Open-front crosscut sled?

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 05-29-2016 07:44 PM 607 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

147 posts in 891 days

05-29-2016 07:44 PM

I’ve been making do with a relatively small crosscut sled with a max capacity of about 18”, but frequently I find myself needing to true up edges of larger sheets. I could make a new sled out of a half-sheet of ply, but that would take a lot more space to store when I’m not using it, and I have a rather cramped shop.

Has anyone had success with making a crosscut sled that omits the front rail? I am thinking of pushing the rear rail forward, so that there is some plywood behind the blade that doesn’t get cut through, and I would ensure it could not be cut by adding a stop block on the underside that kept the sled from traveling too far.

Alternatively, I believe i have seen Matthias Wandel use a triangular-shaped sled that only ran in one of the miter tracks and only existed on one side of the blade. Is that a workable design for what I need?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

6 replies so far

View clin's profile


485 posts in 418 days

#1 posted 05-29-2016 08:43 PM

As long as you don’t cut through it, I think it would work. Of course the whole sled will be a bit flimsier.

It is common to make a sled that is just one piece all on one side of the blade. And of course uses just one miter slot.

Here’s a link to a YouTube video of Norm using a simple sled like this. It’s part of a longer series on using a table saw. I believe this link is at that time in the video (12:20).

While I use a large conventional sled, sometimes pieces are so long they still want to teeter off the edge of the sled. In that case I have a scrap equal to the thickness of the sled I put down way out at the end of may table saw extension. If the cut is across a wide panel, I just let the scarp ride under the panel I’m cutting. Usually sticks to the panel being cut and slides on the table.

Point is you can lay a piece of material, the same thickness as the bottom of your sled, on the other side of the blade to help support the panel as it is cutoff. Obviously you have to use some common sense and keep this free floating piece well away from the blade so nothing unexpected happens.

Heck if the panel you are cutting hangs off the side of the table, you could even clamp this spacer and allow the clamp to clear the table.

Heck this other piece could be another sled with a miter slot guide, But it’s only purpose is to support the panel as you cut it off. Yet it doesn’t have to be attached to the other side of the sled. More or less a two piece sled that would take up less room when you store it.

Hope that made some sense.

-- Clin

View jar944's profile


88 posts in 860 days

#2 posted 05-29-2016 09:08 PM

Yep, this was a normal 2 rail sled.

I needed more capacity and was in a hurry to cut some cabinet sides. I never bothered to screw back on the front rail.

View JBrow's profile


749 posts in 342 days

#3 posted 05-30-2016 12:16 AM

William Shelley,

If my memory serves me well, I made a panel cutting sled after watching Norm build one in the very early days of the “New Yankee Workshop”. It is different from the one he builds in the link posted by clin. The earlier panel cutting sled has the fence positioned at the front of the sled instead the back, as shown in the video. Since the fence is located at the front, it accommodates a wide variety of panel sizes. It has worked great for me in achieving square ends to a straight edge on plywood or glued-up panels.

This panel cutting sled is from 3/8” plywood 24” wide and 36” long. It rides in the left mitre slot only of the table saw. The oak mitre slot runner is cut long so that extends past the back edge of the sled, allowing the sled to track true as the sled advances past the blade. It features a front fence installed square to the table saw fence. It was built oversized and trimmed to final length so that it is zero clearance at the blade.

A panel to be cut is laid on the sled with the reference edge against the sled fence. The panel is held firmly against the fence as the sled and panel are advanced through the saw. Since the fence on the sled is only ¾” high, the sled stores easily under the table saw. I suppose a pair of toggle style hold down clamps could be installed on the fence to keep the workpiece firmly in position throughout the cut, but I have found these clamps unnecessary and they would make the panel cutting sled more difficult to store.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2587 days

#4 posted 06-01-2016 09:35 PM


Looking for designs for a raised bed, I spotted yours, and was attracted by its economy and simplicity. I just brought home the material for a 5’x2.5’ bed. It cost a little over $80 at HD. I am trying to mostly duplicate what you did just because it doesn’t need to be a decorative item, and if it lasts 10 years, I will be happy. Outdoor wood does pretty good here in Anchorage. I even bought a piece of conduit as you specified. No use reinventing the wheel.

But when I looked up who you were, saw you had a question about sleds. Here is a link to a post that includes my super sled, but more pertinently, a large panel sled as well. The fence is in front, made of aluminum angle. It runs on one miter bar only. I make my own from a sandwich of 1/8” hardboard and 1/8” thick, 3/4” wide aluminum flat. I glue them together with CA glue, the hardboard being slightly narrower than the aluminum, and them glue them to the back of the sled with more CA glue. There is a technique to making everything line up, but it is fairly easy.

I thought you might be able to use these ideas to come up with your own sled. My sled is rarely used, just a big piece of 1/2” MDF. I have a much smaller sled made similarly used for dado work. The weird shape of the sled is for getting it onto the saw with the front nose so it starts tracking the slot. I cut off the right rear corner to reduce weight. It is thin, and stores between a couple of other big power tools on cabinets.

My super sled is a work horse. It has the same miter bar construction, but they are screwed on as well. My saw has undergone some additions and has a permanent outfeed and sawdust control now. I just need to post it, and will do so soon.

I finally retired, and so will be happy to field any questions. Note you live in Portland. We get through there from time to time, my wife more than I. She will be flying from Omaha to Portland and then on to Anchorage tomorrow. She has been babysitting our youngest grandchild for awhile. We have a vacation home in northern Washington. We get there about 3 months of the year, and I have a small shop there as well.

By the way, I also have a Rockler sled at the vacation home, and it works surprisingly well. it sets on the left side of the blade with a platform the same height on the right. A platform of 1/2” MDF could easily be used with my big panel sled and placed on the left side of the blade. They are easy to make. The Rockler has a rear fence that pivots to cut angles. Very handy piece of gear.

There, all the ideas an engineer should need to come up with his own sled…............(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View rwe2156's profile


2122 posts in 903 days

#5 posted 06-01-2016 10:09 PM

A panel cutting sled is better than a xcut sled because the problem is both ends of the sled need to have fences with limits the capacity.

As JBrow described, this is a sled that uses the miter slot to the left of the blade and the left table edge for guides.
A cleat is fastened to the far end. There is no fence on the near side.

I have clamps on mine to hold the board securely. You can cut about any size panel. I can cut panels up to 30” wide (or longer by extending the miter slot in the outfeed table.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2587 days

#6 posted 06-01-2016 10:51 PM

Oops, forgot to put in the link,
I use the right miter slot because of space constraints. rwe2156 seems to have a good idea…............

Panel Sled.......and super sled

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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