Season of shop upgrades #3: Cross Cut Sled

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Blog entry by PJ72 posted 02-16-2014 10:38 AM 8241 reads 2 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Table Saw Outfeed Part 3 of Season of shop upgrades series Part 4: Zero Clearance Inserts »

Another Table Saw Upgrade
A quality cross cut sled has been on my to-do list for some time. I have seen many plans in the magazines over the years but have never built one. Now that I have finished my first cross cut sled, I don’t know how I got along without it.

Desired Cross Cut Sled Features

1) I wanted a sled that would handle 24” wide panels.
2) needs a dedicated easy to adjust stop block for repeat cuts.
3) needs to accommodate zero-clearance on both the bottom and front fence to prevent chip out.
4) needs to accommodate zero-clearance for both standard saw blades and dado blades. This meant that the sled needed replaceable zero-clearance inserts.
5) needs to provide dead on square cross cuts

It Just Arrived in the Mail one Day

I saw a nearly perfect representation of the sled I wanted to build in the Vol. 22 Issue 130 (July/August 2013) shop notes magazine. I did not follow their exact pattern and I added a zero-clearance insert to the fence but otherwise their plan fit the bill for what I wanted.

My journey to dead on square cross cuts

Before I started building the sled I re-tuned the table saw and took special care to verify the fence and miter slots were parallel to the blade. I used a shop made jig with a dial indicator to tune the saw to less than 0.002” run-out between the miter slots and the blade and over the length of the fence.

My approach did not allow for any adjustment of the fence to square it up to the blade. Instead I used a dado blade to notch the bottom of the sled base for the runners (uses two runners for added stability through the cut) and again to notch the top of the sled base for the sled fence. If the table saw fence and miter slots are truly parallel to the blade, this approach should align the sled miter bars dead-on perpendicular to the sled fence. The approach worked great and the sled produces dead on square cuts.

The finished Sled

The sled is 54” wide with a 24” extension. The zero-clearance inserts are made from ¼” hardboard and are attached with 8-32” countersunk machine screws and thread inserts in the sled base. I used ¾” plywood for the base, ¾” plywood laminated together for the fence and stop block, 1” x ¾” oak for the extension cleat, and aluminum miter bars.

Sled with optional extension

The full sled provides support for large panels

Replaceable zero clearance inserts to reduce chip out on bottom and rear of work piece

Thanks for taking a look. Now that I see how useful this sled is, I want to build a light duty sled with an optional add-on box joint jig feature.

-- PJ

6 comments so far

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2325 days

#1 posted 02-16-2014 11:56 AM


That is one ginormous sled and looks as though it would offer great control and accuracy for cutting those large panels you referred to.
Does it require an assistant to help install and store it?? ;-)

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len.

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View PJ72's profile


55 posts in 1859 days

#2 posted 02-16-2014 05:12 PM

Len, No assistance needed, it only weighs 20lb w/o the extension. Also, I extended the miter bars a couple inches beyond the front of the sled to help with alignment at the front of the saw. it works great and glides smoothly, but for cutting wide panels the sled would benefit greatly from a couple 6-8” in-feed support rails at each end of the saw.

-- PJ

View CharlesA's profile


3332 posts in 1850 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 05:11 PM

I built one from the Shop Notes plan. I used the called for 1/2” plywood for the base, as opposed to 3/4” on this one and on my old, smaller sled. My new sled may, in fact, be slightly lighter than my old one. A little ungainly, yes. Heavy, no. I was skeptical of the 1/2” plywood, but it has performed very well for me.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View PJ72's profile


55 posts in 1859 days

#4 posted 02-22-2014 05:41 PM

Charles, Thanks for your comments.

I opted for the 3/4 ply for two main reasons.
1) Allow thickness for thread inserts below the 1/4” hard board zero clearance insert.
2) I wanted to screw the miter aluminum bars in from the bottom rather rather than down from the top. I was concerned that 1/2” ply with a dado for the miter bar would not leave enough material for screw thread engagement into the plywood. I could have tapped the miter bars and bolted them in from the top like the plan did and I think 1/2” ply would have been fine just as you discovered.

you are right about it being ungainly, especially when cutting a wide panel and the majority of the sled mass is hanging over the front of the saw. Some in-feed support is definitely on my to-do list.

-- PJ

View CharlesA's profile


3332 posts in 1850 days

#5 posted 02-22-2014 05:48 PM

the only trouble I had in constructing the sled was screwing the ZCI into the thin plywood.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View JustLikeJames's profile


173 posts in 1615 days

#6 posted 04-02-2016 06:47 PM

Great job!
I’m curious if you’ve ever regretted building the sled mirrored from the original plan (having the larger side/extension to the right of the blade). Is it 6 of one and a half dozen of the other, or have you really noticed a benefit to doing it that way? I figure I’m missing something because I bet 99% of people build their sleds with the largest side to the left of the blade. I’m getting ready to build one, and I’ve always wondered why more people don’t build them the way you did.


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