I wanted to be able to make somewhat accurate crosscuts with my Japanese saws so I went to the scrap pile to make a guide fence. The principle is the same as the rip fence on a table saw. You’ve got a section the saw will ride on and one that keeps the fence 90 degrees to the material you’re cutting.
The video below gives you additional information on building this project.
Guide Fence Preparation
The main body is just a piece of douglas fir. You can use whatever you have lying around. One thing to keep in mind, if you are going to be using a saw with a back on it like a backsaw or dozuki then watch the height of the guide fence area. If it’s too tall it catch on the back support of the saw and not cut all the way through the wood.
You don’t have to joint all four sides, just the ones that will guide the saw and sit on the surface of the wood.
Perpendicular Guide Piece
Again, this can be just a piece of scrap. I’m using some ¾ inch thick oak that used to be part of some moulding. When you’re preparing the stock, make sure the surface that will be the reference is flat.
If you need some more information on preparing stock, here is a video from Paul Sellers that does a good job of showing how to square up all four sides of a piece of wood.
Mortising the Guide Piece in Place
In the video I used a pencil to mark the location of the mortise to set the guide in place. The small variance of the pencil made the joint a little looser than I’d like. Use a marking knife for the initial placement marks. Having a mark of the actual thickness of the wood will make you joint a lot tighter.
After you’ve marked out the mortise with a marking knife use a chisel or knife to cut up to the line. This will help you more accurately saw the shoulders of the mortise.
When you chisel out the mortise don’t try to chisel it all out at once. Also, chisel half way out on one side and then from the other.
Setting the Magnets
The magnets I’m using are some hobby magnets from Amazon that are just under ½ inch in diameter.
Try to equally space your holes for the magnets. I just eyed mine starting with the outside holes first. Make sure you drill the holes so the magnet sits in there at least 1/16 of an inch from the surface of the guide. I used some superglue to adhere the magnets to the wood saw guide.
Trimming the Perpendicular Guide Fence
The first time you make a cut with the handsaw guide it will trim the perpendicular guide flush with the cutting guide.
One thing that would make this a perfect guide is to account for the kerf of the saw. I was thinking that putting some UHMW (ultra-high molecular weight) Tape on the guide surface would help account for the kerf.
If you do this make sure you account for the shape of your saw and how high up the guide the cutting teeth travel. I noticed with the Japanese ryoba saw the teeth will ride ⅔ the height of the guide because of the triangular shape of the blade.
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