Building my first cross-cut sled

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Forum topic by Paul Pomerleau posted 01-23-2011 04:45 AM 10770 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2871 days

01-23-2011 04:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question sled cross-cut crosscut table saw tablesaw

I know it might be simple, but I have a few theories and questions regarding building my first cross-cut sled.
In all the reading that I’ve done concerning this subject, the runners and fences are glued and screwed to the base. But that means if you change blades, you basically have to throw out your sled and build another for that particular blade. Am I correct? Which means before I start to build the sled, I think I must go out and buy a good cross-cut blade first, install it, then build the sled to that blade. Again, am I correct on this?
Also, it seems the best way to build a sled is to use both miter slots, having the sled straddle both sides of the blade. What if I wanted a sled to only run on the right (or left) side of the blade? I know using only one miter slot is not the best, so could I use a second runner following along the side of the wing of the table saw?
Why don’t I see many of this type?
Also, gluing and screwing the fence to the base doesn’t seem like a good idea because if you have to do fine adjustments in the future, again you will have to throw it out and build another one. Why doesn’t everyone build the fence using bolts that can be loosened and re-tightened again for tuning?
Some will probably say that once your sled is tuned it should never need adjusting, yet at the same time, they say to verify settings on the table saw from time to time. I figure, if your TS can get out of adjustment, your sled can too. And if your TS did get out of adjustment, then you would have to throw out your sled and build another.
Maybe I’m way over analyzing this, and forgive me if I appear to be in an endless loop, I just don’t know exactly where to start.
Thanks for listening.

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

10 replies so far

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3252 days

#1 posted 01-23-2011 04:55 AM

I don’t understand your point about needing a new sled if you change blades. Any blade will be in the same position relative to miter slot.

You may want a second miter sled to deal with a dado but few people use a sled with a dado stack.

There was a discussion on this board just a couple of days ago about 1 versus 2 miter bars. The answer (as I see it) – - A big sled can benefit from 2. A small sled does not need 2.

I don’t see why you would need to retune your sled.

In building a sled, think about the weight and how heavy and awkward a big sled may be to work with.

There are lots of good examples of sleds on this board.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6249 posts in 3372 days

#2 posted 01-23-2011 06:02 AM

pauljp, One sled fits all sawblades…..but all sleds are not the same. I have 3 crosscut sleds: small, medium, and large.
Plus 2 panel cutters: mediumn and large. All of the sleds have 2 hardwood runners to fit both miters, and the panel cutter has only 1 runner, and it’s positioned in the left miter slot. All my sleds and p.c have 1/2” bases to keep the weight down. So…there is no need to change blades everytime you use a sled.

-- " It's a rat race out there, and the rats are winning....!!"

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3825 days

#3 posted 01-23-2011 06:18 AM

You can put a ledge on the sled on each side of the blade for
zero-clearance hardboard inserts. Blades do vary a bit in cutting
width. Eventually in use the slot of the sled will grow wider
and you’ll get more tearout. The insert allows you to correct
for that and also use dado blades, which for me has been a
favorite use of a crosscut sled.

View Orion Woods's profile

Orion Woods

67 posts in 2946 days

#4 posted 01-23-2011 08:44 AM

the woodsmith shop just posted a table saw sled that had an adjustable kerf for using a dado as well as a thin kerf or any kerf blade for that matter. I would make some changes to it but it’s a good looking start.

-- Brian

View steliart's profile


2823 posts in 2866 days

#5 posted 01-23-2011 11:24 AM

Try one of these designs I CAD for my sled and panel cutter.
Two runners are better than one but you could use also your table’s edge as a second one.
If your sled was build for a 3mm thickness blade and then change to a 2mm, then you will loose your zero clearance.
I would not glue the sled’s fence just screw it down for adjustments only as far as the perpendicular goes, not to zero clear a thinner blade, because the sled’s body cant be moved.
Make your sled’s first cut with a thin blade, so if you need to change to a thicker one it will trim itself to that.
Building a sled is so inexpensive and if you need to do second one to much your needs then I don’t think this is such a waste. I have two of them one for plywood blade and one for lumber.
If you insist of having just one, then I will tell you a trick that can do that. Suppose you are using 2 blades on your TS, one 3mm thick and one 2mm. The difference between the two blades is 1mm. Make your panel runner 1mm less than your TS track. When you cut with the 3mm blade run the panel pushing it tight to the left side of the track and when you use the 2mm run it trough pushing it tight to the right site. This way you will always have your zero clearance fence and body with both blades. As for the TS edge guide you can make that adjustable using two different screwing holes.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View Paul Pomerleau's profile

Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2871 days

#6 posted 01-25-2011 04:36 AM

Ok, thanks for all the input, I’ve decided to go with the single runner sled for the left side of my TS.
Just one other question… all the sleds of this type, I have noticed, has the upper left corner cut out.
Either at a 45 degree or as the drawing above – a quarter circle cut out.
Are these done simply for looks or to make the sled lighter or to not hit something on the TS that I’m not aware of ??
Why are these done like this?

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

View steliart's profile


2823 posts in 2866 days

#7 posted 01-25-2011 11:02 AM

The reason been a quarter circle cut out to some designs is to clear from some obstacle i.e. if you have your jointer near to the edge of your TS you may need some clearance or to make the panel a bit lighter to handle keeping its weight more near to the runner. Some even design this in a more L shape with a longer extension to support a long fence. Each case is different and serves its reason. Aesthetically is also more nice. It’s up to you and your needs.

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 3228 days

#8 posted 01-25-2011 06:18 PM


When you build your sled. please let us know how it turns out, and your reasoning behind your particular sled since you’ve obviously done a lot of contemplating.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Paul Pomerleau's profile

Paul Pomerleau

309 posts in 2871 days

#9 posted 01-25-2011 10:57 PM

There are a few reasons I chose the single runner sled over the full table sled.
1. Storage space in my workshop.
2. I see Matthias at woodgears cutting this huge piece of wood on his and I figured I would never cut anything even close to that size, so whatever he is using is good enough for me.
3. A full sled has a zero clearance slot in it and I was told before that if you change blades, there is subtle differences in the teeth that will not work with that slot. The general rule is ”If you change blades, you change sleds”. The logs above say that is not true, I don’t know.

Although, I feel I will eventually need a full sled because now if I cross-cut a full board using my small sled, half of the stock will be hovering 1/2” above the table and will rip or tear the last bit of the corner as I’m finishing cutting. At least I think that will probably happen.

So, maybe I have this all wrong, but I’m thinking that the small sled is mostly used for cleaning the ends of shorter stock and the full sled will be used to neatly make smaller stock that you are going to work with.

I think the problem is, is that I read so much and there is so much contradictions that I don’t know what to do or where to go from here. I think I should just push that stuff out of my head, build something, see how it works for me, and then modify or rebuild accordingly. I guess that’s the only way to learn.

-- Close to Ottawa Ontario Canada

View rogerw's profile


262 posts in 2867 days

#10 posted 01-27-2011 08:59 PM

The woodsmith shop has an adjustable kerf sled that is posted for download. Looks pretty slick and considering building one myself. You have to be a member of their website but that just takes an email address and you get weekly tips which can be helpful and their plans are free.

Orion Woods mentioned the woodsmith shop had plans in a earlier post (^) but then linked plansnow which isn’t free.

I don’t know about you but I like free!

Funny thing is they look like the same sled. (wonder who’s suing who)


-- >> my shop teacher used to say "do the best at everything you make for your mom because you're going to see it for the rest of your life!" <<

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