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No table saw? Build a $15 Sawboard for your small budget project!

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I guess it's time to "DO" something around here. :-\

Firstly, for anyone who fears making straight cuts, CAN'T make straight cuts, or would like to know they ARE making straight cuts, you need a sawboard.

What is a sawboard, you ask?  Glad you did, as this is gonna turn into the cheapest way for you to get picture perfect cuts straight as an arrow WITHOUT the need for a table saw.  I've GOT a table saw, and have access to 3 others if need be, and I'd bet the biggest stumbling block for most folks is "I can't do that, I don't have a table saw and I can't cut a straight line if my life depended on it".

I received an 18v cordless saw as a present a while back, and figured I'd make up a sawboard for it to get me started.  These also work great for a router, in case you're wondering how to keep that thing steady.

I'm gonna make 3 different sizes.  A 4' one, 2' one, and 1' one.  That should handle just about anything you need to cut straight.  Every single plan I've EVER seen for these things (and really, you don't need a "plan" to build these) credits this "invention" to so I am too. 

Firstly, you'll want to head off to the hardware store to pick up your sawboard materials.  You'll need the following:

1/2"-3/4" sheet goods for your ripping edge.  MDF is preferred, as the factory does an EXCELLENT job of cutting these to be quite useful for this purpose.  DOES NOT matter what thickness you choose, if you want to save some money, go with the thinner stock.  My local hardware store has 2'x4' panels, so I'll be picking up 2 of these to make all 3 sizes of sawboards.  (I've already cut the MDF and didn't think to take pics, so I'll give you the pics of the base I'm gonna cut tomorrow).

For the base, you'll want to use 1/8"-1/2" sheet goods.  This can be WHATEVER you can find - hardboard, MDF, OSB, plywood....just DON'T waste your money buying some birch or oak plywood.  After you've used this for a while, you'll realize it's money foolishly spent.

I've used 3/4" MDF for my ripping guide, and I'll be using 1/2" plywood for the base.  I just like the "substance" it gives.

You do NOT have to be precise with the cuts you are making when reducing your sheet goods to useable pieces to build your sawboard.  You will clean those cuts up afterwards, and that's what makes this such a useful and easy to build piece of equipment.  No matter how inept you think you are, I'm positive you can build one of these.

Some pictures of what we will be doing

I had previously said pay no attention to the dimensions.  Scratch that.  For the piece you're going to be using for the bottom of your sawboard (the piece labeled "Sawboard base"), make that piece 14-16".  The excess room is to make sure your saw body can clear the clamps.  Make the top piece (the piece labeled "Guide Ripper") 6-8".

I'll assume you're using the same size sheet goods as I am (2'x4') and if you aren't, you're on your own.  If you can't figure it out, put down the saw and beg your local carpenter to build this for you ;) ;D

You'll want to cut 2 pieces lengthwise.  One should be 6-8" (the Guide Ripper), the other should be 14-16" (the Sawboard Base).  These measurements SHOULD allow clearance of the clamps by the saw body so you don't hit them and eff up your cut.  At this point in time, IT DOES NOT MATTER if your circular saw cuts have more waves than a beauty pageant winner in a parade, we'll remedy that soon enough.

Looking at the second picture above, you'll notice you are going to affix the smaller piece to the larger piece.  That pic says to make it flush on 3 sides...pfft.  Scratch that, just slap it FAIRLY parallel and even-ish on the 3rd side. 


The wavy edge you sawed should be the one you're using to match up with the outer edge of the base - we'll clean that up later. 

Affix the ripping guide (smaller piece) to the base (larger piece) as directed, and screw/glue the two pieces together.  ALL SCREWS MUST BE SUNK BELOW THE SURFACE SO AS NOT TO SCRATCH ANY FUTURE PROJECTS!  (countersinking is nice, but not vital.  Also, make sure you don't sink the screws TOO deep and you end up with mysterious scratches on something because you've got a screw point sticking up.

The final picture up there shows what it should look like when we're all done.  I'll post pics tomorrow-ish showing you how to get to that point.

The rest of the material left after making your first 2 cuts will be used to make a second sawboard, and out of that second sawboard, I will cut it into a 2' length, and a 1' length.  The rest can be used for whatever you wish.  These 3 sawboards should allow me to make whatever cuts I need to make.

In order to use these, DO NOT think you will be able to hold them in place.  Get yourself 2 clamps (at the very least you should need these during the project you're building a sawboard for).  2 spring clamps should work ok.  Resist the urge to make the ripping guide less than 6" wide.  You'll need that material to give yourself someplace to affix those clamps!  Total cost of 3 sawboards and clamps to hold 'em should come to ~$15-25.  You can't even RENT a table saw for that cheap!

I'll explain how to finish these off along with the pics of how mine looks, as well as how to "neaten up" all the wavy cuts you're about to banish from your projects.  Norm Abrams, eat our shorts! 

'Bout time you started contributing to this community...

Nice tip, BTW.


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