Table Saw Sled / Cross Cut Sled




About: my first love (after family) is kite making and flying. Next thing is I love to watch what people can do and think at. I also have many ideas that can take time to get alive... :-)

Hi everybody, in this instructable I will show you how I built my cross cut sled. Nothing I designed or invented, there are plenty of information on internet about this type of accessorie. I did not know about it until recently when I started to look at buying a table saw. I wanted to work with wood in a better and faster way.

So I bought a Dewalt 745 saw. I looked a lot of videos and tests before I chose this model. I took the time to tune it perfectly for straight cuts when I received it: tuned the blade angle, fence parallelism, angle stoppers... All is pretty well explained in the instructions of the saw.

The next step was to build this sled as it will help me a lot with my future project that you will discover on soon. The sled has a couple of advantages:

- cleaner cuts as the panels you cut are supported at the closest point of the blade. This gives cleaner cuts on lower surface.

- safer as no small pieces can fall in the blade pit and be kicked back

- easier and more precise to use than the mitre fence for perpendicular cuts

I built the sled with stuff I had around and it cost me nothing in material, lucky me! :-)

Here is how I proceeded:

Step 1: Step 1 : Measure the Grooves

On my saw, both grooves are the same. Check the width and depth of yours.

Step 2: Step 2: Cut the Groove's Stripes

my grooves are 19.5mm wide and 11mm high.

The stripes that will slide in the grooves need to be exactly the same width and a bit less in height. I had the chance to find an offcut of 10mm thick plywood which will fit perfectly for the 11mm groove height.

On all the pictures of this instructable you will see those plywood stripes but in the end I replaced them with plain oak as I felt the plywood was not sliding properly in the grooves...

When you cut the 2 stripes, cut them at just a bit more than the required width and use a plane and sanding paper to adjust for a snug fit! The stripes must slide easily along the grooves but without shaking from left to right in the groove!

Step 3: Step 3: Sled Table

for the table, I found an old (but never used) ikea shelf that is nearly as big as the table of the saw. No cut required and perfectly square.

You have to lower the blade to the minimum so it does not touch the panel and remove the divider.

I used the side fence of the saw to align the white panel and marked the 2 stripes lengthes to cut them at the panel dimension.

Step 4: Step 4: Stripes Preparation

In order to cut the stripes properly, first check that your perpendicular fence is at an exact 90° to the blade.

cut the 2 stripes on the marks done.

mark the center line of the 2 stripes

mark the 4 screw holes that you will drill

I drilled 4mm diameter holes for 4mm screws

countersunk the holes on one side of the stripe only

apply double-sided tape on the opposite side of the countersunk holes and cut the excess of tape so it does not appear outside of the stripe.

Step 5: Step 5: Panel and Stripes Assembly

I used washers to raise up the 2 stripes so they stick out slightly of the table saw grooves

align the 2 stripes on the front edge of the table saw and remove the proteective sheet of the glue

keep the sled panel at an angle to align it against the side fence, align it on the table frontage then drop it gently on the 2 stripes.

Apply pressure along the stripes

Turn the panel upside down and now you can put the screws to secure the stripes with the panel. When screwing, make sure to have your screws vertical and centred onto the stripes' holes. Otherwise the stripes will move aside when the screw heads will apply pressure and this will cause the sled not to slide any more...

Step 6: Step 6: Adding the Back Panel

This panel will join the 2 sides of the sled when you will cut through it. It has to be higher than the maximum height of your blade!

I used a piece of 20mm thick plywood that I cut to the required dimensions.

Mark its position on the sled panel, drill the screw holes and countersunk them from under side.

Use a square to position the panel vertical and put the screws by under.

You do not need a lot of precision on this one as you will work on the other side of the sled only.

Step 7: Step 7: Front Panel

For this one, you will need a thicker section of wood as the blade will go partially through it. I used a scrap part of a palet that I cut to dimension and squared using a plane and sanding block.

As for the back panel, mark its position on the sled panel, drill the holes and countersunk them from under.

Do not screw the panel yet!

First you need to place your sled onto the saw, raise the blade to the maximum height and start cutting through. You must stop before you reach the other side of the panel.

From now, you will install the front block: put a first screw on one end of the block but keep it a bit loose so the block can pivot around it.

use a square to check the angle between the blade and the front panel. Once at 90° exactly, slide the sled backwards a bit so you can access the screw hole of the other end. Put the screw.

Slide the sled back in, closer to the blade and check again that you have the 90° angle. If OK, then you can put the remaining screws.

