CrossCut Sled for Table Saw
By Joe Lyddon

I have seen various pictures of cross cut sleds.
Most of them don't tell you what the thicknesses of lumber used are or any other dimensions.   I have been studying pictures,   comparing hands,   thumbs,   etc.   to try to get ideas about dimensions.

So,   now,   I'm just going to flatout ASK!

What are your favorite dimensions?

Thickness and type of wood used for the Sled?

Thicknesses & dimensions of the bridges. . .   front & back?   Type of wood?

I have a Delta TS where the miter slots are   "T"   where the miter rides in the track and will not come out unless taken forward or backward out of the slot.

What type of sled strips do you like?

Would you buy special Delta T strips for the slots?

What is your process of attaching the strips to the sled?

What is your procedure on making the Cross Cut Sled?

Pitfalls in making them?
Do's and Don'ts?

Any Links on the subject?

I thank you all in advance for all of your help on the subject.

The following is a recap of the various points covered... Enjoy...

Jim Tolpins Table saw book
Kelly Mehler's Table Saw Book.
Width of table of my saw.   Inside depth is 26".
19.5" x 40"
inside 16 5/8"
Same as my saw table, ~28", and about 30" wide.
Same as my saw top and can handle easily   24" wide.
30" x 42"
26" front to back
32" wide.
Base Thickness:
3/4" plywood.
3/4" Luann solid core plywood
3/8" plywood.
1/2" plywood.
1/2" plywood.
1/2" baltic birch.
1/2" baltic birch.
flattest piece of 1/2" plywood.
1/2" with the underside laminated to run smooth on the table saw surface.1/2" MDF.   Heavy but it stays flat.

Guard across the top:
A 3/8 plywood front to back bridge/brace over the blade doubles as a guard.
Front fence:
Top thickness about 2" thick, not quite as wide as the base.
2x4 has a chamfered dust relief.
4/4 poplar.
1 1/2" Maple front a rear fences.
Back fence:
Bottom thickness about 2" thick, not quite as wide as the base.
2x4 has a chamfered dust relief.
4/4 poplar.
1 1/2" Maple front a rear fences.
UHMW strips
Hardwood,   1 inch longer than the sled on each end.
Maple runner in my sled,   works just fine.   It replaced a UHMW   (Ultra-High Molecular Weight)   plastic runner that slid really well but was much too flexible,   only had that on it for about 2 hours.   Eventually I will replace the Maple runner with a metal one,   but for now it works and I have no trouble with it.

This is the one you want,   IME.   Incra Miter Slider Expandable.
18"   $12.95 Incra Miter Slider,   24"   $16.95.   UHMW is OK but I'd never use it for this application because screws tend to swell it when they are snugged down.   You still have to incorporate some way of taking out the slop unless you plan on custom fitting them to your saw.

Hardwood moves too much unless you make provisions for adjustability as was suggested by another previously.   I've had hardwood runners before on sleds and won't waste my time with them any more.   The $30 I saved wasn't worth the bs I went through using them.   Things might be a bit drier out west than they are here,   but that's been my experience with them.

If you must use metal how about the UHMW stick on tape.

Delta and others have been supplying steel miter gauge bars with their cast iron topped saws for over 60 years and I've never heard this voiced as a concern.   My own miter gauge is just as tight in the top as the day I bought the saw   17 to   18 odd years ago.

Solid Oak
I would not use metal for a runner because I don't want the slot to wear.
Straight, stable kind that are adjustable for slop.   18"   or   24"   MiterSliders from Woodpeckers.   About $12 - $15 each.

I would NOT buy special Delta T strips for the slots?
Oak runners for standard miter slots.
Honey Locust (ironwood)
Process of attaching the strips to the sled:
Method A:
Machine screws.   The MiterSliders have threads for these. .   Put dimes in the miter slots,   then add the rails.   Put double back tape on the top of the rails.   Position your rails front to back.   Set your rip fence at the right most distance from the blade that you want your sled to be.   Line up the sled against the rip fence and make sure it will be correct front to back,   then lower it down and press it tight on the rails. Follow?

Method B:
I use the hardest wood I could find for sled runners.   They're rectangular in cross section so that I can install or remove the sled easily.   The runners were ripped so that they are about   1/32"   thinner than the miter slots.   I drilled and countersunk one face of each runner for short,   #4 flat head brass screws.   They're spaced   3"   apart.   Then I inserted the runners in the slots with the screw-containing faces placed on the outsides.   I put some shim stock between the inside faces and the wall of the miter slots and adjusted the screws to hold the runners in place.   With the sled in place on top of them,   I drilled some pilot holes for flat head screws to attach one runner to the sled - was sure to have the   #4   brass screws backed out a little to allow some adjustment when sled was completed.   Then turned the sled over,   applied glue to the runner and screwed this runner and sled together.   Finally,   I repeated this with the second runner.

As you use the sled,   the heads of the   #4   brass screws wear a little,   making the sled a little wobbly.   Backing out the screws carefully will make the sled cut accurately again.

I attached a handle to the front and painted both top and bottom with a good quality alkyd-based paint.

I've used this sled for   15+ years   and still haven't had to change the brass screws.

