A hand circular saw is one of the greatest tools for woodworking. To get the most out of your circular saw, you need the best circular saw guide to assist it while cutting. Festool FS-400 is the one I recommend, but if for some reason you’re not impressed, there are others to consider.
The idea is simple: you fix the guide on the wood and the planned cut and put the saw on it. You just set the depth, adjust the angle (if you need an angled cut), and run the saw along with the cut. Simple? Well, let’s see how different guides do the job.
7 Best Circular Saw Guides Reviewed
- Festool FS-1400 Saw Guide: The Top Pick
- POWERTEC Track Saw Guide Rail: Runner Up
- Bora WTX Clamp Edge: The Premium Pick
- E. Emerson Tool Co. CXW 2
- Kreg KMA2685
- Milescraft 14000713
- Kreg Circular Saw Track
1. Festool FS-1400: Top Pick
Festool is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of woodworking tools, famous since 1925 as Festo. This German company focused on eternal values throughout wars and crises, like manual wood processing as an art. Since 2000, it’s known as Festool, its quality not suffering at all from rebranding.
The circular saw cutting guide I review is quite a premium one, embodying woodworking as fine art. It’s made of aluminum, with a rubber edge, and weighs under 6 lbs, being about 55 inches long. This must be enough for most types of work.
Its construction features the aluminum guide itself fixed on the workpiece plus, with two grooves for a connector that holds the circular saw. A rubber edge lets you make angled cuts, up to 45 degrees, in any direction. The fixation system is non-destructive, not harming the workpiece you process.
It’s not the cheapest one if it matters. Also, neither clamps nor connectors are included, so if you don’t have a set for your saw, you’ll need it. Ones by Festool are, logically, the best option. On the other hand, if woodworking is your profession, a good toolset is the best investment.
- Highest quality;
- Solid feel while working, granting straight cuts;
- Compatible with most saw connectors;
- Allows for 45° angles;
- Makes a perfect Festool-only setup.
Could be better:
- Quite expensive;
- Clamps and connectors are not included.
2. POWERTEC Track Saw Guide Rail: Runner Up
I have already made my little investigation on Powertec. We know for sure about the manufacturer that it’s not the eponymous brand that makes gym equipment. Still, its tools are quite decent, so I decided after reviewing a miter saw stand by Powertec. As for its circular saw guide, it looks way simpler and narrower than the one by Festool, though supposed to do the same job.
I review the circular saw guide rail system of the same 55” length, though, just like Festool, Powertec offers various length options. A pair of connectors are sold separately. But, even with them included, the price is about half of that of FS-1400. You can also purchase a bag for carrying it (at 6.3 pounds, it’s not heavy though neither is it easy to carry), or an extra splinter.
These connectors are pre-adjusted for compatibility with Makita and Festool equipment, highly popular among woodworkers. The manufacturer also may offer alternative connectors for using it with, say, DeWalt tools. As for accuracy, it’s not perfect, but fully acceptable for most situations.
- Solid aluminum build;
- Connectors for saws included;
- Various kit options;
- More than affordable price.
Could be better:
- Compatible only with Festool and Makita tools;
- The adhesive included is wanting.
3. Bora WTX Clamp Edge: Premium Pick
What Bora shares with Powertec is its obscure origin. Distributed by Affinity Tools on the North American market, this manufacturer is only known by its products, sharing a lot with Affinity’s story – including secrecy. Nevertheless, its products are here, touchable, and reviewable.
This circular saw track system is notable for being more than a single guide. It includes a 50-inch and 24-inch guides, plus a 50-inch extension attached to any of them. The guides are (you might have guessed) made of ridged aluminum and equipped with rubberized clamp pads. Thus, they are meant not to harm your workpiece by ripping into it.
The connector included is a solid plate that can be attached to virtually any circular saw model. With it, you can adjust anything, from angle to distance between the guide and the blade. In fact, the guides’ edges are straight enough so you can just hold your saw to it to make a straight cut.
There are issues with this one, though, and the more you use it, the more they show. First, a replacement screw or two in a box would have been a good idea, as the included ones tend to get lost. Second, the plastic used for the saw plate could have been better.
- Three guides in a kit;
- Compatible with most saws available now;
- A saw plate with lots of options included;
- Secure for wood and most surfaces;
- Left- and right-handed modes.
Could be better:
- Quite pricey;
- Not all elements are solid enough for outdoor use;
- No replacement screws for the saw plate.
4. E. Emerson Tool Co CXW: Contractor Series
Again, here comes a rather new vendor that only started in 2020. Not the best year for starting anything, except for pandemic, but E. Emerson Tool, a company with a name too American to be true, started now. It specializes just in what we are talking about now – in accessories like guide rails for a circular saw and stuff.
The manufacturer claims its guides to be extra reliable due to special tubes, making them more rigid than the average. A straight edge lets you make straight cuts without C-clamping, just putting the plate’s edge to the edge of the guide. The clamping is made of nylon and glass, both flexible and durable. The entire kit is just 8.18 lbs, and it’s quite lightweight – again, due to the tubes mentioned above.
