide strip at the marked locations and have the extra 4″ on the left side of the jig. Then clamp the strip to the plywood base. After clamping, you will mark 4 locations, roughly evenly spaced, for the screws. Lastly, you will predrill the holes and countersink the screws.

Note: if your circular motor is not very close touching the guide rail, like mine, then you may not need to countersink the screws.

Step 5: Cut the excess plywood base

  1. Run the circular saw through the jig to cut off excess plywood base

Now we will use our jig. When you use the jig for the first time, some of the plywood base may be cut in the process. As long as the guide rail was cut straight, you will have a straight cutting jig. For future use, you can use the edge of the plywood base to determine where you want to cut.

If no wood is cut then that means you aligned the guide rail perfectly. However, that precision is very difficult to achieve.

Circular saw crosscut jig

A circular saw crosscut jig is designed to create straight crosscuts across the wood grain.

Materials

  • 1/2″ plywood 10×8″
    • This 8″ jig will be able to cut up to 6″ wide lumber
    • Note: If you want to create a 11″ jig to cut 9″ wide lumber then you will need 1/2″ plywood 10×11″
  • 1×2″ lumber
    • You will only use 15 inches of 1×2″.
    • You can also use 2×4″ lumber if you have some on hand
  • Wood glue
  • Screws or nails
  • Screwdriver or drill (for screws)
  • Hammer (for nails)
  • Clamps
  • Circular saw

Step 1: Square wood edge

In this step, you will need to ensure the edge of the plywood is perfect straight, along with one side of the solid wood strip.

Both of these pieces will be used to ensure that you create straight and accurate crosscuts.

The easiest way to square an edge without a circular saw jig is to use the table saw. You can also carefully square an edge with a circular saw.

Step 2: Cut the jig guide rail

After ensuring the straight edge, you will now cut a 1.5″ guide rail.

Note: Remember which edge was the straight edge.

  1. Cut the plywood 1.5×8″
    • You can also do 11″ instead of 8″ if you plan to use 2×9″ lumber.
    • If you need a 11″ jig, then you will cut the wood 1.5×11″.
  2. Set the guide rail aside

Step 3: Mark the circular saw base plate

Next, you will need to mark the width of the base plate on the plywood.

  1. Place blade along the edge of the uncut plywood
  2. Mark the base plate width on the plywood
    • This marking does not have to be exact. It will be used as an estimate.

Step 4: Cut the jig base

To cut the jig base you will..

  1. Cut the plywood 4 inches wider than the line that you marked, and 8″ long.
    • For example, if the line was marked 4 inches from the edge, then you will cut the plywood 8×8″.
    • My line is marked ____” from the edge and I cut my jig ____” wide.
    • Note: If you are making a 11″ jig, then you will need to cut this piece 11 inches long.

Step 5: Align guide strip

Now you will place the circular saw along the base plate just like step 3 and align the guide strip.

  1. Place blade flushed along edge of jig base
  2. Align the guide rail, flushed along the base plate edge

Step 6: Secure guide strip to plywood base

  1. Ensure the guide rail is square, glue, and clamp it in place
    • You should have roughly 2.5 inches of on the other side of the plywood. This will feature can be used to clamp the jig to the work piece.
  2. Add screws or nails to the firmly secure the guide rail
    • Make sure to counter sink the screws or flush the nails to prevent the guide rail from snagging the circular saw.

Step 7: Square the base plate

Now that you have the base plate and guide rail secured, you can square the base plate.

  1. Clamp the jig on a work surface
    • Clamp the jig on a work surface, but make sure the jig is hanging off of the work surface and the cutting zone is free of obstruction.
  2. Cut the jig, following the guide rail
    • Because we flushed the blade across the base in step 5, the wood will cut slightly, the first time we use the jig because of the blade teeth.
    • This was intentional to ensure that the base is perfectly square with the guide rail.

Step 8: Align and secure solid wood fence

Now, this jig looks very similar to the circular saw rip cut jig. The main difference between the two jigs are the size and the wood fence.

The wooden fence should go on the far side of the jig. Follow these steps to ensure you mount the wood fence correctly.

  1. Cut the 1×2″ wood piece 15 inches long
  2. Flip the jig over so the guide rail is on the bottom
  3. Ensure the guide rail is on the right side
    • The guide rail should be closer to the right side of the wood. If it is not, then you will need to rotate the jig until the guide rail is on your left.
    • This alignment is essential before mounting the fence.
  4. Align the fence on the far side of the jig
    • Place the fence on the far side of the jig with the square 2″ side facing you
  5. Square the fence with the left side of the jig
    • Square the fence with the left side of the wood (the straight edge).
  6. Secure the wood fence with wood glue and nails or screws.

Crosscut Jig Demo

Conclusion

Now you know how to make a crosscut and a rip cut jig with a circular saw. After making these two simple jigs, you can now easily and accurately create cuts with the circular saw.

You can now use a $50 to $100 circular saw with the precision of a $150 to $300 table saw.

Rachel

My name is Rachel Blanding and I am a woodworker. I started woodworking at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I mainly create and refurbish furniture and create art. In this site I will share with you the knowledge I have gained over the years, and what worked for me and what didn't.

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