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How to Make a Cross-Cut Sled


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Published: 7 years ago
Original post on our site with additional comments: http://www.thewoodwhisperer.com/videos/the-cross-cut-sled/

Then
One of the first fixtures I ever made for my shop was a cross-cut sled. Heavily-influenced by David Marks, I modeled it after his design. The sled opened up a whole world of possibilities for not only cross-cutting, but joinery as well. I didn't have a reliable compound miter saw at the time so this versatile fixture really helped me get the most out of my limited tool set. Here's a pic from the old days!

Now
Now with a full complement of tools, I am finding myself longing for some of the simple solutions I used in the past. And after spending some time at the William Ng School using his cross-cut sleds for various operations, I knew it was time to get my butt in gear and make myself a new cross-cut sled. You'll notice that my sled doesn't have any bells and whistles like built-in stops or hold downs, but you can certainly add those if you feel they are appropriate.
Hip To Be Square!

To square the fence, I use the "5-cut squaring method", which you can see demonstrated in the video and also in this little Flash presentation. Its an incredible method for adjusting a fence down to the nearest thousandth. The final adjustments are made using feeler gauges and a method I learned directly from William Ng himself.

Important Note -- I messed up! Yeah I suck. During the editing/filming process, I got the adjustment mixed up. In the video, I state that to correct the error measured by the 5-cut method, I would need to push the left side of the fence BACK toward me. That's exactly the opposite of what I needed to do. Instead, the fence needs to go forward on the left side. Because the feeler gauge method of adjustment only works by pulling one side of the fence back toward the user, you can effectively push the left side forward by pulling the right side back. So to sum up, instead of making the adjustment by pulling the fence back on the left side, I should have pulled the fence back on the right side.
Dimensions

A cross-cut sled can be any size you want. Just keep in mind the bigger it is, the harder it is to handle. So for me, the ideal size was approximately the dimensions of my tablesaw top.
Plywood base: 34″ Wide x 30 " Deep (1/2″ Baltic Birch Ply)
Fences: 4 1/4″ Wide x 30″ Long
Runners: 30″ Long x 3/4″ Wide x 3/8″ Thick
Techniques

Once the sled is constructed, I cover the following techniques for using the sled:
Standard Cross-Cut
Wide Cross-Cut
Long Cross-Cut
Using The Stop Block
Repetitive Cuts
Small Parts Cut

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comment  Comments

The video helped immensely! I spaced my rails by laying 4 strips of paper across the channel and pressing the rail into the track. I then cut off the strips of paper so they would not affect the plywood resting on the surface of the table saw. This guaranteed that after attaching the rails that I had space equal to the thickness of a piece of paper on the sides and bottom. The rails slide smoothly.

1 day ago

thank you man, very useful video

1 week ago

Great explanation! I’ve seen lots of woodworkers using the sled and always wondered why. Now for me to get on to making one!

3 weeks ago

Just sheer theoretical musings here....


.005 over 24" because the cut off piece is 24" long. BUT... Your pivoting the fence between 2 screw holes that are most likely not 24" apart. So make sure to factor in the ratio between the cut-off piece length and the distance between the 2 screws on the fence. And not to nitpick but since I'm nitpicking, when you placed the 5 thou spacer between the block and fence, it effectively moved the fence 5 thou from the most inner point of contact along the fence and block. That looked to be 4 or 5 inches inward from the pivot point of the screw.


But who cares, its already more accurate than is realistically correctable. I just like to over think stuff, its my thing.

3 weeks ago

3:40

3 weeks ago

does the test piece Have to be square before you start. if so, then I would have to re-square the test piece before a second test can be done on the table saw using the same piece of (plywood test piece). I cut my first side (marked 1 and 5) then went to second side... used a framing square it was extremely close to square. I cut my 3rd and 4th side with same results... but when I used my framing square to square side 4 and side (1 and 5) it was off a ton... what am I doing wrong... shouldn't I see a gradual additional space per side I cut.. .until I get to the final side that would show an accumulation of all sides...???? very frustrating.

1 month ago

Seems weird to go to all that fine adjustment work on a wooden panel with wooden miter slot runners.

1 month ago

You are incredibly articulate and methodical.

1 month ago

I think it's best to move America. I am tired of being here in South Africa and getting acrewed by all the middle men. Prices are ridiculous here.

1 month ago

Thanks for the video

1 month ago

I'm thinking about making a table saw sled to replace and update my current sled. The new one will be similar in size and design, but will include stops and T-tracs for hold downs. My current sled is fairly heavy and awkward to move. In an effort to lighten the new sled, I am thinking of putting holes in the bed of the new sled ( 1 inch holes in a 2 inch on center pattern). Can you think of any drawbacks to doing this?

1 month ago

Saw dust can get in the holes and cause it to bind, or get under the guid

1 month ago

You make me so jealous looking at those Powermatic machines. ;-)

1 month ago

I watched another build, and the guy used high density polyethylene for the runners. He pre-cut runners of hardwood and having the proper setting on his table saw with the wood version, he then cut the poly runners off that setting. Worked really slick!

1 month ago

Do you think UHMW plastic would be a good substitute for the runners? Seems like it would be ideal, but I'm not sure how stable it is with changes in shop temperature. In other words, would it expand and bind if the room temperature increased or become sloppy in the slots in really cold temps?

1 month ago

Thank you!

1 month ago

I miss the soul patch in the newer videos. :(

1 month ago

excellent vid. Thanks.

