Jig construction ?????

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Forum topic by 1yeldud1 posted 08-10-2010 05:41 AM 1734 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View 1yeldud1's profile


301 posts in 2463 days

08-10-2010 05:41 AM

When building a table saw jig (mitre jig or sled) what is the concensis of the forum – when designing one these jigs should a person use one or two “keys” to align the fixture with the bable saw – what if the “keys” are wood, or possibly metal ???? Thanks for helping me to build my first table saw sled and mite fixture.

8 replies so far

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


684 posts in 2694 days

#1 posted 08-10-2010 05:52 AM

If your sled is only on one side of the blade, then a single runner. If the sled spans the blade, then add two.

I’ve used hardwood as well as the “slick” plastic used in commercial cutting boards for the runners. Metal works but it’s more expensive and a bit more difficult to attach to the sled.

And just as an additional item to consider, I cover the bottom of my sleds with scrap laminate (good place for UGLY leftovers!) and seal the top and edges. I like to use 1/2” MDF cause it’s less expensive and tends to stay flat so long as it’s sealed and stored flat or hung on a wall. I would not recommend storing a sled by leaning it against a wall as it will eventually develop a curve.

I won’t claim to speak for the “consensus” of the forum, just my opinion. Good luck!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View rimfire7891's profile


123 posts in 2323 days

#2 posted 08-10-2010 06:15 AM

Would agree with fire.
I would use steel for the “keys” 3/8” x 3/4” cold rolled it is not that hard to find if you have a steel supplier locally.
If you have drill press just drill the holes 3/16 and then countersink with 3/8 bit. The angle aren’t quite right for the screws however it will work. You could regrind the 3/8 drill to the 82 degrees angle to match the screws.

Thanks jb

-- Playing with wood and metal for the last 50 years, driving and building Land Cruisers for the last 40. Experience is what you get when you don't know what you are doing.

View RKW's profile


328 posts in 2868 days

#3 posted 08-10-2010 06:13 PM
Here are the ts jigs i made, i used hardwood for runners. If you have any questions on how i made mine send me a message. I used both slots. Your fence (if its parallell to the blade) and some double sided tape will come in handy when attaching the runners to your sled.

-- RKWoods

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

8098 posts in 2849 days

#4 posted 08-11-2010 12:56 AM

Be sure your blade is parallel to the miter gauge slots.
Attach the runners before the back fence or the miter fence.
Hardwood runners and wax makes things glide well.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View pirate's profile


15 posts in 2607 days

#5 posted 08-11-2010 07:37 PM

I use 2 runners when possible. If using wood, undercut the runner where it meets the sled, so if you need to trim the runner, you can sand or plane without having to deal with the corner between the sled and runner.
Here is a miter sled I made for small frames.
Lets hope the pic comes thru. It’s my first try at a picture.

View Robsshop's profile


899 posts in 2395 days

#6 posted 08-18-2010 10:14 AM

I have built several TS sleds over the years and have tried many different types.Utilizing both slots of Your saw and having the base of Your sled on both sides of the blade to support the material is the way to go. I have found that manufactured runners give You less problems than hard wood runners(seasonal adjustments ?).I also am a fan of stable materials,such as MDF/Aluminum/plastics for the majority of the fixtures components(as mentioned prior) 1/2” MDF as a base is a good choice. One of the greatest benefits of TS sleds is safer cutting operations so it is only natural to include as many safety features as possible.Like clear Lexon shields that covers the blade through entire cut and some fixture at back of sled where the blade exits.I used finger guards on My latest sled(posted in My projects). Along with safety You also want accuracy ! RKW and Gene make good suggestions on the process of truing up your sled to the blade and fence. After making the initial cut I have found that two large drafting squares on both sides of the blade works best to set the back miter fence ! The best advice I can give You is to look at the several types of sleds out there and take those designs and features that best fit Your needs and Your TS design. One last thing,make the sled as large as you feel comfortable and then add 6” more( You will thank yourself in the long run !) Hope this helps in some way,mostly common sense ! Good luck and as always, be safe!

-- Rob,Gaithersburg,MD,One mans trash is another mans wood shop treasure ! ;-)

View helluvawreck's profile


22677 posts in 2287 days

#7 posted 08-18-2010 07:17 PM

I’m no expert on building a crosscut sled but I have built maybe 5 or 10. The one that I have now is probably 3 or 4 years old. I believe that it will crossut at least 24 inches and if I take care of it it stays accurate. If it gets off it is usually just the bolts that hold the backstop to the base for squareness to the sawblade. I have also had to replace the runners once because of wear. Mine is very simple and was built one afternoon because I needed it to crosscut some 24 in plywood. Usually when I build any jig it is because I already need it so I usually can’t afford to put any fancy work in jigs; they are fashioned in as simple a way possible hopefully with materials that I already have because I hate to interrupt what I’m doing to go get something. I didn’t take this picture for this post but I pulled it off part of one of my shop pictures. I don’t like for the sled to sit like this but I have a small shop and sometimes it is unavoidable.

