October 4, 2023
In 1923, almost a century ago, the electric circular saw was first introduced into the market. Yet, before its introduction, many woodworkers relied heavily on pit saws and other traditional manual saws when making long rip cuts on boards. Gone were those days, however, for, nowadays, electric circular saws have already superseded the traditional ones. Moreover, electric circular saws have already become so popular that most woodworking shops have one or more electric circular saws on standby.
With the circular saw at hand, you might think that cutting long boards would become a piece of cake. Yet, it is not. Besides, it will be a mistake to think that way, for ripping long boards using a circular saw may still prove to be very tricky. What’s more, making long straight cuts may not be as easy as it appears to be. So, you might be needing a circular saw guide.
Should You Use Circular Saw Guide?
Reasons abound as to why you should purchase a circular saw guide. One reason is that when you try to make a very long rip cut using your circular saw, it is pretty easy for the circular saw to stray away from the cut line. Of course, the circular saw comes with many advanced features to make straight cuts. But still, you will experience significant drifts when using it.
Another reason is that your hands may wobble, and the circular saw may also vibrate, making it difficult to make straight long rip cuts. For these reasons, you need a saw guide that could keep your cut straight. This circular saw guide will keep the saw in its proper position. Besides, it provides you with a straight edge that you can use to make long rip cuts.
Most Recommended Circular Saw Track Systems
Circular saw track systems come in different brands and models. You’ll find track systems made by Kreg, Bora, Festool, and many more brands. As such, you may get confused in the choosing process, given the myriads of options at hand. It’ll help if you are familiar with the following most recommended circular saw track systems to narrow down your options to what the experts recommend:
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1) Kreg KMA2700
The Kreg KMA2700 is an excellent option if you are looking for a circular saw track. It lets you make rip cuts, angled cuts, and crosscuts. It is capable of producing maximum angled cuts of 50 inches, likewise. Moreover, it works best with MDF, plywood, panels, and other similar materials.
It is pretty easy to install and use. You only need to align it with your wood markings. Furthermore, you don’t need to clamp or clip it because its anti-slip system or guide strips will prevent the circular saw from moving to the sides. It also comes with anti-chip strips to protect the wood while you engage in cuts to avoid chipping the wood.
Thus, you can get a cleaner cut using this track system. It also comes with a starting block that bolsters the saw’s weight. With this starting block, you can start cutting with ease because this block supports your saw. This track system is also quite affordable.
- It allows you to make straight cuts with ease.
- It is very much affordable.
- Its sled is of flimsy plastic. Hence, its durability is questionable.
2) Bora 5-Piece NGX Set 544500
The Bora 544500 is another excellent option if you are looking for a track system for your circular saw. It comes with a clamp edge, extension, saw plate, strip, and 2 track clamps. Its saw plate comes with a molded channel that comes fixed. This reduces guesswork and aberrations in cuts.
The plate also enables the circular saw to fit quickly on the guide. It also stabilizes the saw. Moreover, this track system comes with tick-marks to measure the distance from its clamp rail. Thus, you only need to exert extra pressure on your saw to make a cut.
The Bora NGX Set comes with two clamp types. One type is for straight cuts, another for angled cuts. Nevertheless, before buying, you need to ensure that it will suit your saw well. Check your saw plate’s forepart length up to your back guard. Furthermore, the front lip width should not be more than 3/4″. Moreover, the blade guard of your saw should range between 2-1/2″ to 5-1/4″.
- Its clamp edge design is easy to attach.
- It’s easy to secure and holds firmly.
- It comes with a heavy gauge and is made of rigid aluminum for better durability.
- You can likewise use it with a router or jigsaw.
- It is somewhat overpriced.
3) Bora WTX Clamp Edge and Straight Cut Guide
Another offering from Bora is the Bora WTX Clamp Edge and Straight Cut Guide. It features a rigid guide rail made of aluminum that lets you cut straight using your circular saw. It usually works in tandem with the Bora (WTX) Saw Plate that you can buy separately.
You can fit any material into this guide because it comes with an adjustable clamp that slides well to fit every material you would like to cut. Thus, it locks in naturally. With its locking handle, you can ensure that the material gets secured in place. Additionally, its guide rail is around 100″ long, which lets you make cuts with precision.
You will receive in this kit a clamp, extension, both of which are 50 inches long. If you combine them, it totals 100 inches in length.
