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How to Choose a Straight Edge for a Circular Saw

Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva demonstrates some techniques for cutting straight edges with a circular saw.


  1. Measure the offset of the circular saw guide to the blade. Mark whatever is being cut at the desired length, plus the offset.
  2. Use a straight scrap piece of wood and place it on the measurement. Run the saw along the scrap piece of wood and the cut should be straight.
  3. With a track saw, simply place the track along the desired length mark, offsetting for the thickness of the blade, and run the saw across the track.
  4. Circular saws can also be converted to track saws using a guide system. It comes with a jig that can be attached to the bottom of any saw.
  5. Make a track using two pieces of plywood. Cut one piece of plywood to be about 2” wide and glue it on top of the other piece.
  6. Run the circular saw alongside the scrap piece on both sides. This will create an accurate guide accommodating the required offset for each side of the saw.