Anyways, you can only see the bottom but what you see should tell how simple it is. The way that I made it was to cut the bottom to size and make sure it was square. I checked to make sure that my table saw fence was parallel to the blade and that everything looked good. I moved my fence over so that the blade would be where I wanted it to be on the jig (usually middle). With the base of the sled against the fence and fence locked I then used a rafter square to make a line with a pencil which would be the center line of the back stop. Then I used a small diameter drill bit to drill through the middle of this line where each of the t-nuts were to be. (DON’T DRILL ON TABLE SAW :-| ) The holes need to go through perpendicularly to the surface of the plywood. Then I took my plywood over to the drill press and use a forstner bit to countersink the holes a little thicker than the base of the t nut and then used the right dia. of bit to drill all the way thru for the body of the t-nuts. These four t-nuts can be off a hair because the bolt holes thru the backstop will be oversized. However, the idea is to be as acurate as possible. While at the drill press I drilled the wood screw holes in the other side for the other 2×4. The other 2×4 does not need to be perfect but since it is a jig it might as well be put where it is parallel to the backstop. Naturally it must be a little further from the backstop than the widest board you will crosscut.

I then made the runners where they were a little longer than the width of the plywood base. I believe that I made them 3/8×3/4 but the important thing is that the 3/4 will just fit into the table saw slots with NO PLAY. I put 8 nickles in the bottom of each table saw slot (I got this tip off of one of the wood magazine sites forget which one) and this raises the top face of the runners to just a little above the surface of the saw. Then I put some blue painters tape on the surface of the saw on either side of each runner to keep glue off of saw. I put a line of glue on the top of each runner and making sure that the fence was locked and in the right location I paced the plywood on top of the runners so that the bottom face was oriented properly and, most importantly, was square to the fence. I then carefully placed enough weight onto the plywood to hold the plywood down so that it would be glued to the runners. I let it sit for an hour or so for the glue to set. And then removed the weight and carefully pulled the base and runners up and flipped it over so that bottom was up. For additional strength I shot a series of small 23 ga nails through the runners into the plywood. Carefully cut the runners flush with the plywood with a fine saw and not much force.

Then I cut me two pieces of 2×4’s and made sure they were strait (some nice appropriate hardwood would be better). Then I transferred the t-nut holes to the 2×4 making sure that the 2×4 was clamped to the base while centered on the t-nuts and parallel to the edge of the plywood. I drilled through the edge of the 2×4 all the way through the width for the t-nut bolts and countersunk the holes for the bolt head and washer. The holes were over sized by 1/16. The other 2×4 is simply fastened with flat head wood screws. I then flipped the plywood back over and carefully pushed the runners into the slots. Need care here for the runners are still a little tight. Then take the square and with the square against the fence and the backstop the backstop is bolted in place. The sled should not slide very well at this point because there is practically no clearance on the runners. Carefully remove the sled and flip over and with a fine grit sandpaper on a good square hand block carefully sand the inside edges of the runners a little at a time with trial and error until the whole sled slides but without play. You can’t go quickly on this sanding because you may end up with a loose sled. Just a little then try, just a little then try. Use fine grit paper and concentrate on sanding evenly along the length of each runner.

When you start to notice any slop you can simply pry off one or both runners, scrape away any wood fibers that remained and scape off the old glue and repeat the process to glue the new runners back on. If the jig is carefully made there will always be slop in the bolt holes so it can always be reset with square. If the 2×4 ever warps then simply put a new one on. Mine is still going strong after 3 years.

This works for me and I didn’t especially expect this sled to last 3 years but it has. In my mind a beginner can make a sled like this if he exercises care on each step. There is nothing really complicated about any of the steps and it only takes a couple or three hours to finish. I did not use my sled for 24 hours so the glue could cure a little more.

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View patcollins's profile


1419 posts in 2286 days

#8 posted 08-18-2010 10:43 PM

A co-worker was telling me a story today. He had a sled that only was on the left side of the blade, he was cutting an 8ft long piece of 2×10 and after he got most of the way through the weight of the end over the right side of the table caused the board to sag some and pinch the blade. His 5hp saw threw the 2×10 and sled right back at him. This would not have happened if his sled covered both sides of the saw, just something to think about.

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