Straight Edge Clamp Recommendation


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I need to build some shop furniture and jigs out of plywood. Initially I was going to use this as an excuse to purchase a track saw to help break down sheets, but apparently the model I was after is indefinitely out of stock. That said, I am now in the market for a straight edge clamp. I would like something that is pretty sturdy, has well-built clamps,  and is at least long enough to cut a full sheet width wise. After the track saw is available, I would use the straight edge primarily as a router guide. 

 

The online reviews for the clamps seem to be all over the place. For every model it seems like half the buyers think it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, while the other half think it's cheap garbage. Standard internet.  Any recommendations from the WoodTalk Forum crowd?

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Get a track for the track saw you want and pick the saw up when it comes back in stock? I use my track saw tracks as strait edges quite often and they work well. Pair the track with some track saw clamps (https://smile.amazon.com/DEWALT-DWS5026-TrackSaw-Track-Clamps/dp/B001J31PJM/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dewalt+track+clamps&qid=1629988131&sr=8-1) (https://smile.amazon.com/WEN-36053C-Quick-Release-Clamps/dp/B07FCV866T/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=dewalt+track+clamps&qid=1629988161&sr=8-3) and it's pretty hard to beat.

Either that or make a guide for your circular saw.

 

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First this caveat, I don't do a lot of straight line cutting, so others with more experience may have more to add.

I have had and used a straight edge and now have a track system.  The track is Festool.  I don't recall the brand on the straight edge, but I had one that was 8' and a shorter one that was probably 5'.  

One issue common to both is getting the guide to stay where you want it.  The Festool has a high friction underside as well as small C-like clamps that fit in the track.  They do a good job of holding their track in place and don't obstruct operations.  

The straight edge lacks the high friction underside and has a built in clamp meant to squeeze the plywood edge to edge.  I found these clamps did not work well.  One can certainly use some small C-clamps, instead, but they have to be carefully positioned so as to not impede the cut.

As to the guide function the track systems are also better.  The track edge is the cut line.  The saw rides securely on the track and cuts zero clearance on the edge.

With the straight edge you have to accurately measure the distance from the edge of the sole plate to the side of the blade, then set up the straight edge parallel to, and that exact distance from, the cut line.   Doable, not fast and not fun.  When making the cut side pressure has to be applied to the tool to keep it riding on the guide.  This coupled with a less reliable clamping mechanism can result in the whole thing moving off the cut line.  And not enough side pressure and you may move off the cut line in the other direction.  I have had both happen when using a router and straight edge.

It's been a few years since I got "a dollar ninety five" for the straight edges in a garage sale, and someone may now make one with a "universal carriage" or something, but my suggestion is to go with your plan "B" track system with an eye to re-selling it if you later want to move up to plan"A".  

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Thanks for the suggestions. I was specifically looking for the Festool TS 75. So would you suggest just getting the track that would be used with this, then getting the ST 75 whenever it is available again? I have never used the Festool tracks and wasn't sure how they were different from, say, the Bora straight edge clamps

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4202EF5A-8322-4E14-8F7A-3397FFDBE894.thumb.jpeg.c7d3f500550c948e3aea64ab2a0005b9.jpeg

I have owned and used this straight edge for at least 20 years. I mostly use it for dados with a router when the work is too big to manage on my table saw. It has never failed. I have one from harbor freight that is garbage. This ones brand name is tru-grip. It comes in several sizes. The 36" has been adequate for my needs. I checked and they are readily available.

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On 8/26/2021 at 11:01 AM, curlyoak said:

4202EF5A-8322-4E14-8F7A-3397FFDBE894.thumb.jpeg.c7d3f500550c948e3aea64ab2a0005b9.jpeg

I have owned and used this straight edge for at least 20 years. I mostly use it for dados with a router when the work is too big to manage on my table saw. It has never failed. I have one from harbor freight that is garbage. This ones brand name is tru-grip. It comes in several sizes. The 36" has been adequate for my needs. I checked and they are readily available.

Thanks. Where were you able to find these? After checking all the usual suspects, I was only able to find some used ones on ebay. 

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For the Festool track users, do you think the Festool track is thick enough to serve as a straight edge guide a standard circular saw, with the circular saw running against the edge (as opposed to running in the track)? I haven't seen one of these in person, but they look pretty thin in the pictures online.

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I've been using the Bora system for a few years now and have not had any issues with it.  For me its not my "go to" precision tool, nor would a track saw be to be honest.  Just because everything, eventually, will be run through the table saw at some point.  I passed on getting a track saw for that reason and couldn't really justify the cost for the minimal use it would get in my shop. 

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1 hour ago, TomInNC said:

For the Festool track users, do you think the Festool track is thick enough to serve as a straight edge guide a standard circular saw, with the circular saw running against the edge (as opposed to running in the track)? I haven't seen one of these in person, but they look pretty thin in the pictures online.

Yes, the Festool track will work, provided you use the back edge:

Resized_Resized_20210827_090321.thumb.jpeg.3592aeaa4154d2e67fe0a06cdd3f8d11.jpeg

The front edge does not work so well:

Resized_Resized_20210827_090357.thumb.jpeg.69a4a6b79a82933d31f61b5c72b10998.jpeg

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One other comment.  Unless you see yourself cutting 45°'s on a lot of thick stock you might be just as happy or even happier with the TS 55.  The TS is actually pretty big and bulky compared compared to the TS 55.  I have used both and went with the 55.

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On 8/27/2021 at 1:03 PM, Chet said:

One other comment.  Unless you see yourself cutting 45°'s on a lot of thick stock you might be just as happy or even happier with the TS 55.  The TS is actually pretty big and bulky compared compared to the TS 55.  I have used both and went with the 55.

I was primarily interested in the 75 because I don't often work with plywood and would like to eventually do some live edge projects with slabs. Would the 55 work for, say, truing an edge for a live edge table? I know there is a depth of cut difference between the 2 saws, but I was more concerned about the 55 having less power.

 

 

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On 8/27/2021 at 1:23 PM, TomInNC said:

I was primarily interested in the 75 because I don't often work with plywood and would like to eventually do some live edge projects with slabs. Would the 55 work for, say, truing an edge for a live edge table? I know there is a depth of cut difference between the 2 saws, but I was more concerned about the 55 having less power.

I have the 75 and battery 55. The battery 55 is not strong enough to make rips in 2" thick hardwood with the stock blade (48 tooth). I can't comment if you install a thick materiel ripping blade in the ts 55 (12 tooth). I use my 75 for hardwood and 55 for plywood.

That said my 75 does not see much use. This has me thinking with the shortage i should try a low tooth count in my 55 and sell the 75.

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On 8/30/2021 at 9:01 AM, Chestnut said:

I have the 75 and battery 55. The battery 55 is not strong enough to make rips in 2" thick hardwood with the stock blade (48 tooth). I can't comment if you install a thick materiel ripping blade in the ts 55 (12 tooth). I use my 75 for hardwood and 55 for plywood.

That said my 75 does not see much use. This has me thinking with the shortage i should try a low tooth count in my 55 and sell the 75.

Good to know. I saw some other comments online about the 55 being underpowered for anything above an inch or so.  I will pick up a straight edge and wait for the 75 to come back out.

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