Add a second block of wood on the center where the blade will touch the vertical panel. This will give you additional safety if the blade goes too far.

Step 8: Step 8: ENJOY!

There you are, a simple and easy to make sled that will make your life easier and safer to cut smaller parts.



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    13 Discussions


    8 months ago

    Base plate is a bit thick for my taste - takes a sizable portion of the cut depth away. Some thinner birch plywood would allow for pretty much the same rigidity for less thickness. 5/16" (~ 8mm) should be enough, I believe. The sled with the thinnest base plate I've built uses 1/4" (6 mm) birch plywood. Works like a charm.

    What I've found is that when you attach the front fence it's useful to first glue it in place, with great care to get a perfectly right angle to the blade, then, after the glue has dried, drill and screw. Makes it easier to get the right angle perfectly right.

    Another thing about the front fence: taper off the bottom edge that faces the blade before attaching it to the base plate. Sawdust will get stuck there, regardless of whether you taper it off or not. But if it's tapered, the sawdust will not cause the piece you're sawing to misalign with the front fence at the bottom, yielding a sloped bottom of the cut. (I hope this is understandable - don't know how to attach pictures here.)

    2 replies

    The sled has two fences, one behind the blade and one in front of the blade. Fence in front of the blade, bottom edge closest to the blade.

    I suppose you could add a taper after the fence is attached - scraping it into the wood, using a marking knife or something similar. Or a wood chisel with a slanted edge.

    Kink Jarfold

    8 months ago on Step 8

    I'm a big fan of jigs. And it's nice to see someone else with a small table saw as opposed to those humongous ones in most shops. Nicely done instructable. KJ

    Faith Tones.png
    1 reply

    8 months ago on Step 8

    A great instructable.!!! Very well & detailed instructions, which were well explained. & the photos were fantastic. And thank you very much again. I just bought my first table saw at an auction. It is a Pro Tech. But unfortunately it came with out any safety devices. I have been wanting to build a cross cut sled for safety & accuracy, I think yours's will greatly help me out with both.***

    1 reply

    8 months ago

    Nice instructable, and really simple design!

    Just one thing ... one of the key words in your text is "strip", and it's spelled like that -- without the "e".

    I'm guessing your first language is French, so:

    fr. bande = en. strip, whereas en. stripe = fr. rayure ;-)

    1 reply

    8 months ago on Introduction

    Nothing against this man's build. The instructable is well designed.

    Traditionally a sled of this sort is called a panel sled and used to cut large panels. Cuts that would be unhandy using the fence. It's not a miter fence. Table saws have a miter gauge, which is adjustable for angles. It's for making angles, hence miter.

    I think most will find the sled unhandy for cutoffs. Mostly since the fence can't be used with the sled on the saw. The sled also has no advantage over a zero clearance insert for clean cuts, and the insert is easier to make. It's also going to reduce the maximum depth of cut by the amount of the thickness of the sled. If the sled is more accurate than the fence or miter gauge then something is wrong with the fence or miter gauge. Fix them or buy better rather than adapting something not actually meant for cutoffs. For a small table saw there is really no need for a sled as there is a limit to the size of panels that can be cut.

    That said the sled he made will make good 90-degree cutoffs, but no better than the basic saw with a zero clearance insert. I believe this person made the video before he became completely familiar with using a table saw.

    One thing: If you do make a sled, you need to put a stop on it. Something that will keep the saw from cutting completely through the sled. Stop the sled from sliding before it cuts too far. Most people are going to push on that block on the sled and if there is no stop eventually or quickly it will be cut through and slice fingers and thumbs.

    3 replies

    Reply 8 months ago

    I've found that a sled combined with extension tables sideways plus a larger outfeed table will let you cut larger pieces on a very small saw. Plus, on small, DIY/hobby saws, there's almost always something wrong with the miter gauge - it wiggles. Fences are also less than accurate on such saws. A sled greatly improves the precision of what you can do with small, hobby/DIY saws, IME.

    The one thing I don't like, on the saw used in this project, is the blade. You can put any sled you want, on that saw, I don't see how you can get a really clean, tearless, smooth cut.

    I do not consider to cut big panels on this saw for the moment. I would prefer to order large panels cut to size rather than on this saw probably. I should give it a try.

    Hi, I understand your point of view but as I explained. This sled will make my next project way easier and it replaces the mitre gauge which does not fir tightly in the groove and so does not give perfect 90° cuts.