A table saw sled is a handy device that makes cutting wood against the grain a lot easier and safer. While there are many table saw sleds out there, we will be focusing on a basic one.
Read on to learn how to make a table saw sled.
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What you will need:
First, you will need to get everything you need together in one place. Every piece of equipment will be needed, so get your things together before making a start on this project.
Once all your materials and equipment have been gathered, the first step will be measuring the miter track. Most table saws will have a standard miter track dimension of 0.75 inches (width) by 0.875 inches (depth). However, always double-check this as yours could be different.
Make a rip cut on your hardwood using the same dimensions you took in the previous step. Do the width dimensions first, then cut the depth dimensions.
Having a clean workspace will allow you to test and measure all your materials and cuttings better. Get rid of all the debris and sawdust so that you can accurately do the next step.
You will need to place the hardwood that you just cut into the miter track to see how well it fits. Push the hardwood along the track to test whether it gets stuck anywhere, and wiggle it around to see how much room is left, if any at all. The wood should glide through the track smoothly, and fit in there snugly. Sand any sections that get stuck in the track to ensure it fits as it should then test it again until it’s right.
This will be the base of the sled, and it should be made from plywood that’s at least ¼ of an inch thick. This plywood doesn’t have to be a perfect square, and you don’t need to take any measurements, except to ensure it’s thick enough.
Place the cut hardwood back into the miter track, then apply wood glue along the length of it. Ensure that too much is not applied, or it will spill everywhere. Once applied, align your plywood on the hardwood so that it is roughly square to the rack. The middle of the plywood should be roughly in line with the saw blade. Apply some weight onto the plywood, and allow it to try completely overnight before continuing.
In the morning, when the glue has dried completely, return to the project. Now, you will need to drill pilot holes along the length of the hardwood and countersink each drill opening you make. Hand screw fasteners into each of the openings. This will secure the plywood to the hardwood. Having this extra security is crucial for projects like this because of what the finished item will be used for. **NOTE: Make sure to countersink the openings so that the screws do not stick out of the hardwood. If the screws stick out, the movement could be hindered and the device would be unfit for use because of safety concerns.
Now you will need to glue the sled front fence, which is the part that is the farthest from you when you are using the sled. This does not need to be very accurate, as its only job is to hold the structure together when the kerf is cut into the plywood.
A reference cut will need to be made before gluing the sled back fence. This cut needs to be perpendicular to the saw blade and exactly square in order to make accurate cuts. De-energize your saw and remove the insert and riving knife. Place the insert over the blade again, then lower the blade fully into the table. Bring the blade up through your plywood base. This will be the reference cut that the back fence will be aligned to. Put the sled into the miter track, then put the plywood over the lowered blade. Carefully start the saw and raise it up until it’s around 1 inch higher than the plywood surface. You will need to keep the plywood steady with your free hand to ensure it stays still while it gets cut.
This wood needs to be precise as it will be where you align the wood before cutting it. Use the tri-square to make sure that this piece of wood is perfectly straight and square. It should be as long as the sled is wide.
de-energize your saw and leave the blade through the plywood. Set the tri-square beside the blade’s face and align the square back fence to the perpendicular arm of the device, locating the 90-degree angle to the blade. Place a tiny amount of glue to the back fence and place the plywood on it – this is crucial, so make sure it is aligned perfectly.
Now, you will need to check for any alignment issues by using the tri-square. When satisfied, use the same drilling and countersink method previously used in order to attach the back fence.
Use the 5-cut method to test for accuracy.
Try to ensure that sled is as accurate as possible.
Start using it!
This is the simple version of how to make a basic table saw sled. There are many more in-depth posts that will explain the steps in more detail if needed.
However, if you have an understanding of this kind of topic, this step-by-step should help.
David has been a woodworker for most of his life — in his dad’s cabinet shop. After using the tools himself, he decided to share it his woodworking and power tools knowledge with DIYers. Read more about him