Level as straight edge

I need a good 6 - 8 foot straight edge for making cuts and especially for planing the edge of long boards with a router.
I'm thinking of getting a sheet of 3/4 MDF, cutting a 4 inch strip and painting it. But I wonder if anyone uses a long level for this purpose? Do levels stay straight? Are they too unwieldly to clamp?
Thanks,
S.
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You could use a level, but they are quite expensive in that length. A good straight piece of aluminum angle is much cheaper and will be easier to clamp. You could also cut the factory edge off of a piece of good void free plywood, making a strip 4-6 inches wide to get an 8' straight edge. Mark the factory edge so you use it instead of the possibly curved edge that you cut. I would avoid trying to make a straight edge from flake board or MDF as narrow strips of these tend to break easily.
Charley

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http://www.westerntool.com/product.htm?pidE5879
R
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In article <d85b6c4c-640b-45ca-9ee8-e44e99741884

I'm buying this. Great solution. Thanks!
S.
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*Group HUGGGGG*
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samson wrote:

Good choice. I've used one for years, like for jury-rig panel-cutting- makes great circ-saw guide. Enables excellent quality cuts with good circ-saw. Ability to use 4'+ or 8'+ length is a real plus.
John
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samson wrote:

Home Despot has it for 16 bucks. Read the feedback on Amazon (Amazon.com product link shortened)98469056&sr=8-2.

--
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--John
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Get a piece of 1/4" X 1 or 1 1/2" steel bar from a steel supplier close to you. Hot rolled is cheaper than cold rolled. So, if you can look at the bar you want, try hot rolled first and if its straight enough, good enough. If not, ask for cold rolled. Many welding shops (fabricators) have supplies of such material for sale. Look them up in the yellow pages. I have drilled a 3/8" hole in one end of my straight edge, so it hangs on a high hook. It is 6 feet long.
Don't waste the money on the level unless you need it.
Pete Stanaitis -----------------
samson wrote:

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An aluminum level will stay straight. I'd not trust the MDF strip over time but will be fine for a while. Just keep an eye on it and how it is stored.
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It depends... some long levels are not straight by design... with them "level" is in reference to the ends of the frame but the overall frame may not be straight. This is obvious with levels that are extendable or have feet on the ends but some have a bow built in that isn't real obvious (this on both reading edges of the frame... not warped!) . I understand that it was common for long mason's levels to have this design so that irregularities in the block's/bricks between the ends wouldn't influence the read of the overall structure--not sure if it's still common.
You also have to define straight... Empire mentions their extrusions being within 1/64" over 36" and that they don't machine the reading edges on anything 6 feet and over.
A cherry picked 5.5" steel stud would probably suffice... stiff enough and straight enough for general ripping. Alternatively, there are commercial cutting guides (e.g., Festool, Empire) in various price ranges.
John
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I have two solutions: one is a two piece aluminum extrusion that's sold particularly for the purpose you describe. Most any woodworking supplier has some form of it. It works pretty well, and although the stiffener used to join the two halves seems to be designed pretty well, it's still the weak point in "straightness," although with care, you can be confident of the line.
The second is one I fell into. I don't even remember where or when, but somehow I acquired a 7' straight edge (aluminum extrusion) used by wallpaper hangers to trim the edge of wallpaper. Here is a pic of the profile:
http://www.paintstoreonline.com/stredge300_250w.gif
I see that the 7 footer is almost $60, so I guess I was luckier than I thought. Also, the length is a liability when ripping an 8' piece of sheet goods, but for everything else, it's great.
--
LRod

Master Woodbutcher and seasoned termite
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I have a stiarght edge guide bought at one of the BORGs that is made for just that purpose. It consists of two 4' extruded aluminumsections about 3" - 4" wide and a piece that can splice them end to end for an 8' straight edge. It works fine for guiding either a router or a circular saw, although you need to weight it down with a toolbox or something in the middle as it can bow up off of the surface being cut, especially if the sheet being cut is a bit floppy.
I do not recall what I paid for it.
--
FF



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"samson" wrote:

2"x2"x1/8"x96" extruded aluminum angle for less than $20 is tough to beat.
Lew
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Well, that depends. For a router, it's all pretty much the same, but with a circular saw I don't like running the narrow side of the shoe against the straightedge. I'd rather have one tool that does both. I find the vertical leg gets in the way more than it helps. For that same $20 you can get a two piece straightedge that is useful in more situations.
R
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Indeed. However, I buy extrusions by the pound from a distributor. He's nothing out of the ordinary, mind you, he has a nice customer base here in Chemical Valley.
I bought a 20-foot 1/4" x 6" flat bar and had them cut it to a 12 and an 8 for under $ 150 IIRC. I buy 2' x 2" x 1/4" by any length angle aluminium for work benches etc. Straight as an arrow. Again, by the pound.
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Good ones do.

Not the box tube versions.
Personally, I use jointed boards for long straightedges.
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Our four and eight foot levels get double use as straight edges. Decent ones are made to resist sagging, plus we have them on the van. Box tube models are chunky, easy to hold, and easy to guide a pencil (or knife or router base) against without the pencil (or knife or router base) jumping.
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