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Table Saw Sleds - 2 miter bars?

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Forum topic by richgreer posted 1318 days ago 7361 views 4 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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richgreer

4522 posts in 1708 days


1318 days ago

I’m going to make what I hope is a good sled for my TS. I’m thinking about using 2 miter bars that fit into the slots on both sides of the blade. I can envision good (more stability) and bad ( binding). Has anyone tried this?

Related question – with 2 miter bars I would like to not have a cross piece at the front to make the sled more versatile. Any thoughts on that?

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.


37 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

3741 posts in 2296 days


#1 posted 1318 days ago

Rich—I think using both miter tracks is a good idea, especially if the sled is heavy. I may be wrong about this, but I think John Nixon’s Super Sled ( http://www.eaglelakewoodworking.com/post/Super-Sled-Crosscut-and-Miter-Sled.aspx ) uses both tracks.

I have seen some smaller sleds with no front cross piece (I have one that I use for cutting small parts), but for a larger-scale sled, you may need both the front and rear cross pieces just for stability of the work surface.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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TheDane

3741 posts in 2296 days


#2 posted 1318 days ago

I just browsed through the pictures of John Nixon’s Super Sled … looks like he uses a single miter track with a 3/4” UHMW runner. I still think using both tracks is a good idea … if you use stable materials like UHMW, you should be able to eliminate any binding by fine-tuning the installation.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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Cory

723 posts in 2053 days


#3 posted 1318 days ago

Rich—when I rebuild my sled, I’m going to use the Incra miter bars. I have an Incra miter gauge and the adjustment on that bar means ZERO play in the slot. They guide smoothly and are easy to attach. I would definitely use two bars on your sled if it’s big enough to use both miter slots.

Be sure and post pictures of your sled when it’s finished.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

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mpounders

728 posts in 1529 days


#4 posted 1318 days ago

The sled I use has two miter bars (wood) and no front piece….works well for me! My base is just 1/4” plywood and it lets me make the occasional cross-cut on material that is wider than my sled.

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1127 posts in 1587 days


#5 posted 1318 days ago

Rich,
I have a sled with two slot bars made of Baltic birch ply and cherry runners. Does not bind and stays true, but unfortunately, when I built it I made it far too heavy. Would work fine for cutting 8×8’s or the like but it is just too big and heavy and cumbersome, so I seldom ever use it. The two tracks works fine though. Making it like a tank turned out to be a mistake.

I also had a very light sled that a cabinetmaker working at my house many years ago threw together in about ten minutes for some little job, that has no front piece, is light being only a 1/4” ply bottom with a 1” rear support and one cherry runner shot on with a brad gun. Amazingly, it worked well, stayed true for about 25 years, and was the one I reached for.

I haven’t used any sled recently at all since I installed an Incra LS fence and Incra 1000HD miter gauge. For what I do, these are my current tools of preference.

I did, however, recently make a small sled along the lines of the one Steve Latta shows in his DVD for cutting inlay banding. Small, light and looks good, though I haven’t really used it for banding yet. But I expect it will work well.

Hope this helps a little. But then, it makes a difference what the sled is to be used for.

Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 1617 days


#6 posted 1318 days ago

I have not made a sled with using both miter tracks, although I did make a box joint jig that utilizes both miter tracks and not had any problems with binding.
As for the 2nd part of your question I don’t know, but I would be concerned with the possible weakening of the one fence due to handling in removing and placing on the saw.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Radu's profile

Radu

299 posts in 1677 days


#7 posted 1318 days ago

I am sure you looked at many of the sleds that were posted on this site. Most of the ones I’ve seen had two miter bars. One that I’ve seen recently was off center, which I think was a great idea. I find myself doing the cuts with the material on the left hand side, so I think my next one will have more “real estate” on the left hand side. Just something you might want to consider.

View sras's profile

sras

3820 posts in 1763 days


#8 posted 1318 days ago

I think Gerry is on the right track (no pun intended) that 2 runners makes more sense as the sled gets larger. I have 2 runners on my large sled and I think it is a good setup. A heavier sled could be a bit much for a single runner.

I would also suggest that if you have an outfeed table that you limit the travel of the sled. I did this on my outfeed table . Then if you enclose the blade on your sled fence you have a very safe setup. You can see what I mean on my sled .

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Jim's profile

Jim

93 posts in 1725 days


#9 posted 1318 days ago

Rich, check out the Precision Crosscut Sled plans from the Woodsmith Shop Season 4: Episode 403. This is the one that I am going to build. Looks like a nice sled and only uses one miter bar.

http://www.woodsmithshop.com/episodes/season4/403/

Jim

-- Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity….

