Introduction: TABLE SAW CROSS CUT SLED W/ STOP BLOCK & DUST COLLECTION // HOW TO MAKE
Learn how to build a table saw cross cut sled, complete with a t-track stop block and hold downs plus a custom DUST COLLECTION hood! A cross-cut sled is one of the ultimate table saw jigs, allowing you to safely cut long parts to length. Purchase the crosscut sled plans here : https://bit.ly/crosscutplans
Step 1: Tools and Materials
📦 Materials Used On The Crosscut Sled (affiliate):
🔹 2 x 24”x30” ¾” Baltic Birch Plywood : https://www.rockler.com/3-4-baltic-birch-plywood
🔹 Double T-Track : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🔹 2 x Universal T-Track, 2 ft : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🔹 2 x Miter Bar, 24” : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🔹 Tape Measure Insert Kit : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🛥 TotalBoat Halycon Clear : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🛥 TotalBoat Elixir Paint : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
Stop Block : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
Wood Glue : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
#6 Screws : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
4 ¾” Screws : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
¼” Acrylic : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
Acrylic Cement : https://www.rockler.com/double-t-track-fence-cap
🛠 Tools Used On The The Crosscut Sled (affiliate):
Table Saw : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Push Stick : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Router Table : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Calipers : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Countersink Bit : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Magnetic Screw Holder (for my impact driver) : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Cordless Drill : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Dado Stack : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Sjobergs Workbench : https://amzn.to/2WrrNMm
Step 2: Mill Plywood and Trim T-Track to Length
I started the crosscut sled build by ripping a piece of ¾” Baltic Birch plywood into strips at the table saw. These pieces would make up the front and back fences on the sled, and to help beef up these fences, I glued two of the strips together to form 1 ½” thick fences.
After the glue had a chance to dry, I took the fence blanks out of the clamps and then squared them up at the table saw.
Once I had the edges cleaned up, I first cut the back fence to length by cutting one of my fence blanks roughly in half. I could then clean up the ends of the front fence, which I kept as long as possible, removing just enough material to square things up.
While I had my stop block set to length for the front fence, I also went ahead and cut the double t-track I’d be using on top of the front fence to length as well. I had to cut off a bit from one end of the double t-track to make sure the screw locations worked out for my fence size, but this aluminum t-track cut easily with my miter saw.
Step 3: Finalizing the Fences
Next, I could get a slot cut into the top edge of the front fence to house the bottom portion of the double t-track. This piece actually helps to keep the fence straight, so I tried to keep the slot nice and snug, while also making sure the t-track was just shy of the face of the fence so it didn’t interfere.
Before screwing on the t-track, I went ahead and chamfered the edges of the fence at the router table, adding a heavy chamfer to the front edge of the fence. This chamfered area will give a place for sawdust to pile up without affecting the accuracy of the fence.
Finally, I could get the double t-track mounted to the fence, and I pre-drilled the holes with a self-centering drill bit then drove in some #6 screws.
Step 4: Laminating the Base
With that, the fences were done for the time being, so I could get to work on the base of the sled. To help the sled slide across the surface of the table saw a little more smoothly, and also to improve its wear resistance, I decided to add laminate to the base.
When applying laminate to a piece like this, it’s important to apply it to both sides to keep the piece from warping. After cutting the pieces to rough size at the table saw, I added contact cement to one face of the plywood base and the inside face of one of the laminate pieces and let the cement setup for about 20 minutes.
Once the cement setup, I added some aluminum clamps as spacers and then got the laminate positioned above the base. It’s important to get this exactly right before removing the spacers, because as soon as the two pieces touch, the contact cement will bond permanently. Once attached, I used a pressure roller to help activate the contact cement.
I repeated the process for the other side of the sled base.
Next, I needed to get the laminate trimmed flush with the edges of the base. Unfortunately, this particular contact cement has the tendency to gum up during routing and this left me with and extremely uneven chamfer, so I just swapped over to a flush trim bit to knock off the excess before adding the chamfer.
Step 5: Attaching the Miter Bars
Next, I could work on getting the miter bars added to the base, and I went with these aluminum miter bars from Rockler although these could be made from hardwood.
I set my table saw fence to match the positioning I wanted, then added a few beads of CA glue to the top of the miter bars. Next, I dropped on the sled base, making sure it was aligned with the front edge of my table saw and the fence, and then added the heaviest thing in my shop, an anvil.
After the glue had a few minutes to cure, I moved the sled over to my workbench so I could get the miter bars permanently attached. These miter bars actually have three ¼-20 threaded holes on each of them, so I needed to drill matching holes through the sled base.
I center punched the holes and then drilled a locating hole through each of the hole locations, to transfer those hole locations to the top surface of the sled.
Next, using a Forstner bit, I drilled a recessed hole at each location, then followed this up with a countersink bit to remove the sharp edges from the laminate. Finally, I drilled an oversized hole to finish things off then added a ¾” long ¼-20 bolt along with a lock washer to each hole location which secured the miter bars tightly.
