How to Make a $20 Router Sled

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Introduction: How to Make a $20 Router Sled

About: I'm a DIYer and creator likes to build, capture, and share my creations.

Full video of my $20 Router Sled build is below which can be found on my Youtube Channel, followed by materials list / tools list and a full set of written steps that you'll want to have to build your own version!

Step 1: Gather Materials and Get Stoked (Cause This Thing Works Like a Champ)

I have a 13" Ridgid thickness planer that is a tank. However, I can only plane up to that width, and it is unsafe to do anything end grain (in my personal opinion), so I have, for a long time, wanted to build my own jig. I chose to use MDF wood knowing that it was already very smooth, very easy to cut and rip into the right dimensions, and is quite cheap.

Also, I stand by this design - it worked incredibly well for me on my first go around and I cannot wait to use it again.

MATERIALS

  • 2 x 2' x 4' Pieces of MDF Wood (1/2" thick)
    • NOTE - I wanted to build a sled that could plane up to 24" wide. If you have larger or more specific needs, you can take this general approach and adapt your dimensions to fit your needs
  • 1 5/8" Wood Screws

TOOLS

AUDIO / VISUAL EQUIPMENT

Step 2: SketchUp Model!

Here is a link to a SketchUp model of the entire build.

My build video uses uses a single piece of 4' x 4' x .5" MDF; this model using a single piece of 4' x 4' x .75" MDF as it will be more rigid, flat, and sturdy. Good luck!

I'd love to hear if you build this, so make sure you send me a picture or tag me in your build @workshopedits on IG. Cheers!

Step 3: 2D Cutlist / Design Your Sled

This is the full design of my build in 2D if you are uncomfortable with SketchUp (remember - SketchUp is free to use online so don't be afraid to learn to use the software!). It took me 2 hours of videos and hands on use to get the feel for how it works, the shortcuts, etc. It’s incredible. Go. Learn. It.

I purchased my MDF material at Orchard Supply Hardware in SoCal, where they sell it in 2' x 4' sections for $8 each. EDIT in 2020 - RIP to OSH - you were incredible. You can still get the same wonderful MDF at Home Depot, Lowest, etc., but in 4' x 8' sheets

You can use the large amount of excess to build additional jigs or just build a larger sled if you'd like!

Picture 1 shows the full design.

Picture 2 shows the cuts needed for the sled base

Picture 3 shows the cuts needed for the sled.

Step 4: Cuts: Sled Base

My design leveraged the original size of my MDF. So, if you want to design the same one, then you don't need to make any cuts if you can find the original materials I used. High five yourself because you just saved yourself 3 minutes.

Step 5: Cuts: Sled Base Walls

I cut two strips from the second piece of MDF all the way through at 2.5" wide. I chose this as it would translate to me being able to plane surfaces up to that thickness. I can always cut larger strips to make the sled higher if needed for very cheap.

Step 6: Cuts: Sled Flooring / Rail Guides

Next, I measured the width of the base of my router plate - this will change based on what router you have. Mine was a little over 5.5". I went ahead and added 1/4" - 1/8" to that width, and then ripped down another strip of MDF from the same piece that would later become the floor of my sled and the outside guides.

Step 7: Cuts: Sled Walls

Lastly, I ripped two more strips, 3 inches wide to serve as the walls of my sled. Given that the sled itself will be about 25" wide, you'll need to rip two strips as cutting one single strip and then cutting in half will not yield you enough material (48" / 2 = 24" < 25"). #Math

Step 8: Assembly: Sled Base

To begin the assembly, I clamped a single base wall to the edge of my large base piece, making sure everything was as flush and straight as can be (Pic 1), pre drilled holes for the screws (Pic 2), then screwed in and attached the sled base wall (Pic 3).

Picture 4 shows the final result. I then repeated for my other wall and was finished with the base

NOTE - You must pre drill with MDF as it'll split very easily otherwise.

Step 9: Cuts: Sled (Final Cuts)

The goal of the sled is to hang over the railings of your base by the same width as your material. My sled is 24" wide, so I measured out, using scrap pieces of MDF, the exact width of the bottom of my sled. This came out to be 25' (24" sled width + 2 x 1/2" material).

I then made the cuts (Pic 2) on my Miter Saw. I then measured our the sled sides to be the exact same with as the sled bottom (Pic 3) and cut to length (Pic 4). Then, using left over pieces from cutting my sled bottom (from Pic 2), I cut two pieces at 2" wide to serve as the guides for the sled against the walls (Pic 5). I also decided to add 45° angles to the sled walls (Pic 6), which has no function, I just thought it looked better aesthetically.

Picture 7 shows all of the final cuts (sled bottom, sled sides x 2, sled guides x 2)

Step 10: Assembly: Final Sled

Clamp our Sled Wall pieces to the outside of your sled bottom piece (Pic 1). Double check that your router will fit comfortably but still tightly in between.

Pre-drill holes (Pic 2) and screw in (Pic 3) your wood screws like you did with the sled base to assemble the sled. Repeat this process for the second wall on the other side.

Finally, clamp on your guides underneath the ends of the sled base (Pic 4), pre-drill holes again (Pic 5), and screw in screws (Pic 6) to attach the guide. Repeat this process for second guide on the other side.

Step 11: Test Your System

Double check your sled fits and slides tightly but freely on your sled base. If you are careful with measurements and make clean cuts, this shouldn't be an issue at all!

Step 12: Routing Groove

Using your Plunge Router and a Dado Bit (Pic 1), plunge your router into your sled to begin routing a groove (Pic 2). Once you have made multiple passes and cut all of the way through, you should end up with a groove (Pic 3) that you can now pass your dado bit through and surface any piece of wood, etc. that you place under the sled.

