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Thread: Are parallel guides worth buying?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    Are parallel guides worth buying?

    I have a set of Woodpecker parallel guides on order.
    They are on backorder (gee - there's a surprise) & I'm wondering if they are worth it or not.

    I don't mind paying the outrageous price for the Woodpecker ones since I'm more than happy with the other stuff I got from them.

    The Seneca guides are also sold out with no date for being back in production.

    I do have a project coming up that I need to make about 30 2'X2' panels out of 1/4" plywood where the guides would come in handy.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    To answer the question in your headline, I have a pair and never use them. It seems that when I get to a spot where parallel cuts are necessary, the workpiece is small enough to go on the table saw.

  3. #3
    Well, I have a set of Seneca guides that I never use, as other ways have been more convenient and accurate. A table saw, a stop on your MFT rail are just a couple of solutions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
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    2,174
    Quote Originally Posted by Rich Engelhardt View Post
    I have a set of Woodpecker parallel guides on order.
    They are on backorder (gee - there's a surprise) & I'm wondering if they are worth it or not.

    I don't mind paying the outrageous price for the Woodpecker ones since I'm more than happy with the other stuff I got from them.

    The Seneca guides are also sold out with no date for being back in production.

    I do have a project coming up that I need to make about 30 2'X2' panels out of 1/4" plywood where the guides would come in handy.
    The Woodpecker ones I've got seem fiddly, just too many parts to make them convenient to use unless I've got lots of cuts to make that are all the same width. These seem less cumbersome https://tsoproducts.com/tso-parallel-guide-system/

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Lebanon, TN
    Posts
    1,272
    I have the TSO Guides to use with my Festool track.

    I've used them a couple of times, but most times, if I'm ripping a 4x 8 sheet down the 8' length, I measure about a half inch wider than I need, line up the track with the pencil marks, get a clean straight cut with the track saw and then do the opposite edge, to required width, on the table saw.

    Not the best $400 spent when I bought all the adaptors.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
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    In contrast to parallel guides, which I never use, I have a big shop-built speed square for my track saw which I use all the time. In my use, the square is very useful, and the parallel guides are not.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    N.E. Ohio
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    Looks like they aren't all that popular so far.
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  8. #8
    I also have parallel guides for my track saw and do not use them. I had to make them, my track saw is a DeWalt, but that isn't the issue, they work. But I also made what I call track positioning guides which are simpler and easier to use. Due to my shop configuration, I could not directly cut 30 inch squares on my table saw so I would cut to final size with my track saw using the positioning guides. All they are is a jig with a movable stop and hairline pointer that has a dado which is a tight fit over the rib of my track. You set the stop to the dimension you need and then use the jig to get the track where it needs to be. You can do it easily and quickly as many times as you want. I do one end of the rail, then the other, then check the first again. So there is a little back and forth but it works. I made two types, one works when the piece you want is under the track and the other works when the piece you want is ahead of the track.

    The reason I do not use my parallel guides is attaching them to the track turns it into something ungainly - fragile and not fun to move from piece to piece. I don't think the design matters, they all seem to be that way.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    New York, NY
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    If you're looking for an inexpensive and readily available alternative to the Seneca system, these are only $60 plus the cost of two Incra rails: https://www.etsy.com/listing/1003206...es-for-festool


  10. #10
    Those are effectively the same as my track positioning guides except I only use one and do not attach it to the rail other than very briefly to position the rail. Attaching them turns into a situation I would say is flimsy. With two it is also a little challenging to get them zero'd out versus each other. But if you just use one of these and move it from end to end of the rail to position it, that is what I am doing. Using two would eliminate the back and forth, however, and you wouldn't need to leave them attached to the track if you don't want to.

    I do recommend something like this as an alternative to cutting to a mark on the wood. I got a Inca t-rule and 0.5mm pencil so I could put more accurate marks on the wood because I found it was limiting my accuracy with my track saw. But it is even better to use the equivalent of movable stops for the CMS or the scale on the rip fence of a good table saw. That is how I view my positioning guides.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2020
    Location
    Redwood City, CA
    Posts
    142
    I have the woodpecker parallel guides and I have only used them once. I keep them around in case I'm going to do some work away from home or where it's not practical to transport stuff, but otherwise the collect dust.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Ellsworth, Maine
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    1,710
    I didn't expect so many negative posts about parallel guides. I personally love my TSO parallel guides. I much prefer to rip my full sheets of plywood when they're full 8' sheets. This is where the parallel guides really shine. I first cut the factory edge to get a nice square straight edge then set my parallel guides to width that I'm after. They work amazingly well for this and I prefer doing this over using my table saw. I would highly recommend looking at TSO's parallel guides over the Woodpeckers. I personally think the Woodpeckers are over priced and look much more fiddly compared to TSO's. I also am a TSO fan.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Newtown, ct
    Posts
    34
    I have the Seneca guides and I use them mainly for repeat cuts. I also use the TSO square and it is great to make one mark and cut. If you have a table saw I donít think you need them. For narrow rips the table saw is definitely easier. I donít have a table saw hence my need.

  14. #14
    I confess I opened this thread thinking it was about parallel bars used in setting up work on machine tools. I'd actually never seen or heard of these parallel guides before. Now having seen them I don't feel I have been missing anything. I've got 52" rip capability on my Unisaw and just put pencil marks on the wood when I break down plywood with the track saw.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Edmonton, Canada
    Posts
    2,345
    When I was doing the cabinets for our house I made my own using wood and readily available parts. It worked very well. Since then haven't used them.

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