- It’s pretty thick.
- It’s also quite rigid.
- It is challenging to get the other end locked.
- The bottom clamp is quite difficult to release.
4) Festool FS-1400/2 55″ Guide Rail
With this track system, you will have around eight different length options from 32″ to 197″. Thus, you can select the most applicable length for your needs. It comes with a splinter guard that aligns precisely to the cut line. Thus, you can quicken the setup time for this system while protecting tear-outs.
You can easily connect this guide rail with its rail connectors. Therefore, you can secure this rail rigidly. This guide rail also saves you from making laborious measurements and wasted reworks. You can use this with Festool’s other saw, allowing you to make precise cuts up to forty-nine inches in length.
With this rail guide, you can ensure that you can make splinter-free edges that smoothly align. You can make longer rip cuts using this guide rail. Plus, this guide rail comes with non-skid strips that you can use underneath this rail. These non-skid strips help prevent sliding during cutting and setting up.
- It lets you join up rails to make longer cuts.
- It offers micro-adjustment.
- It provides quality cuts.
- It is quite heavy than the other models mentioned above.
- It is pretty expensive.
- Its rails do not come with connectors and clamps.
5) Kreg KMA2685
The Kreg KMA2685 is another excellent option if you want to maximize the use of your circular saw to produce perfect rip cuts. With the use of this saw guide, you can make accurate, repeatable cuts more quickly and easily. So, it is a product that is worth considering.
Its maximum cut size is 34 inches, which is a pretty good size for making long cuts. It comes with a measuring scale that enables you to save time in measuring. Hence with this rail guide, you can speed up your works.
You will find this track system easy to install and comes with an oversized edge for better control throughout the cuts. It comes compatible with many circular saws, both left-bladed and right-bladed ones. Nevertheless, you cannot use this one with worm drive saws.
- It’s reasonably priced.
- It’s compatible with many circular saws.
- It comes with an oversized edge.
- Its rip fence features a plastic material.
- It’s not compatible with a worm drive saw.
6) Makita 194368-5
The Makita 194368-5 is a 55-inch guide rail that you can use along with the plunge saw like the Makita SP6000. It works best with the saw blade and can deliver straight and smooth cuts. You can also use it with a router, but you should use a rail adaptor. This track guide can rip sheet materials. This guide rail may be pretty heavy at six pounds.
Nevertheless, it is tough and is durable. It’s a good option if you do not have a table saw. However, you should check the compatibility of this guide rail with your circular saw before buying it. You should likewise buy the correct adaptor with a compatible saw.
- Perfect for making accurate straight cuts.
- Ideal for ripping sheets.
- It’s a bit heavy.
- It’s not compatible with other circular saws.
Buyer’s Guide: Factors to Consider When Choosing a Circular Saw Guide
As you familiarize yourself with the most recommended circular saw track guide, you will become confident in choosing the right track guide for your needs. Nevertheless, it will also help if you are cognizant of the following factors to consider when buying a circular saw guide:
Length of the Guide
One question you need to address about guide length is how long you want your guide rail. Your choice likewise will depend on the cut types you want to make. Most guide rails are around 24-inch long. Nevertheless, you can find some guide rails that go beyond this average length.
Some guide rails come in one piece, while you can buy others in sections. Manufacturers make sure that you can add additional components whenever you desire. Thus, you can increase the length depending on your needs.
When considering the length of the guide rail, you also need to consider the space you have in your shop. If you have a spacious shop, you can always choose something that provides you with a more extended guide rail. But if you got limited space, you can content yourself with whatever is suitable to the limited space you have.
Width of the Guide
Another essential factor to consider is the width of the guide. You can go for a wider track if you want more stability when cutting. Nevertheless, if you are making a rip cut on thinner stock, you may find the wider width a bit challenging.
As a caveat, it will be best to choose a width that can handle the base plate of the circular saw, for some products might be too thick or too thin for accommodating the saw base.
Another factor that you should consider is its compatibility with the circular saw. Remember that not all circular saw track systems will be compatible with any circular saw. More often, you will find models that are only suitable to a particular model. Thus, you need to consider beforehand the compatibility of the guide rails. For this reason, it will be best to select a universal system that can fit all types of circular saws.
