The best way to make square, straight crosscuts on lumber or plywood with a circular saw is by using a homemade crosscut guide.
To make a crosscut guide for your circular saw:
- Cut a piece of 1”x 4” lumber the length you want to crosscut plus about 6” (we made our guide 18” long for crosscuts on boards up to 12” wide).
- Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood 3” wide by 16” long.
- Glue and screw the plywood to one end of the board at a 90° angle, using a framing square to align the two pieces.
- Place the crosscut guide on a scrap board, and run the saw along the guide so it trims off the excess plywood cleat on one side of the guide.
To make a crosscut using the guide:
- Mark the board you want to cut at the location of the crosscut.
- Align the end of the crosscut guide cleat with the mark.
- Hold the crosscut guide firmly in place, and run the base of the circular saw along the crosscut guide to make the cut.
Watch this video to find out more.
- Circular Saw Crosscut Guide (video)
- How to Make Crosscuts and Rip Cuts with a Circular Saw (video)
- Cutting Sheet Goods (video)
- How to Support Sheets of Plywood When Cutting (video)
Joe Truini: One of the quickest and easiest ways to make crosscuts is with a portable circular saw. The challenge, however, is how do you make cuts perfectly square each and every time. Well here’s one way, with a crosscut guide.
This is simply a one-by-four about 18” long and a cleat that’s three by 16” long, that’s a piece of half-inch plywood. I just glued it and screwed them together using a square to make sure these two surfaces are perpendicular. Now, before using the guide, you need to trim off the cleat and here’s how. Just take the saw and make a cut right along the fence trimming off that end of the cleat.
Now, I’ll show you why I did that. Let’s say you want to make a cut right here. All right, that’s that cross. That’s where we want to crosscut this one-by-twelve. So now you just have to line up. We know that the edge of the blade is right here, so I’m just going to line up the cleat – the end of the cleat – with that mark, and make the cut. There you go, nice clean cut right on the mark.
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