Introduction: How to Make a Cross Cut Sled for a Table Saw

Picture of How to Make a Cross Cut Sled for a Table Saw

This table saw cross cut sled features an expandable clamp system running on aluminum tracks. Table saws come in all sizes, with different sized tops and miter slots, however no matter what size you've got you can design a sled for it. This jig is made to fit my small saw specifically, however you can pretty easily accommodate this design to work with any model you've got.

Step 1: Wood

For this project I'm going to be using 1/2 inch Baltic Birch plywood. It's a very stable and even wood, and great for this use. I'm also going to need 1/8 inch 3/4 " angled aluminum for the tracks.

Step 2: Cut List

Picture of Cut List

Let's start with cutting up the wood. These are the cuts you'll need:

1/2 inch (12 mm) Plywood:

  • A) 1 @ 18 x 14 inches (457 x 356 mm)
  • B) 2 @ 17 by 3 1/4 inches (432 x 83 mm)
  • C) 4 @ 18 by 3 1/4 inches (457 x 83 mm)
  • D) 4 @ 3 1/4 by 2 1/2 inches (83 x 64 mm)
  • E) 1 @ 10 15/16th by 1 3/4 inches (278 x 44 mm)
  • F) 2 @ 3 1/4 by 3 1/4 inches (83 x 83 mm)
  • G) 2 @ 2 by 2 inches (50 x 50 mm)

When you cut the runners, cut B it's important that they fit really snuggly so there's no wiggle room. I ended up cutting them just a hair above, and then sanding them down to make sure they fit perfectly.

Step 3: Hardware

Picture of Hardware

In terms of hardware you'll need the following:

  • 1 1/4 inch screws (30 mm)

  • 1 inch screws (25 mm)

  • 3/4 inch screws (19 mm)

  • 3 1/2 inch long, 5/16 bolt (90 x 8 mm)

  • 5/16 inch nuts (8 mm)

  • variety of bits

Step 4: Glue Up

Picture of Glue Up

The first step in assembling is gluing the parts we need to double in thickness. So that means, cut C, cut D, cut F and cut G. It's important to be really carefully especially when gluing the fence and the side support to line up the pieces perfectly so everything is absolutely straight.

Step 5: Aluminum

Picture of Aluminum

  • 2 @ 18 inches (457 mm)
  • 2 @ 1 3/4 inches (44 mm)

While the glue is drying, let's work on the metal. You'll need the following cuts of the angled aluminum:

  • 1/8 inch 3/4 " (3 x 19 mm) Angled Aluminum

I'm using the bandsaw with a fine tooth blade, however you could always use a hacksaw. To remove any sharp edges I'm using a dremel.

Step 6: Pre-Drilling

Picture of Pre-Drilling

I'm working on an additional box joint jig to fit on this jig, which will be a later instructable. In anticipation for the box joint jig, find the center on the glued up sides, cut D, and drill a 3/8 inch hole in the center.

Now, let's pre-drill the fence. Take one of the sides, mark it out on the end of the glued up fence and drill two holes, so the pieces later can attach.

Next, let's prepare the metal. Put the aluminum in a vice and mark out six holes across the piece with an awl. The metal will be screwed into the fence. Once the holes are marked, pre-sink the holes with a large bit, and make sure to not go all the way down! Next, drill all the way through with an appropriate bit for your 1 inch screws.

Step 7: Spacing Metal

Picture of Spacing Metal

Now, let's pre-drill the fence to fit the metal. First, I need a couple of spacers so the track doesn't bite too hard. I found that putting on three pieces of masking tape works well. So you place this one down as a spacer so the other piece can ride a little higher. Then I secure, squeeze them tight, make sure they line up on the side, mark the holes and pre-drill. Then repeat on the other piece. When you're done, remove the masking tape.

Step 8: Table Saw Line Up

Picture of Table Saw Line Up

Now, lets' go back to the table saw. First let's find the center on the main board. Then let's find the center on the table saw. Then let's put in the runners.

OK, so let's line up the center of the board to the center of the table saw, make sure those lines match up. And I'm using a framing square here to make sure it's all square, because it's extremely important that everything lines up properly and nothing is out of square. Once everything is in position, attach the board to the runners. Once you have a screw attached on each side, draw a line in between, countersink and pre-drill and screw in the 3/4 inch screws. Make sure everything is pre-sunk well, you don't want any extruding screws.

Step 9: Assembling

Picture of Assembling

Once the runners are attached to the board, let's mark down where the fence will go in the front. The position here is determined by the sides, so mark out the position, and use a framing square to line everything up. Also carry the lines around the back and mark them on the underside.

