146 – The Cross-Cut Sled

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Then

One of the first fixtures I ever made for my shop was a cross-cut sled. Heavily-influenced by David Marks, I modeled it after his design. The sled opened up a whole world of possibilities for not only cross-cutting, but joinery as well. I didn’t have a reliable compound miter saw at the time so this versatile fixture really helped me get the most out of my limited tool set. Here’s a pic from the old days!

Now

Now with a full complement of tools, I am finding myself longing for some of the simple solutions I used in the past. And after spending some time at the William Ng School using his cross-cut sleds for various operations, I knew it was time to get my butt in gear and make myself a new cross-cut sled. You’ll notice that my sled doesn’t have any bells and whistles like built-in stops or hold downs, but you can certainly add those if you feel they are appropriate.

Hip To Be Square!

To square the fence, I use the “5-cut squaring method”, which you can see demonstrated in the video and also in this little Flash presentation. Its an incredible method for adjusting a fence down to the nearest thousandth. The final adjustments are made using feeler gauges and a method I learned directly from William Ng himself.

Important NoteI messed up! Yeah I suck. During the editing/filming process, I got the adjustment mixed up. In the video, I state that to correct the error measured by the 5-cut method, I would need to push the left side of the fence BACK toward me. That’s exactly the opposite of what I needed to do. Instead, the fence needs to go forward on the left side. Because the feeler gauge method of adjustment only works by pulling one side of the fence back toward the user, you can effectively push the left side forward by pulling the right side back. So to sum up, instead of making the adjustment by pulling the fence back on the left side, I should have pulled the fence back on the right side.

Dimensions

A cross-cut sled can be any size you want. Just keep in mind the bigger it is, the harder it is to handle. So for me, the ideal size was approximately the dimensions of my tablesaw top.
Plywood base: 34″ Wide x 30 ” Deep (1/2″ Baltic Birch Ply)
Fences: 4 1/4″ Wide x 30″ Long
Runners: 30″ Long x 3/4″ Wide x 3/8″ Thick

Techniques

Once the sled is constructed, I cover the following techniques for using the sled:
Standard Cross-Cut
Wide Cross-Cut
Long Cross-Cut
Using The Stop Block
Repetitive Cuts
Small Parts Cut

Category: Projects

Comments

  1. Kris Lauer April 29, 2011

    Nice vid! I like how you squared up the rear fence. I had not heard of the 5 cut method. Learned something new today. This will be a great addition to my little bench top saw. The plate that goes over the blade is screwed in place and cutting small parts is impossible with it the way it is.
    Thanks again Marc!

  2. Great video man! The 5-cut test is new to me and I will be trying it soon on my sled. Also, the tip on small parts is great! Thanks again for another great job!

  3. Rob Lopez April 29, 2011

    Great once again Marc!

    Are there any dimensions you can give us on the size of your sled?

  4. Chris April 29, 2011

    Awesome. I have used laminate flooring remnants for the runners–which pretty much takes care of the seasonal movement issue.

  5. Luc April 29, 2011

    Hi Marc,

    In the spirit of safety week, will you be installing a blade guard behind the fence on your sled?

    •  

      Yeah I regret not showing that in the video. On the day of filming, I realized I didn’t have the epoxy I needed to glue on an extra chunk of material to the back of the fence. Easy fix though.

      • Luc April 29, 2011

        BTW, thank you for introducing me to the 5-cut method.

  6. Ken F April 29, 2011

    Marc,

    Wax your runners.

    • Rev Jimmy Mac April 11, 2014

      I use Minwax paste wax and it does an AMAZING job – just be sure to apply sparingly and buff to a glass like finish

  7. I love all your tips. Especially how scientific you can be in correcting the error in the fence. That was brilliant!

  8. Ken F April 29, 2011

    Oh
    Marc,
    Give us an update on your shop .

    When I meant runners I wasn?t referring to your legs!

  9. Chilimax April 29, 2011

    Perfect timing, I’ve been meaning to make a cross-cut sled, but wanted to wait and see how the TWW would tackle it.

    Many Thanks!!

  10. Ben April 29, 2011

    Excellent!

    One thing I would add (and this may go without saying for most people) is to remember to re-check your blade for squareness after making a tilt cut and before putting the sled back on. Also, always use it with the same saw blade. Being able to measure exactly to that kerf line is a huge advantage, and I messed my sled up by not returning the blade to exactly vertical before using it.

