My 1st Crosscut Sled #1: Making the runners

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Blog entry by Chris McDowell posted 09-30-2012 09:09 PM 6327 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of My 1st Crosscut Sled series Part 2: Making the fences »

I realized early on after receiving my table saw that I would need a crosscut sled. The miter gauge was just too wobbly to be sure I was getting 90 degree cuts. My daughter had this bookshelf in her room that we replaced with some other furniture.

Instead of trashing it, I decided that I could at least use it for something and decided on a crosscut sled. It’s made of particle board or something so I know I’m sinning a little bit, but it’s free and it’s all I got. It will at least work as a temporary sled until I can afford to build a better one.

First of all, I don’t have a piece large enough by itself to make a sled, so I will have to use both side panels of the bookshelf and make the two halves of the sled and then join them together with the fences later on. Luckily, I had already seen a video of one made this way, so I kind of had an idea of what to do.

To begin, I spent part of Saturday afternoon making sure the blade was aligned to the miter slots. I had to adjust it a bit, but eventually got it as good as I could.

I then started on the runners using a long piece of MDF I found for a buck in the cull lumber cart at Home Depot. It took a few test cuts to figure out exactly how wide I need to cut them. I couldn’t ever get them perfect so I ended up with them a little wide and just sanded each one until they fit in the slot. Then I used some small nuts in the bottom of the slot to raise the runner above the top of the table so I could glue it to the top (these Craftsman slots are so small, I couldn’t even fit a dime). I also put some wax paper so that no glue would get on the table saw top.

I then applied glue, set the fence up and put the shelf on the runner with the right edge of the shelf just past the blade. I put some patio stones on top for weight. Later, before I join the two halves I will run each half-sled on its slot through the blade and this will make each half square with the blade.

I let it dry overnight and this afternoon I cleaned up all the glue squeeze out and set up the other half to dry.

I’m not quite sure how well the glue bond will last on the white, painted surface of the shelf, so I plan on getting some small screws to help secure the runners. I plan on using and old scrap piece of 2×6 for the rear fence and the other parts of the bookshelf and a leftover piece of poplar for the front fence. The poplar is six inches tall so I’ll use it around where the blade comes through the fence to keep my hands away.


I found out that what I’m calling “painted” is actually white melamine. Super slick.

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

5 comments so far

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2244 days

#1 posted 09-30-2012 10:01 PM

thanks for sharing this project just moved to the top of my list after the day i had.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Chris McDowell's profile

Chris McDowell

644 posts in 2206 days

#2 posted 09-30-2012 10:06 PM

I hear ya. The very first time I used the miter gauge on my saw I was like, “This ain’t gonna work.” It was a piece about 4 feet long and was about an inch too wide to cut on the chop saw. I could not keep the piece from shimmying before it got to the blade.

-- Chris, , FACEBOOK: , Proverbs 16:9

View thebigvise's profile


191 posts in 2954 days

#3 posted 10-01-2012 01:40 AM

I agree wholeheartedly that a crosscut sled is essential, yet I still find myself using my after-market Incra miter gauge for some operations. It’s worth the $70 and it’s dead accurate with micro-adjust features. Of course, I added a 24” miter fence. Anyway, just a thought…

-- Paul, Clinton, NC

View NormG's profile


6202 posts in 3058 days

#4 posted 10-01-2012 02:10 AM

Great project, I have not made one as of yet. It is on my list, but just not to it yet

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View dustyal's profile


1295 posts in 3529 days

#5 posted 10-10-2012 08:58 PM

I’ve made a couple for small bench top saws… basically same technique… but just recently, I upgraded to add an aluminum t-slot running along top edge of rear fence. I made a stop that slides in the t-slot so I can make multiple identical sized parts. Unfortunately, due to the hump in the middle I could only run the t-slot as a left half and right half. Bad again… my parts ended right under the hump… so I couldn’t use my stop.

I am about to rebuild the back fence without that middle hump so my t-slot will run clear across the fence.

Oh, old saws had small those small non-standard miter slots. Newer saw has standard 3/4 slot. That helped in making runners.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

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