When choosing a guide rail, you need to strike a balance between weight and durability. If you want a stronger and more durable guide rail, you can go for better materials. But you will also discover that the stronger the guide rail, the heavier they are. So, the downside of buying something durable is the additional weight that comes with it.
Nevertheless, if you go for portability and ease of transport, you may end up with a lightweight guide rail to carry around with ease. But your choice will also be less durable. So, it will be best to strike a balance between durability and portability.
Circular saw track systems come in different designs. Some come with ingenious designs, while others only come with standard designs. The thing is, as long as it can provide you with a stable guide for making excellent cuts, you can maximize the use of your circular saw. It should also have an easy-to-use design, even if you are not a professional woodworker. Moreover, it should be easy to set up.
As mentioned above, guide rails come in various weights. If you work alone, you can always go for something lightweight. But if you want to have something stable, you can always opt for something heavier. The heavier weight can help prevent slips and shakes while you cut. Likewise, it will be best to settle for a guide rail that is firmly stable and easy to use.
Clamping Mechanism and Zero Clearance
You should also choose products that come with a clamping mechanism. This clamping mechanism can keep your materials in place while you cut them. You will also find guide rails that depend on base that offer movement resistance. These features may come in handy in making your cuts easy and precise. Moreover, it will be best to go for a guide rail that offers zero clearance. Such a zero clearance can help you prevent splintering.
Features and Structures You Must Know about Circular Saw Guide Rail Systems
As you examine the structure of the guide rails, you will discover that its structure is quite simple. Yet, it does excellent works in helping you maximize the use of your circular saw. Although the designs and structures vary from one model to another, you will find that most guide rails come with the following basic features and structures:
This non-slip rubber lets the guide rail hold its components together. It prevents the rails from changing and slipping out of the cut line. You usually set this rubber foam under the guide rail.
The guide rib is another feature of the guide rail. The guide plate usually has a groove. This groove readily locks onto the guide rib for preventing the slipping of the saw off the cut line.
You will notice that the wooden plank’s edge would tear quickly while you cut. This tear causes splintering. So, to prevent splintering, the guide rail has a splinter guard to prevent a tear.
The slide coating helps you get an accurate and smooth slide using your circular saw.
How to Get Precision Cuts Using the Guide Rail?
If you are a beginner in using guide rail, you may get a bit tentative in using it with your circular saw. Hence, we are providing you with the following tips on how to get precision cuts using the guide rail:
- Ensure that you correctly adjust your guide rails and saw. Make sure that they fit flawlessly together to accomplish a smooth cut. You can consult the manual to achieve such a perfect adjustment.
- You should ensure that the rail is clean so that the saw will get a clean and smooth ride.
- When installing your guide rail, make sure that you correctly measure when laying out the rails. Moreover, ensure that the clamps fit well. Ensure likewise that your measurements are equal to achieve proper alignment.
- Ensure that you get the proper position for your saw before starting a cut. Keep the saw between your guide rails. Ensure that you properly position it to achieve a perfect cut.
- Ensure that you align the guide rails correctly, especially if you are making longer cuts. If you use connectors, make sure that the connectors align to ensure that you get accurate cuts.
Should You Buy a Track Saw Instead?
The track saw will enable you to make a straight cut more precisely. Moreover, you can use it to facilitate plunge cuts. Nevertheless, it comes with a few downsides. On the one hand, it is costly and far more expensive than the circular saw. Besides, it comes with a small blade, usually around 6.5 inches in diameter. Because of its limited blade size, you will find it hard to cut deeply using it. You will also find the track saw struggling when cutting through rough or bowed surfaces.
So, with these limitations, you will indeed find a circular saw with a track system a more appealing alternative to the track saw. What’s more, you can maximize the use of your circular saw if you complement it with a track system.
Whether you’re a DIYer or a professional, you will indeed find the circular saw guide rail a helpful tool for improving the quality of your cuts. Besides, it is useful for safety reasons. Using a guide rail, you can quickly make a straight cut and rip cut as well. You can also cut cleanly while making it easy for you to cut with accuracy and consistency.
Guide rails can also enable you to increase the safety of using your circular saw. With the right guide rail, you can ascertain where the blade will go when you push it. You also have a guide on where not to put your hands when cutting. Thus, you can minimize accidents and save you from nasty cuts. Lastly, if you have the resources, you should ensure that you use one of these guide rails when using a circular saw.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.