Guide rails are a useful tool to make straight cuts with a circular saw. They enhance your productivity and improve the quality of your cuts. But to use a guide rail correctly one needs some initial instruction.
Choosing the circular saw guide rail is just a beginning. It’s a guide rail that its potential unfolds with. So let’s see what this tool enables you to do.
What Is a Guide Rail?
Like any other rail, it’s the system that defines the movement of an attached device (in our situation, the saw). No matter if it’s regular wood, plywood, MDF, or whatever cuttable; a guide rail will do you good with everything. The cuts will be perfectly straight, too.
First you fix the rail on the workpiece, so that it provides the right place and direction. Then you install the saw. Usually rail guides come with special sleds, versatile or compatible with certain saw models. If you already have a circular saw, pay attention to compatibility when buying a rail guide.
There are different ways of arranging rail guides. The best examples of it are Accu-Cut and Rip-Cut, technologies used by Kreg, a major tool manufacturer. Rip-Cut is great for making cuts perpendicular to the guide rail, with another perpendicular while Accu-Cut directs the saw along it. Both ways are great for most types of work, still more suitable for some particular situations. Other vendors also offer various types of guide rails, so it may get confusing.
Guide Rail Abilities
While a circular saw itself is a powerful tool saving effort and acceleration work, a guide rail provides precision and helps to automate recurring tasks. It may help with:
- Precision cuts. As you fix the guide rail, all you have to do is move the saw firmly along it.
- No splinters, due to firm and steady movement.
- Cutting the same pieces. All you have to do is to apply the guide rail with the same settings and make the cut again.
- Making angled cuts. With a rail, they are as precise as straight ones. Just adjust the blade of the saw correctly.
- Making plunge cuts. A rail helps you if you want to make a precise cut in the middle of the workpiece.
You just need to try your saw once with a guide rail to feel the difference. The process and the result will both become more enjoyable.
Guide on Guides? Yes!
Before you purchase a guide rail, there are things to think over and care of. Here is the approximate list of requirements to your future tool.
- Compatibility with your track saw (if you already have one). If not, you better buy a kit by one vendor that grants perfect compatibility. Otherwise, check whether the guide you like can work with your saw.
- Length (and the sled length as well). It defines the maximum width and length of pieces you can cut with it.
- System. It depends on the sort of work you do.
- Measurements. If you use imperial units, and the European made guide rail you have chosen only has metric ones (or vice versa), it will be a nasty surprise.
- Material. If defines durability – at least if you choose between metal and plastic parts.
You may also check which particular models are compatible with the track saw you own or plan to purchase.
So… Where Does It Guide Us?
Guide rails are so numerous now that one needs to do personal research before buying. So the experience of those already familiar with guide rails is precious. Do (or did) you use your track with a rail? What type? What were the results? Did you like them? What particular models or sets are you considering, or have had used? Your comments are priceless, as they bring wisdom. Drop what you have to share, and we’ll appreciate that.
Prefer to make your own things?
Check out this article on how to make a circular saw guide.