Introduction: Cross Sled With Pencil Box!
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I recently was working on a different project and I got to the point where I needed to cut 5 boards the same length. This would have been really hard just using the fence on the saw as the board I was trying to cut was 6 feet by 4.5in wide, so I decided to make a cross sled for my saw with an included box to keep pens, pencils or random tools. here is what I did!
Step 1: Cut the Board.
The first step is to cut the board, or if you are like me just get a board from the scrap pile. Make sure the board is flat and if it isn't squared then cut it and make it as square as you can but it isn't that critical, it's more just so it looks better.
Step 2: The Runners
And by runners I mean the strips of wood that slide on the groves built in to your saw, not members of your high school track team...
I bought a long piece of 1/4inch wood, I think it was 2in x 10ft x 1/4in. But you certainly don't need so much, you just need a couple of runners that end up being about 3/4in wide by 1/4in deep and 24in long but the length will change depending on the board you are using.
If you have the same cheap saw I have, the grooves have 2 places on each side where there are lips to keep their own cheap accessories in place, the problem is that their runners have a lot of play, so much in fact that they are unusable, so I grabbed my trusty air grinder and I went to town lol I made sure it was even with the rest of the groove, this way a runner exactly the width of the grove should slide freely on the saw's table.
To cut the runners I simply cut my wood at about 26 inches or so sit so I have a little extra, then using my as a cheating guide I set up the fence at 3/4in, being extra safe and using push sticks I cut 2 strips of 3/4in x 26 in board, this still was a little wide for the channel on my saw so I used my sander and made them a little less than 3/4in, just make sure you don't over sand it, it still needs to be tight enough so that the sled doesn't have any side to side play.
Step 3: Glue (& Cheats)
With the runners in place leave an overhang both front and back, if your wood is thinner or your groove is deeper then just put some pennies under the runners so that they are about 1/32nd in raised from the table( no need to measure just make sure both runners are slightly raised or at least flush with the top of the saw.
Now put some glue on the runners, spread it evenly and very slowly lower the board down on them. Put some weight on it and leave it for a few hours.
Of course if you know me then you should know that I can't just wait... So I grabbed one of my nail guns, I used very small 3/4 inch finish nails. Then without moving anything, I nailed the runners on the corner from the bottom shooting up. One nail on each end of both boards is enough to keep them from moving. Now we just flip the board over and nail it's few more times and clean the excess glue.
After they are secured in place then you can now get a countersink bit make the holes so you can screw the runners and the screws will stay below level of the wood, you should use a pilot bit to avoid breaking the runners as you screw.
Using nails instead of waiting around saved us hours! But if you don't have one just let the wood glue dry and then continue with the screws. If you don't have a countersink bit then use a regular bit that's a bit larger than the head of your screw, just make sure you don't drill too much.
Step 4: Wax On, Wax Off
Now little grasshopper what I did was I used a 320 sandpaper on the bottom of my board and then waxed it to make it slide easier. This is optional but I think it helps. Even if you don't use wax you should still take the time to slide the board back and forth a bunch of times and make sure it's smooth, if it isn't, try to figure out why and either sand it or use a chisel or knife to shape the runners better, while you have the board turned upside down you can cut the runners down to size with any blade like a jig saw or hacksaw.
Step 5: Backboard
I had two boards that I had made for a different projects so I went ahead and used them. I made them by cutting plywood down to 3in strips and gluing and screwing them together. This results in boards that are almost perfectly straight (2x4's are almost always warped and Twisted)
Now attach the back board to the back edge of your plywood, this doesn't need to be too precise, again, the back board is more for support and strength than anything and nothing should be measured against it.
I just glued it and then I used a different nail gun with structural nails.
I think you might have noticed by now that I use a lot of nails lol but they are mostly just holding things in place tempo so I don't have to use clamps, I will screw things at the end
Step 6: Raise the Blade
Ok now, move the sled off the saw and raise the blade as far up as it goes.
if you are a minor and you have on your iPod songs by Justin Beiver and One Direction ask your parents for help or just stop and go build a doll house, if you are an adult or a minor with a good grip on what's good and bad then please proceed with caution as I will not be held liable if any of you take some of your piggies to the market (cut off your fingers)
Now turn on your saw and carefully and slowly slide your sled from the front and cut about 3/4 of the way thru, TRY NOT TO CUT ALL THE WAY YET AS ITS UNSAFE FOR NOW. And now turn off your saw and unplug it again to be safe.
