May 31 2012

Help For Accurate Hand Saw Cuts

Accurate cuts right off the saw are always nice, but that isn’t always reality. Sometimes we don’t need accuracy, other times getting it will make a woodworker break out in a cold sweat. Never the less, when you really need that magic to happen, you need it. Sometimes the boards are special, rare boards, with amazing figure. Other times they are just barely large enough for the project, and every saw cut has to be right on the numbers or the last board could be too short. It’s times like that when every cut counts.

Imagine for a moment what some of those crucial cuts are about. Sawing drawer fronts in a matched flitch? Figured boards book-matched where waste isn’t an option? Need to saw dados on target? Accurate angles in face or edge grain? Thick bench legs that match? (That’s a big cut!) Tenons, Finger Joints, Dovetails?


For a long time, I have wanted to develop a sawing fixture that offered great ergonomics, and high miter box like accuracy. I also wanted it to be widely capable of handling many sawing situations and allow the use of any saw, so that the right saw for the job could be utilized. First we developed the East / West Bench Hook, which allows the sawyer to do their best work, and then we developed a magnetic saw guide that helps maintain high sawing accuracy over a wide range of sawing situations, and as an added bonus, it also helps develop good sawing posture and muscle memory.


We call it the ‘Handsaw Mag Guide’, and it is very similar in both setup and function to a Sliding Bevel. That makes how it works pretty familiar, and the learning curve is simple. In fact, it can be set up for any angle in much the same way.

Think of the lower arm of the ‘Mag Guide’ as similar to the wooden body of a sliding bevel. It references against the edge of the work. The upper body of the Mag Guide is similar to the blade. It is set for the angle chosen, and simultaneously stabilizes the saw perpendicular to the work.


The lower arm of the guide is radiused at the pivot point so it will not interfere with the sawing guide clearances while sawing at any angle setting. Abrasive non-skid surfaces also help prevent sliding when positioned. The upper body also has non-skid abrasives applied to it’s under surface to help prevent sliding when positioned and in use as well.


Three rare earth magnets are positioned in each side, two near the kerf, and one above in the center. They create the right balance of magnetic attraction and glide. The surfaces where the saw is to slide are sanded flat on certified granite to within 0.001-inch flatness to 400 grit, and waxed for smooth glide, and accurate sawing.

A 1/4 x 1/8-inch rabbet on each side of the upper body near the base provides clearance for the set of saw teeth below the magnets. It leaves space so nearly any saw can be easily started without damage to the guide, as long as the saw is started square and flat to the work. Once the cut has been established squarely, one can choose to remove the ‘Mag Guide’ and let the kerf become the guide.


The close-up above depicts the rotating tab that helps stabilize and square the guide on the work. It can be swiveled out of the way for storage, and can be positioned to aid the guide for either Right or Left Hand set up. Front or Back, Left or Right. Position the Mag Guide where it fits best for the job. It’s Ambidextrous


As shown, we can set the guide to work from the left or right, and all our magnetic saw guides of this design have this capability.

The sizes offered are versatile. The Large is 7-1/4 inches long, the Small is 3 inches long. The guide profile measures 1-7/16 x 1-1/4 inches, and the base is 3/4 x 1-1/4 inches. This means with both, you can work wood from shelf width down to most common stock thicknesses.

Use it as a general-purpose saw guide with any Western or Japanese saw. It’s great for cross cuts, angle cuts, miters, tenons and other joinery. The small model works for dovetails as well, set for the ratio you prefer.

Position the saw appropriately next to the layout line to be sawn, and slide the guide in place. The abrasive surfaces on the guide help hold the angle and position. A clamp can be added if required when needed or desired.


The Handsaw Mag Guide’s Pivot Hardware is Stainless Steel and Brass.
Corrosion free and designed to go the distance with proper care.

Made for any kind of precision cut or miter work you have. Large or Small, Coarse or Fine. So whether you are an old hand with a handsaw, or still developing your muscle memory and skills, this guide can help you handle the tough sawing chores when the tough ones come along.

The ‘Handsaw Mag Guide’ is a great fit when used with the East / West Bench Hook! Combined with these guides, the East West Bench Hook becomes the Rival of most any Miter Box and with more versatility. Handle nearly any angle, with any saw in any stock.

The ‘Handsaw Mag Guides’ are made to order. Order yours from the Woodworks Store today.

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© Copyright 2012 by Rob Hanson for All Rights Reserved.

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