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Thread: Magnetic saw guide

  1. #1

    Magnetic saw guide

    I will start by saying I am embarrassed to post this. I cannot saw a board at a 90* angle using a handsaw. If I have to saw a 3" wide board at 90* the cut will veer off. A magnetic saw guide for sawing right angles would keep the saw straight through the cut. In the past I have used a magnetic guide for dovetails and using the guide helped me to the point where I no longer need to use it. Of course, my dovetails are usually only 3/4" deep. I really don't want to make such a device. I would like to hear from folks who own a 90* saw guide and what they like or dislike about it. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    My 90º saw guide is called a bench hook. Others will have one called a miter box. Both are likely better at skill building and still useful after you would no longer need a saw guide.

    Here is another saw guide that is easy to make in the shop:

    Triangle Guide.jpg

    What makes making one of these easy is a shooting board. This will also help along the way of learning to make accurate 90º cuts. Even my best cuts will get an end licking on the shoot board for appearance sake:

    Clean Edges.jpg

    A sharp plane blade on a shooting board can make even clean cut end grain look better.

    One of the oldest tricks to getting an accurate 90º cut is watching the saw plate.

    Set your saw on a piece of wood and move it around until the reflection looks like a straight extension of the board. Notice the difference of how it looks when the saw is off square vertically as compared to being off square across the board. Learning to keep the image straight while the saw is moving will eventually train you to saw straight.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  3. #3
    I think you should work on your stance,even having someone else watch while you try. If you are using a proper stance, it is almost impossible to not saw straight. This has all been sorted out for centuries and is nothing new.

  4. #4
    James

    Please don't feel embarrassed. You should use what works for you. You can spend down time practicing technique, but when you need to accomplish some results, do what works. Sawing is a means to an end, not a form of performance art. A miter box, a shooting board, and a magnetic guide are all jigs.

    I do agree with Jim that a miter box and a shooting board will go a long way toward giving you square smooth cuts. The advice about looking at the reflection of the work in the saw plate is also spot on. That's how I often make them.

    Yes, body position is important. You can probably find a great tutorial from Chris Schwarz online. However, if you are right handed and your left eye is dominant it is very difficult to get the proper position. I know because I have only one good eye (left). Also, getting the saw in the right position requires depth perception that I am sometimes not capable of.

    I also have the Veritas magnetic saw guide. When I don't want to pull out my miter box (stored under a bench) for some reason, I pull that saw guide out of a drawer and use it. Like you, I also use the Veritas magnetic dovetail guide. I am satisfied with both of these, as I am with everything I have bought from Lee Valley.

    Doug

    Doug
    Last edited by Doug Hepler; 01-14-2019 at 11:10 PM. Reason: spelling

  5. #5
    James,
    To add to the good advice you've already gotten, I would think any of the magnetic jigs will work and do their job and I agree they are just another tool, so there is no shame in using them.

    This said, when I first learned woodworking, my teacher had us scribe a square line near the edge of a board, fix it in the vise, and then saw multiple cuts parallel to the scribed line, maybe 8 or 10 cuts across about 3/16 or 1/4" apart. You could hold up the board and immediately see which lines were wonky and which were straight in relation to the scribe. We spent about 10-15 minutes doing that every morning for a week, and by the end of the week, almost everyone was sawing straight lines consistently. I'd say a bit of regular practice like this and the skill will just click. There are probably lots of videos on YouTube that will demonstrate proper stance too.

    Failing this and back to your original question, any of the magnetic guides will work. The aluminum ones made by David Barron, sold by Highland Woodworking are very good. He makes dovetail guides, a 90 degree guide and a 45 degree guide also.
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 01-14-2019 at 11:54 PM.

  6. #6
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    Long time ago, they used to teach one to set a square on the wood, and use that as a guide.

