Did you ever need to rip an angle down a long board? How about giving yourself a known true edge on a rough piece of lumber? This handy sled will do either job really well!
Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed
- Table Saw
- Sander or planer
- Drill and Bits
- Countersink bit
- Tape measure
- Straight edge
- Piece of Plywood
- Good piece of hardwood (I use red oak from old pallets)
- Apx. 8' of 1x4
- Three ¼" x 4" carriage bolts
- Three ¼" Fender Washers
- Three ¼" Wingnuts
- Three¼" Flat Washers
- Three ¼" nuts
- Assorted drywall screws
- Wood Glue
Step 2: Measure Your Miter Gauge and Cut a Guide Bar
This sled will ride in the same slot as your miter gauge. Measure the miter gauge and rip a piece of hardwood to the same width (give or take a few thousanths). Mine is ¾", which is a very common slot size. I used red oak scavenged from pallets for the hardwood. This piece should be at least 80% of the length of the table.
Also, plane the piece down so it does not protrude above the table top. Use a straight edge to make sure it has been planed down enough. Sand off the sharp edges too.
Step 3: Measure Your Table and Cut the Sled
Measure the length of your table and cut a piece of ½" plywood at least 12" wide and at least 80% of the length of your table. The wider you cut the plywood, the larger the stock you can handle. I've found 12" to be sufficient.
Step 4: Align the Sled and Attach the Guide Bar
Measure the distance from the left side of the blade to the left side of the guide bar slot in the table. Transfer this measurement to the plywood and draw a line down the length where the guide bar will be attached. Doing this should ensure that the blade cuts the left edge of the plywood once the guide bar is attached and the blade raised.
Lay the guide bar into the slot and line up the marked line on the plywood with the slot. Drill pilot holes and countersink them. Install screws. I recommend glue, but omitted this step during this writing.
Step 5: Trim the Sled
With the blade down and the sled in place, turn the saw on and raise the blade. Run the entire left edge of the sled through the blade to trim it. This is critical and this edge will become your alignment tool when setting up for a cut later.
Step 6: Add the Clamps, Step 1. the Block
This sled uses what are known as Block and Strap clamps. In this step, we will build the Block portion of the clamp. It's really fairly simple.
Clamp a piece of 1x4 onto the right edge of the plywood. Drill pilot holes and countersink them, then attach the 1x4 with screws.
Rip an inch off another 1x4 and attach it into the corner joint created by the 1x4 and the plywood. Use wood glue and screws. This will dramatically increase the strength of the joint and form a small shelf that your straps will rest on. This shelf is called, the Block.
Step 7: Add the Clamps, Step 2. Clamping Screws.
Cut two small strips of plywood. I made one smaller than the other for a little artistic flare, but they can be the same size if you like. These strips reinforce the sled to prevent warping when you tighten the clamps. Clamp them to the sled parallel to the left edge and about half way between the left edge and the block.
Drill three equally spaced ¼" holes right through the two strips and the sled. Don't drill your table. Using a Forstner bit or paddle bit, counterbore reliefs into the bottom of the sled to make room for carriage bolt heads that will be inserted from the bottom. Only drill as deep as necessary. About 1/8" should suffice.
Insert the carriage bolts and set the sled back into the guide bar slot. Apply glue to the two plywood strips and bolt them into place with washers and nuts.
Step 8: Add the Clamps, Step 3. Make the Straps.
Cut three pieces of 1x4 the same length as the distance from the left edge of the sled to the right edge of the Block. These will become the Straps.
Also cut three pieces of 1x4 about 1" - 1½". Attach these small pieces to one edge of each of the Straps. These will allow you to work with thinner material.
Set the strap into the block on the right edge of the sled and rest the strap on the carriage bolt. Whack it with a mallet and it will leave an impression of the bolt location on the bottom of the strap. Drill a hole there and elongate it by rocking the drill bit from side to side. This allows the strap to move up and down, changing angles in relation to the bolt.
Finally, install fender washers and wingnuts on the carriage bolts. Your taper sled is ready for use!
Step 9: Setup and Use
This sled is kind of old school, so setup is manual. Take the board you want to rip the taper into and mark a straight line on the bottom of the board with the exact location of the cut.
Turn the sled on edge so you can see the bottom of the sled and the bottom of the board. Align this mark with the cut edge of the sled. Remember when we trimmed the edge of the sled back in step five? We have a known edge to work with and wherever we place the workpiece is what will be cut. Tighten the wingnuts to clamp the workpiece into place. Place the sled back into the guide bar slot and make your cut.
You can also use this sled to clamp a rough piece in place and give yourself a known straight edge.