Method C:
I mill a board so it just fits in the miter slot.   Then I pick a factory edge on the MDF and check it with a straight edge and cut my sled to size saving the factory straight edge.   Set up the dado and cut a   1/8"   deep groove parallel to the straight edge so the runner just fits.   Finish cutting the runner to about   7/16" thick.   Counter sink flat bottom holes for screw heads in the runner and drill through holes.   Place runner in slot and drill holes in sled.   Flip sled over and countersink holes for T nuts.   Screw   1/4"   machine screws from bottom through T nuts on top.   Cut and grind off excess threads.   Install front and back fences.   Be sure to cut a groove on the bottom of the back fence for sawdust.   I have been using   1.125" plywood   left over from floor construction for fences.   The fences should be taller that the maximum height the saw blade will go in middle.   Good idea to leave some space behind the back fence for braces to keep the fence perpendicular.   I always box in the back of the fence where the blade comes through. Safety first.   When you are squaring the fence start with a board that has two parallel straight edges and is as wide as you can fit in the sled.   After cutting it flip one of the cut pieces over and see if it is still straight.   Wax the runner and the slot.

Method D:
I worked in a shop where everyone had their own idea of how to make a sled so you had lots to choose from.   Single runner sleds don't bind if the runner isn't too big.   If you make single runner solid enough from a stable enough material the right size it will not have any slop.   My single runner   49"   panel cutting sled is   44"   wide and works perfectly.   Dead square,   no binding and no slop.

When you make a single runner sled you have the advantage of using a dado,   which if cut correctly should be as straight as the edge used to cut it.   This keeps the runner from moving or breaking.

So for a runner I am thinking quartersawn Mesquite.   Can't be much movement there.   I use my machines full time and I like to think of things lasting as long as possible.   I guess if you don't use your sled that much a metal runner won't do much damage.   If you use a metal runner sled daily you should measure the slot of a table saw that has seen a lot of use.

Method E:
I used the article in   FWW #128... A TABLESAW SLED FOR PRECISION CROSSCUTTING... by Lon Schleining.... Copied it closely,   used my own dimensions...   28 x 40"... Very big but works great!

Do's and Don'ts
If you use oak runners as I did, be sure to get the grain direction as vertical as possible.

I prefer dual runner sleds because they are much more stable and allow enough room to the right of the blade to support most offcuts.

Inlet a t-slot rail in the rear fence face to accept a stop block on both sides of the blade.

Put handles on it so you can push it thru the blade and pull it back.   They also are useful for putting it on and taking it off your saw.

Make sure your back fence is as square to the blade your using before permanently attaching.

I use featherboards to clamp to hold the piece down.   Same goes for stops.

strips placed on the back fence   6"   on each side from where the blade exits to give one a reference where to keep one's hands as I can certaintly see an accident happening like that.

Attach a piece of plexiglass-type material over the blade to guard against any debris.

The over-blade brace/guard is actually a single piece of 3/8" ply about 7" wide and spans the sled front to back.   There is a cut-out down the middle about   1 1/2"   wide to see the blade and remind you to keep your digits away.   No problem sliding the workpiece under.   I would like to add some plexiglass underneath to act as a dust/chip deflector.   I'm a little concerned that static might cause a buildup of fine dust underneath and obscure the view of the cutline.   I'm thinking of painting the blade exit block red.

I prefer Lexan over plexiglass for it's shatter resistance.
My guard is adjustble up and down, and it comes off.

Good point with differences in location and swelling wood.   Twenty years ago I made my   30"   wide shop bench top of various hardwood scraps I had laying around using plastic resin glue to attach the   1 1/2"   by   1 1/2"   bread board ends along the whole width.   Not long after that I learned that was the wrong thing to do and I have been waiting for it to crack.   It still hasn't cracked.   Wood may be cheaper in the East but the West doesn't have the constantly dry winters and humid summers.

My advice is make it as light as you can so you don`t rupture yourself moving it around...   one way to help with that is the use of a hole saw,   about   2" dia....far enough apart that you don`t weaken it..

I put a gate handle on the front fence and another on the rear fence.   They make it very easy to put on and off.

Make the front to back Plexiglas guard removable.

I made the runner length such that they hit the end of the grooves in my extension table so the sled could not be pushed any futher at just the right distance that the blade doesn't come out the thick back fence.   This keeps me from going too far.

I have a arm that retracts in and out of the back of the sled to make repeatable cuts.

I prefer the Woodpeck metal over the oak hardwood runners I used on a previous sled,   the seems to swell and stick every once in a while.

I have a stop on the side of the saw so you can't push the sled past the block that surrounds the blade at the back of the sled.

I recommend a hold down so you can keep your fingers away from the blade and also hold the work securely.

T track mounted on top of the rear fence for Stop block.

Sled covers the whole table and can be moved with one finger.

You want to push your work Rick,   not "pull" it.   More control if you can keep it firmly against the fence and less of a stretch if ya know what I mean on sheet goods.....   rebel

No steel just a Oak wood strip ran through the planner.   If I make another, I'd run the metal if you can get one that has no slop or is adjustable to the slot opening.

I think I'd add a couple toogle clamps to help maintain pressure against the jig fence and keep the big panels firm to the jig....


Links included in above:

A very easy cross cut sled HERE:

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