As a remodeling contractor, I was always interested in the specialty tools that other contractors used. On one job site, I was watching my tile contractor screed a mud bed for floor tile. He was using an 8-ft.-long hollow, rectangular piece of metal. It occurred to me how handy it would be to have something like this to use as a saw guide for ripping plywood, doors and such. Richard, the tile contractor, explained that this was a magnesium screed and that I could get one at a tile shop. I balked a little at the cost, which was about $70 twenty years ago. But I’ve never regretted buying it. Despite a lot of hard use over the years, it’s still perfectly straight. The magnesium screed works great as a saw guide. I make a test cut to see how far the blade is from the edge of the saw base, and offset the straightedge this amount to make the cut. Before I owned a big table saw, I’d use the screed to cut cabinet parts from 4 x 8-ft. sheets of plywood. But we found all kinds of other uses for the straightedge on our remodeling jobs. In kitchen and baths, where straight walls are critical, we used it to check the studs to make sure they were aligned. With the screed, it was easy to quickly find and fix high or low spots in the framing. We used it the same way on floors, to check them for level and to find low spots. Combined with a shorter level, the screed is a super-accurate way to plumb walls. And of course, you can always use it for its intended purpose of screeding mortar or concrete. Magnesium screeds are available at tile shops or online. An 8-footer like mine will set you back about $100. That’s a lot for a tool with no moving parts, but if you’re an avid DIYer or in the remodeling business, you’ll find all kinds of uses for a top-quality straightedge like this. And it’ll last a lifetime. — Jeff Gorton, Associate EditorYou can buy a magnesium screed through our affiliate, Amazon.com:
Marshalltown 4748 1-Inch by 4-Inch by 8-Foot Magnesium Screed with Browning RodAdditional circular saw tips on FamilyHandyman.com:
- Circular Saw Guide- Circular Saw Tips and Techniques- Making Circular Saw Cuts- How to Use a Circular Saw: Long Cuts- Two Essential Saw Cutting Guides
Most of you DIY'ers probably already know this, but I recently learned how to use a speed square to make perfect cuts with a circular saw for smaller cuts. I was wondering how I could use this method to make larger cuts so this article is right on time.
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