1 month ago

Thanks!!!!! You look just like Carson daily!!!!!!

1 month ago

Thank you for your tips!

1 month ago

Very Impressive! Don't need to go elsewhere....
Excellent Job in presenting going into every detail & tricks of the trade with actual examples.
Jim

1 month ago

Evening Mark. Quick question, is the dust collection system in the background heat pipe and if not. what gauge did you go with.. Looks great...

2 months ago

Thanks for the video. I just used your 5-cut/micrometer method to calibrated my new sled fence. Ironically I was also off only 1.25 thousandths. I got lucky to be that accurate the first time. This is the second sled I've made and I couldn't agree more that there is no more useful jig a woodworker can make.

2 months ago

The classic woodworker conundrum. "Build this basic thing" ... catch is ... the video shows very specialized or expensive equipment. A bandsaw to cut small strips? Why not the tablesaw? You seem to be using the bandsaw in an identical way. I'm new to woodworking and this is a common thing I see in these help videos. Thanks for sharing though; I'm sure many other people will be able to follow along.

2 months ago

YEAH, OK not bad....but if I already have a planer and a joiner in my shop, chances are the last thing I have a need for is a cross cut sled.

2 months ago

That makes no sense.

2 months ago

Remember to remove the Riving knife before attempting to cut your kerf......abuh...

2 months ago

TY this was a great help. :)

2 months ago

Thank you for this video! Do you see any issues with cutting a second slot at 45 degrees in the same sled??

2 months ago

Very comprehensive thanks!

2 months ago

The Festool thing looks like a POS. You like it? Thats hard to imagine.

2 months ago

your explanation of the cuts to make the cross cut perfect was done well.

2 months ago

Very helpful video

2 months ago

Great vid and thank you!!!!

2 months ago

where can I buy those metal thickness gauges?

2 months ago

Auto parts store (quickest) or Wally World auto center. Used them for years to gap spark plugs.

1 month ago

I would like to build one of these, wondering if anyone can see a problem if Teflon was used for the Mitre slot runners.

3 months ago

Just started watching your videos and love how through you are in explaining your process.
I'm an old guy and have gotten back into wood working since I've been diagnosed with Parkinson's, keeping might right side busy. My question to you is what do you feel are the best bang for your buck on clamps.
Great video, keep them coming.

3 months ago

Great video! Thanks for sharing.

3 months ago

RUNNERS WON'T SHRINK IF THEY ARE MADE OF ALUMINUM WHICH YOU CAN GET CHEAP AND EXACTLY THREE QUARTER BY ONE QUARTER INCH FROM METAL SUPER MARKET.DRILL AND TAP HOLES FOR QUARTER-TWENTY MACHINE SCREWS.

3 months ago

Super job on the sled. In regard to the 2 runners for the miter slots, could you use HDPE or even scavenged bars from old miter gauges? Thank you!

3 months ago

Great video. I recently broke my Ng sled by trying to make a 12" long shim at 3.2 degrees. I double sided sticky taped the piece down to the sled and once the shim was cut, it turned vertically and wedged in between the saw and the table inside the sled's kerf area. I immediately shut the saw down and noticed it had broken the front fence.... scary. Can you teach me a good way to safely make - perfect 3.2 degree shims that are 12" long? Thanks for the video.

4 months ago

Making perfect shims might be hard, But my dad might know, He has a very mechanical mind.

3 months ago

So this sled is to completely eliminate the need of mitre saw. correct?

4 months ago

Maybe....

3 months ago

I've watched a few crosscut sled vids and this has the best explanations of how and why!.. great stuff! Ready to build one now ! I am going to try the milled uhmw strips for runners so summer-winter humidity swing wont affect it. Your tutorial are still great. I started with the big cutting board some years back.. and still a fan!

4 months ago

What size Rockler tapered bit did you use for the runner screw holes? I'm making my sled based on this video. 30" front to back. 36" side to side.

4 months ago

Great job.👏🏾 I’m so jealous of people that have their own workshop. I do a lot of work in one at my job, but I unfortunately do not own a house to build my own. My workshop at home is my poor little bathroom in my apartment whenever I need to cut or build small projects. Sad, isn’t it? 😂 Still dreaming that owning one will happen in my lifetime.😊

4 months ago

How did you pick the sled dimensions of 30" x 34", please? Why that size vs. wider / narrower, longer / shorter? I'd appreciate an understanding of how to make that decision.

Looks like your sled is matched to the top of your saw, seems like a good way to pick a size.

4 months ago

Thanks, great value in this video

4 months ago

Watched for the 2nd time 👍🏾 Can I use MDF instead of Plywood? I only ask as I have a lot of MDF in stock. If not what about thinner plywood or 10mm Hardboard?

4 months ago

The man has every imaginable big piece of machinery... but lacks a large square lol. Really... this is one hell of a video, so many tricks.

4 months ago

14:50 I think there's a duck running loose in the shop

4 months ago

Awesome... Thank You

4 months ago

After some time of watching and re-watching your video, I've finally put together my first cross cut sled. I was able to dial in my cut to the left of the saw blade almost exactly but, when I cut a piece of material on the right hand side of the sled it wasn't square. Any thoughts on getting both sides square? Thanks!

4 months ago

+The Wood Whisperer Unfortunately, I was afraid of that. As a weekend warrior, I really find value in your videos. The streaming dents out of wood was a life saver last week on a cabinet face frame that had gotten knocked over and dented dead center.

4 months ago

Sounds like your fence isn’t flat.

4 months ago