I’m constantly looking for easier solutions to reoccurring problems and when I get to picking out hard wood boards for a project it’s inevitable that I am drawn to those warped boards in the stack that everyone passed over, great figure, just the right grain count, the colors seem more vibrant, etc, etc, etc. Back in the shop standing over a pile of warped boards, the romance is over and the work begins.
My first method was to scribe a straight line that eliminated the arch and start milling on the joiner, then run it thru the table saw and repeat as needed until I got that straight edge I was looking for. When I looked back on it all it looked like lots of sawdust and busy work.
The next method was to use a circular saw. Marking out that straight line that I wanted for my final edge, check the blade set back from the edge of the base plate, mark out the points for a straight edge, then rip it the board, being carful not to scratch the face. This was faster but seemed a little redundant.
Finally I discovered that I could eliminate a few more steps by making a guide that fit my saw. I got some 1/4 inch thick ridged plastic and cut it about 8 inches wide and 8 feet long. I attached a straight edge to the top face. Using that straight edge as a fence, I cut the plastic the entire length of the piece with my saw. Now when I placed the guide on my board it showed me exactly where my saw would cut. I clamped the guide to the board using spring clamps. Making the cut, the saw rode on top of the guide never touching the board. The guide trapped the surface of the board and dramatically reduced surface lifting, creating a very smooth, clean cut.
So now I just lay my guide down on the plank, adjust it to maximize my needs, clamp and cut. No surface scratching. On longer boards all I do is unclamp the guide, slide it down my layout line and re clamp.
I’ve been to a couple of mill shops that had dozens of these guides hanging on the wall. They were using them for a multitude of saw and router projects. Each guide was labeled for its particular use with different saws, bevel cuts or router work. These saw guides make quick work out of cutting odd angles on sheet goods, whereas a table saw or a panel saw require multiple steps for set up and a track saw is too cumbersome. For more information see our demonstration video