Elevate your circular saw’s abilities with easy-to-use add-on guides
When do-it-yourselfers and woodworkers talk about what’s needed to get great cutting results—cuts that are accurate, straight, and free from ragged edges—the conversation often turns quickly to miter saws and table saws as the tools that are needed. The circular saw is often overlooked. But it shouldn’t be.
That’s because the simple circular saw—a tool that’s inexpensive to buy and easy to move and store—can be a precise, reliable cutting tool. All it takes is the right cutting guide. There are different types available, and we offer several. They work in different ways for making great cuts in solid-wood boards, as well as in plywood and other sheet goods. But they all work with just about any circular saw, and they all offer better results through guided cutting.
If you’re not familiar with guided cutting, it’s the term we use at Kreg to describe cutting in a way that makes it easy to cut straight, to cut accurately, and to cut with confidence. You can learn more about guided cutting in the video below, and then read on to learn more about the kinds of cutting guides you can use to get great cutting results with your circular saw.
1. Crosscut Guides
A great solution for cutting boards to length easily and accurately
When you need to cut boards to length with a circular saw, it can be tough to get a straight, accurate cut. The solution is to use a crosscut guide. Lots of people improvise by using a carpenter’s speed square, but that’s a tool designed for measuring, not for cutting.
The best way to crosscut boards with a circular saw is to use a guide that’s designed for cutting, such as the Kreg Portable Crosscut. It guides your circular saw for straight 90° crosscuts and 45° miter cuts in boards up to 8″ wide. It’s larger than a speed square, easier to hold, and even has GripMaxx™ surfaces that help it stay in place on the board.
The Portable Crosscut also offers adjustable, retractable cutline indicators that make accuracy easy, too, by eliminating the need to measure the distance from your saw’s blade to the edge of its base.
If you want to take it up a level, you can make your circular saw work more like a miter saw with a guide like the Kreg Crosscut Station. It holds your board in place with clamps while you simply move your saw on a set of rails that guide it straight.
With the Crosscut Station, you can cut boards up to 12″ wide at 90°, and you can cut angles from 5° to 45° in narrower boards. The design allows you to align your cut location easily, and it helps prevent splintering as you cut.
2. Edge Guides
Guided accuracy for cuts in plywood and sheets
Cutting plywood and other large sheets can be tough, since you have to hold the saw straight over long distances. One of the simplest ways to keep a saw moving in a straight line is with an edge guide. As the name implies, an edge guide follows the edge of the workpiece you’re cutting to hold the saw at a preset distance from that edge as cut. Some circular saws come with a small edge guide, or at least have one available as an option. They work, but only for narrow cuts.
A larger edge guide, like the Kreg Rip-Cut™, takes the idea to another level by adding more cutting capacity and built-in measuring. That makes it perfect for cutting plywood and sheet goods down to size.
The Rip-Cut uses a universal sled that accepts just about any circular saw. With the saw mounted, you can simply slide the sled along the Rip-Cut rail to lock in the measurement you need, up to 24″ wide.
To cut, just hold the edge guide along the edge (or end) of the sheet with one hand and hold the saw with the other. As you move the saw and the guide forward, you’re assured that you’ll get a cut that’s straight and exactly parallel to the edge.
3. Guide Rails
A simple solution for straight cuts in sheet goods
Another option for guiding your circular saw is to have it follow alongside a rail that gets clamped on to your workpiece. A long board can work, but there are better solutions.
With a commercial guide rail, such as the Kreg Straight Edge Guide, you can be sure that the rail is straight. The rail is made from extruded aluminum, so it’s light and it will remain straight over time. The Straight Edge Guide has built-in clamps, too, so you don’t have to use other clamps that can sometimes get in the way of your saw.
Plus, the Straight Edge Guide has retractable cutline indictors. Just like the indicators on the Portable Crosscut, they allow you to position the guide rail accurately without having to figure out the distance from the saw’s blade to the edge of the base.
4. Guide Tracks
Transform your circular into a track-guided cutting tool
You can step up your plywood and sheet cutting game even more with a guide that gives your saw capabilities similar to those found on a specialized saw called a “track saw.”
You’ll find those capabilities on the Kreg Accu-Cut™. Instead of your saw riding alongside a rail, with the Accu-Cut your saw rides on top, mounted to the same universal saw sled that’s used with the Rip-Cut.
By riding on top, the saw’s blade runs right along the edge of the track—actually against an anti-chip strip, rather than on the aluminum. That means you can make your marks, and then lay the edge of the Accu-Cut track right on them, knowing that’s exactly where your saw will cut, so accuracy is simple.
The anti-chip strips support the veneer face of the plywood to prevent tearout along the edge of the cut. Plus, the strips also grip the wood, so the Accu-Cut stays in place without clamps. The Accu-Cut has 4′ cutting capacity, or you can get the Accu-Cut XL to make cuts up to 8′ long
You can see that we offer lots of options that can turn your circular saw into a more-precise cutting tool. Of course you can check them all out by clicking the links in this article. You can also compare these saw guides side by side. And you can see even more of Kreg’s cutting solutions on our site.
Whatever guide or guides you choose, they’ll help you get great results when you cut, so your projects will all turn out better.