One trick pony cross-cut sled

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Project by Mainiac Matt posted 12-14-2014 12:05 AM 2432 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I need a sled for one reason only…. to cut panels square. And if it’s going to be a one trick sled…. it better well do that one trick dead nuts accurately.

When I sold my Craftsman 113 and refurbished an old Jet cabinet saw, I found myself sledless, because the miter slot spacing was different.

What drove me crazy on the last sled was getting the fence set accurately (which I never really did) so I hatched a plan to make and adjusting mechanism, with on end of the sled pinned, to make pivot point, and the other end with a slot that allowed for adjustments. The pinned end uses a long hex head cap screw with a T-nut epoxied into a counter bored hole in the sled bottom. On the pivoting end, I routed the slot with matching counter bore, and then made a sliding nut by cutting off the barbs of another T-nut and filing it into a rectangular shape, so it could be tightened up. Then I put a T-nut and adjusting screw in the fence itself and temporarily mounted a plate on the back edge of the base. This way I can loosen the cap screws at either end and dial in an adjustment.

I recycled the T-track runner from my old sled, and because it has just a little play, I added a second UHMW PE runner and planed it (who knew you could plane UHMW PE?) for a zero slop fit. The result is no perceptible sled wiggle and a smooth sliding action in the miter slots.

I had the sled pretty well done a couple months ago, but after about multiple tries doing the 5 cut method, it kicked my but and I set it aside out of frustration.

Fast forward to today. I NEED a sled to accurately cut plywood panels for a bench top lathe stand. So I reviewed the 5-cut video on Youtube and took another crack at it. This time, after the first correction, I was within .003” of square….. and quickly clamped the fence down tight and screwed it secure.

I don’t know what I did wrong the last time I tried this, as I was doing it exactly the same way…. but kept chasing the error.

Sled measures 43” x 27”, with clearance to cut a 24” wide panel.

Base is 1/2” Baltic Birch, Fence is a glue up of 4/4 finger jointed a pre-primed trim with a facing of the 1/2” Baltic Birch plywood on both sides. This has proven to be a very stable combination, and hasn’t warped at all in the 5 months since I glued it up. Front fence is a scrap piece of 4/4 Mahogany. All scrounged up from what I had laying aroung.

I just need to put a coat of Shellac on the top and fences and then I’ll wax up the bottom.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

12 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2890 days

#1 posted 12-14-2014 12:43 AM

Great idea on the adjustable fence. The 5 cut method kicked my butt too so I squared mine with a pair of plastic drafting squares.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30058 posts in 2538 days

#2 posted 12-14-2014 01:03 AM

Love the idea. Great job sir.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View firefighterontheside's profile


19432 posts in 2057 days

#3 posted 12-14-2014 01:06 AM

I’m so happy you finally figured out that 5 cut method. It’s been bothering me that you were defeated by a method. I have no idea what the method is. I need to make a new sled. Mine is horribly inaccurate, the runner is oak and changes with the weather. I need to be able to cut wider panels as well.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8554 posts in 2529 days

#4 posted 12-14-2014 02:58 AM

Bill… I don’t know who came up with it, but I think William Ng teaches it the best in this

Chasing thousandths with anything made of wood makes little sense… but I must have gone through this procedure six times my last time around and just couldn’t nail it down.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View firefighterontheside's profile


19432 posts in 2057 days

#5 posted 12-14-2014 03:16 AM

Interesting. I’ll watch the whole thing later when I can stay awake.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View DIYaholic's profile


19708 posts in 2875 days

#6 posted 12-14-2014 06:04 AM

Glad you were able to perfect the five cut method….
It gives me hope!!!

Yeah, my fence is a tad off.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View JL7's profile


8690 posts in 3165 days

#7 posted 12-14-2014 11:33 PM

Nice work Matt!

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View Mork's profile


298 posts in 2975 days

#8 posted 12-15-2014 02:38 AM

I considered doing something like that but thankfully I was lucky to get mine dead on. You might consider insetting your runners and making a sled in two sections. It’s makes getting the sled square much easier than you think and even the overall construction is simplified.

View CFrye's profile


10483 posts in 2040 days

#9 posted 12-16-2014 05:09 AM

Nice sled, Matt! I need to re-make one. Thanks for sharing.

-- God bless, Candy

View Dinger's profile


145 posts in 2462 days

#10 posted 12-16-2014 03:24 PM

The one I made a couple years ago is going out of square. Because there is a bit of play in the runners now due to wood shrinkage it’s no longer zero clearance in the kerf along the base or the fence. Basically, it’s become useless! I built one of those multi-function sleds but all I use it for is cross-cutting and panel-squaring occasionally. I think I’ll try to salvage it and I love your adjustable fence idea. I might take a crack it. What I love even more is the UHMW runner idea. I have a large cutting board that I’ve been wanting to experiment with for things like this. I was thinking about glueing it to a piece of 3/4 BBP with a hole cut in it for a router base and using the UHMW as the top. I wasn’t sure if it could be surface planed. Time will tell!

-- "Begin every endeaver with the end ever in mind."

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8554 posts in 2529 days

#11 posted 12-17-2014 08:38 PM

Mork…. that’s a cool video and a very smart way to build a sled… wish I had seen it long ago.

Dinger… My last sled was made with 1/2 MDF core Melamine. It was very slippery on the table and slid very freely. But the stock would also slip very freely on the top side, and when I tried to clamp pieces down, they would always shift as the clamp tightened up. Also, the fasteners (screws) strip out the MDF very easily. So I used BBP on this one.

No frills …. no bells and whistles… just square panels.

I say “Down with parallelograms.” :^p

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

View Mork's profile


298 posts in 2975 days

#12 posted 12-20-2014 02:11 AM

Thanks Matt, I think insetting the runners and making the sled in two pieces is easiest and I’ve never had a problem with a sled being square. Although, my first sled had a warped fence which I compensated for with 2 layers of masking tape. Not the greatest approach but it worked. After I sold the saw with the sled all future sleds were made like my video.

Somebody on Lumber jocks posted one with a small groove where the fence meets the sled table to make a place for saw dust. I think this is a great idea and I’ll do this on any future sled…. Maybe 1/8×1/8 inch would be good.

So many great ideas out there!

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