DIY Magnetic Hand-Saw Guide - Extremely Accurate Cuts!





Introduction: DIY Magnetic Hand-Saw Guide - Extremely Accurate Cuts!

About: -----------------------------------------------------------------15 year old, sick with a deadly disease called DIY-itis!-----------------------------------------------------------------Hi FTC! My I'bles con...

I think handsaws are WAY better than circular saws for many reasons, but I always come across one problem: I'm never able to saw perpendicular, aka square, at a 90° angle. You can see the example for this here.

I have (finally!) received the saw that I won back in the 2015 Shelving Contest with my Ultimate Magnetic Pegboard. It's extremely sharp, beautifully made, and has a really comfortable handle. However, it is very thin, and doesn't have any aligning support on the top, so it bends really easily while sawing.

A well known solution for this is a Miter-Box. I've bought one, but it just doesn't work. Instead of having the sides hold the saw, I just saw into the plastic...

One day I was daydreaming a bit: "If I take that magnetic dovetail jig that I saw in one of Jay Bates' videos, and align it differently, will I be able to use it for sawing at 90°, perpendicular, and square to the wooden board that I'm sawing?" So I do a quick search and: "Wait, WHAT? It costs 50 DOLLARS?"

"OK, nevermind. I'm making my own!" I decided that I'd make myself a magnetic guide, which ensures that the cut will be square in all directions. Alternatively, you can modify it, and use it for dovetails, miters, or anything else.

Let's get started!

EDIT: I've built a better handsaw guide! You can see the new Instructable here , or watch the video here .

Ultimate Woodworkers' Miter-Box (Magnetic Handsaw Guide V2.0)

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Step 1: What You'll Need

Below is a list for everything you'll need to complete this project. If you don't see something that you think should be here, please let me know in the comment section below. If you would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments.


Hardware & Materials:

Salvaged 90° piece of wood

Neodymium magnet (salvaged from an HDD)

Moist paper towel

Synthetic towel


Chemicals & Adhesives:


Alcohol swab

Contact cement


Tools (+Attachments):


Speed square



Glue mixing stick


Silicon carbide sandpaper



Subject: Woodworking

Recommended Safety Equipment: Respirator

Approximate Time: <2 Hours

Cost (for me): FREE

Difficulty: Fairly Easy

Step 2: Choose Your Magnet

Choose your magnet! I recommend using a magnet that is stronger than what you need. You see why in a few steps...

I found a magnet that I had salvaged from a hard drive which I thought would work well.

I don't have a pictures of removing the magnet from the other metal part (ferrite?) because I did this a long time ago, but Ben has a great tutorial. See step 1.

Step 3: Choose Your Piece of Wood

Since I didn't have a saw that can actually saw wood accurately, I needed to find a piece of wood that was accurate. I looked through my collection of wood until I found an accurate one, which happened to be a leg of a chair that I had taken apart. This chair was made of European Beech.

If you're going to be taking apart a chair, I really recommend Making your own (non) Dead-Blow Hammer, since most chairs are made with mortise and tenon joints, which are very strong. I did a quick measurement with my speed square to make sure that it was square...

Step 4: Sand!

I sanded both the endgrain of the chair, and the magnet, until I saw that a bit of material had been removed. This is a very important step, because it allows the adhesive to adhere significantly better. I used silicon carbide sandpaper, which I estimate was about 200 grit.

While sticking the magnet in some dirt, as an attempt to clean the magnet, the thing that was funny was that the dirt actually stuck to the magnet! A wet paper towel did the job better...

Step 5: Epoxy-ify Them Together!

I cleaned the magnet thoroughly with an alcohol swab, and mixed some Epoxy (more like WAYYY too much). After that I used a screwdriver to apply it onto the magnet. This was another mistake, as the screwdriver kept sticking to the magnet, which of course, did its job very well :)

I finally stuck the magnet onto the wood, and cleaned the part of the magnet that was exposed.

Step 6: The Anti-scratch Cloth

If I recall correctly, these magnets are made of really hard material, meaning that they might scratch the saw. The magnet is also really strong, so I thought it would be a good idea to reduce the friction somehow.

After letting the Epoxy cure for a few days, I got back to work. I found some type of synthetic towel, which I thought would work well.

I cut it to the size that I wanted, and applied contact cement to one side, and onto the magnet. About an hour later, I stuck them together.

Step 7: Cut Off the Excess Wood

As you might remember, the piece of wood that I used was an old chair leg, meaning that it was pretty big.

First, I clamped the guide to the table, and then started cutting it. I made sure to leave enough space so it would be easy to use in the future...

