How To Make A Crosscut Sled For A Table Saw
Among the most heavily used machines in the woodshop is the table saw. Of course, the machine features a variety of accessories for specialized tasks. Buying accessories such as crosscut sleds and specialized blades can cost you a lot of money and resources. However, if you’re looking to complete work accurately and on time, you’ll need to invest in them. If you’re looking to have a crosscut sled for your table saw, you might want to make one for yourself. Here’s a guide to making a perfect crosscut sled for a table saw.
Tips on How To Make A Crosscut Sled
Mill the Sled Runners
The runners ride in the two miter slots and are imperative in guiding the sled as the workpiece is pushed past the blade. Runners are made from hardwood such as white oak or maple. Alternatively, you can opt for steel, aluminum, or plastic runners. However, wood runners are cheap and easy to install. Pro tip: Ensure the height of the runners is less than 3/8” to leave out some space under the sawdust for debris.
Build the Sled Base
A ½” MDF is an excellent choice for the sled. The size of the sled depends on the size of your table saw along with your woodworking requirements. Building the sled as two separate halves to be joined when attacking the fence is worthwhile. This ensures that the sled runners are attached tightly along the blade side edges of the miter slots.
First, cut the sled base as square as possible, then cut it into two. Thirdly, measure the distance from the inside edge of the miter slot to the blade and add 1/4’’ to it. Later, firmly press the runners against the spacer boards, glue them, and nail them in place. Repeat the process for the other half of the sled base. Pro Tip: Remember to push the sled base against the edges of the blade side when trimming off excess MDF to create a perfect zero clearance. Otherwise, the two halves may not join together properly.
Set up the Fences
When setting up the sled’s front and the rear fences, it is important to use solid hardwood. Of course, you are not assured that the fence will retain its shape forever. Thereupon, make sure to make the fences like a sandwich with the top and bottom piece made of several middle layers of ½’’ MDF and ½’’ plywood. Make sure that the fences are at least 1 ¾’’ thick and 3’’ high. Later, include additional hardwood support on both the front and rear fence.
Join the Fence Halves
When joining the two sled halves, drill countersunk holes through the sled base to attach the fences to the sled. Then, position the sled halves on the table saw and lightly attach them so that the runners press firmly against each side of the blade on the miter gauge. Clamp the front fence in position and use pre-drilled holes in the sled base to drill holes in the fence. Add glue, clamp the front face to the sled, and drive 2’’ screws into the holes. Leave the setup for one hour to dry. Stay safety.
Detach the clamp on the front fence and position the sled on the saw again. Clamp the rear fence in position, drill a single hole through the fence, drive a screw into the hole, and detach the clamps.
Square the Fences to the blade
Of course, the only way to achieve an accurate cut is to perfectly position the rear fence at 90° to the saw blade. Thereupon, you might want to use two-degree drafting triangles on the sides of the blade to correctly position and secure the rear fence.
Here, you can opt to clamp the fence to the sled at the reference line and pin a nail through the underside of the sled. Remove the sled and make a test cut. If the fence is out of square, adjust the fence by tapping with a mallet. Repeat the procedure until you attain satisfactory results. Now, with the fence square to the blade, screw down the fence with a 2’’ wood screw.
If you own a table saw, you definitely know it works great for ripping long pieces. With the above guide, you’re sure to make an excellent crosscut sled for your table saw.