Step 6: Applying Finish
Before getting the sled assembled, I decided to go ahead and add a few coats of my go-to polyurethane, TotalBoat’s Halcyon Clear, to help protect the sled from wear and tear. Halcyon is extremely durable and dries super quick, as it’s a water based finish.
Step 7: Adding T-Track to the Sled
After the finish dried, there was one last thing to do before attaching the fences and that was to cut two grooves into the surface of the sled to house a few pieces of t-track. This t-track will serve as a workholder using the sled.
I set up a ¾” dado stack on my table saw, and then I could get the grooves cut. I then cut the T-track to fit.
I cut the pieces to length at the miter saw and then drilled and countersunk holes at the drill press. To do this, I turned the drill press way down to about 250 RPM, 5-flute countersink bits work a lot better in aluminum at this speed.
Now, even with the ¾” thick base on this crosscut sled, there wasn’t a lot of material left to screw into when attaching the t-track, so I needed to grind down screws to a shorter length at my belt grinder.
When attaching the t-track to the sled, I did add a little CA glue to help create a stronger bond, again because the screws had so little material to grab on to.
Step 8: Attaching the Rear Fence
With the t-track installed, it was finally time to start getting the fences attached, and I started by raising my table saw blade through the sled base to establish exactly where the blade would intersect with the sled.
With the blade location established, I could attach the back fence, centering it with the blade and flushing it up with the back edge of the sled. I made sure to clamp the fence in place so it didn’t shift around while adding the screws and I also countersunk the holes to ensure the screw heads didn’t protrude and scratch up my table saw.
Finally, I could raise the blade and cut all the way through the back half of the sled, stopping just short of the front edge of the sled.
Step 9: Attaching the Front Fence
Next, it was time for what is really the most important part of any crosscut sled build, adding the front fence. I started by flushing up the fence with the front edge of the sled base, clamping it in place, and attaching one end of the fence to the base, again pre-drilling and countersinking the screw hole.
Using my longest square, I squared the fence to the kerf I had cut into the surface of the sled, clamped the other end of the fence in place, and then drove in another screw. To calibrate the fence I used the five cut method.
This technique does involve a good bit of math and I actually found a web-based calculator that does this math for you. My fence was only off by about seven thousands of an inch over 24 inches.
To make this even more accurate, I clamped a scrap piece of wood in front of my fence, since I needed to move my fence forwards, and I placed a feeler gauge matching the distance I needed to move the fence between the scrap block and the fence.
Next, I removed the screw holding that end of the fence in place, moved the fence against the scrap block, clamped it down, and then drilled a new screw hole and drove in a screw. After readjusting the fence, I repeated the five cut method and ended up with an error of roughly one thousandth of an inch per foot, which is plenty square for anything I’ll be building.
Then, add more screws to the underside of the fence.
Step 10: Dust Collection
With that, the sled was functioning great but one thing I had noticed when making cuts with the sled was the amount of dust coming off as I was cutting. I already have a second hose running on the top of the table saw and I figured I could whip up a quick dust collection hood that would both make this crosscut sled safer to use but also improve the dust collection.
I started by taking some measurements for the pieces I’d need and then I ripped the ¼” acrylic into strips at the table saw, cut them to length at the miter saw, and then I could get the hood assembled. I used CA glue, but if I had to do this again, I’d probably use acrylic cement and as well as flame polish the edges to get an even clearer finished hood.
I had a bit of an overhang on the top piece after assembly, so I flushed it up at the router table, and then I drilled another hole for the dust port I 3D printed.
I planned to attach both ends of the hood with t-slot bolts, so I removed the back fence from the sled and routed a groove to accept a piece of t-track. I used a super nifty gauge from Rockler to set the fence location so the groove would be centered on the fence, and I also used the gauge to set the depth of the groove, and I ended up with a perfect groove after a few passes.
I cut a piece of t-track from a scrap piece I had lying around, drilled and countersunk holes, and then attached the t-track after reattaching the back fence.
Step 11: Safety Block
The last thing to add to the sled was the safety block which covers the blade as it exits to back side of the back fence, but first I needed to get it cleaned up and shaped a bit at the spindle sander.
I also went ahead and pre-drilled mounting holes for these super long 4 ¾” screws which I luckily already had on hand, and then I could get a little red paint in the form of TotalBoat Elixir added to the block to really make sure people know not to put their thumbs on this thing.
Once the paint dried, I clamped the block to the back of the sled, centered around the blade, and then drove in the screws. I also threw on one of my stickers to really make the sled mine. Finally, I could raise the blade all the way to make kerf cuts in both the dust hood and safety block.
Last but not least, I added some paste wax to both my table saw as well as the bottom of the sled and let me tell you, this thing is like butter now. And with that, I could call this crosscut sled complete.