  7. #7
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    I would also suggest you look at the magnetic dovetail guide by Katz-Moses (there are magnetic sides for pins, tails, and 90 degree cuts). Also check out the magnetic tenon guide that can be made; see Derek Cohen’s site “in the woodshop” in his Shop Made Tools section (Tenon Guide).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Mueller View Post
    I would also suggest you look at the magnetic dovetail guide by Katz-Moses (there are magnetic sides for pins, tails, and 90 degree cuts). Also check out the magnetic tenon guide that can be made; see Derek Cohen’s site “in the woodshop” in his Shop Made Tools section (Tenon Guide).
    2nd on the Katz-Moses. Very nice tool.
    If it wasn't for the "last minute", nothing would ever get done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Spillman View Post
    I will start by saying I am embarrassed to post this. I cannot saw a board at a 90* angle using a handsaw. If I have to saw a 3" wide board at 90* the cut will veer off. A magnetic saw guide for sawing right angles would keep the saw straight through the cut. In the past I have used a magnetic guide for dovetails and using the guide helped me to the point where I no longer need to use it. Of course, my dovetails are usually only 3/4" deep. I really don't want to make such a device. I would like to hear from folks who own a 90* saw guide and what they like or dislike about it. Thanks.
    Don't feel bad, I have trouble making a square cut also and I can't drill a hole straight even if my life depends on it (thus I bought a drill press).

    After reading your question, then everyone's replies, I'm not exactly clear on which way the cut is going. If you're talking about making a 90 degree cut to the face of the board, which only goes through the thickness of the board, a guide might be helpful. Where I have my biggest problem is sawing the width of the board and remaining square to the edge (think of cross cutting a 2x6. I'm cutting through a thickness of 1.5 inches, but I need to do this for a distance of 5.5 inches). I have recently learned that if the set of the saw is not correct, the saw itself causes the cut to wander away from square. A shorter length cut will not show as much deviation as a longer cut will. With a saw that has the correct set and using proper technique, I'm getting much better results.

  10. #10
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    James, I re-read your original post and it doesn’t seem dovetails are the issue. When cross cutting up to 4” or so wide 4/4 stock, I will usually use a backsaw. Use a square and scribe a line with a knife on the cut line. Use a chisel and make a “channel” from the waste side into the knifed scribe line. Set the backsaw into the groove just made and make the cut. I keep everything square vertically using a bench hook. As mentioned above, I will still clean up the cut on a shooting board.

  11. #11
    On anything up to a few inches wide I just avoid the bench hook and use the vice. I scribe the face and use a chisel to make a knife wall. Then I do the SAME on the reference edge (or the other way around, depending, but it’s the two reference surfaces). I’ll cut down a smidge on the first, then rotate my saw down and do the other. Then I’ve got a built-in guide for the saw to follow if I tilt my saw down slightly. I also use the “reflection” thing as backup.

    I do it this way because I have serious vision problems. My glasses are so thick that the curvature introduced by my lenses means I cannot see true parallel or perpendicular lines for what they are. So I can’t really trust what I see. The reflection thing works, but it’s not accurate enough entirely on its own if you can’t also see square with your eyes. I was constantly having to square things up with a shooting board until I started doing it this way. And there’s nothing I hate more than using a shooting board.

  12. #12
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    James,

    To actually answer your question, Lee Valley has a 90 degree magnetic guide along with dovetail guides. I have both and they work well.

    Cliff
    Mudhead: "Doesn't Louise count?" Porgy: "Only to 10, Mudhead."

  13. #13
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    My backpacking buddies used to joke, because of my sense of direction, that I had "magnets in my head". Maybe I do, because they're the ones I use as a saw guide.

  14. #14
    It takes practice.

    I recommend marking out your cuts with a knife and pencil.
    It takes a while until you get muscle memory.

  15. #15
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    It can be other issues not touched on as well, I have the same problem BTW. Are you left or right eyed, you need to know this and it is a simple test. I am left eyed, do a lot of stuff left handed and saw right handed, I couldn't saw left handed for a bet. Derek Cohen gave me a name for it but I can't recall what it was and it may not even be an issue for you but it is something to look out for. Also be very conscious of what side of the saw blade you are looking at, I have found because I am left eyed I was trying to look at the wrong side of the blade, basically looking around the saw so to speak. Practicing won't help if you either have a problem or you are practicing bad or wrong habits, all that will do is make things worse.

    Recently I have started to put two lines down, one the line I want to cut to and the other parallel and maybe two blade thicknesses off that gets cut out in the waste. This essentially does the same thing as the guide would do, watch the extra line after you position the saw and not the line you are cutting to.
    Last edited by Chris Parks; 01-15-2019 at 7:42 PM.
    Chris

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