Step 7: Squares Everywhere!
I have so many squares that my nickname should be Plaid!
Take one of your squares, preferably a flat one , and put it against the blade and slide it down to where your front board will be, please note that it doesn't have to be right at the edge and in fact the edge might not be straight. What's really important here is that the front board has to be at a 90 degree angle to the blade, if you don't get this right all your cuts will be at an angle and you would have wasted all this time and materials, so what I'm saying is make sure you use your square tool and make sure things don't move before it's permanently attached. I can't stress this enough, your front board/fence needs to be at a 90 degree angle to the blade
Now clamp one end of your board and check your square on both sides of the blade again. After you are satisfied, then use your compressor and nail gun and drive a structural nail in from the bottom, check your square again and then secure the other side. Now turn it over and using the countersink bit make holes and screw your front board to the main board. You could alternatively make lines on your board when it's clamped to the main board and carefully turn it over and screw it if you don't have a nail gun that can shoot 2.5in nails, just make you are very careful not to move the board out of place and that it is still squared to the blade when you are done securing it, this is basically how you will line up everything that will be cut on your sled and it's the only guide you will have for your work so it needs to be squared to your blade and there must be no play on your sled or board so make sure you use multiple screws that are long enough.
Step 8: Now You Are Done!
Now just cut all the way thru the board, and you are ready to use the sled, just measure from the blade cut line and set up stops to cut more than one piece the same size.
Well you are done! Go back to the living room and continue binge watching shows on Netflix!
Step 9: You're Still Here?
While this isn't a marvel movie, I decided to add a little something at the end, and no it isn't a musical number or Samuel L Jackson wearing a leather jacket and eyepatch but I hope you'll stay anyways!
Here is the wallpaper Nintendo just sent me for my birthday, I'll share it with ya'll to make up for my lack of Samuel L Jackson....
Step 10: Make a Guard
Next we will be making a guard so we don't accidentally cut off our sausage fingers when pushing the sled.
As you might have noticed, when you cut a piece of wood the blade comes out the front of the sled, now this shouldn't be a problem if you are disciplined enough to remember where your hands should go every time. But accidents can happen so I rather put a guard on there, this is easy all you need is two 2x4' cut down to about 4 to 6 inches depending on your scrap pile content.
Just cut the 2x4 down to the same size and glue/screw them to where the blade comes out in the front keeping it centered. Try to use screws that are long enough to keep the 2x4's stable, keep in mind where the screws for the first board went so that when you screw the second one you don't try screwing the new screw over the previous one.
I then decided to put a few triangles to the corners, which in retrospect it would have been easier to just cut the two 2x4's in that shape to begin with, but since I hadn't done that I just took two squares and cut them in half to make triangles and glued/screws the triangles in place, I used left over dowels to hide the screw holes just because I had them but it's not necessary, if you do this you can cut the dowel in place using a jigsaw of a hand saw. Afterwards I just used my sander to make it all smooth, but is shouldn't matter as YOU SHOULDN'T PUT YOUR HANDS ON THE BLADE GUARD WHILE CUTTING. I'm serious, if you lose your little sausage fingers you can't blame me or Instructables.com or even God, so keep your appendages away from the sharp, rotating, loud metal blade. You would think this should go without saying and that evolution should have gotten rid of people needing such warnings but there is a reason curling irons have labels saying "for external use only" anyways... By the end of this Instructable you'll see how I sanded off 1/3rd of my nail off, so yeah please be careful.
Step 11: So, I Made a Box...
I made a box within my bigger box and I put a handle on the sled, I also had originally screwed some boards across but I didn't like it so I took them off.
Here is the end product. So let's keep going.
