A circular saw is an amazing tool that can help you out tremendously in all woodworking projects.
However, you need the help of the best circular saw guide rail to draw out your circular saw’s full potential for correct measurements and a perfect cut.
After all, there are a lot of circular saw tracks available on the market. If you don’t have much experience, just seeing them can be very stressful.
That is precisely why we prepare the best 5 options below and a clear guide to help you determine which item fits your situation the best.
Table of Contents
- Why Use A Circular Saw Guide?
- Types of Circular Saw Guide Rails
- Structure of Circular Saw Guide Rail System
- Things To Consider When Buy Circular Saw Guide Rail
- 5 Best Circular Saw Guide Rails – Reviews
- Tips How To Use Circular Saw Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions Circular Saw Guide Rail
- A Circular Saw Grip Guide Is Necessary For Every Cut?
- What Are The Disadvantages Of Use Circular Saw Guide Rail?
- Are Circular Saw Guide Rails Universal?
- How To Measure The Offset Of Circular Saws?
- Which Is Better Between Clamps And Anti-Slip Strips?
- Can Circular Guide Rails Work With Plunge Saws?
- How Can I Stabilize Circular Guide Rails On Boards With No Parallel Edge?
Why Use A Circular Saw Guide?
The circular saw is one of the oldest tools in the world of woodworking. Even if you have something fancy like a table saw, there will still be times when the circular saw can shine.
The biggest advantage that this type of saw holds lies in the teeth, which constantly turn at high speed. On the other hand, other saws rely on the traditional back-and-forth motion.
There are, of course, some drawbacks to circular saws. The prime example of these drawbacks is the lack of precision while cutting.
With the introduction of circular saw guides, you will never have to worry about this issue.
Once you put a circular saw onto the best circular saw guide rail, your cuts are guaranteed to be straight and precise. The rails can also prevent splinters from littering your workshop.
Types of Circular Saw Guide Rails
Currently, there are two types of circular saw guide rails, steel, and aluminum.
Steel Guide Rails
The main advantage that steel guide rails hold over aluminum ones is the fact that they are very durable. These rails can take a whole lot of damage without budging.
However, they get rusty easily, and the weight makes it fairly difficult to control them properly.
Aluminum Guide Rails
Aluminum is among the lightest metals, so guide rails made from it are incredibly lightweight. You can move them easily and quickly.
This material is also not capable of going rusty, so the elegant look will last for a while.
As we have mentioned above, the only con to using aluminum guide rails is their lack of durability. Also, these rails tend to cost a lot more.
Moreover, you also can make a simple DIY fence with metal or wood, even mix both by yourself.
They are often called as rip fences. There are a lot of guides online to build them. But we recommend you should buy one instead of trying to do it.
Structure of Circular Saw Guide Rail System
A guide rail almost always consists of three parts, a base, a fence, and a stopping mechanism.
Between the base and the fence is a small gap where you will run the blade through. The fence will ensure that your saw does not go overboard while cutting.
Below the base is an adjustable stop mechanism that you can use to adjust the cuts.
For instance, if you are looking for a perfect square cut, you can test things out and nudge the stop to change the angle of the cuts.
However, this is basic structure of the guide rail. It can vary between the manufacturer.
Things To Consider When Buy Circular Saw Guide Rail
Choosing the best circular saw guide rail is not as easy as you might believe. There are actually a lot of boxes to check, and here are some of them.
The first and foremost thing that you need to think about is the type of woodworking you love to do.
For example, if you are a fan of fine and detailed works, then you should avoid deep and long cuts. In other words, the straighter saw tracks will not be good choices.
Some people only use their circular saws for things like lumber ripping. If you are one of them, then a general-purpose circular saw guide rail might not satisfy you. You would need a specialized saw guide for these kinds of operations.
After you have decided on the style, you will need to pay attention to the length of the guides.
The majority of circular saw guides arrive as one piece. However, there are those that are divided into sections. This design choice will provide you with the ability to change the length of the guide.
You should keep the working space in mind whenever you are choosing the length of a guide.
An open work area will allow you to get a much longer guide, as there is no limitation of space. A longer guide can help tremendously in the making of rip cuts.
Most people overlook this characteristic while picking the best circular saw guide rail. However, it does play an imperative role in the grand scheme of things.
If your track is wide enough, you will immediately notice that it is much more stable to cut on.
You may even notice no shaking at all. As a result, your finished product will be much more polished.
Another thing to keep in mind is to ensure that the width must be enough for holding the base plate of your circular saw.
Whenever a circular saw works, it will create a strong vibration throughout the table. Your circular saw guide rail will sometimes slip through your hands.
With a good rubber grip, you can guide the saw comfortably through any type of wood. This grip reduces the impact you will feel on your hands, reducing the chance of slipping to a minimum.
Splinter is among the most troublesome headaches that a woodworker will have to face. Luckily, manufacturers had foreseen it and came up with a countermeasure: splinter shields.
These devices will stop all splinters from escaping, ensuring that your workspace is as clean as possible.