As for this item, it’s a kit that includes 24-inch and 50-inch guides for various purposes. Both of them are extra-wide, and their rails are compatible with various saws. Also, there is a connector that requires a plate for some saws. This item is out of the Contractor Series, so they are compatible with other accessories (like the saw plate the original kit lacks) from the same series by E. Emerson Tool.
Still, the manufacturer (whoever it be) could have made some of its aspects better. For example, the letters on tools don’t stand the bad weather and fade sooner than expected. Third, the clamping locks are plastic – that is, if you use it frequently, you will soon need replacements.
- Two guides and a connector included;
- Extra-wide and rigid;
- Compatible with most circular saws around;
- Quite affordable.
Could be better:
- No saw plate included;
- Not compatible across series.
5. Kreg Circular Saw Guide: Small Table Accu-Rip Option
This company, based in Iowa, is a well-known American manufacturer of tools. Despite operating for only 30 years (E.Emerson, though, may envy that), Kreg has gained quite a reputation among woodworking fans and not only.
This item is made of aluminum and just 24 inches long, great for processing smaller workpieces. Its weight is, respectively, just 2.44 lbs. This weight includes a plastic saw sled and a measuring scale attached to the body. The sled supports both Rip-Cut (cutting perpendicular to the guide) and Accu-Cut (parallel to the guide) modes. But as for the guide itself, it’s designed for Rip-Cut, so for Accu-Cut, you may need one more guide.
Being this small, this circular saw rip guide is yet very functional. It’s highly adjustable, so you can repeat an operation many times with it, making details of the same size out of various workpieces. You just need to lock the saw at the necessary distance. It supports various circular saws with a built-in plate connector that’s also easy to adjust for any particular saw, be it left- or right-bladed.
It’s compatible with saws by various vendors, including Makita, DeWalt, Festool, and others. The only downside is its length: good for its category; it might be too short for making details wider than 24 inches. Well. Get yourself an Accu-Cut guide, and mark the issue as solved.
- Compact and lightweight;
- Saw plate compatible with Rip-Cut and Accu-Cut;
- Sturdy built aluminum body;
- High precision;
- Made in the U.S.
Could be better:
- Only 24 inches long;
- The ruler can be inaccurate;
- Rip-Cut mechanics may take some time to understand.
6. Milescraft Saw Guide: The Simplest but Capable
Little is known about Milescraft as a company (though it’s stated on their official site that their tools are engineered in the USA). But the very first look at the tools makes you feel like what-the-wood-is-that. It’s not a traditional guide on which a sled is fixed. It’s rather a set of straight rulers that are to be combined in a special way to guide the saw.
Yes, in some way, the saw is really fixed on one of these thin metal bars, and by selecting the right one among them, you get the desired compatibility with any particular saw. It takes some time to figure out how these bars and connecting clips function. But when you do, you may find this solution even superior to more expensive ones.
The length of these bars is up to 16.3 inches. They enable a circular saw to cut details up to 1 foot in width. Well, the weight of these – surprise after the others – is just 1 pound, so they are as portable as no other.
One of the most interesting features is that these bars enable your circular saw to make circle cuts. All you need is to fix one of these bars in the center of the prepared circle and fixate it with a connecting clip, and then use it to rotate the saw around. They support circles from 4 to 19 inches in diameter. The precision, though, depends on the diameter: the smaller it is, the less precise is the circle.
- Versatile construction;
- Easy to store and carry;
- Compatible with absolutely most circular saws;
- Great for cutting circles;
- Extremely cheap.
Could be better:
- Tricky to figure out how to use them.
7. Kreg Circular Saw Track: Simple and Great Accu-Cut Option
As I have mentioned, Kreg features two cutting methods: Accu-Rip (perpendicular to the guide) and Accu-Cut (parallel to it). This one, unlike KMA2685, is an Accu-Cut model, with wider and deeper rails.
In fact, this one is two guides, each of them being longer than KMA2685 – 26.5 inches each, 53 inches when connected. Each of them can be used separately. They are also made of aluminum, and the sled and the connectors are made of hard blue plastic. With it, you can rip, make straight or angled cuts up to 48°.
Anti-chip strips keep the guide in place while making a cut, thus preventing the saw from getting off the course. The guide is compatible with left- or right-bladed saws and generally with most saws available on the market. As for the sled, it’s also compatible with both Accu-Cut and Accu-Rip guides.
- Sturdy and solid build;
- Variable length;
- Compatible with other Kreg accessories and most circular saws;
- Greatly accompanies an Accu-Rip guide;
- Affordable price.
Could be better:
- Plastic elements are not as reliable as possible;
- Connectors wiggle a bit.
Circular Saw Guides Buyer’s Guide
Now, after reading all these circular saw guide reviews, it may be too late to ask you whether you need one. Still, you may want something special, not covered here. So, here comes a brief guide on selecting your accessories and using them right in general. Maybe you will find these recommendations useful.
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How to choose a circular saw guide
Let’s assume you know better than searching for a “skill saw guide rail” meaning Skilsaw indeed. You are not satisfied with the precision it provides by itself, and you want to enter a new level. This means you know what you want to do with these tools, what types of wood you will process, what size these details will be, and so on.
