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Re: Tools: track saw
In Response To: Tools: track saw ()

Bill,
I've seen demos of track saws--and they do a great job. The edges are cut clean, with no splinters and you push a 10 pound saw instead of handling a 60 pound sheet of plywood on the table saw. All good features. But the price is outrageous. I just don't see the value.

For years I've used a pair of home made saw guides for my circular saw. I copied the same idea my father used 60 years ago.I've even made a smaller guide for my saber saw. They all work great. The only thing that has changed over the years are the "C" clamps.

The plan is really simple: Get a 4x8 sheet of 1/4" plywood and rip off a piece that includes the factory edge along the length. make the piece 6" to 8" wide. You can free hand this cut and make it as ragged as you can tolerate, or clamp on a guide of scrap wood. Take your cutoff and glue, screw or nail it back on what is left of your plywood. Set it so there at least 8 inches of plywood showing alongside the factory edge of your strip. I use glue and nails, then pull the nails once the glue has set. Use the factory edge as your guide and cut off the overhang.

What is left is an 8-foot long guide which exactly matches the cut path of your circular saw (or jig saw, or router). Neatly trim this off, leaving the double thickness part wide enough for your saw to pass any clamps. use the factory edge of the other side of the plywood sheet and make a second one.

Shorten the ugliest one to about 5 feet long and you will have three cutting guides: roughly 3', roughly 5',and 8'. The 5' version is great for cross cutting 4x8 plywood panels, the 8 footer covers the length of the same panels,and the 3 foot piece is fine for cross cutting table tops or 2x4s. Screw a cleat on the underside of it which is at right angle to the guide edge and it makes a dandy square for cross cuts. If the cleat extends a bit to the side, you can use that as a handhold and you won't need to clamp your guide for each cut.

Use 5.5mm Lauan from a big box store and you'll pay about $16 total for those 3 guides.

Like they say on late night TV: "AND THERE"S MORE" !

My neighbor had his house covered with aluminum siding. The guy installing the siding had a cutting jig which was nothing more that a piece of 3/4" plywood, about 6' long and 2' wide with a 1x4 glued along the length on each side. Bridging the 1x4s was a short saw guide (about 2 feet long) which was hinged at the back so the guide could easily flip up. He used this instead of a chop saw for trimming the ends of the siding. His first cut along the saw guide cut through the 1x4s on each side and left a kerf mark about 1/8" deep across the base. He could use that kerf mark to align square cuts, or he could shift the work inside the frame to get small angles. I think the siding he was working with was about 12 " wide, maybe a bit wider with the mounting tabs above the revealed face of the siding.

You could make a narrower frame and use the same idea for cutting strips to length, but a miter box and hand saw are even simpler.

So, simple saw guide serves as tracksaw and chopsaw.

Oh, If you want those really neat chip-free edges on plywood cuts: 1st, get a good blade. Clamp your guide in place, run a utilty knife down the edge of the guide to score the wood. Just takes a second. Make your cut. Need both edges to be chip free? make a scoring knife from two utility knife blades with a spacer between them. The spacer's thickness depends on the kerf of your saw blade. You want to score two lines that match that kerf. Run that tool along your sawguide and you score the outline of your cut.

Hope this helps

PGJ

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Tools: track saw
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