Introduction: How to Make a Table Saw Crosscut Sled
High everyone! A table saw sled or cross cut sled has got to be one of the most useful tools to use in your shop. It allows for more accurate and safe cuts as well as being able to repeat those cuts with an integrated stop block.
One 4' x 4' sheet of 3/4" Plywood
Hardwood to make the runners. I used oak with a straight grain pattern.
Table saw with regular blade
Will also need - Freud 8" Stacked Dado Set for All Saws
I used Woodpeckers knob kit but this knob kit from Amazon will work just as well.
Band saw or hack saw
Orbital sander with 120 grit sandpaper
Drill bits and counter sink bits
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Step 1: Cut Plywood to Size.
For my sled I used 3/4" thick plywood as I wanted enough room in the wood to add the Kreg Mini Track in the base. The base itself measures 36" wide x 24" deep. The fences will comprise of two pieces each at 3.5" tall x 36" wide. These will be laminated together in the next step. A Kreg Mini Track will also be inserted into the back fence in a later step.
Step 2: Assemble the Fences.
Apply a generous amount of Titebond wood glue to the fence pieces and put them together to be clamped. A little trick is to use a level to clamp the pieces together. Any bow in the wood will be cancelled out as the pieces dry clamped to the straight level.
Step 3: Make the Sled Runners.
As the fences were drying I went on to making the runners for the base of the sled. I first dialed in the width of the runners using a scrap piece of plywood. This way if you happen to go to far you are not out a nice piece of hardwood. Once it is dialed in on the width go on to using a nice piece of hardwood. Do make sure that the hardwood you get has grain that runs from one side to the other. You will want this grain running horizontally to the surface of the table saw. This way any expansion will be up and down and NOT side to side. If it expanded sideways it would bind against the slots in the table saw.
Make your first cut for the width that was already set by cutting to scrap plywood. Again, make sure the grain is oriented correctly.
Next take note of the depth of your miter slots. Set that distance on your saw minus 1/8". This way the runners will not be touching the bottom of the slots as they're sliding and allow for any expansion. Now go ahead and make that cut on the runners making sure to rotate the runners 90 degrees from the first cut.
For the overall length I cut them to 24" which is the depth of the sled base.
Once done they should slide without much resistance down the miter slots with no side to side movement. And they should be just below the main surface of the table surface.
Step 4: Attach the Runners to the Base.
I started off by placing three stacks of dimes two dimes high per miter slot. Then I placed each runner on top of the dimes with the runners lined up on the back edge of the table saw surface.
At this time it's time to glue the runners to the base of the sled. I had to use regular wood glue as I was out of CA glue. Quick setting CA glue would definitely make this step quicker as you would not have to wait for regular wood glue to dry.
Once the glue has been applied it's time to set the base on top of the runners. Have the fence set at a distance away from the saw blade that you would like. I personally offset where the blade will be cutting a few inches off center. But this is up to you.
Using the fence as a guide press the base up against the fence and lay the base down on the runners. If you used regular wood glue set something heavy on top and wait to dry. Again quick setting CA glue should be ready in about a minute, if that long.
Once the glue has dried flip the base over. Mark out at least five hole locations per runner. Pre-drill and counter sink each hole. The finally drill in some inch long #8 wood screws.
Step 5: Prepare the Fences
For both the front and back fences I ran them through the jointer to give them a nice smooth surface on both the top and bottom.
On the back fence or the one closest to you while in use I inserted a Kreg Mini Track. To prepare for this I first inserted my dado stack into my table saw making sure the width was set just right. In this case the T-Track is 3/4" wide so that's what the dado stack is set to. Then laying the track on top of the table surface set the height for the dado stack to cut. In this case the track is 3/8" tall.
Set the table saw fence to make the cut centered on the back fence and go ahead and make that cut down the length of the back fence.
This is also a good time to cut the T-Track to length. After marking where to cut I used my band saw to make the cut. I was going to go ahead and install the T-Track into the fence but I had purchased the wrong size screws so I installed it later. Ultimately it turns out #6 by 1/2" wood screws are needed but we'll get to that later.