Step 12: Next
Although like I said technically you are done and it will work as it is right now I wanted a box to keep my pencils and other small stuff like a measuring tape that won't be on the way and that is a bit safer than keeping the pencil on my ear lol ( true story).
One of the ways you can use the sled is to clamp a stop block to the back board and cut multiple equal pieces very easy and fast. I'm going to use that to cut 2 pieces to be equal and then one scrap that happened to be the same.
Step 13: Joints
Now I could have done a boring little box but I decided I was bored and decided to make it a little nicer, although still rough and keeping in perspective the fact that this is a cross sled..
So I clamped my corners side by side and I made some pencil marks to know what will stay and what will go. Then after I marked both corners I decided to use the sled We just made to cut the next step I'm about to do next.
So next I placed one of the pieces of wood I was using next to my blade and adjusted the height of the blade to be the same as the wood I was using.
Then I just aligned the edge of my markings and made a lot cuts next to each other by moving the wood over to the side after each cut until I reached the other end of the markings, if you look at the pictures you will have a better understanding of what I did exactly, just try to keep the cuts as close to each other as possible kind of like this lllll you can even overlap your cuts and you will have less cleaning up to do in the next step. Do this for all the corners and all the markings you made earlier.
Step 14: Now, Clean Up Your Joints
Ok so I went ahead and used my scroll saw to clean up the cuts we just made for the joints. If you don't have a scroll saw use chisels or a bandsaw or whatever you have but let me just say that my scroll saw is the best tool I own, I know the table saw is a must and the belt sander and router make the end product so much nicer and the drill press is great but I can imagine giving any of those up and being able to do things like I did them before I bought that specific tool, but I think about what I did before owning my scroll saw and I can't imagine not having it, also I paid $20 for it at a pawnshop right outside the gate to Ft Lewis (which is where I live, on post) so if you don't have one, go to pawnshops or flea markets, they usually sell them cheap if you get an older one which makes no sense as the design or functions haven't changed much or any at all, just go get one!
So after you clean up your cuts do a dry fit of your joints and fix accordingly. In my case I cut a little extra because I wanted to try something I saw on YouTube lol
Step 15: Glued
So this box is actually just me trying out different things in case you haven't noticed yet.
So I used my saw and sled to cut a very skinny wedge to fit in the hole I left. After I was happy with the width and how it all fits together I glued the joints, then put some more glue on the wedge and used my mallet to drive it in.
Then I cleaned up the glue with some saw dust and I decided to try something else too lol, so I took the glued piece to my drill press and adjusted the press so that the drill bit went almost all the way thru but didn't actually come out the other end, make sure to use the same diameter bit as your dowels. So then I grabbed my glue again and my dowels and mallet and drove the two dowels in.
Now obviously by now you have figured out that this box is stupidly strong for no apparent reason, it's not like keeping a couple of pencils will put any stress on it but like I said I just wanted to try out some techniques and show you guys some others, I also wanted to see if I could make it without using screws or nails just wood.
Next is sanding it to make it look as pretty as me lol (see pictures)
Step 16: Sanding It All
Now if you have a belt sander it will make this next step so much easier, if not just use any other type of sander you own.
The glue I'm using at the moment is gorilla wood glue which dries really fast compared to regular wood glue so I gave it about 15 minutes and then I took it to the sander and sanded all the surfaces, sanding always makes everything look a lot better, almost everything just don't try it on your face...
See how pretty it looks? Just like I said it would lol
Step 17: To the Router Table!
Next step is choosing which router bit you want to use, depending on what look you are going for. I always like to try it out on a piece of scrap to make sure the hight of the router bit gives the profile I'm looking for for the specific piece, after that's settled then you can go ahead and use it on the real item you are working on, then marvel at your own awesomeness. The main reason people don't make a lot of household items in their garage is that their products end up looking like they were made in their garage, Now the main purpose of a router is to make you furniture look like it was made in China instead of looking like it was made in your garage (I heard that somewhere but I can't remember where)
Step 18: Almost Done
Now sand some more, but use a small grit, I used a 240 I think it says although I've never seen that sold anywhere but this one came as a bundle with a sander and I hadn't gotten around to using it yet. So 220 would be fine, or maybe even smaller (higher number) after you sand it a little bit you can just wipe it down or blow it ( with your compressor, not with your mom lol) or somehow get rid of the dust, and then use any finish you want, or maybe paint or stain idk it's up to you but I just used a little bit of clear coat.