Here, you can see why you MUST wear a welding mask when I saw!

Step 8: DONE! | How to Use It | Examples | Video!


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To use it, first, you need to mark a line, which represents the angle that you want to cut. This can be done with a speed square. After that, you need to clamp both the guide, and the board onto your workbench. Nw you can start sawing! You'll be amazed at how accurate the cuts are!

Do whatever you want with it: crosscuts, dovetails, miters - Anything!

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Are you a hand-tool expert? Leave your handsaw tips in the comments below!

I read ALL comments, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, upgrades, improvements, and any other ideas in the comments below! - Thanks!

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59 Discussions

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3 replies

Are any of those free codes still available?

I've already given the free membership for this I'ble away (to srilyk), though the giveaway is still available for many of my other Instructables.

I think I'm going to make a similar Instructable to this one (a few upgrades) in a month or so, so I will be giving away a free membership over there too :)

Here's a link to the saw guide in case anyone's interested. Unlike a miter box, this guide can use a board as a fence and do accurate cuts of unlimited length.


1 year ago

Great DIY idea. I will be making one. Thanks for sharing the idea.

1 reply

I will make one, soon enough. You really knocked off a great tool even one should have. I think the Vertas tool is great but for el-cheapo people like myself, this is better.

Below are comments saying to use square tubing, don't buy ot, look around there are many sources for free, some baby carriage styles, some umbrellas just to name two. I have used them for other things myself!

1 reply

This is weird. I didn't get notified for your comment...

This Veritas guide does look pretty nice. I have some square tubing-- I've salvaged a bit from an old lamp! :)

Your idea is simple & effective. Comments/questions.

You use a square cut piece of wood to mount the magnet, but how do you know the magnet is square after you glue it? Thought about embedding the magnet in the wood? If slightly below the surface the squareness is preserved and scratching of the saw minimized. The addition of material to cover the wood would still be a good idea.

Thanks for the instructable.

7 replies

Thanks, Why wouldn't it be square after I glued it?

I didn't think of that. I might do something like that if the future, if I build myself a plunge router mount :)

You could just trace out the magnet shape in the wood and then chisel out a depression for it, like an inlay. I think if you inlayed the magnet JUST under flush, the saw would slide nicely on the face of the wood, but still stick. An easier way to do the inlay method would be to get say 5 neodymium ROUND magnets, and then you could just drill a hole for the inlaying... one in each corner, one in the middle, like the 5 on a die. Super glue those puppies and done. Cool 'Ible, thanks!

Great idea! I have a 25mm (I think) round magnet that I think I could use for this :)

This is the exact comment that I was going to make. If you look at the saw guides that Jay Bates has (at least if he is who I'm thinking of) then you'll see that they're a large circular magnet embedded flush into the surface of the guide. Yours isn't circular (obviously) so it's a little harder to use something like forstner bits, but a chisel would work just fine. Alternatively if you have forstner bits and a drill press/vice you could easily use that to remove the material you need. And now that you have a square guide that works you could totally use it to bootstrap yourself a hand saw guide version 2 :)

It might not be square because the glue under the magnet may have a slope to it. Glue tends not to evenly distribute unless the pieces are clamped square while the glue dries. Thank you again for your instructable.

I wasn't able to clamp it properly, but I guess that would be an issue if I was looking for extreme accuracy.

I was planning on using CA glue, but I found out that I didn't have any. That would probably be a better option :)

You could use part of a steel square tube. Put a magnet on it which would magntise the whole thing. It would do the same thing and last longer.

Or just use a square.

Your main problem is this "However, it is very thin, and doesn't have any aligning support on the top, so it bends really easily while sawing." Even with a square you make the job harder with a flimsy blade. I would get a better saw with a thicker blade. It will make your sawing easier.

2 replies

Note that this saw is a Japanese-style saw, i.e. it cuts on the pull stroke. It's only going to bend if you're sawing improperly, trying to cut on the push stroke. They're designed that way because with a pull stroke you can use a thinner blade which means a thinner kerf and less waste material.

Yes, I have some Japanes style saws. They are good for somethings and push saws are good also. And yet at the beginning of your instructable, you indicate the need for your square because of your saw bending: "However, it is very thin, and doesn't have any aligning support on the top, so it bends really easily while sawing." So are you saying you are sawing wrong?

I think you came up with a nice solution for a problem you were experiencing with your saw. I think it will help others.

There are other solutions. All I am saying to other people if your saw is bending other people may want to consider a thicker saw and a push saw. I say if your setup works for you do not change it.

As far as as less waste material (saw dust) between a thinner blade and a thicker blade, at least for me it is of no concern chopping off the end of something.