To finished preparing the back fence at this time I cut a small chamfer at the bottom of the fence. It's purpose is to allow any small amounts of saw dust to be collected in that space. As opposed to if there was no space there it would push the cut piece out and skew the cut..
Step 6: Cut Dados Fot T-Track
Using the same dado set up from the previous step I cut two dados in the base. These will accept two more pieces of the Kreg Mini Track that will be installed later. The locations were planned out to be about 5.25" on each side of the future kerf line.
Again I will install these later as I didn't have the correct screws at this time.
Step 7: Install the Front Fence.
At this point the front fence or the one farthest away from you can be installed. Since it doesn't matter how square it is you can simply mark out screw locations and insert 2" long wood screws through the sled base into the fence.
Step 8: Prepare for the Back Fence to Be Installed.
The back fence is what you will want to be as close to square as possible. The is achieved by first cutting a kerf line with the table saw blade starting from the front of the sled to about three quarters of the way down to the back of the sled. Do not cut all the way!
From here clamp the back fence down firmly on one side where it's even with the back of the sled base. With a carpenters square that you know is square spend some time getting the back fence square to the kerf line. I probably spent a good three minutes doing this. Once you are happy with it's location clamp the other side down firmly. Now flip the sled over and install two screws after pre-drilling and counter sinking. One on each end about and inch from the ends.
Step 9: Calibrate the Back Fence.
To get the back fence as close to 90 degrees to the blade I used the 5 cut method. This is best explained in my video. But in general it starts off by taking a large square piece of wood, start by making the first cut which is labeled one. Rotate the piece 90 degrees and make another cut. Keep going till your back at cut one. Move the piece over about an inch and cut again. This last cut now becomes the 5th cut. Now measure each side of the off cut and start doing some math. Again better explained in my video.
If you do end up needing to make adjustments it is again better explained in the video.
Step 10: Secure the Back Fence
After you are happy with how the back fence is square to the blade it's time to pre-drill, counter sink and insert 2" long wood screws to secure the back fence in place.
Step 11: Insert the T-Tracks
After finally purchasing the correct #6 sized wood screws I went ahead and installed the Kreg Mini Tracks into place. For the back fence simply pre drill and screw in the screws.
For the base of the sled you will have to grind down the length of the screws so that they will no protrude through the base of the sled. Note 3rd picture. In the 4th picture take note to leave spacing to allow access for any future T-bolt clamps. I cut these tracks to a length of 18" to allow for this spacing.
Once that is done pre-drill and insert the screws. Take care not to over tighten these as there is not much wood for the screws to adhere to. I finished by hand tightening with a screw driver. Another option which I did not do at this time would be to add some epoxy between the tracks and the wood.
Step 12: Sand and Apply Wax.
I decided to add a 3/8" round over to most of the edges to give the sled a better feel in my hands. This is totally optional.
I then sanded the base both top and bottom with 120 grit sandpaper. On the bottom of the base I applied a liberal amount of paste wax. This will help insure that the base slides freely while in use.
Step 13: Build the Stop Block
To build the stop block there are many little steps which again is better explained in the video.
Cut a square piece of 3/4" plywood at 3.25" square.
Cut a separate small piece of wood 3.25" long by .25" wide by .5" deep. This is what will slide in the T-Track.
Cut a dado in the square piece of plywood to accept the previously made piece of wood.
Glue the piece of wood into the dado.
Mark where the screw will have to be drill through and chisel out that section on the back.
Drill a 1/4" hole through the block.
Insert the bolts and knobs and your all set!
Step 14: Safety First!
To help in keeping all of my fingers in place I built a block for the blade to cut into at the back of the sled. This was made by laminating three pieces of 3/4" plywood cut at 4.25" square. Once dry I glued it to the back of the sled centered where the blade cuts.
Step 15: Future Plans
In the near future I plan on adding a tape measure on top of the back fence. This way with an attached pointer of some kind on the stop block I can make quicker and accurate adjustments.
And of course I still need to make hold down clamps for the base of the sled. These will offer far more safety while cutting small pieces close to the blade.
Well, hope you all enjoyed this post. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.