safer way to cut small cubes??

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Forum topic by Jesse posted 05-06-2014 04:10 PM 1097 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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58 posts in 1045 days

05-06-2014 04:10 PM

So I have 8ft long boards that I have cut to be 1.5” by 1.5”. I now need to chop them into cubes, so 1.5” again. I normally set up a miter saw with a zero clearance fence but cutting small cubes doesn’t seem super safe with my fingers that close to the blade, never been hurt but had a few scary cube launches across the shop! I make a lot of these blocks so I need something repeatable, maybe a jig of some sort. It has to be fast and accurate so if you have any ideas, pictures, jig drawings?, please let me know.

Here is what I have tried so far: miter saw with zero clearance fence. It works and is accurate but doesn’t seem safe, I have also tried to set up a fence and simple jig to use the band saw, which feels much safer but a band saw blade wonders to one side just a bit so the cut is at an angle, not square.

I’m sure lots of you guys with more experience then myself have cut tons of small parts successfully, any tips on how to do it fast, accurate, and repeatable? What tool do you use for this? Any tips are appreciated! Thanks everyone

11 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1736 days

#1 posted 05-06-2014 04:31 PM

I’d use a tablesaw sled in this application. The 8’ foot boards would be cut to 4’ long or I’d have a very wide sled with side support from a fixed extension table. The final 6” would probably be unsafe to cut unless you make use of hold downs. The fence and sled under the workpiece could be faced with sandpaper to eliminate any chance of slipping but it has to be kept away from the cutting path of the blade.

The stop block would be hinged so it could flip up after you push the stock in place to avoid trapping small pieces between the blade and the stop block.

Another option is to build a single runner sled which has a fence just long enough on the off-cut side to support the workpiece. Then you can clamp a block of wood to the fence near the front of the tablesaw to act as a stop block which will not travel forward as you push the board into the blade. Just don’t put the block far enough forward to trap cut-offs between the blade and the block.

Push board into stop block, push sled forward, pull sled back and off-cut returns with the sled and can be removed.

-- See my work at and

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Rick M.

7697 posts in 1800 days

#2 posted 05-06-2014 04:38 PM

Another way is build a slightly elevated sled with a ramp on one side so the cut off just rolls away from the blade. A corral to keep them from rolling off the sled is nice. A sled like this is usually used for cutting turning segments, cubes that large probably won’t roll or move very far but they will still be away from the blade.


View oldnovice's profile


5651 posts in 2787 days

#3 posted 05-06-2014 05:33 PM

Set up your shop vac to suck up the cut cubes away from the blade!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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Rick M.

7697 posts in 1800 days

#4 posted 05-06-2014 07:25 PM

Hans, the guy who showed me how to build an elevated sled with ramp had his DC system hooked up so it would do exactly that, suck up the segments as they were cut and fall into a small separator built into the sled.


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5651 posts in 2787 days

#5 posted 05-07-2014 12:31 AM

Rick, a double whammy one from each of us!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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13068 posts in 1276 days

#6 posted 05-07-2014 12:57 AM

You can do it safely on the miter saw, but to prevent it zinging, you have to hold the saw down until the blade stops spinning and then remove the piece. Problem here is having to stop the saw after each cut. I like the idea of the sled though. You could set up a stop that you push the piece up to first to get the length then slide the sled and have the piece land on your ramp with vac. You could get a nice rhythm going.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View REO's profile


883 posts in 1493 days

#7 posted 05-07-2014 01:39 AM

I have cut thousands of these per year for different products, play blocks, fishing lures, bobbers, ice auger handles, eggs, etc and others have used the same set up.

set the fence of the table saw at 3”. clamp a1 1/2”block to the fence that ends short of the saw blade. fasten a piece of wood to the miter bar that easily passes this stop block but is taller than the cut you need to make by at least a half inch. set the length of the block by advancing against the stop block and hold in place against the miter. push the piece to be cut through the saw blade and clear of the trailing edge of the saw blade pull back and repeat. as you saw your little train can be caught in a barrel or bucket as they fall off the back of the table of the table saw. I have never had an incident. Nor am I aware of anyone that has using this strategy.

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Jim Finn

2390 posts in 2341 days

#8 posted 05-07-2014 01:40 AM

I would cut the wood into strips on the table saw and then cut to length in the miter saw using a stop block.

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View Jesse's profile


58 posts in 1045 days

#9 posted 05-07-2014 12:56 PM

Thanks guys. I think I am going to build the elevated sled with the angle on the one side. The block will not roll away but just the fact that it will not be sitting flush with the blade after the cut is reason enough for me to do it. I do have an old 1hp porter cable dust collector that I might end up rigging up, we will see how it goes after building the sled. The one thing I am struggling with in the design of the sled is how to set up the stop block so I get repeatable cuts without the pinch point. Maybe a one sided sled with the angle (cut off) side stationary by the blade so it can support a stop block prior to the blade without moving?

View thechipcarver's profile


178 posts in 998 days

#10 posted 05-07-2014 01:01 PM

Yep, I would go with the sled too.

-- While teaching a class, a gentlemen once asked me: "When chip carving an intricate design, what do you do when you are almost finished and the wood breaks off?" I replied "Cover the kids ears."

View Bogeyguy's profile


548 posts in 1487 days

#11 posted 05-07-2014 01:09 PM

Table saw/with sled.

-- Art, Pittsburgh.

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