I’m not really working on the bench today, still letting the pieces acclimate to the shop. But, that doesn’t mean nothing got done today!
I started by working on a cross-cut jig for my circular saw to allow me to quickly and accurately trim the 2x4s to length, since they’re all the same length. I have to give credit where it’s due. I got the idea from watching this video on Danny Lipford’s awesome site. It truly is amazing (and totally free!): “How to Make a Crosscut Guide“.
It boils down to two pieces. A long piece (I’ll call it a runner, because the saw runs down it’s length as it crosscuts the work) and a cross piece (I’ll call it a hook, because it looks like the cleat on a bench hook). You square them up, attach the runner over the hook and run your saw down the length of the runner. By leaving the hook too long on purpose, the saw will naturally cut the hook off right where the blade crosses it. Now, you simply line up the (now cut) hook to whatever mark you want on your work, hold the runner tight and run your saw over it—the hook is now perfectly tailored to your saw and you will get tight, straight cuts every time with no measuring, clamping and remeasuring! Genius!
I grabbed a piece of 1″ x 2″ scrap poplar (left over from ripping out a bathroom vanity….long story. But I will say that by “ripping out” I really mean ripping out…in pieces…) that was about 2.5′ long and used it as a hook. For the runner, I chose a, 18″ long piece of 1/2″ x 6″ aspen.
First I clamped the poplar hook to the edge of my temporary bench (which I noticed today is started to slant away from me (as if it knows it’s days are numbered) because the plastic legs are starting to bend from over-use. Anyway, I got the hook clamped and used my combo square to make a line where I want the edge of the runner to be.
I thought about this for a while: how to I make sure the runner is square after I line it up on the hook (both ends of the runner were not, I repeat notexactly factory-edge straight…). So, I placed the runner on top where I want it to go, clamped it, and drew a second line on the hook with the square a ways away.
Then I used the ruler to make sure the line was exactly the same distance away from the edge of the runner. When I had it lined up, I figured this thing is about as square as I can make it. So I clamped and drilled some pilot holes.
At this point, the memory of my recent shelf inspired impatience came back to me. So, I resolved to put on the glue, clamp it in place and screw it down, then walk away for the day.
I wasn’t going to get anywhere with the lumber still acclimating, so quit while you’re ahead, right?
Luckily, I did all this constructing during the early afternoon. By the time the kids went to bed, the glue was mostly set and I felt comfortable removing the clamps and using the circular saw to complete the jig.
You can see in the above picture, how the saw blade follows the guide and is right next to the fresh cut hook. Now all I have to do is put the hook behind the edge of whatever I’m cutting (which will be those 2x4s for the top) and clamp down the runner and no fuss, I’ll have a nice clean cut. Of course you could make one big enough for sheets of ply, but since I don’t have to worry about that just now, I’m sticking with my little one.
Now it’s ready to go and make some accurate cuts!