Even if you are working at home, you better get acquainted with the risks OSHA has sorted for you. Though the document is not new, little has changed since it was issued.
Here are the factors you need to account for while selecting a circular saw guide rail for your home workshop. Each of them is important to this or that extent.
- Length. It’s the factor that defines how comfortable working with a guide rail will be. A too long one will require extra space, an excessively short one will be insufficient. An expandable guide seems the perfect solution – but only if you really need to vary the guide length. Otherwise, you can opt for a kit of two rails or even for a single one that fits your needs and your workshop size the best.
- Construction. Like you have read above, there are various types of various manners. The best example of it is the two guides by Kreg (that’s why there are two of them reviewed). It depends on both your preferences and the sort of work you usually do to select between Accu-Rip and Accu-Cut or their likes.
- Material. The most popular material for guide rails is aluminum, and its pros are undisputable. Still, there are other solutions, like hard steel of Milescraft, or self-made wooden ones. Parts of it (like sleds) can be made of plastic. These are less durable, but, as a rule, they are replaceable as well. Still, you need to check whether replacements are easy to order and to deliver to you.
- If you need to make many items of the same size, out of one bigger workpiece or of different ones, you better choose one that can keep the saw fixed perpendicularly. If it’s not a requirement, this is not that necessary.
- The splinter guard is an important part of a guide. The thicker it is, the less is the chance you will unintendedly cause splinters to spoil the cut.
- A good guide should allow for angled cuts. Usually, the maximum angle they allow for is 45°. If you don’t intend to make them angled cuts (at least, in the nearest future), this does not matter.
- Check the kit, of course. Differences may be drastic, and this makes various kits preferable for different sorts of work. Remember that more vulnerable parts may need replacement. I remind it because I made this mistake, not taking care of how to get a new sled when mine broke.
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How to Use a Circular Saw Guide
Assuming you are already acquainted with how a hand circular saw is used, here are the basics.
- To use a guide, you should have the line along which you plan to make your cut. This line is drawn on the workpiece – or imagined on it. Its location depends on the dimensions of the detail you want to cut out.
- Measure the thickness of your workpiece plus the thickness of the guide itself to set up the saw. The circular saw blade should show a bit below this thickness, but just a little bit. If it shows more, it will be too risky. If less, it just will not cut the wood properly.
- When everything is measured, connect the circular saw to the guide. Given the variety of saws and guides available, I’d recommend to find out how it’s done with your particular setup.
- If you feel sure about your hands and ability to control the saw, you can use the guide just as a ruler. All you need to do is press the edge of the saw to the edge of the guide while it’s fixed on the workpiece. It will be similar to drawing a straight line with a pencil and a ruler, but this time the line will be the cut.
- It will be more responsible to place the saw on the sled that comes with many guides. It provides a much better fixation and almost no deviation. A well-fixed saw will move with no deviation (or with some neglectable one).
- If you need to make multiple details with the same dimensions, just keep the saw fixed on a guide while making the next ones. You can use the freshly cut edge of the workpiece as one to attach the guide to. There are guides more or less suitable for that.
- A guide does not replace circular saw safety rules. It can make you feel more secure, but other measures, from protecting eyes and ears to checking the electric equipment, are still necessary.
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Circular Saw Guides FAQ
Are all circular saw guides compatible with any saw?
Not at all. You should check compatibility before investing. Even if you purchase a guide from the very vendor that manufactured your saw, it doesn’t grant a thing. Let alone accessory manufacturers (like Kreg).
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What are the benefits of using a circular saw with a guide system?
It’s precision. Precise is the direction of the cut if you calculate it correctly. Perfectly smooth and straight is the surface of the cut, so it easily connects with other cut edges.
What can I use for a circular saw guide?
Of course, a dedicated guide is the best option, especially compatible with your saw by default. But if you don’t intend to buy one tomorrow, a speed square will do. Making straight cuts with it is easier than with nothing. It’s a special art, though.
Is a handmade guide always inferior to a professional one?
Factory-made guides are usually more reliable, primarily because of materials. Homemade ones are usually made of plywood, while factory-made ones are mostly of aluminum that’s sturdier and more durable. There are many instructions on making a saw guide with your own hands. As you see, though, this self-made guide only allows for parallel movement, its width is not adjustable, and other abilities are limited.
A Final Word on Guides as I Saw Them
Despite calling a circular saw guide a secondary tool (or an accessory), its importance is beyond any doubt. If you want to improve your mastery of fine woodworking, a decent saw guide (or even a two, of different length or type) is a must.
If you are just starting, you will need a simple tool, but one of the highest quality. The one I have highlighted in the beginning, a guide by Festool, is a win-win option. If you need a shorter or a longer one, though, or would like to compare various techniques like those Kreg offers, you can select among other reviewed ones.
Have you ever had any experience with a circular saw without a guide or with it? How does it feel to get such help? If you have used guides, which models, and with which saws? I’d like to hear from you in the comments. Drop a story of yours, and I will appreciate that, as well as my – no, not my, but our readers.