  11. Tom Collins April 29, 2011

    Great video as usual, thank you. I also like the new ?old? shop. What are your thoughts on the commercially available miter slot bars?

    •  

      I think miter slot bars and the UHMW runners are awesome. MicroJig also makes the Zero Clearance Guide Bar system that looks quite compelling. Only reason I didn’t use something like that in this video is because I wanted to go as low-tech as possible in terms of materials.

  12. chris April 29, 2011

    Hi Marc, glad to see the sled. Just a comment on safety. you pretty much covered my concerns, but as with any discipline, pain is a good teacher. Hopefully when the guys are rattling off small pieces with their sleds, they don’t get lazy and fail to clean off their pieces. Your comments about the pieces bouncing back into the blade should be headed by all. I know how it feels to have a piece of hard maple come up off the back side of the blade and fly into the face! I had a piece of hard maple, 1-1/2, 1-1/2, 1 knock the lens out of my glasses, bend the frames and generally scratch up my face,(went in crying to my wife, and then to the eye doctor just as a caution). If our math was correct, then that piece was travelling at about 184 mph! Maybe you want to do a physic lesson one day on E=mc

  13. Steve Grimes April 29, 2011

    Great “recipe” for squaring the fence. It looks like the 30″ depth would take care of most needs.
    Do you have a separate sled for dados?

    Here is an article where the verticle rear fence is squared/ calibrated against a horizontal fence;

    •  

      Unfortunately that’s one of their paid articles Steve. But I know the article you are referring to. Thanks!

      And I do not have separate sled for dados. It is definitely on the to-do list. Sometimes its nice to make the first sled, then cannibalize it for dados. That way you can learn from your mistakes and make the second sled even better. And that’s the one you dedicate to regular cuts.

  14. Don Fearn April 29, 2011

    THANX for this, Marc!

    @Chris: I thought I was the only one who used laminate flooring material for things like that; it’s WONDERFUL stuff . . . .

  15. Nateswoodworks April 29, 2011

    Great video, I need to make a new sled as well. A couple yrs back I bought a new TS and my old sled and a few other things went with the saw to it’s new home. I also used other tools to take it’s place but as you stated it sure is nice to have a dedicated perfect 90 degree system. One thing I do remember about making my first sled when I got into woodworking was my fence was just a tad off so when I made my sled that error carried through, just thought by mentioning it maybe someone else could avoid it. The new/old shop sure looks like it’s coming along good. When you get to a certain point do we get a tour or will we just see it on future video’s? Keep up the great work.
    Nate

  16. Toby April 29, 2011

    Great vid!

    What are your thoughts for using plywood vs mdf for the base? I have both available but haven’t been able to decide what to make it out of.

  17. Good video Marc, I made one of the left of blade sleds from Norm’s table saw 101 a while back and have been meaning to replace it with this style.

    what other types of sleds were setup at the school?

    • I haven’t visited the Ng School, but in my shop I also use a 45 degree miter sled for framing cuts. I have a chop saw, but it is buried deep so i only get it out for construction type projects. For 45s on small elements the sled is more comfortable than the miter gauge.

      I also have a dedicated sled for 45 degree blade cuts. Forget at the moment when I used that, but the few times I have, it has been very nice.

      My basic sled is perhaps a tad too large. Makes storing and loading a bit of a chore, but it serves me very well. Not sure I’d wish to make it smaller, unless it was an additional one.

      I’m still downloading the video but I bet it will be awesome as usual.
      Thanks

    •  

      The other one we used primarily was the dado sled. You can also make sleds for 45 degree cuts and other angles if you use them enough.

  18. Think I am now motivated to make a new sled. Current version is my second, which was built in a hurry after arrival of a new table saw. Know I can make it more accurate. Thanks to Marc.

    re: stop blocks
    especially if using them for multiples, I strongly suggest having at least a small bevel on bottom reference point. It is so easy for bits to collect there which you don’t notice, which can throw off your reference point.

    Fancier is a block that “hangs” from fence and is a bit shy of touching the sled bed. Similar in concept to Marc’s stop for small parts. Another way around the miter corner is to drive a drywall screw into the stop block end, leaving it proud. Not only does this raise the contact point, it becomes a microadjuster for dialing in precise cuts. Reclamping to make tiny adjustments can be frustrating.

