190 – FrankenSled (How to Build a Cross-Cut Sled Add-On)

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Back in Episode 146, we made a simple classic cross-cut sled. That sled is probably the most-used accessory for my tablesaw. But in some cases, the workpiece exceeds the capacity of the sled. For instance, on the current Dogon Platform Bed project I’m making in the Guild, I had several long boards that needed to be cut to the exact same length. My miter saw extension fence and stop aren’t reliable enough to make the cut. Cutting to a line just won’t give the the precision I’m looking for. So my only hope was to come up with a way to cut the pieces at the tablesaw with my cross-cut sled. It’s a pretty basic idea, but once you understand it you will likely find use for it on many projects in the future.

All you need is a long straight board (longer than your workpiece), and a few clamps. I also like to use a roller stand for extra support and a stop block for perfect repeatability.

This is just one of the many ways you can add things onto your cross-cut sled to make it one of the most versatile items in your shop. That’s why I call it Frankensled. A few clamps, some spare parts, a bolt of lightning and a little clinical insanity, and you’ve got yourself a sled that can do just about anything.

I’m curious to know what things you guys have added to your cross-cut sleds to make them more effective. Respond in the comments section below.

Category: Techniques

Comments

  1. Eric R January 15, 2013

    Great video as usual Marc.
    Thanks

  2. seb ochart January 15, 2013

    For sure it’s a stupid question but why don’t you use a miter saw for this kind of cuts ?.

  3. Frank (http://deleted) January 15, 2013

    While I certainly understand the idea behind using the stop block and auxiliary fence on the frankensled, I don’t understand why you couldn’t rely on the same method with the miter saw. Were you referring to your particular miter saw fence not being reliable enough, or that miter saws in general aren’t reliable enough? Also, although you may have been asked this before, but why did you stop making the videos available for download? While I certainly respect your right to do with your property what you want, and I will get your content anyway I can, I have to admit that I did like the convenience of being able to download the free videos to watch them at my convenience later on when I may not have an internet connection.

    • They can be downloaded via iTunes. Also, I think it may be a bit quicker for one to build an accurate sled with a stop for their table saw as opposed to a fence system for a miter saw. I personally don’t have a miter saw station at this point. So the cross cut sled with an extended fence would be perfect for me. My $0.02

  4. David H January 15, 2013

    marc,
    next time, you might clamp a piece of scrap to the bottom of the 2×4 extending forward. that way when you place the bubinga stock hanging out there, it rests and is level with the sled and you dont have to push down. (helps ensure a straight cut, and less hazard)

    •  

      That can definitely help, but with really large pieces, my concern is the tipping of the sled. So I still like having actual hard support through the entire cut, if possible. On lighter pieces though, what you’re suggesting is a much easier way to go.

  5. Kevin January 15, 2013

    I put a t-track on the top of the fence so I could use a flip stop. If you want a real franken sled you should see mine after retro-fitting that on there. It’s a lot faster than clamping on stop blocks, but they tend to have a wee bit of slop in them so when it’s absolutely critical you still can’t beat a block clamped down tight. It’s really nice for squaring up stock though since you can flip it out of the way to do one end and then back down to cut to length, without any confusion of which end you already squared up if you did it to everything ahead of time.

  6. Chuck Timber January 15, 2013

    I just did this similar execution on my miter saw with the Kreg track flip down stop. You do have to be gentle on the flip stop, but my measurement was 42″ and all four pieces came out dead even. Please expand on the reason to use the tablesaw. As long as i am not sliding my miter saw i feel it is very accurate.

  7. Mateusz W. January 16, 2013

    Hi, I’m just curious – you have those insanely wide saws with table extensions on the right, why not use them instead of hanging boards over the left side? I’ve seen this a lot of times and somehow it makes no sense to me.

  8. Cessnapilotbarry January 16, 2013

    I use weights to counterbalance the sled, and a few wedges against the front rail to hold large stock in place.. If necessary, extra stop blocks can be clamped on the rear fence, after the stock is in place, for additional hold-down help.

    One finger sliding action with 8″ wide 8/4 maple bed rails, no additional outboard support required…

    My original weights were full gallons of paint and finish, now I keep a few 5 and 10 pound plates next to the saw.

    This works really great for dadoing tall shelf sides in plywood, too.

  9. Thanks for the great video Marc! Have you looked at or considered an after market
    slider for your saw?
    Cheers!
    Charlie

    •  

      I have not. Any insights or recommendations?

