I always feel really low on time – don’t we all? And while I love working on DIY projects on evenings and weekends, it’s a huge disincentive if I feel like I’ll spend more time setting up or getting my tools to work correctly for the job than I will actually doing the thing. And me not doing projects isn’t great for this blog.
So lately I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make projects easier and quicker for me to do. Hopefully you’ll see several improvements in place over the next several months. But today, I wanted to share the easiest and quickest improvement I’ve made to my work process: a DIY circular saw guide made from the leftover wood scraps.
I use a circular saw for pretty much all of my projects. It’s what I have! I like that it is versatile but it also adds a lot of steps to making a cut. The issue being that to get a straight cut, it’s best to run the saw’s footpiece against a piece of straight wood, but that obviously is offset from the blade.
So for each cut for each project, I generally measure, line up my saw offset guide (just a piece of wood that I wrote on with a marker) and a piece of very straight wood, check it carefully with a square tool, clamp it down, head to the other side of the wood to check that it is perfectly on the line and test it with the square tool, and then clamp that down as well.
I then put my saw offset guide and square off to the side where I definitely won’t forget I put them when I am ready for the next measurement. Then I make the cut, running the saw along the offset piece of wood so the blade lines up perfectly:
As you can see, it works really well, but it is also a few extra steps. Over the course of a project like the birdseed storage container I am working on, those few extra steps per cut really add up and make me feel antsy that I’m not making progress quickly enough. This is supposed to be fun!
Finally, I took a few minutes to make a saw guide to cut down on those steps after seeing a variety of similar but slightly different tutorials on the internet. I’m so glad I did! This only took about 10 minutes of my time (plus 30 minutes of glue drying time) and is already making things so much easier and quicker for me! Here’s how I did it:
DIY Circular Saw Guide from Scrap Wood
I used just three random pieces of leftover wood from past projects (the bedroom chest and a piece of trim that I used to cover a weird edge on my ceiling).
The wide piece would form the base, the thin piece the fence to run the saw against while making cuts, and the trim piece would help form a lip on the bottom to check for 90 degree angles.
Since this is supposed to be a guide for making straight cuts, I wanted to be extra sure that everything was lined up perfectly. Slanty edges wouldn’t do, so I trimmed the base down to size while also being sure that it was perfectly 90 degrees.
Then, I glued the straight piece (which will be the fence to run the saw against) down against one edge…
… and the trim on the bottom, making sure it lined up exactly with the edge so I could can it to check for perfect 90 degree angle.
Once the glue dried, I secured it all with a few screws. I made sure to drill space to sink the one holding the trim on the bottom fully into the wood (so the saw could run over it smoothly). I did the same for the others while I was at it.
Then it was the fun part! I ran the saw along the fence piece, cutting into the flat piece and cutting the guide into shape.
That’s it! The offset is perfectly measured by my own saw, and the piece on the bottom lets me line up a 90 degree angle.
Now, I just have to measure, line up the guide, clamp it down, and I am good to make the cut!
It saves like 30 seconds per cut. Since it took only about 10 minutes to actually make, it’ll “pay for itself” in one project.
There are definitely quicker and easier ones of these you can make (like this) which would take about 1 minute, but I decided to make mine a little more substantive and include the 90 degree edge on the bottom since I’ll hopefully be using this for a while.
There you have it! Possibly the quickest DIY I’ve posted on this blog and certainly not original, but a game-changer for me as I work on projects, and not something that was obvious to me when I first got my saw. I’m glad I finally took the tiny amount of time to build one!