    Can’t wait to get back in the shop.

  19. Will April 29, 2011

    That sled is so cool I started building one tonight. The 5 cut squaring method is also genius. I tried it using my incra v120 and I was .004 out over 6″ so I definitely need to calibrate things better before I work more on the sled.

    You are a gifted teacher, Marc.

  20. Dan April 30, 2011

    Nice video but I have a complaint. I did not get an update on the shop behind you, no ‘Vanna White’ presentation of the duct work for the dust collection (shiny and neat), no part for Nicole, and no humor. I want the old Marc humor!!! Still, nice video…

    •  

      I’ve explained this in the past but it might be worth explaining again. The humor is something that I do when it comes naturally. There is NOTHING worse than forced humor. I am by no means a comedian so I am really not capable of forcing things to be funny. So my rule as always been, “Dont force the funny!” So be patient and the humor will come naturally. But when I am super busy rebuilding the shop, getting ready for safety week, and preparing for the next Guild Build, no funny stuff comes to mind. :)
      I know folks really enjoy the humor, but if you look at my past work, it actually comes and goes and pops in when you least expect it. But sometimes, its “just the facts ma’am.”

  21. John F April 30, 2011

    Marc – I recently discovered TWW and I really appreciate all the content, as well as your teaching style – easygoing yet detailed, and most of all ‘practical’. I especially like the ‘what works for you’ attitude. I’ve had confirmation of some of my techniques, but a whole lot of tweaks and improvements as well. This video is most welcome – I had gone through most of you videos and articles on a recent long trip, and I was starting to have withdrawal symptoms ;)

    Very nice demo of construction of a x-cut sled. It mirrors mine in some ways, but I really like your method for adjusting the rear fence. I used a block secured to the base, but used a screw attached to the block instead of feeler gauges to adjust/move the fence. This was much more of a trial and error so I’ll have to remember the feeler gauge method. I’m contemplating a smaller sled as a more manageable option to my larger one for smaller pieces, so I’ll put these tips to use.

    Did you bother sealing or waxing the base? I tried waxing mine (MDF base) but it just soaked up the wax. I’m new to the wonders of shellac as a sealer, so I might try that first on my next one.

    •  

      Hey John. I didn’t seal the sled, but its not a bad idea. A single coat of shellac, followed by a 320 grit sanding and a coat of wax would make for a nice slick surface. Just keep in mind that the side the work rests on might be difficult to work with if its too slick. Its nice for the surface to grip the wood.

  22. jasonR April 30, 2011

    Thanks for the instructions. A sled was on my to-do list. Saw your video last night and knocked-out the sled today.

    5-cut method was great. First (and only time through) I hit 1/128″ per 1 foot, which is just fine for me. I am sure others out there will manage better!

  23. Frank Cela May 1, 2011

    Thanks Marc for the video,I have a small sled (like Norms) but I think I’ll try your two rail.

  24. Frank Cela May 1, 2011

    One other thing, I really envy your time you spend with David!

  25. josh bucher May 1, 2011

    crosscut sleds are the best… they make things so much easier.. i just have a flimsy one right now, it was probably the first thing i did with the table saw after set up.. i’ve only had the saw for a year now.. i need to build a rigid one soon..

    Marc… WTH man?… Your shop is badass! I agree with the previous posters.. we need a tour.. it’s all powermatic up in there. ;D

    Thanks for all the hard work that you do editing and filming this stuff.. you do a great service to woodworkers.

  26. Sean May 1, 2011

    Another great video, Marc! And just in time for the kickoff to safety week. I threw together a sled a few years back, but it lacks in some areas. I’m definitely going to make one of these. I’m with a lot of others here, the 5 cut method is new to me, but damn brilliant. I’ve never checked my existing sled with anything more than a square on a cut piece. This will be a huge accuracy improvement. Thanks again!

    Sean

  27. Sven May 1, 2011

    I always wondered how to make such cuts with the US-style table saws. Meaning cuts, where the parallel fence isn’t of any use. But I still don’t know how to make angled cuts.

