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Forum topic by Razorburne posted 07-10-2014 06:06 PM 2121 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Razorburne's profile


41 posts in 1618 days

07-10-2014 06:06 PM

I am planning on building my very first crosscut sled for my new (and first and only) table saw – the miter gauge that came with the saw is crap and it seems to me that adding an auxiliary fence to it would simply make it a piece of crap with wood screwed to it (not much of an improvement).

For those who have built their own, do you feel it is pretty much necessary to test the squareness with the 5 cut test after it is built, or do you think that it will be close enough without the extra testing? I guess I am aware of how the 5 cut test can add to fine tuning the sled but not sure if you feel it significantly improves the sled or whether it is a matter of splitting hairs at that point? The sled built carefully will improve accuracy of cuts leaps and bounds above the stock miter gauge (and provide more support etc), but will the 5 cut test add much more to that initial improvement?

I don’t have a digital caliper to do the testing, but could easily pick one up.

Any and all opinions are appreciated in helping this beginner out. Thanks everyone!

17 replies so far

View TiggerWood's profile


271 posts in 1805 days

#1 posted 07-10-2014 06:34 PM

I don’t know what the five cut test is but I do a cut and turnover cut, both ways, to check the squareness. It’s usually square enough that I can’t see any difference with a magnifying glass.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16281 posts in 4417 days

#2 posted 07-10-2014 06:36 PM

Just my $.02, and others may disagree:

If a square placed against the rear fence of the sled and the saw blade doesn’t show any gaps, your sled is as square as it needs to be for woodworking purposes.

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

View NiteWalker's profile


2738 posts in 2776 days

#3 posted 07-10-2014 06:49 PM

I use charlie’s method to square the fence and tiggerwood’s to confirm squareness.
The 5 cut method is a waste of material.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View bondogaposis's profile


5088 posts in 2550 days

#4 posted 07-10-2014 07:22 PM

There are a number of methods for squaring a sled, and it doesn’t matter which one you use, but if the sled doesn’t cut square it will be worthless. If your miter gauge is junk, I recommend getting a good one as you will still need it for some things a sled can’t do.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Woodbum's profile


834 posts in 3264 days

#5 posted 07-10-2014 08:38 PM

I spent a lot of time squaring all of my sleds with the five cut method just for grins after I did my primary sled. It was time consuming, but a great mental exercise. Did I waste my time? I don’t think so. Others may think so but I had fun and ended up with VERY accurate sleds, but as was said, maybe unnecessary for woodworking. But then again how much or little accuracy is acceptable? It is all up to each of us individually. But your sled really needs to be as accurate as possible, or else what was the point of building it in the first place? Accuracy and square cuts.

No, you really don’t need to use the five cut method, but I learned something valuable from the Wm. Ng video from his web site about building a sled and squaring the fence. I am satisfied that my time was well spent. Work safely and have fun!

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2645 days

#6 posted 07-10-2014 08:47 PM

Garage woodworks has an easy way to measure squareness of a sled with a dial indicator:

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View divingfe's profile


14 posts in 2381 days

#7 posted 07-10-2014 10:45 PM

Thanks distrbd for the interesting video post. Razorburne, welcome to the adventures and misadventures of alignment and quality, and obsession. I got rid of my Ryobi tabletop saw, after many hours of trying to get a square cut…I even thought of making a xcut sled and not bothering with the bad and useless miter gauge, so, I totally sympathize with you. If you have a .001” dial indicator, and a good stand to keep it from shifting, probably the [video viewed] dial indicator method is more than OK. The five cut method is very simple, easy, and doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just some time and gentleness in adjusting, and some patience. The video shows that the POTENTIAL, for both methods, is about 10 times more accurate for the 5-cut method. But that is just the potential, your mileage may vary :-)) I made a large xcut sled for my next saw, my current Ridgid 5412, and used a square to align the back sled fence to 90ยบ to the blade, and its OK., for most everything I do. If I used either of dial or 5cut methods, I could make it even closer. But consider that, the value of the xcut sled in the first place, is for crosscutting long and/or wide stock with one existing true edge, that is too bulky to accurately and smoothly cut with just a miter gauge, even with an added fence For a short 2×4, you would never even use it in the first place. In any case, when constructing the xcut sled (many styles and types available on the Net), take the most time with the last important step; trueing the face of the rear fence and then performing the fence alignment process as shown on the video.
So, I recommend that you get a good miter gauge, take your time and use all the existing resources; YouTube videos, LJ and other forums, and adjust and align the saw first; as close as you can. At the minimum you need a good square. After this setup process, try some projects, you’ll soon see if you are happy or not. And beware of “measurement obsession”. WW should be fun. Regards.

-- Shortest distance between two points - a straight line. Longest distance - a shortcut.

View Razorburne's profile


41 posts in 1618 days

#8 posted 07-11-2014 12:27 AM

Thank you guys! All the information you provided is great and I will take all in advisement.

Out of curiosity divingfe and anyone else…..what do you consider a “good square”. I have one that I think is good but how would I really know….do you recommend a particular brand?

View CharlesA's profile


3351 posts in 1997 days

#9 posted 07-11-2014 01:05 AM

I use Charlie’s method as well. I spent good money on a square and align the rear fence. As for the accuracy of the square, I am pretty convinced that the thousandths of an inch that it may be off is not essential to my woodworking. I’m not a metalworker. It works. I’ve never had any binding or burning on my crosscuts, so I’m pretty happy.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1764 days

#10 posted 07-11-2014 02:42 AM

The larger your sled the more important it is to get it square.
Click for details
This one took about an hour with the 5 cut method to get it to what I found acceptable.

There is a picture of the 30 year old brass plated square I used for initial blade to fence alignment.


View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 2645 days

#11 posted 07-11-2014 03:41 AM

...what do you consider a “good square”. you recommend a particular brand?

- Razorburne

You can buy a transparent Plexiglas drafting square from places office depot or here, .12” is a good start.

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View skatefriday's profile


424 posts in 1682 days

#12 posted 07-11-2014 03:47 AM

I bought an Incra miter gauge at the same time I bought my table saw. I quickly discovered I was going to need a sled, built one (not perfect), and it’s become my most used accessory. Even with a very slight bow along the back fence that I’m going to fix as soon as I finish this cabinet I’m working on. The sled is really nice for aligning cut marks because of the zero clearance kerf you get when you build it. I thought I’d be using the Incra much more than I actually am.

View Razorburne's profile


41 posts in 1618 days

#13 posted 07-11-2014 03:54 AM

I know I have something just like this:|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=

Is that any good?
It looks similar to what Paul posted as using, though I have no idea if they are as similar as they seem to me.

View Razorburne's profile


41 posts in 1618 days

#14 posted 07-11-2014 04:11 AM

I just saw this video in which plywood supports are secured behind the reference fence (into the fence and into the base of the sled) in order to provide extra support to the fence and I suppose to help it maintain its squareness after heavy use:

View Woodmaster1's profile


1070 posts in 2786 days

#15 posted 07-11-2014 08:13 AM

On my sled I incorporated a couple of safety features. A stop and blade cover on the back side of the sled fence. See pictures on projects page.

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