Each type of material offers a unique balance of weight and durability. In most cases, stronger materials, while weighing more, can survive heavy-duty utilization for a longer time.
The guides lighter in weight are easier to use, but they lack durability. For this reason, it is incredibly easy for them to take damage or wear out.
We advise that you get lighter guide rails if you are new to the world of woodworking. The high gauge aluminum is one of the good options.
This aspect is more important for people who just started their woodworking journey. After all, they tend to lack proper funding, so a multi-purpose tool will help them out a lot. They can perform more different cuts.
With a highly versatile circular saw guide, you can turn a circular saw into a track saw or even a jointer.
You are still learning the ropes, so the heavier guides will only confuse you. You also will change the rails fairly quickly, so there is no need for them to be too durable.
Circular saws have always been one of the dangerous tools, with real risks of injuries looming over their users.
That is precisely why you must pay close attention to the clamping mechanism of your track.
If the track can clamp tightly, it will not move at all during the cutting process. The resulting stability means that there is less of a chance for you to mess up.
5 Best Circular Saw Guide Rails – Reviews
Here are the current 5 best options on the market, in our opinion. Each of them has its own unique advantages.
1. Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track
The first item on this list is the Kreg KMA2700, the arguably best overall saw guide.
This sentiment is shared by regular users and professional critics alike due to the design of this saw track. Of course, it also has some additional advantages.
With just one look, you will immediately notice the special anti-slip guide strips.
Despite their looks, they can hold your track in place much better than any kind of clamp. There will be no instability, as these things will stick like glue onto a surface.
The way Kreg designed this circular saw track also means that it can make more than just circular cuts.
If you know what you are doing, you can make use of its flexible characteristic to create cross, angled, and also rip cuts. The cuts will all be incredibly precise.
There are also the anti-chip strips, which we consider to be the main reason for this track’s excellence. They are there to prevent any splintering from happening while you are cutting.
They also prop the material up while during the process, allowing the saw to approach the material quicker.
You do need to have some experience to properly utilize all the incredible features that this saw track offers.
Even the process of connecting the pieces together can pose a huge challenge. If you do this step wrong, there will be a noticeable variant in cut quality.
2. Kreg KMA2685 Circular Saw Guide
There is a huge difference between the Kreg Rip-Cut KMA2685 Circular Saw Guide and the other Kreg KMA2700. While the latter can do quite a lot of cuts, the former only make rip cuts and crosscut.
However, it is amazingly efficient and good at creating those cuts.
One of its biggest advantages lies in its easy-to-use nature. There is nothing challenging about using this product.
All you need to do is lock the saw at exactly the right measurement. Thanks to the integrated measuring scale, there is simply no way that you can mess this step up.
The oversize edge guide plays a major part if you are a fan of precision cutting. With its impressive size, the chance of you getting the wrong measurement is basically non-existent.
That is why even the most inexperienced woodcutters can quickly learn how to use this guide.
You also have less of a chance of getting hurt while using this guide, as it allows you to move the saw toward the material.
The main complaint that we have against this item is the fact that it is too light. It’s true that the best circular saw guide rail needs to be light, but being too light produces another set of issues.
If you are not careful, the lightness of this guide can throw you off balance, destroying the material.
3. Bora WTX 543100 Straight Cut/Clamp Edge Guide
There are things a track saw can do that a circular one just can’t. However, what if you can blur the line? That is exactly what the Bora WTX 543100 Straight Cut/Clamp Edge Guide.
With its incredible straight cutting capability, this guide can make your circular saw double as a track saw.
Despite it already has an impressive 50-inch cutting length, it seems like the creators of this guide weren’t satisfied.
They added in an extension that, when connected, can extend the available cut length another 50 inches. In other words, it can help you cut through 100 inches of material.
You don’t need to worry about the extension not sticking to the guide properly. Thanks to the utilization of a special 3-point contact system, the guide can stick onto the extension indefinitely.
Also, this contact system plays a major role in keeping your circular saw in place.
The versatile nature of this guide is nothing to scoff at, as a circular saw is not the only thing that it can fit with. Also, you can use this guide on a router or even a jigsaw.
However, we do have some issues with the clamps of this saw guide. They are actually hard to lock, making the setting up process a nightmare. Our only advice regarding this issue is to never uninstall.
4. Festool FS-1400/2 Guide Rail
In the world of woodworking, Festool is one of, if not the most prestigious name there is. Ever since its conception in 1925, this German manufacturer has never wavered in its search for the ultimate product.
One prime example of this commitment is the Festool FS-1400/2 Guide Rail.
The most obvious evidence of this guide rail’s premium nature is the aluminum material that makes up its body.
It is a special type of industrial aluminum, meaning the guide rail is much stronger and more durable. Also, the color of this material is much more eye-pleasing.
This guide rail also has a respectably versatile nature, as there are 8 options for its cutting length. These options range from a minimum of 32” to a maximum of 197”.
No matter what kind of project you are tackling, this guide rail can turn to the size that is perfectly suitable.