    I’m from Germany and here all table saws are delivered with sliding rectangular fence, which often is adjustable with a scale for angled cuts. (usually there’s also an adjustable stop block integrated in the fence which can be flipped forward if needed and recessed when making longer cuts without loosing the reference for later)

    This is such a saw, medium price/quality in the hobby segment
    http://www.scheppach.com/typo3.....cbddc5.jpg

    And this is the smallest from professional high-end manufacturer Altendorf:
    http://www.altendorf.de/upload.....hatten.jpg

    When using such saws the parallel fence is only of minor importance. Generally it’s just serving as a reference when cutting with the good piece on the right side (which is rather rare). You rest your palms on the rectangular fence, and press the workpiece down with your fingers. It’s very safe because the fence ends some distance before the blade (adjustable for special cuts) and the habit of always keeping your hands on the fence is easy to learn while fool proof. For most cuts there’s also no need to measure, because aforementioned stop block runs on a scale measuring the exact distance to the blade (the left side is the one we wan’t to keep).

    On the other hand, the way the parallel fence is used my most woodworkers in US-videos would be a total no-go in Germany (as are dado-blades and some other hazards). In every safety instruction for such machines you learn, that the parallel fence must end before the blade begins. Otherwise the cut-off could be caught between fence and blade, possibly causing damage. But when there’s no fence the cut-off is just pushed to the side. But still the right side of the blade is considered the “dangerous side” and not to be entered while the blade is running.

    This is why nobody’s talking about kickback here, it’s just not an issue.

    Still wondering about angled cuts in US…?

    • Danny H. May 2, 2011

      Sven,
      The sliding panel saws for home owners are only just starting to catch on over here.For many years the cost to a homeowner was just to prohibitive. Within the last five years or so, companies have been manufacturing lower end models for the serious hobbyists and homeowners. I myself own one as I prefer this style for the ease and speed of cutting panel or sheet goods. Businesses have been using the panel saws for many years , but are now gravitating more and more toward CNC machines to process panel goods along with their panel saws. Angled cuts for most hobbyists here are done with a miter saw or for panel stock on another home made or store bought sliding table saw cut off jig….I still can’t understand how the dado blade got nixed there in Europe. Can’t understand what all the fuss is about concerning the safety issues . In my 25 years or so in the woodworking field I’ve had more issues with inaccuracy and safety cutting dadoes with the router than I’ve ever had on the table saw. In my experience cutting dados on the table saw vrs. the router is that the table saw has been faster, safer and more accurate. Europeans just need to get past their industry forced fear of the dado blade.

  28. Tablesawed May 1, 2011

    Marc,

    Awesome job. Nice tips for aligning, adjusting and using this indispensible add-on to one of the best tools in woodworking. Great tips and presentation.

    I see a lot of woodworkers adding all sorts of gizmos to theirs; stops and measurement tape, 45 degree triangles for miter cuts and the like. Seems like the simplest designs are plenty to get the job done.

    The only addition to this one you’ve created – for safety – is to add a block of wood behind the fence so that you can’t put your hand there. But, again, great video. Thanks.

  29. Eric R May 1, 2011

    Thanks Marc.
    I made one today to replace my old worn out one.
    I’m sending you a picture tomorrow.
    Thanks again.
    PS: the shop is looking awesome!

  30. Adam May 1, 2011

    Very informative video Marc!

    I have a small addition for people with t-style miter tracks. My table saw is a cheap old Mastercraft contractor saw. It does not have the simple rectangular mitre track like professional table saws. Its track looks like an inverted “T” from the front. Anyone else out there with a similar table saw might have some troubles with the runners.

    After trying to make a sled awhile back, I gave up on the runners being inside the miter track and I simply moved them to the outside of the table. Since my saw is relatively small, I made my sled bigger than the table top and added wide runners on the two sides of the table. This bypasses the oddly shaped mitre tracks. I got the idea from a picture on the internet.

    Apparently some stores like Lee Valley make special t-shaped runners but I never bothered to look. Home made is cheaper anyways.

    • adam, do you realize how much money I’ve spent on tools (and wood) for a few pieces of furniture in our home? Besides fully furnishing my home from Ikea or Ethan Allen I could also have bought a significant minority stock position in either company for what I’ve spent on tools…and I ain’t done yet.

      Just kidding of course. Being in the shop has cut down on my bar tab and probably many other vices.