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1798 days


#10 posted 1318 days ago

Well, seeing that I have been working on my super sled for about a year, and technically it is not finished yet (no guard or hinged stop block) you might imagine that I have a few comments. I also made a panel sled. Super sled is a Nixon variant with two runners. The panel sled has one runner. So first question is, what are you planning to do with it.

Steve’s sled looks heavier than mine. My super sled is 3/4” plywood, an adjustable rear fence, and a short front fence. I have been using it since soon after the basic sled was finished. My sled looks a lot like Scott Bryan’s, since I copied some of his features.

Here is the link http://lumberjocks.com/jbertelson/blog/19320

and a picture….....

Features are:
1)Reasonable weight
2)T-track for miter arms or on the fly jigs. I have used holddowns without the miter arms quite frequently.
3)Adjustable rear fence, with T-track on the top for the still to be built flip down stop. I have used the adjustment feature and I think that is the way to go.
4)Small front fence to keep the weight down
5)Miter runners are an aluminum bar/hardboard sandwich. You glue those to the board with super glue with the bars in the slots of your saw, and then add screws for durability. You make dents in the side of the bars with a punch to increase the width, and use a file to reduce width. My sled has basically no slop in it right now.
6)Travel stop on the left side that engages a stop installed on the side of the table saw. It stops before the blade can exit the bury block

I like my sled a lot, and right now, I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. A T-track in the face of the back fence, or a combo track built into it would be an option.

If you decide to build one anything like mine, just give me a shout. Same goes for the panel sled, but it has much less versatility. I have detailed pictures of both, including the construction techniques.

Off to work…..........

Later,

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View brtech's profile

brtech

664 posts in 1556 days


#11 posted 1318 days ago

If you use two slots, which I think is a good idea, the adjustable miter bars are of much less use. What you need to do is space the runners correctly. Most of the adjustable bars attempt to center the bar in the slot. You can’t do that x2. You need asymmetric adjusting, depending on exactly how the runners go in the slots. One technique I saw in a video was to use paper shims to push the runners to the outside edges of the slots and then sand or scrape those edges if it was a bit too tight.

If you can find adjustable miter bars where you can push the bar to one side, and you arrange them so you are pushing the left one to the left and the right one to the right, then you could use that with a sled. I think a hardwood or UHMW runner is probably better for a sled.

I also think you want a front bar, but you could try it with just a beefy back support and see how it works.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15691 posts in 2852 days


#12 posted 1318 days ago

Rich, I have two hardwood runners on my sled. It has stayed very true, and never any binding problems.

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

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3645 posts in 1798 days


#13 posted 1318 days ago

If money is not an issue, the Incra miter bars are probably a good idea. I might have bought those myself if I was aware of them at the time I built the main structure. Plopping the sled onto the bars with superglue on them was a Nicki trick. I still had to do a little adjustment, but none for months now, and the sled does get used with some regularity.

Again, make sure what you want to do with it, there are a lot of designs out there, and this thread makes that very obvious. I needed a large sled, because small crosscut is done on the RAS in my shop. But I cut a whole pile of identical small triangle shaped pieces with a jig made from a couple of scaps of wood afixed to the sled with holddowns.

I bet there are a thousand different sled designs out there, or more. And each probably has its peculiar advantages.

........later

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1521 posts in 1829 days


#14 posted 1318 days ago

I use two miter bars on mine as well. Very stable, no shifting.

-- - Eric Indianapolis, IN

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4522 posts in 1708 days


#15 posted 1318 days ago

WOW! I’m very impressed to receive this much good advice so quickly. Thank you.

Yes, I want a large sled and these responses have reminded me that I want to keep the weight under control. Perhaps the key weight question is how thin can I make the bottom of the sled. Roger uses 1/4”. That seems too thin but I may try it. If I’m going that thin, I wonder if hardboard or some other product would be better than plywood.

I like the idea of the good Incra miter bars but I think the need for good fitting miter bars diminishes some when you use 2 miter bars. My theory – If the left bar hugs the right side of the channel and the right bar hugs the left side of the channel, I don’t need to worry about how well each bar fits in the channel.

I like the idea of UHMC if I can figure out where to get it.

As an FYI – In the past, I have slapped together a few quick and crude sleds for particular projects. I used wood runners and whatever plywood I had laying around. I considered them throwaway sleds. I finally want to take the time to make a good sled that I will use over and over.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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