The Skateplate and Skateguide are actually two products that are packaged as one. Together, they allow a circular saw to make perfectly straight and repeatable cuts (cross or rip) on pretty much any type of construction lumber.
Skateplate. The Skateplate is a base plate with wide rollers near the front and rear that fits directly onto the base plate of many different brands and models of saws. There are two versions, one for sidewinders and one for wormdrives. Initially, it took me less than five minutes to attach a Skateplate to my sidewinder. The second time, it took me about 15 seconds to mount or remove the plate from my saw. The time frame for mounting the Skateplate to my wormdrive was about the same.
The Skateplate alters the saw by raising the bottom of its plate off the workpiece, preventing the saw from marring it. Since the rollers are wide and precisely integrated into the plate, they help keep the saw oriented in a straight line as it’s pushed. The rollers also reduce the friction between the workpiece and the saw, so you need to apply less force to move the saw, which translates into better overall control.
Skateguide. The Skateguide is similar to the basic rip guide that often accompanies a new saw, but is much better. Like the Skateplate, the Skateguide has integrated rollers along its guiding edge. These rollers allow the guide to move smoothly and effortlessly along the edge of the work, again reducing friction and allowing much better control than a standard guide. The Skateguide slides into the Skateplate, and a thumb screw locks it at the desired setting for the width of the cut.
The Skateguide packaged with the Skateplate combo pack ($80) has a 17-inch bar and a four-roller head that is about 5 inches wide. There’s also an optional Skateguide-Zilla ($73) with a 34-inch bar and a larger, 10-roller head. The bars and roller heads are interchangeable.
In use. To test the guide and plate, I made crosscuts and rip cuts in different thicknesses of sheathing as well as in some 2-by stock using both the 5-inch and 8-inch roller heads, as well as the two different length bars that the roller heads attach to. The shorter bar allowed for up to about a 13-inch rip from both saws, depending on which side I fed the guide into the plate. With the longer bar, I could easily rip a 4-foot-wide sheet of plywood in half.
The longer guide bar with the wider, 10-roller head provides excellent control of the saw. I used the smaller head on the shorter guide and had no problem with the shorter rips. Using the wider head with the shorter bar would be helpful for budding carpenters.
When I tried ripping 1/4-inch-thick sheet stock, the rollers dropped below the edge of the panel, which rendered them useless. But I found that by moving the head up to the holes in the bar used for the handle, the rollers worked fine. I’m not sure if the guide was designed for that, but it worked.
All of the narrower rips, as well as a few cuts ripping 2x6s in half, were easily controlled with one hand on the saw. And when I ripped a sheet of PVC, there were no plate marks trailing behind the saw along the cut, as is always the case with an aluminum or dirty base plate.
The Skateplate is made from high-impact nylon and the polyurethane rollers are attached with high-quality bearings and stainless steel. I had two inadvertent drop tests with no consequences.
After working with the Skateguide and Skateplate on a few jobs, I can say that they have rightfully earned some real estate in my construction trailer, especially since now I won’t need to lug my table saw around quite so often. skateplate.com
Photos by Rick Arnold.