      • I have heard great things about a few out there, namely the Exaktor, Laguna , and
        one made by Excaliber. I bought a Mini Max CU300 Smart a few years ago mostly because of a sliding table and it really has changed the way I work, namely for operations like you are doing in this video. I think it might be worth your while to give them a closer look. I don’t think I could ever go back to a regular TS now.
        Cheers!
        Charlie

  10. michael davis January 16, 2013

    What happen to the video download links? I’ve noticed that its gone from this video and others.

  11. Chris F January 16, 2013

    So happy to see new content!!! Any chance you could explain why your miter saw fence & stops aren’t reliable enough for these cuts? If you can’t trust your set-up, it makes me nervous that maybe I put too much faith in my own set-up. Just curious to know what you have thought of (or realized) that I haven’t.

    •  

      Well my setup is just a little wobbly. The fence system I used is meant to be portable and isn’t really intended to give the level of accuracy I want. When I have some spare time, I plan on putting the miter saw onto a stationary cabinet and including a t-track with some reliable stops. That will then be my go-to solution for this type of cut. But for now, there’s just too much variability in my miter saw’s fence/stop setup.

  12. steve p January 16, 2013

    hey mark,

    what is the big plastic thing on what looks like the Jet spindle sander in the back left of the vid??

  13. I use a sled with no right side, mainly to decrease the weight of a heavy sled. It gets pretty hard to do long boards, so I rough cut them close to finished length with a skill saw and then trim to a line with a table saw. I don’t have a cutoff saw. I think after seeing this it is time to build a new sled. I just have a hard time lifting a full sled on and off of the table.

  14. JohnT January 16, 2013

    I used this same setup for when I made several bookcases a while back. Normally I would use a miter saw, but my saw isn’t fancy like yours and has a limited width it can cut. I used saw horses to hold up the heavy end that hung off the table, but I also added an extra block of wood clamped to the fence so that it could act as an extra hand holding the piece down flat against the sled, and not have it try to bob up and down while trying to push the sled. And I have you to thank for my larger sled, since I used your video as a basis for the design. Who has two thumbs and is grateful for your instructions? This guy!

  15. Keith Gallagher January 16, 2013

    Another great video. I haven’t built a crosscut sled yet as my Jet tablesaw only had one mitre track and a short sliding table. I have since gotten the fixed wing with the other mitre track and have to fit it. Anyway, what I was going to suggest is to fix a short narrow piece of 1/4″ or 1/2″ ply to the underneath of your long sacrificial fence to support the piece you are cutting.

  16. Tom Stephenson January 16, 2013

    I use a simple 1/2″ plywood hook extension. It fits over the end of the workpiece, and you clamp it to the fence of your sled. Works great. That, and I made a David Marks huge sled.

  17. Eric B January 16, 2013

    Thx for the great content as always. I was curious about the mitre station as well but have seen that you have answered it. My chop station is rarely used as it is very old and hardly accurate. I only use it for roughy cutting 2×4 for outside work. I constantly use my crosscut sled. This will be a good addition for those long pieces.

  18. Daniel S. January 16, 2013

    Don’t know why I thought you favored the skilled karate chop, with a stop.

  19. Thomas January 17, 2013

    Hej Marc,
    Great site and great videos, but this one got me thinking, have you Americans boys not seen the european style table saw? this setup you are doing in this video is all standard and may I venture a guess, i bit more stable on euro style saws. I’m baffled as to why all Americans seem to prefer this type of saw, to be honest I can’t see any advantages with it compares the euro style.

    In any case, again, great videos!

    •  

      The misconception here is that we “prefer” these saws. These are the saws that are sold by American companies. Very few of these companies even offer sliding versions of their tablesaws. And if we want a slider, we either have to add an after-market device or do enough research and save up our money for a true Euro-style sliding saw. So this isn’t a conscious choice on the part of all dumb Americans, it’s a combination of product availability, awareness, and pricing.

  20. Thomas January 17, 2013

    Marc,
    This was not intended as an criticism, please excuse my poor english if that is how it came across. I was not aware that the euro style was not available.

    •  

      No worries Thomas. Most of us actually wish that type of saw was easier to attain. Don’t get me wrong, there are companies that sell sliders here in the US. But these aren’t the companies most of us typically do business with and they require quite a bit of research to make sure we are getting exactly what we need. So it can be daunting to a new woodworker.

  21. Doug January 18, 2013

    That is a great idea, Marc. I use my cross-cut sled all the time and this will be a great addition to it’s usefulness.