Now countersink and pre-drill the middle of your lines, and make sure to not put a screw in the middle where the blade will go. Next turn the piece up, using the back fence as support as well, and screw down the front fence. Make sure to not over-tighten, use a screw driver to finish up by hand. Once all the pieces are in, remove the screws, put down some glue, put it in place again and screw it down, making sure to find the same screw holes.

Make sure the pre-drilled holes for the aluminum is pointing inwards on the fence.

So I decided to glue the front fence down, just to give it more rigidity, and more support, especially for later as I add the box joint jig. Then mark out the hole on the side pieces, glue that in place as well, clamp and check so everything is square. If it looks good, screw in place. Now you can turn the hole thing around, countersink and predrill and attach the sides from underneath as well. Attach the back fence as well, countersinking, predrilling and screwing in. I didn't glue this piece in place because it won't be under the same stress. Again, make sure the pre-drilled holes for the aluminum is pointing inwards.

Now it's time to attach the aluminum. Line each piece up with the right fence, since the holes will be different. Make sure to find the holes, and screw in place.

Step 10: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Give the piece a good sanding with fine sandpaper. Also, it's a good idea to finish it. I put on some wipe-on poly and I will put on several more coats, since I'll keeping my jig outside.

Step 11: Clamp

Picture of Clamp

Now let's move on to the clamp. Using the glued up piece F, mark the center. Next draw a circle of appropriate size using a compass, and use angle bisecting if you'd like an octagon shape.

Mark out the head of the 5/16 inch bolt and drill a 5/16 inch hole. Next chisel out the space for the head, and you can go deeper to sink it in more. Cut the octagon to size, and repeat the steps on the smaller glued up piece G, marking & chiseling out the hole for the 5/16 inch nut. Also, drill a hole and chisel out a space for the nut in cut E the bar - 1 5/8 inches from one end.

Then mix some epoxy and glue the bolt in the knob, the nut in the holder and the nut in the bar.

Now, using the small aluminum pieces, countersink and drill two holes on each side, and line up on the end of the bar, the edge flush with the wood. Mark, predrill and screw in to the wood. Repeat on the other side and try it out on the fence. If it's a touch too tight, you can always loosen the screws a little.

Then screw down the knob, and make sure the nut is at the bottom of the bar. Once that's in, screw in the holder and the clamp is ready.

Step 12: First Cut

Picture of First Cut

Now it's time to set it up on the table saw and make the first cut. Make sure everything is in place, and cut the jig down the middle. I'm raising the blade a little at a time.

I designed this jig with the surrounding table in mind, so there's a block for the runners to stop them. If you don't have a block, then it would be a good idea to set one up, or to be mindful of that so you don't push the jig too far off the tracks.

Also, use this jig at your own risk. The blade is exposed in the front when you do a cut. I may cover this area at some point, however I'm not sure, right now I'm working on the box joint jig which will be located in that space, and which I will cover in a future Instructable.

Overall, this jig works really well. The clamping system can be moved to wherever you need it and it's really nice to use when cutting smaller pieces. You could also make additional clamps using the same design for even more grip.

Step 13: Conclusion - Watch the Video

For a much better perspective and look at all the different steps, check out this very informative video of the build.

Step 14: Update - Box Joint Jig Attachment

If you'd like to be able to make awesome box joints with this jig without having to use a dado blade, then you should check out this Instructable that goes over how to add the box joint jig attachment:

How To Build a Variable Box Joint Jig


diablero (author)2016-09-07

Excellent inspiration, thank you!

guy90 (author)2016-06-09

Great inspiration, thank you! :-)

cerberus456 made it! (author)2016-06-08

thank you very much your tutorials are awesome !!!! Receive greetings from Xalapa, Veracruz México

trustmefada (author)2016-04-07

Can you explain the runners and cut B? It looks like you have a dewalt 745 saw which has 3/8" x 3/4" miter slots. instead of 3 1/4" you mean 3/4" right? but what about the height of 1/2", needs to be a bit under 3/8" to fit the miter slot.

This is a great instructable. Trying to recreate. I bought some incra adjustable miter slides that expand in 2 places along the miter bar by adjusting a screw, but I may return to get my $40 back as they catch at the front and back of the slot. making out of plywood seems to be a better option...and cheaper.

Nice job on this.

Ando83 (author)2015-09-12

this is awesome! I love the added safety a crosscut sled brings to the table saw. I know at least one other person brought this to light, but I will say again a block of wood added to the back to bury the blade after the cut will save you from losing your thumbs. you get a false sense of security when crosscutting with a sled and I know I often would put my thumbs right where the blade would come out the other side. When I had an experience where I remembered to move them just a millisecond prior to only being able to count to 9, I built it like this:

John10ey (author)Ando832015-12-28

I fully agree. The block covering the blade exit is a simple and important addition. I color mine red, like in Ando83's pict just to remind me. I have slots in my outfeed table for the runners and I put temporary stop blocks in those slots to stop the sled at the correct point.

