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.

2 squared sides of the guide fence are marked with arrows

2 squared sides of the guide fence are marked with arrows

 

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.

Cutting the perpendicular guide piece from scrap oak.

Cutting the perpendicular guide piece from scrap oak.

 

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.

Cutting mortises - making cut lines for the saw to follow.

Cutting mortises – making cut lines for the saw to follow.

 

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.

Cutting mortises for the guide a with handsaw

Cutting mortises for the guide a with handsaw

 

Chopping mortise from the first side

Chopping mortise from the first side

 

Chiseling mortise from other side to prevent blow out

Chiseling mortise from other side to prevent blow out

 

Double checking square on the handsaw cutting guide

Double checking square on the handsaw cutting guide

Setting the Magnets

The magnets I’m using are some hobby magnets from Amazon that are just under ½ inch in diameter.

Ceramic magnets used for the handsaw guide

Ceramic magnets used for the handsaw guide

 

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.

 

Recess magnets so saw blade doesn't hit it

Recess magnets so saw blade doesn’t hit it

 

I just eyed the placement of the magnets on the guide

I just eyed the placement of the magnets on the 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.

Trimming the perpendicular guide flush

Trimming the perpendicular guide flush

 

Final Thoughts

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.

Optional UHMW tape for cutting rail

Optional UHMW tape for cutting rail

 

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.

If you found this interesting please think about signing up for our email list and get content sent straight to your email when it gets released.  Also, we are on the social media sites above and YouTube.