Make a Table Saw Panel Cutting Sled

In a previous post, I wrote about the two styles of table saw crosscut sleds. Today I will describe how to build a table saw sled with one runner. This is the kind of sled I use most often in my own shop for squaring up panels. It's lightweight, so I can hang it on the wall and it's easy to get on and off the table saw.

  1. Cut the base to size. Cut a piece of plywood or hardboard to form the base of your sled. I used a piece of 1/4 inch hardboard, but you can use whatever scrap you have laying around the shop. The base should be about 2 to 3 feet wide and about the same length. My sled is about 2 feet wide (deep) and about 3 feet side to side.
  2. Make the runner. Rip a piece of hardwood or plastic (UHMW is a good choice) that is longer than your sled base. The runner should fit into the left miter slot without any slop left to right and it should sit just below the surface of the table. I cut the runner just a bit oversize and then fine tune the width with a hand plane.
  3. Position the base. Lower the table saw blade below the table. Place the runner in the miter slot and place your base on top. Position the base so it extends over the blade and as close to square to the blade as you can, but don't worry if it's not exact. Your table saw fence can be helpful to help position the base.
  4. Attach the runner. Drill pilot holes and screw the base to the runner. It can be helpful to clamp the base to the table saw while you do this. If you prefer, mark the position of the runner on the underside of the base, flip the base over and screw the runner to the base. Just make sure your screws are not so long they protrude through the top of the base.
  5. Trim the base. Raise the saw blade, place your base with the attached runner on the table saw and run the sled through the saw blade. The right edge of the saw is now exactly even with the left edge of the saw blade. You will use this edge as a reference when attaching the fence.
  6. Make the fence. Cut a piece of hardwood or 3/4 inch plywood about 2 inches wide and at least as long as your crosscut sled base. I like to make my fence at least half again as long as the base. This allows me to clamp a stop block for repeated cuts while keeping the weight of the sled down.
  7. Attach the fence. Using your most accurate square, clamp the fence to the base with a little bit sticking off the right edge of the base. Drill and screw the right end of the fence to the base, leaving the other end clamped for now. I prefer to put the fence on the leading edge of the crosscut sled, since it allows me to cut panels a bit wider than the size of the base. However, putting the fence on the trailing edge provides the support needed to prevent tearout.
  8. Test and adjust the fence. Place the sled back on the table saw. Cut one end off of a piece of scrap about 6 to 8 inches wide and check the result. If the cut is square, drill and screw the left end of the fence down. Make another test cut to make sure things didn't shift. If all looks good, add a couple more screws to hold the fence in place.

Congratulations! You are now ready to put your cross cut sled to use. I like to drill a couple of holes into the base so I can hang the sled on the wall when I'm not using it. Then it only takes a few seconds to pull it off the wall and place it on the table saw.

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