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Table Saw Sled?

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Forum topic by ChunkyC posted 10-04-2009 04:41 AM 7495 views 3 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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ChunkyC

856 posts in 2714 days


10-04-2009 04:41 AM

Table saw sleds seem to be very popular in the woodworking zines and I see bigike just posted his sled. Now I’ve never used a sled so what’s the advantage over just using the miter gauge? Is this something that’s a must have and I’m just woefully ignorant of the benefits to using a sled?

Thanks,

Chunk

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135


7 replies so far

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Mauritius

96 posts in 2685 days


#1 posted 10-04-2009 05:00 AM

The first thing I built with my table saw was a crosscut sled. I liked it so much I built a dado sled shortly thereafter, identical construction but a wider slot for the blade stack. I plan on making yet a third one for bevel cuts, since I have a left-tilt saw I can’t reuse the dado sled for that purpose.

It’s definitely more accurate than using the miter gauge that came with my saw and it feels a lot safer to me. You have a lot more control over the board and kickback is fairly well prevented due to the fact you’re pushing the board through with something behind it that supports it on both sides of the blade. It’s easier and safer to crosscut larger boards for the same reason. Also, if you build holdowns into the design it’s safer for making cuts on smaller pieces and non-through cuts.

It’s totally worth the $15 in materials and couple of hours it takes to build.

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jsheaney

141 posts in 3448 days


#2 posted 10-04-2009 06:14 AM

Another big advantage with a crosscut sled is that the sled is what slides on the table; not the workpiece. That means you can crosscut wider workpieces. With a miter gauge, once the gauge is pulled back off the table, it’s really awkward.

Also, a crosscut sled typically has runners in both miter slots, making it more stable and accurate than a miter gauge. I have a sled that has a solid wood fence mounted across two cheap miter gauges (flea market specials). It’s like an uber auxiliary fence. The fence has short dowels mounted in the bottom that line up with the holes in pegboard. The sled is just pegboard. Since the pegboard is under the fence and the miter gauges are bolted to the fence, it acts just like a traditional sled in that the miter gauges can come completely forward of the table without causing problems.

-- Disappointment is an empty box full of expectation.

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Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3281 days


#3 posted 10-04-2009 01:34 PM

Chunk, you can get by without a crosscut sled. I did it for years but when I built my version of John Nixon’s sled it was an epiphany of sorts. I have an Incro 1000SE miter guage and it works well for a number of my operations. But as Mauritius said, with longer or wide pieces a sled is a much safer operation. In addition sleds have hold downs to keep the stock secured so that you do not have to rely on hand pressure and your hands are well away from the blade when cutting.

Once you add one to your table saw I can guarantee that you will wish it had been done sooner.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3678 days


#4 posted 10-04-2009 03:27 PM

As others have said, a good sled is rock-solid and makes crosscuts a breeze. Mine is a small hybrid version that also icludes a spline-cutting jig. I make a lot of small boxes, and it is very safe and easy to cut small parts with this.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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ChunkyC

856 posts in 2714 days


#5 posted 10-04-2009 03:54 PM

I need to make a new finger joint jig. I might just have to make a sled finger joint hybrid.

So with the sled, I assume there’s no need for a zero clearance insert? Seems to me that the sled now becomes the zero clearance.

Do you get a lot dust on the top of the sled that doesn’t get sucked down through the table and out to the DC?

“Inquirering minds want to know.”

-- Chunk's Workshop pictures: http://spadfest.rcspads.com/thumbnails.php?album=135

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CharlieM1958

16241 posts in 3678 days


#6 posted 10-04-2009 04:03 PM

No zero-clearance insert needed. I get almost no dust at all on top of the sled, and my saw is not even hooked up to a dust collector.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Mauritius

96 posts in 2685 days


#7 posted 10-04-2009 07:40 PM

I built my sled based on a design in a book I bought. The Table Saw Book This is a great book if you’re looking for a few basic TS jig designs. There are a lot of options online too, I chose this design because it came with a removable blade guard and involved using materials I already had on hand (pretty much just 3/4” plywood and two strips of hardwood for the rails).

Chunk, re: the finger joint jig, that’s why I ended up making a second sled for the dado blade. The finger joint jig can just be a simple peg & board that you clamp to the inside/front of the sled. Clamp it in when you need it, and remove it when you don’t. That’s another nice thing about using a sled, it’s easy to build add-on jigs like small miter fences and spline cutting jigs (like what Charlie posted above).

Dust can be a problem, especially if you’re dadoing. I wouldn’t say that it’s a whole lot worse than using a normal ZCI.

Here’s an LJ project that’s very close to the sled I built. Notice the plexi blade guard that adjusts up and down…definitely a good idea, as much for keeping dust out of your face as your fingers out of the blade.

Table Saw Sled by MickeyD

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