Cross cut sled runner materials

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Forum topic by groland posted 09-19-2016 07:36 PM 3220 views 1 time favorited 32 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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211 posts in 3614 days

09-19-2016 07:36 PM

Topic tags/keywords: crosscut sled runner materials

I write in search of comments from users regarding materials for crosscut saw sled runners. I have made several crosscut sleds for various purposes and have always made my own runners out of red oak. My shop is in an unheated garage where temperature and humidity fluctuate a good deal. This condition along with wooden runners simply wearing out prompts me to seek advice of other runner materials that might be more stable and wear better.
I see Incra makes aluminum Miter Slider runners and also some steel ones. There is also a plastic material UHMW plastic said to be suitable. The UHMW is claimed to be “machineable”, but I don’t know exactly what that means—can I cut it with a table saw, run it through my thickness planer etc. or does it require carbide edges to mill it properly? The Incras have a range of adjustments for miter slots that aren’t quite .75 inches, which is appealing, but, of course, anything adjustable can come out of adjustment.
Any comments regarding these materials or suggestions for other materials to consider?


George Roland

32 replies so far

View Kazooman's profile


1238 posts in 2154 days

#1 posted 09-19-2016 07:42 PM

I also used to make runners out of wood and always ran into problems down the road as you did. I finally purchased a couple of metal runners that can be adjusted for a good fit in the groove. They come with pre-drilled and countersunk holes for mounting screws. After several years of use they still make a good fit and have never needed adjustment.

I got mine at Woodcraft. They are the Glide Lock brand.

View kimballd's profile


26 posts in 1966 days

#2 posted 09-19-2016 07:49 PM

I usually use scrap Ipe. It’s very hard and stable. Also, Harbor freight has plastic cutting boards made from what seems to be UHMW. The are $2 bucks. Used that once with good results.


View bbasiaga's profile


1240 posts in 2197 days

#3 posted 09-19-2016 08:08 PM

I made my last runners out of UHMW. It cuts just fine on your table saw or band saw. I have never tried to run it through my planer, though now you made me curious. Easy to work and dimensionally stable. Holds a screw fine.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Cooler's profile


299 posts in 1045 days

#4 posted 09-19-2016 08:54 PM

Try using a plastic cutting board. Cut it to strips. Good lubricity and no swelling. Sam’s club sells really large ones for a very low price.

-- This post is a hand-crafted natural product. Slight variations in spelling and grammar should not be viewed as flaws or defects, but rather as an integral characteristic of the creative process.

View TheFridge's profile


10739 posts in 1688 days

#5 posted 09-19-2016 09:02 PM

Cutting boards are probably LDPE. It’ll work.

I’ve cut, planed, hand planed, and jointed UHMW polyethylene. Will do zero damage to tools.

If your wooden runner swell just point a fan at them for half an hour.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View MrUnix's profile


7050 posts in 2401 days

#6 posted 09-19-2016 09:21 PM

Most cutting boards I’ve seen are PE – LDPE, HDPE or UHMW. The only problem I’ve heard regarding plastic ones is that they will bulge where the screw attaches it if you aren’t careful. I’ve used red oak without any problems, usually with a couple coats of wipe on poly and then waxed. Mine live in an unfinished garage as well, with some pretty wild humidity changes, and they haven’t been a problem yet. I’ve also read where people have used those metal shelf bracket strips. I’m getting ready to make another sled as well, and I’ll probably experiment with some HDPE since it’s free and I got a bunch of it (milk jugs :)

As for the workability of PE, it’s mostly just like wood – except it has a tendency to melt if cut too fast. For cutting it (LDPE/HDPE in particular) on the table saw, I usually slow down the motor to somewhere between 1/2 and 3/4 full speed, so it reduces the chance of that happening. Ditto on the scroll saw. Running it through the planer is way cool as it shoots out really long curly-cues. And it turns really easily on the lathe.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View MrRon's profile


5193 posts in 3445 days

#7 posted 09-19-2016 09:28 PM

I’ve heard of runners being made from Baltic birch plywood that stays stable with changes in humidity. Another material that works well is phenolic.

View Rentvent's profile


151 posts in 1051 days

#8 posted 09-19-2016 09:39 PM

IKEA is also a good source for cheap cutting boards.

View DrDirt's profile


4511 posts in 3944 days

#9 posted 09-19-2016 09:45 PM

The plastic works –
Just be careful when you countersink the screws, it sometimes will “bulge” the sides of the runners and cause them to bind.
No biggie – you either
(1) ‘back off the torque” a smidge.

(2)Countersink a ‘pan head’ screw that won’t act as a wedge in the hole
(3) use a scraper and shave the runner right next to the screws.

I use hardwood runners. I used hard maple on my current sled, oak on the predecessor.
Arrange the strips to be ‘quartersawn” where the grain runs vertical in the groove.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View pintodeluxe's profile


5798 posts in 3015 days

#10 posted 09-19-2016 11:50 PM

I use adjustable commercial jig runners made from metal. You will use a crosscut sled for a long time, so you might as well get components that will be accurate over the long haul. Crosscut sleds need extra long runners for best results.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1104 days

#11 posted 09-20-2016 12:41 AM

How awesome , I am currently waiting for the glue to dry my runners to my sled. I used some 3/4 maple flooring leftover from my floors as it was already a perfect fit. I will go with cutting board material for my big sled.

View Redoak49's profile


3664 posts in 2190 days

#12 posted 09-20-2016 01:36 AM

I use the Incra miter sliders as they work very well and adjustable.

When a sled gets old or chewed up, I take them off and put on a new sled.

View Lee's profile


128 posts in 1080 days

#13 posted 09-20-2016 02:01 AM

I used to use wood runners but they wore out to soon and got sloppy, recently I’ve had good luck with metal runners

-- Colombia Custom Woodworking

View lew's profile


12432 posts in 3957 days

#14 posted 09-20-2016 03:47 AM

steel bars. really inexpensive. never swell. little wear. re-usable. Borg. Fastenall. Welding shops. Machine shops.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View BurlyBob's profile


5984 posts in 2467 days

#15 posted 09-20-2016 04:40 AM

Yeah, I’m going follow Lew’s lead…Metal.

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