The Cross-Cut Sled

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Blog entry by thewoodwhisperer posted 04-29-2011 06:50 PM 9397 reads 34 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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One of the first fixtures I ever made for my shop was a cross-cut sled. Heavily-influenced by David Marks, I modeled it after his design. The sled opened up a whole world of possibilities for not only cross-cutting, but joinery as well. I didn’t have a reliable compound miter saw at the time so this versatile fixture really helped me get the most out of my limited tool set. Here's a pic from the old days!

Now with a full complement of tools, I am finding myself longing for some of the simple solutions I used in the past. And after spending some time at the William Ng School using his cross-cut sleds for various operations, I knew it was time to get my butt in gear and make myself a new cross-cut sled. You’ll notice that my sled doesn’t have any bells and whistles like built-in stops or hold downs, but you can certainly add those if you feel they are appropriate.

Hip To Be Square!
To square the fence, I use the “5-cut squaring method”, which you can see demonstrated in the video and also in this little Flash presentation. Its an incredible method for adjusting a fence down to the nearest thousandth.

A cross-cut sled can be any size you want. Just keep in mind the bigger it is, the harder it is to handle. So for me, the ideal size was approximately the dimensions of my tablesaw top.
Plywood base: 34” Wide x 30 ” Deep (1/2” Baltic Birch Ply)
Fences: 4 1/4” Wide x 30” Long
Runners: 30” Long x 3/4” Wide x 3/8” Thick

Once the sled is constructed, I cover the following techniques for using the sled:
Standard Cross-Cut
Wide Cross-Cut
Long Cross-Cut
Using The Stop Block
Repetitive Cuts
Small Parts Cut

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

9 comments so far

View MinnesotaMike's profile


28 posts in 2663 days

#1 posted 04-29-2011 07:58 PM

Marc –
Just another great piece of work from the WoodWisperer! Especially timely for me as well since I’m in the midst of rehabing a 70’s Craftsman bench saw and determined my first “jig” would be a crosscut sled and, now, it’ii be just like yours. Likely one of the few very best woodwoking videos I’ve see – thorough, informative, easy to follow, technically first rate, and fully understandable for a neophyte like me.
Thanks for all your effort in making this information available to all of us on LJ.

View ken_c's profile


323 posts in 3185 days

#2 posted 04-29-2011 08:03 PM

I love you man!!!

Thanks for all the work and demos. I have said it before and i will say it again, you do a great job with all your presentations.

The simple sled I have now uses a single runner and is set up as a pusher, i.e. the fence leads the cut. that configuration has allowed me to cut wider panels then if the fence followed the cut. I too am due for a redo and I am considering my options. Those options being a leading fence or a following fence. Also, a single fence as I have now or the double fence so many now employ.

Is the leading fence really needed for a double runner sled? I know it isn’t with what i have now.

View hairy's profile


2717 posts in 3555 days

#3 posted 04-29-2011 08:13 PM

Great video! Thanks

-- My reality check bounced...

View Chipy's profile


374 posts in 2616 days

#4 posted 04-29-2011 08:56 PM

Check out this month’s issue of Fine woodworking magazine they give some tips I found helpful for future functionality like dropping in a thin layer of MDF to create zero clearance. You also can do the same for the fence. When you have used your sled for a few years you will find it wears.

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4207 days

#5 posted 04-29-2011 10:47 PM

Definitely a good method there Brian. I’ll have to remember to try that in the future. But as I think about it more, I don’t agree that its more accurate. I realize we are talking semantics and this point since both methods will produce a nice square fence. But with a dial indicator, you are limited in your measurement by the length of your square. If you use a 6” square, you are only measuring over the distance of 6”. This is not nearly as accurate as measuring over what is effectively 96”, as is the case with the 5-cut method I used. And as you can see in the video, I made only one adjustment that was calculated and there really was not trial and error involved. The error is simple measured, and then corrected for.

So again, I totally agree that both methods are great and will square up any fence. But for me, the 5-cut method seems more accurate and worth the few extra minutes invested.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View thewoodwhisperer's profile


604 posts in 4207 days

#6 posted 04-29-2011 11:18 PM

honestly don’t know in degrees. But knowing the total error over 96” is pretty darn powerful.

-- For free video tutorials and other cool woodworking stuff, check out

View tinnman65's profile


1357 posts in 3437 days

#7 posted 05-02-2011 02:22 AM

Another great video Marc, I had one of those “dah” moments when you were talking about the orientation of the wood for the runners. I never gave that any thought when I made mine and really pay when the humidity changes. I think after watching this video its time to make an upgrade to my sled. Thanks for posting some really good info.

-- Paul--- Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. — Scott Adams

View Roger's profile


20928 posts in 2827 days

#8 posted 01-17-2012 12:25 AM

very educational video as always Marc.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View kpfoto's profile


6 posts in 2026 days

#9 posted 06-18-2015 02:47 PM

Looking to build this,....just wondering why you diodn’t use the metal runners? Thanks!

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