Rockler bench dog pro circular saw cutting jig

There are a number of aftermarket products and a shop-built jig that can give your circular saw a performance boost without breaking the bank. Here are some options.

While track saws offer many features and enhancements that give them superior cutting performance and dust control, they're expensive. An occasional-use "specialty" saw like this, costing $300 or more, just might not be in the cards for your budget. Maybe the $79 circular saw you already own meets your needs, but you'd still like to be able to make straighter cuts more routinely than you usually do. Fair enough!

Simple homemade shooting board
A shop-made shooting board like this can take the "steering" aspect out of making straight cuts with a conventional circular saw, while also aligning the blade quickly and easily to cutting layout marks.

Shooting Board: A sheet of thin plywood and a scrap of long, thicker material is about all you'll need to create a "shooting board" for your circular saw. The thicker piece acts as a guide fence for the edge of your saw's base, and the thinner plywood serves as the shooting board's base. Cut a plywood piece 4" to 6" wider than your saw's base, and rip a guide fence to about 2" wide. Fasten the parts together with glue and brads so one edge of the guide fence and base are flush. Then use the circular saw to trim the shooting board's base to final width, running the saw's base against the guide fence while making this cut. Now the shooting board is custom-sized to the saw. Its "blade side" edge will give you a precise way to align the jig with layout marks on a workpiece, and the base of the jig will help to eliminate tearout and chipping where it covers over the workpiece.

Bora ngx clamped straightedge circular saw track
The built-in clamp on Bora 50" or 100" NGX Straight Edge Guides can be tensioned from one end, for convenience. An optional NGX Saw Plate adds track saw functionality.

Clamped Straightedges: A long, straight piece of scrap, a thick length of angle iron or one of those aluminum straightedges with built-in clamps can also help your circular saw deliver deadstraight cuts. The trick to using this option is knowing the offset distance between the edge of your circular saw's base and the nearest face of the blade. When you mark a workpiece for ripping or crosscutting, also mark the saw's offset distance to one side or the other of your layout marks. Here's where to clamp the straightedge. It will align the blade perfectly with your cutting marks.

Kreg straight edge cutting guide
The 4' Straight Edge Guide for Circular Saws from Kreg provides a pair of retractable cutline indicators to account for a circular saw's blade-to-base-edge offset. It also includes a built-in clamp.

Indexed Straightedges: Kreg's a href="/4-kreg-straight-edge-guide-for-circular-saws">Straight Edge Guide for Circular Saws solves the problem of remembering or measuring your saw base's offset each time by providing a pair of adjustable cutline indicators right on the straightedge. Set your saw base against the straightedge, slide the indicators over to align with the blade's position, and the accessory is ready to go. Place the indicators flush with the cutting marks on the workpiece, clamp the straightedge into place and retract the indicators before making the cut.

Rockler low profile circular saw cutting guide
Rockler's Low Profile Straight Edge Clamp System can be used either to guide a circular saw base directly (as shown here) or outfitted with an included power tool guide plate that rides in the straightedge.

Auxiliary Guide Systems: Rockler's Low Profile Straight Edge Clamp System and the Accu-Cut Track Guide for Circular Saws from Kreg are two variations that mimic the track saw principle.

Kreg accucut circular saw cutting guide
Another example of an auxiliary guide system is Kreg's Accu-Cut Track Guide. Its blue base attaches to a circular saw base and fits onto an extruded aluminum guide rail to mimic the action and precision of a dedicated track saw.

Each product enables a circular saw to be attached to a sub-base that fits onto a clamp-able straightedge or track to guide the saw.

Kreg circular saw crosscutting jig
Kreg's Portable Crosscut Guide ensure that crosscuts and angle cuts also can be made arrow-straight by guiding the saw base against the jig.

Crosscutting/Angle-cutting Guides: Variations of hold- or clamp-in-place accessories can also up your success with crosscutting and making common miter cuts. Here again, you'll need to measure your saw's offset distance and account for that when positioning the guide.