You also get an impressive splinter guard, which can perfectly align with any cut line you want to do. This splinter guard helps tremendously in saving the time needed to spend on cutting.
Also, the chance of splinters causing injuries to you is greatly reduced.
The biggest issue that we have against this guide rail is the fact that there is no clamp nor connector.
You must spend another sum on these things. This, coupled with the already high price of the guide rail, means that no one but the pros can use it.
5. E. Emerson Tool Co. CXW-36
Most of the time, people just starting out on the woodworking path do not have adequate budgets.
That is why they almost always lack proper gears, especially saws. With the E. Emerson Tool CXW-36that is no longer an option.
This product will help turn your circular saw into a track saw and a router. As such, you can save quite a bit of money to use on something else, such as better materials.
You also get an additional connector, which costs more than you think.
This saw guide is much more reliable than other competitors, thanks to the special tubes its creator put inside it.
The tubes ensure that the guide can be much more rigid without having to gain any weight. As a result, you have an extremely durable yet lightweight guide.
The connectors available between each piece make sure that it is easy to connect all the sections together. You will not need to spend whole afternoons each time you want to use the guide rail.
These connectors are also quite good at improving durability even further.
However, you must be careful while using this saw, as its precision is still lacking. If you are careless, the end result will be drastically different from what you have in mind.
To evade this possibility, the best way is to make use of another more precise measurement tool.
Tips How To Use Circular Saw Guide
Here are some tips to use a circular saw guide to its best capability.
You need to line the track’s edge according to the reference marks you drew beforehand on the workpiece. Only then can you clamp the guide track down and start cutting.
If you fail to do so, your cut will stray away from the correct path, destroying the workpiece.
Guide Sight Locating
Each saw manufacturer has their own approach to making guide sight. As a result, they all have a unique look, but the working principle stays the same.
That is why you can almost always locate the guide sights on the shoe before the blades. They will tell you where the outside edge of the blade would be.
Once you are sure where the guide sights are on your saw, you can line them up with the guide rails correctly. Doing this can ensure that your cut follows the guide rail to a tee.
You need to keep in mind that the saw blade will always remove some materials.
For this reason, the best solution is to place your track right on top of your workpiece according to length. You should never set it up following your material’s cut-off.
Adding In Support
As circular saw guide rails work just like rulers, they have the same problems that rulers have. One of those is the fact that their precision suffers greatly whenever the surface is not steady.
To ensure that the guide rail is correctly guiding your circular saw, you should put something on top of your workspace.
Our recommendation is to pick either a thick foam piece or rigid insulation sheet.
With this additional support, your material can lie flatly, eliminating any chance of the guide rail being unstable.
There is also another advantage in that it will provide some grip, holding your workpiece in place.
Frequently Asked Questions Circular Saw Guide Rail
A Circular Saw Grip Guide Is Necessary For Every Cut?
No, circular saw grip guides are best used to do straight cuts and precision rip cuts. It works just like a ruler so that you don’t make mistakes due to instability.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Use Circular Saw Guide Rail?
The only disadvantage regarding that we can think of is that it takes a while to set up. Additionally, a circular saw guide rail is also an extra investment.
Are Circular Saw Guide Rails Universal?
Some guide rails can fit practically most types of circular saw available on the market.
However, there is no single guide rail that can truly be universal. The main reason for this issue is the fact that there are so many shapes and sizes for circular saws.
How To Measure The Offset Of Circular Saws?
Mark your cut lines onto the material, measure the gap between the saw shoe’s edge to the blade. This value is the offset of your circular saw.
Which Is Better Between Clamps And Anti-Slip Strips?
For the most part, anti-slip strips are much more efficient at stabilizing your saw. The difference is certainly noticeable, so we recommend getting anti-slip strips whenever you can.
Can Circular Guide Rails Work With Plunge Saws?
Despite the fact that plunge saws work on a different basis than circular saws, circular guide rails can be used for plunge saws.
The only thing that you need to pay attention to is the thickness of the rail. If the saw cannot fit in, then you should not use it.
How Can I Stabilize Circular Guide Rails On Boards With No Parallel Edge?
If your saw uses clamps to stabilize itself, then you need to create parallel edges yourself for them to work. The quickest way to do so is to affix some type of wedge on one end.
With this guide, we hope that you can now choose the best circular saw guide rail. We know that it can be hard, as each of the options we presented has unique strengths and weaknesses.
If you still cannot make a certain decision, our advice is to get the Kreg KMA2700 Circular Saw Track to try things out.
This guide rail is the closest thing there is to a universal guide rail. Thus, there is a high chance that your saw will fit with it.
Also, it can allow you to do a lot of cuts perfectly, which is incredibly necessary if you are just starting out. You should only use specialized tools once you have completely mastered this guide rail.
The runner-up of this list is the Festool FS-1400/2 Guide Rail. In fact, if not for its expensive price tag, it can challenge the KMA2700 for the best throne.
All in all, we have shown you the reasons to use circular saw guides, their general structure, and some recommendations. You also get some interesting questions, a throughout buying guide, alongside tips on how to use them.