Step 19: Secure It to the Sled
Now just attach it to your sled as you see fit, I used long screws from the back and nails from the bottom with my nail gun to make sure they were under the surface.
As you can see I ran a couple of 2x4's from the front board to the back but I ended up not liking it so I decided to remove them and just make a handle instead. I promise we are almost done, but again you can just leave it as it is now and it will work fine.
Step 20: The Handle
On a pice of 2x4 from the scrap pile I drew what looked like an adult toy but it was really a handle, I then took my adult toy drawing over to the scroll saw and cut it down to approximately what I wanted, I then used the belt sander to shape it to look even more like an adult toy, after the top of the handle was done I concentrated on bottom of the shaft where it gets wider (take note, ladies... Lol I'm joking), the bottom of the handle got shaped to fit the sled perfectly including making a little recess where the bottom plywood sticks out further than the front board, I then screwed the whole thing with gigantic screws so that it was firmly secured to the sled and there wasn't any chance of it wobbling or coming off when you least expect it, I used two screws from the front and one from the top as an angle and it turned out great, I think.
So I tried a few different handles, made in different ways with different wood, and I ended up liking this one more than all the others. So I permanently attached it to the sled and we are done!! Yay!
After it was all done I decided to clean up and I was vacuuming under the sander and I turned it on so that it would kick all the dust from inside of it thru the dust control hole, but I had my hand in the wrong place and sanded off like 1/3 of my nail on the circular sander, it bled a lot but I was a medic in the army so I cleaned it real fast, grabbed some crazy glue and put it right on there, it stops the bleeding instantly and creates a clean environment where everything will heal, that is an awesome trick if you ever get cut or something and it isn't serious enough to to go to a hospital, then instead of a bandaid or tape that will eventually come off and will always be on your way just use crazy glue to seal tour small cuts, if you for some reason don't trust me then just go to Walgreens and buy something called second skin (maybe I don't remember the actual name) and you'll see that it's just crazy glue and it works great for cuts, it's just way more expensive than actual instant glue even from Walgreens lol anyhow I just wanted to share that last trick as it's actually very helpful and we used it in the field a lot because if you crazy glue your cuts and leave them alone they will heal faster and won't get infected, but bandaids or tape get dirty and moist under them and can cause dirt to be trapped in there with your cut making it easier to get infections and just takes longer to heal.
Step 21: Summary
So we made the cross sled! Things to remember are:
Make sure your big plywood is not bowed or otherwise twisted as this will affect the quality of your cuts later.
For the front board it's better if you get plywood and cut a few 3 or 4 inches tall strips and glue/screw them together as it will make an almost always straight piece of wood, if you are still struggling to make it really straight then consider getting an aluminum L shaped strip that is thick enough to force your board to stay straight, if you do this make sure that the bottom of the aluminum is higher than the top of the blade when the blade is fully out, although wood blades have no problem cutting aluminum, if you cut your bracket then it would defeat the purpose of having one in the first place. Something like this
Make sure your bottom board is squared to the blade and depending on how you are planning on cutting with it the front board might need to be squared too but I won't use it as a guide ever so I just eyeballed that one.
The blade will almost always come out over the front board so make sure that either you build a guard like I did or you stay away from the center when you are cutting.
Make sure everything is comfortable for your style of working and size of your hands and length of your arms, after all what's the point of building custom tools that aren't customized to you...
I might build a small vice like addition to the sled to keep things in place later if I feel like it needs it but before I determine that I need to use it for a while, if I find that I'm relying on my clamps a lot for cutting then I'll build the vice, if not then I'll stay like this, if I do end up building it I'll update this to show it.
And remember that crazy glue works great as a replacement for bandaids for small cuts that don't require medical attention.
I hope you've learned a few tricks even if you don't build this exact sled but you still can take somethings away from the build, I think,
Please consider voting for me and I'll love you long time!