      Nice to hear your solution. As I visualize it a T-track slot still has a “rectangle” that you could use as the track. Or is there some other aspect that I’m missing. My band saw and some other tools have t-track miter slots and seems that a rectangular profile works fine. Though supplied accessory might have a washer type add-on to ride in the slot more securely.

      • Adam May 2, 2011

        I see your point about cost. Haha. Let’s assume solid wood furniture.

        The rectangle part of the T-shaped track is there, it’s just really skinny. 3/8ths if I remember correctly. Getting a decent fit was possible, but just not stable enough due to the wider bottom part of the T. Putting the runners on the outside was just so much easier and accurate.

  31. Thomas May 2, 2011

    Hi Marc,
    Just one question, why not use a sliding table saw, that completly reduces the need for this cross cut sled, or have I missed something?

    •  

      In the US, sliding table saws just aren’t the norm. You can get them, but they are very expensive and most of our well-known domestic companies don’t even make sliding models. So a cross-cut sled is an inexpensive alternative for those of us with non-sliding saws.

  32. CB May 2, 2011

    Awesome as always!

  33. Armando Reyes May 3, 2011

    Been waiting a long time for this video. Thanks Marc!!!!!

  34. Scott May 3, 2011

    I went and bought a caliper to see how close my sled is to square. Well I was just .022 in 24″. I have to say that is the most accurate I have EVER been. I would try to tune it finer but I glued the fence in place. Oh well, that means that the next one will be that much better. Thanks Marc for the video.

    • Scott May 3, 2011

      Correction.022/4 or.022 in 96″

  35. Paul May 5, 2011

    Great show, thank you for always teaching us great stuff!

    I was just curious where you got that sweet black straight edge you used in this episode?

  36. I almost didn’t watch this video (I get them all as podcasts). Having been doing it for 30 plus years, I currently have 8 sleds of different configurations. So what did I need to learn?
    Very good video! & I did learn things–especially the squaring trick and the small cut off stop.

    I have a woodworking blog, and if you don’t mind, I’d like to link to this video in an upcoming blog post. (The link would send viewers to you to watch…I’m not sophisticated enough to embed videos in my posts.)

    http://slowoodworker.wordpress.com/

  37. Hope design May 7, 2011

    Hey Marc, I used too have a sliding carriage on my panel saw! And needless to say they are pretty cool but every time you change a blade you have too recalibrate the fence as the stop measuring track would always be out on a thicker kerfed blade which is a pain in the butt!! But now I don’t gave a saw with a sliding carriage and I think that this carriage would be a great alternative!! Good luck with the new “old” shop! I would love too visit but I live in the uk so it’s not just round the corner ha ha

  38. Chris May 8, 2011

    I was just curious about the countersinks that you used, where did you get them at?

  39. Brian May 12, 2011

    The countersink bits look like the Steelex kind sold on Amazon here. They have various numbered tapers and bits with built in stops.

    http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?lt1.....B0000DD0OZ

  40. John May 13, 2011

    Hi Marc,
    I’m finally building a new sled to replace my old tired one and your video was the kick that I needed!
    I notice that in your design, and David’s and William’s, you cut the front fence (closest to the operator) a bit short, leaving a space on either side. Any reason not to make the fence run the full length of the sled, edge-to-edge? I understand that the back fence doesn’t need to be full length since it’s just holding the sled together, but I would think the front fence should be as long as possible.
    Thanks!
    John

  41. Derek Hall May 13, 2011

    Thanks for this video — I really need one of these. I think it will make my benchtop table saw more accurate (lousy fence)

  42. Great video! I actually built a cross-cut sled last year that while it cut square enough, it would bind in the slot. I never could get it right and eventually abandoned it. After watching your video, thanks to the card scraper tip, I think know what I need to do to fix. Thank you!

  43. Steve N May 13, 2011

    A wonderful tutorial on how to build a simple yet accurate cross cut sled! Thanks Marc

  44. Gary Hanson May 13, 2011

    I have been using a Festool plunge saw for all my longer cross cuts but after this video I will being building a cross cut sled in the near future.

    Thanks Marc.

  45. Aaron T. May 13, 2011

    I have never had a cross cut sled as I have always had my shop I work for to go to for use of our altendorf sliding saw but I am definitely going to make one of these for my work shop, looks a very good way for nice square cuts.

