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March 15, 2018

Making a Circular Saw Rip Jig

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The Rip Jig

The genesis of this jig came when I needed to rip up a 16 foot 2x4. It would involve dragging my table saw outside (my shop is too small for long pieces), setting up an infeed and outfeed table, setting up feather boards, and wrestling a 16 foot piece of lumber through the saw. Furthermore, since I was ripping the long way (3 1/2 in.) it would have to be done twice.

I decided to try making a base for my circular saw with 2 fences on the bottom to help guide the saw more accurately. It worked well but was a pain to set up, requiring the use of 6 c-clamps. My improvements solved the set up problem, but I mistakenly used 1/2 in. plywood for the base, which meant I couldn't make it all the way through a 2x4, requiring me to finish it off with a handsaw.

The third version shown here uses 1/8 in. plywood for the base, stiffened up with a frame and inserts, which also guides the saw easily and consistently into place every time. T-track and the combination of an imbedded ruler and premade wood spacers makes it quick and easy to adjust the fences.

The jig tends to drag on the lumber so after this video I put some very slick HDPE plastic on the fences. I'll also put a thin piece of plastic on the bottom plate which will reduce wear on the base.

Other add ons and notes

A decent saw & a sharp blade

You can get away with a cheap tool in some cases, but a decent circular saw has several benefits. One of them is that the base can be difficult to get square on a cheap saw. One has enough to worry about when working on a project without having to fight the tool too. It doesn't have to be the most expensive saw, but a little internet research goes a long ways here.

I bought the Ridgid because in several magazine reviews it came out as the best tool for the money. Not necessarily the best tool - just the best for the money. It was $99 and I haven't regreted my choice in the years that I've had it.

A straight edge

A straight edge will allow plywood cuts. A full sheet of plywood is no fun to run through a table saw. Saw horses and a straight edge make it much easier.

There are fancy track systems which are kind of pricey or you can make one from a piece of plywood. Mine is a simple track that cost $20 and is attached to the board with 2 c-clamps. If I was doing a lot of this kind of work I might consider something else, but this is good enough for me.

The Speed Square

They are cheap, accurate, and essential. If you are buying a circular saw, you shouldn't leave the store without one. They work as a fence to make crosscuts a breeze.

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