NOTE - You have the freedom to route this hole as wide as you'd like, but be careful not to do it too wide as you'll hit your sled base walls. Also, because your router will have a bit of wiggle room, you'll want to make passes with your router base plate up against both walls so the hole is clean, consistent, and slightly larger than your actual dado bit width.

UPDATE - A lovely user pointed out (what I should have much earlier!) that adding a simple 1/2" piece to each side of the sled would be a good idea to prevent it from moving too far over on either side and hitting the edge.

I recommend taking it from the same sled base piece that you've already cut the base and 2" guide pieces from (you should have plenty of extra to do this - and then just screw them in or use brad nails). Cheers!

Step 13: FINISHED! Put Your New Sled to Work!

Below is the full video of me using it for the first time on a set of Walnut Butcher Block Bedside Tables I was making.

I am so thrilled with how well it works, and it will work for ANY type of wood material you put underneath, all you need to do is make sure the piece is secured and shimmed properly so that you begin with as flat and stable of a surface as you can (I held it with weights, but you can look into your own solutions that work for you!).

The best part is, between the tools you need for the sled, and the materials, it will still be about half (or less) the price of a standard thickness planer, which many people can't afford and will be limited by anyways.

If you want to know any materials, tools, or have any general questions answered, you can check out the second step or contact me via my website, thecuttingbored.com and I would be happy to do answer them.

As always, thank you for reading! I would be so grateful if you could please subscribe to my Youtube Channel for future projects.

I put out videos every few weeks.

Cheers!
Zach

2 People Made This Project!

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33 Discussions

0
Blackbone
Blackbone

2 months ago

so you mentioned PLUNGE routing the groove but once that is done does the sled require a PLUNGE router or will a standard router work as well. several sled vids out there but no one will say whether or not that the ability to plunge is required to operate the device. Very easily a dumb question but either way thanx in advance!

1
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 2 months ago

Personally, if you are trying to make a decision on a router, I would go with a plunge router - just more versatile and easier to manipulate for what you need. You likely would want the plunge for a router sled, and having that feature just makes other adjustments a lot easier in your workflow and accuracy.
Dewalt sells a fixed base version that comes with a plunge attachment I believe for around $200 if you're looking for options.

0
Blackbone
Blackbone

Reply 7 weeks ago

Right on! I appreciate the response. Yeah im torn between the Dewalt® 2¼ hp fixed/plunge kit, the Makita® variable speed plunge 3¼ hp (which would match my existing tool collection thus far), or the Triton® dual mode plunge 3¼ hp. Like you said the Dewalt® is easier on the wallet and ive always had good luck with the brand so probably the one ill go with. Again… thanx!

0
jphamel
jphamel

1 year ago

Thank. Hopefully, this will allow me to stop bothering my friend for his planer and drum sander

0
ajayt7
ajayt7

3 years ago

Innovative!

0
Sam Grove
Sam Grove

3 years ago

1 You can make a custom router base out of acrylic in a rectangular shape to fit the channel.

2 Make the end guide pieces longer to reduce the tendency to waggle. It's OK if they project past the slider ends when you take the router that far.

1
Owl Trained ED Doc
Owl Trained ED Doc

3 years ago

I made something similar out of scrap plywood to flatten a large sycamore round for a table. It was not nearly this pretty. One difficulty I had was that the router on its round base tended to chatter a bit as it slid through the slot. I thought to make a rectangular base for it to better fit into the slide would solve this problem but haven't had another project to test my theory.

0
OutlawKtulu
OutlawKtulu

3 years ago

Only improvement I can think of is perhaps adding some stops to the channel that the router moves in so it doesn't bit into the cutout channel when your routing a piece. But otherwise, I'm building one of these :D Got some MDF from a store display that I scrapped out a couple years ago and that would work great for the router to ride on.

0
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 3 years ago

So true man - so true.

I didn't even consider that for some reason and then as I was routing the groove I thought to myself - wait - I need to make sure I don't knick the walls of this thing. A simple 1/2" additional cut from the base piece (which you'd have tons of extra material from anyways) would totally do that.

You know what - I'm gonna go do that haha. Cheers man - good luck and enjoy your new flat surfaces!

0
snips56
snips56

Reply 3 years ago

Sorry, but what do you mean there - you mean stops at the end of the channel on each end? To keep it from cutting the end of the channel or hitting the rails? Would you anticipate using a bushing when doing this cutting? If so, you wouldn't have to worry about stops.

0
Lovetra
Lovetra

3 years ago

LOVE THIS IDEA! I'm not quite to point to make one. I need to learn how to use the router I just bought. Maybe practice a little this weekend. Saved this though for future ref.

0
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 3 years ago

In time! have fun learning and good luck with the future build!

0
Lovetra
Lovetra

3 years ago

When i do build though I think I will put 4 dog holes in appropriate positions so I can sit on top of workbench and easily secure it in one place.

0
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 3 years ago

Excellent idea if you can fit it on your workbench like that to secure it better!

0
hpb
hpb

3 years ago

Nice sled. It looks like it can jam up on either ends. Maybe add a little wax below to move it more smoothly?

0
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 3 years ago

Definitely an option - I liked having the friction to keep it secure

0
Workshop Edits
Workshop Edits

Reply 3 years ago

I guess it will be on a case by case basis, but my materials were purchased from Orchard Supply Hardware in SoCal for $7.99 per 2' x 4' sheet

0
James NairnM
James NairnM

3 years ago

require support for wide material on the left side of the table saw, it was inclined to foul the guard system