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AW Extra 5/24/12 - 8-ft.Straightedge for $4


8-ft. Straightedge for $4

Whenever I have to cut down a sheet of plywood I reach for one of my trusty metal stud straightedges.Metal studs are available in different thicknesses for different applications. A 20-gauge non-load-bearing drywall stud (about 35¢/ft.) won’t deflect significantly when it’s clamped to an 8-ft.-long sheet of plywood.

I bought 3-5/8 in. x 9-ft.metal studs at my local drywall supplier (look in the Yellow Pages under drywall). Home centers usually stock lighter 25-gauge studs, but they can special-order the heavier gauge for you (25-gauge studs deflect about 1/8 in. over 8 ft).

I trimmed one stud down to 8-ft. 6 in. for ripping and cut the other stud to use for crosscutting.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker January 2004, issue #105.

January 2004, issue #105

Purchase this back issue.



stuartjl wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 03-03-2009 12:23 PM

To prevent any bending, I suggest an interior wood brace of  3/4" plywood attached with 5-6 screws. It will be heavier, but will not allow deflection when used in cutting wood planks.

bigbard wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 03-04-2009 5:28 PM

Seems like it would move if you use it for a guide!

Chuck M wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 03-15-2009 11:44 AM

For all the worries (and need to strengthen the guard), I guess I'd stick to my shop-made cutting jig made of a straight edge (wood) attached to a plywood sheet.

Raymond A. Gerdes wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 03-25-2009 2:36 PM

I think this is a good one for breaking up full sheets.  I just did some very different w/a metal stud.  I bought a 6" x12' for $2  at Hab for Hum and used it to go from truss to truss in the shop to hang another shop lite.  Works great

Thanx 4 hint

Gabriel Montes wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 06-17-2009 5:03 PM

It's better to spend some time making a wood straight edge.  It's an opportunity to display your craftsmanship.  Metal rarely is completely straight or free from dents or kinks from the hardware store.  You will spend as much time straightening out the metal as you would making a wooden straight edge.

Duane Grimes wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 07-02-2009 12:23 PM

Thanks for a great idea. We are all at different levels in our wood working skills. It is not necessary for us all to have the FINE tools that others have. Nor do we all need the FINE accesories that someone else may require. What do WE  know about the time this guy has to spend making accesories? I have friends that have 12 children, I CAN NOT RELATE TO THE LACK OF TIME THEY HAVE.  How many newer wood workers have quit because someone told them that what they did, just wasn't good enough? One thing about it you would NEVER grab your straightedge and cut it up to use in a project.

Alvin wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 10-25-2009 11:23 AM

great idea!  Wish I'd have checked here before I paid much more for an aluminum piece from a trailer manufacturing plant...

JackShannon Sr wrote re: 8-ft.Straightedge for $5
on 02-01-2010 10:20 PM

After reading all the comments, I can see both sides. The metal straight edge seems to be a good idea. But in the same breath, it seems to be a bit bulky to store. the 3/4 or 1/2 plywood would make it stronger, but also heavier to handle.