Circular Saw Crosscut & Rip Jig

Last Updated:  July 2, 2021

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Not everyone has a table saw and miter saw, and even if you do, this handy circular saw crosscut and rip station will help you do some of the things a table saw and miter saw will.

You’ll be able to rip, crosscut, and cut 45 degree miters. It’s really the perfect station for making boxes and picture frames.

Making the Base

Start with a 2 ft by 2 ft sheet of 3/4” plywood. I had a 2 ft by 4 ft piece and had to cut it down with a circular saw guide.

Making the Front and Back Fences

The front and back fences are made from 2×2 pieces of red oak (or whatever hardwood you choose). If your local big box store doesn’t have any in stock, you can order them online or glue two pieces of 1×2 together (some of the 2x2s carried in the store are actually 1x2s glued together).

If you’re using T Track, a 3/4” x 3/8” dado will need to be cut into each of the 3 fences. I use two of the fences as supports as I cut the dado in the third fence.

Attach the front and back fences to the base with wood glue and clamp it securely. Place them flush with the plywood edge and then move the back fence until the measurement on each end is the same.

Making the Slide

The slide is cut from 1×6 red oak to the length that spans from the outer edge of the front fence to the back fence.

Depending on your circular saw and its motor placement, you may need to cut a left rail thinner than a 1×2. I needed a rail that was 1 1/8” so I had to cut a strip from the leftover 1×6. To do this I screwed the workpiece to a scrap piece of plywood in the upper left corners. The plywood was then clamped to the workbench and I used the slide as a support.

I clamped my circular saw guide to the slide and cut the 1 1/8” strip and then glued it to the slide.

Attaching the slide assembly to the front and back fence is the most important part of this project. Use a framing square or 12” speed square to position the slide square with the front fence and carefully clamp it down.

Drive a screw in each left corner into the front and back fence to hold it in place temporarily.

Lower the blade to just under the slide and make a cut all the way through, separating the two pieces of the slide.

Remove the slide, add glue to the ends, reattach it in the same screw holes and clamp it down. Check that the slide is still square.

Cut a piece of 1×2 to length and attach it to the newly separated section of slide.

Glue up the ends of the right side of the rail and position it so that it registers evenly against the circular saw base. Once the saw rides smoothly up and down the slide, without any play side to side, firmly clamp the slide down.

Making the Rip Fence

Cut the rip fence to the length between the front and back fence. If you aren’t using T Track, there is an alternate method for tightening the fence down:

In each of the fence guides, drill a 3/4” hole about 1/2” down. It needs to be deep enough to fit the thickness of a 5/16” nut and the head of a 5/16” hex bolt. Drill the rest of the way through the guide with a 5/16” bit.

Glue the nut into the bottom of the hole with CA glue or epoxy and make sure it stays lined up and that no glue gets in the threads.

Once the glue dries thread the bolt through until the head sits just under the surface of the wood. Thread a nut down far enough so that some threads stick up past the top of the handle. Add another nut to the top and tighten both nuts down. The handle will now turn the bolt.

Glue the fence guide pieces and clamp them together.

Push a scrap piece of red oak up against the slide and then push the rip fence up against the scrap piece. This will allow you to extend the slide’s reference surface and align the rip fence parallel with the slide.

Attach the fence guides and add a clamp on each end. After about 30-45 minutes remove the clamps and gently slide the fence to the edge of the base and add additional clamps.

Once the T Track is installed, mark a line on the fence guide directly in the middle of the T Track. Drill a 5/16” hole and insert a 1 1/2” T bolt through the back side. A 5/16” fender washer and star knob will finish it off.

Making the Miter Guide

The miter guide is also made from 1×2 red oak. The tricky part is referencing the slide to draw a 45 degree angle on the base. I’ll explain how I did it, but there may be a better way. The important thing is to reference the slide and not the edge of the plywood.

I used the same scrap piece of wood that I used to align the rip fence to now extend the reference area to measure for the miter guide. I used a steel protractor (use anything that is flat and measures angles) to reference the scrap piece and also measure a 45 degree angle. I had to carefully extend the line with the straight-edge from my combination square.

Put the guide in place right along the line and temporarily clamp it down. Cut a test piece to check your work by cutting the angle and taking the offcut, turn it around, and place it up against the angle you just cut. If that total angle measures 90 degrees, you’re right on. Adjust as needed.

Once it’s right on 45 degrees, drill two holes with a 1/4” drill bit, through the guide and just slightly into the plywood.

Remove the guide and drill the holes in the plywood further with a 5/16” drill bit. I added some CA glue to the outside of my 1/4” 20 threaded inserts before I screwed them in.

The threads on the star knobs I bought weren’t long enough to reach the inserts so I recessed the holes a bit with a forstner bit. The knobs also fit nicely into those recesses.

This project is really satisfying to make and is perfect for a small shop, or for a hobbyist or beginner that has a circular saw and not much else.

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