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    Simple Tablesaw Sled Yields Super-Precise Cuts

    more on woodworking safety

    Tools and Materials

    Learn how to build a crosscut sled for your tablesaw that's precise, simple, and good for the long haul.

    If you can't make perfectly square cuts on your tablesaw, you're dead in the water when it comes to woodworking. A dedicated crosscut sled allows you to make square cuts across materials that are too large for a miter gauge alone. But getting the sled's fence square to the blade can be a hassle. Ditto when it comes to aligning two miter slot bars on the bottom of your sled.

    The trick to this small crosscut sled (it's perfect for box-building and other small projects) lay in the fact that it uses only one aluminum miter bar. Forget about custom-making your own miter bars from quartersawn white oak (a common tactic to limit expansion and contraction with seasonal changes in humidity). By using store-bought metal bars, you won't need to fuss over the precision trimming that's often required to make the bars fit just right into your tablesaw's miter slots.

    To purchase your own set of aluminum miter bars, visit Rockler.com. And for directions on building this sled, read the step-by-step instructions below.

    How to Make

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Baseclick to enlarge

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Base: Attach an aluminum miter bar to a sled base made of MDF. While some folks advocate making miter bars out of wood, it's a heck of a lot easier to use an aluminum store-bought model. It will never shrink or expand, so you won't have to fuss with having to tweak the fit during seasonal changes in humidity. For information on where to purchase a miter bar like the one seen here, check the top of this post.

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Baseclick to enlarge

    Attach Two Fences: Glue and screw two hardwood fences to the front and back of the sled. Technically, neither one of these pieces will be functioning as a fence. They're really there just to hold the two haves of the sled together after you've cut a kerf through the base. One caveat: Be sure the fence material is taller than the highest point you're likely to set your tablesaw's blade at when using the sled. You don't want to cut straight through your fence material!

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Baseclick to enlarge

    Cut the Kerf: With the blade you intend to use in conjunction with your sled, cut a saw kerf straight down the length of the sled. By sticking with the same blade whenever you use your sled, you'll be guaranteed a zero-clearance cut. That means no tearout at the bottom of your cuts.

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Baseclick to enlarge

    Attach a Fence Square to the Kerf: This is the actual fence that your workpieces will register against when making cuts so it needs to be attached at a perfect 90-degrees to your saw kerf. Begin by screwing down (from below) one end of the fence. Now use a combination square to align it square to the saw kerf and clamp it into place. Double check for square and screw down the other end. With the fence secure, you can add a few more screws for added strength. Be sure that this fence is a bit taller than the other two, this will allow you to more easily clamp stop blocks into place.

    Secure a Miter Bar to Your Sled Baseclick to enlarge

    Test Your Work: Test cut a piece of scrap and check the end for square. If you've followed these directions precisely, you should be left with a perfect cut.