Your videos and details are wonderful. Very clear.

ulma doctor (author)2015-08-31

nice work!

destructor gadget (author)2015-07-23

I want to make this for my table saw. Is your cut B for the runners supposed to be 17" x 3/4"? Thanks for sharing a great instructable.

The length of the runners are based on where I wanted the sled to stop. I have a table saw stand surrounding the saw so it acts as a stop for my setup. You could make the runners any length. Thanks!

thestip (author)darbinorvar2015-08-21

He's asking about the height, not length. (I was about to post the same question he did.) You state 17" x 3-1/4" for the runners. That would lift the sled ~3" from the saw top, assuming the runners would even fit into the slot. :)

Shouldn't it read:

B) 2 @ 17" by 3/4" (432 x 19 mm)?

Regardless, thanks for the great Instructable!

Actually, I think the measurement in question is the width of the runner to fit into the slot in the table.

dancmarsh (author)2015-08-20

Really looking forward to the box joint addition, it's something iv'e always wanted to learn as I have just acquired a bench saw.

I need to pick your brain a little if I may, my saw blade currently leaves a round slot at the end of the run. Is this what those unusual saw teeth deal with? Bit of a newbie i am afraid.

Love your instructables by the way, I particularly like your french cleat system.

ethicaloffence (author)2015-07-30

Look awesome. Thank you.

Edgar (author)2015-07-19

Neat concept, and inspiring Instructable. Can I also say I love the enthusiasm in your voice?

darbinorvar (author)Edgar2015-07-25


Edgar (author)darbinorvar2015-07-25

Forgot to mention, some words about it, and a Link to this Instructable is on my Blog:

arlod2 (author)2015-07-19

The clamping mechanism is pure genius. Great way to keep all your fingers.

darbinorvar (author)arlod22015-07-25

Thank you!

Edgar (author)darbinorvar2015-07-25

:) A link to this Instructable is on my Blog:

Kafukai (author)2015-07-15

Amazing! I was allways sacred to use a table saw, I know few carpenters without fingers because of using table saw, with this adaptor it is much safer. Thank you very much for sharing :-)

darbinorvar (author)Kafukai2015-07-25


denotsKO (author)2015-07-19

Thanks for the excellent instructable. Well done.

darbinorvar (author)denotsKO2015-07-25


ktshoema (author)2015-07-19

Great job! I have the same table saw. I plan to build a similar sled. I would make the wooden clamp "Bar" out of something stronger and maybe get the piece that touches the wood being cut the not turn when being tightened.

I can not wait to see the video with the box joint on the back of the sled!

darbinorvar (author)ktshoema2015-07-25

Thanks, there are quite a few ways to modify the clamp. The clamp bar was made out of baltic birch, pretty strong stuff, but you could use metal, or hardwood.

Gartholameau (author)2015-07-19

Excellent ible. Probably one of the best instructional videos I've seen in a long time. Nice Job.

darbinorvar (author)Gartholameau2015-07-25

Thank you!

Bigredhawg (author)2015-07-19

i like it!

i can see many uses for one of these myself

thank you

darbinorvar (author)Bigredhawg2015-07-25

Thanks for the comment!

thedud (author)2015-07-20

Très belle réalisation.

Très bon tutoriel. On a toujours un peu peur d'utiliser ce type de scie, mais le système est très sécurisant. Encore bravo

darbinorvar (author)thedud2015-07-25

Thanks, I think it does make the table saw much safer to use!

kraftman_sp (author)2015-07-20

Excellent Instructables. Thanks

darbinorvar (author)kraftman_sp2015-07-25


zkeršič (author)2015-07-22

Excellent work and presentation.

darbinorvar (author)zkeršič2015-07-25


Mindmapper1 (author)2015-07-22

cross cut sledges are great as long as you dont want to rip on the same saw as you would have to reinstall the knife and guard everytime. Actually better to have a separate cut off or mitre saw if funds allow.

the norm (author)2015-07-19

At the back, where the blade ends the cut, it would be a good idea to put a block of wood so the blade is not exposed when you finish.

slo5oh (author)2015-07-15

Very cool looking sled OP. My father was a general contractor for most of his life. He never lost any fingers or killed himself using a table saw over the years. What I learned from him is to keep your entire body on one side of the blade and hold ONLY 1 side of the board you're cutting. Let the shorter end fall off or get thrown back. Where you run into problems is when you try to hold both sides or stand behind the blade where it can grab and throw a scrap board at your head. Avoid these 2 common mistakes and you're 99% less likely to have an "accident".

About This Instructable



Bio: Hi I'm Linn and on my Youtube Channel I have lots of great videos about building, construction and fun projects. You can also check ... More »
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