  22. gerry January 18, 2013

    Thanks Mark for your great video. They are pleasure to watch. Just wondering, why not flip the work peace so it is right of the saw blade and supported by the table extension? I still vote to use a miter saw with a stop block to make this cut. Building a miter saw station could be your next project. people on you poll think so

  23. Joey January 18, 2013

    Marc, just wondering if you’ve ever considered getting a radial arm saw to add to your lineup? I found a very old but brand new Dewalt one sitting in a hardware store many years ago and picked it up for next to nothing. It’s been my go to saw for these types of cuts after I added a long table and stand. In fact it was my only saw until my wife surprised me with a new table saw.

    •  

      With a cross-cut sled, a tracksaw, and a sliding compound miter saw in the shop, I never really found a need for a radial arm saw. That’s also the same reason they are all but disappearing from the market. People have just found other ways to get the job done. I usually tell folks that if you already have one, go ahead and keep it. But it really isn’t considered a shop essential in the way it used to be. But I know many folks just love having them in the shop and prefer them over other options. Sounds like you are one of those folks. :)

  24. Craig Reichert January 20, 2013

    I’m guessing the stain on your support roller isn’t blood…

  25. Bobby January 23, 2013

    Marc,
    Marvelous jig. Would it be feasible to add a board under the overhang of the auxiallry fence to support the board you are cutting? This board could easily be slightly wider than the width of the board being cut. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be as long as the board you are cutting either. Thanks again for video.

  26. Marc, i didn’t read all of the posted comments so i may be repeating somebody else’s idea, I had to cut several board the same length over 5 ft. used the same set up with the exception of adding 3 resting block between the saw and the end. On the bottom of the last one out I mounted a pipe flange , in which i fitted a pipe with a wheel on the bottom to support the end and roll across the floor. Worked for about 10 groups of 4 pc each.

    Thanks for a great site.

    Pat

  27. Gary Bell January 28, 2013

    Pretty much echo what Joey said back on the 18th. Radial Arm Saws always seem to get a bad rap. Of course I know you don’t have a RAS and so your use of the sled here was really good and the video was a great tutorial.

    •  

      The way I look at radial arm saws is if you already have one, keep it. It will come in handy. But if you’re building a new shop from scratch, I think you’re better served with a tablesaw and a sliding compound miter saw. But obviously some folks LOVE their RAS’s and will give them up when you pry them from their cold dead hands. :)

  28. Ron S January 31, 2013

    While watching the video I thought why not just put a small board below the fence on the left side pokeing out a little to the font where your workpiece could rest on. So you could get rid of the roller setup.

    Greetings

  29. Bob February 1, 2013

    Mark,
    Just an idea. You could put a piece of wood on the under side of the aux. fence (2×4) near the stop block end to support the long work piece. This would provice a ledge for the work to rest on during the cut. Would take a little pressure off the clamp holding the work to the fence too.
    Just a thought.

  30. Dude, that would’ve clocked you right in the forehead!!! That could’ve been terrible!!! You can even hear it start to creak a bit before it snapped off. Good save man!!!

  31. Mike March 7, 2013

    Hi Marc – love your videos and I am seriously considering joining the guild once I get my shop re-set up after a move. Quick question – could a similar set up help with cutting tenons on a long table apron, using multiple passes? I am building a rectangle dining table that will seat up to 8 (3 on a side, 1 on each end) and would like to mortise and tenon the legs to the apron. How do you go about doing this? I am relatively new to woodworking and your videos and both entertaining but also very inspiring.

    •  

      Hey Mike. Thanks for the kind words. Yes, you absolutely can use a similar methodology for tenons. It’s really no different than what I show either other than the fact that the blade is lower. As long as the piece is stable and doesn’t move, you’re good to go!

  32. Garcia Avery April 30, 2013

    Great video. Will this method work work if the board is quite thick also? I have a board which is quite thick and want to cut it to make a furniture. Your reply is greatly appreciated. Thanks for the same.

  33. David Misita August 2, 2013

    Quick question: If you want repeatability of the cut, and the extension is sacrificial, why not screw the stop into place? Obviously if you have to only cut 4 boards to length this might not be worth it. But, if you have, say 10 or so, it would keep the stop from shifting.

    I’m a total novice at this stuff, but is there a good reason NOT to do this?

    Although, you do own a LOT more clamps than I do . . . ;-)

  34. sjeff70 September 22, 2013

    Dave,

    If you’re going to go that far I guess you could just clamp on an extra thick stop block and cut all your pieces at the same time in one cut.

    • David Misita September 22, 2013

      The only thing I’d be afraid of with that is the individual pieces kicking back . . . You’d have to secure them down or something.

  35. Peggy Schaefer January 7, 2014

    I’m getting ready to attempt a similar system as what you have described. I have the same infeed/outfeed rollers as you show. You mentioned you “waxed” the large roller so the wood would slide easily. Can you tell me what type of wax you used?

    Thanks!

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