  46. Brian May 13, 2011

    I have the wood magazine version of the table sled that I’m still happy with, but happy isn’t good enough. I’m making a new one (a one off) that will have a routed t-slot channel through the back fence for a sliding stop block, but I think I’m leaning towards making a flip down stop block. I’d also like to make a t-slotted rear fence extension to give myself the option of using a stop block on longer pieces. However I still have to figure out how I need to execute that, but I may just put the fence extension on a hinge that falls just short of the block that will act as a blade guard on the back of the sled.

    I’ll just sit down with my drafting notebook and draw out what I want and make it happen.

  47. Rob May 13, 2011

    Awesome. Building one tonight. Thanks!

  48. Jim Batchelder May 13, 2011

    I will be building this ASAP. Thanks Mark

  49. TennesseeYankee May 13, 2011

    Marc,

    Great video. Very helpful. I will follow you technique the next time I build one.

  50. TennesseeYankee May 13, 2011

    Marc, Where do you buy the type of plywood you used?

  51. Ross Ekberg May 14, 2011

    The crosscut sled really seems to be a great idea for the workshop. For my last project, I just slapped a couple of pieces of hardwood to my miter fence, which did serve its purpose, albeit not as safely as it should have been. I intend to either build or purchase a cross cut sled. I see that Rockler makes a couple of different crosscut sleds. The reviews seem great and the features of the sleds are very nice. I guess I have to determine whether or not I need such features and whether to get something professionally made or if my poor craftsmanship would suffice :-)

    Great video!

  52. rick May 14, 2011

    What a very informative video on the sled..Ia think I will make one very soon…Great job as all your videos always are..

  53. BladeRuiner May 14, 2011

    Marc,
    I really liked the video..
    Have you considered having a jig video category…
    It could step up the productivity / accuracy for all of us.
    I would especially like to see a jig for creating dovetails on the table saw…

    Blade

  54. Thomas May 15, 2011

    I have one already, but your fence set up is going to make me revisit mine.

    Thanks

  55. Eric May 15, 2011

    This is going to be first on my list once i get setup.
    Thanks.

  56. Brian May 15, 2011

    Another great video Marc. I really like the method you use to adjust your fence after setting it. I am kinda wondering what the accumulative error on my current sled is. I might have to do the 5 cut test and build a new one :)

  57. I have not seen that before but will be building mine this next weekend.

    Thanks you

  58. Oliman May 16, 2011

    I had in mind to build the box joint jig but I will first build this one. Thanks for the ricks you give to use it more safely.

  59. William L May 18, 2011

    Great work Marc! I love all the details.

  60. John McAuliffe May 21, 2011

    Thanks for the great video on the cross cut sled. Made one out of 3/4″ ply because it is all I had and it works great just a little bit heavy.
    Thanks Again
    John

  61. Howard May 23, 2011

    Thanks Marc,
    I should make a new cross cut sled, I’ve used the old one for too many jobs. Every thing from simple straight cuts to angled cuts to box joints!
    My question is: can I just have interchangeable decks/backfence that I can slip on to the old sled, or would you suggest having multiple sleds?
    btw, I used UHMW for my runner and they have held up very nice.

  62. Matt May 27, 2011

    Marc,
    Like the others above, I wanted to thank you for the informative video on squaring your crosscut sled fence using the 5 cut method. I tried it last night on my sled and found the same error you did – my offcut was narrower at the front end and wider at the rear. What I’m writing you about is the fact that I think you demonstrated moving the fence in the wrong direction to correct the error. You state that moving the left side of the fence TOWARD you (essentially pivoting it in a counterclockwise direction)will make the offcut thicker at the front, when in effect it will make it thinner. What that will do is make the non – offcut piece thicker at the front. To correct the error, you should be moving the fence away from you, which can still be accomplished easily. simply clamp your stop block in place with the appropriate feeler gage between the block and the fence. Then remove the fence screw and feeler gage and clamp the fence to the stop block. This effectively moves the fence the distance of the thickness of the feeler gage.

    I hope I’m not wrong here, as I don’t want to confuse anyone, but I thought it was important enough to bring to your attention.

    • I just followed your video in building my own cross-cut sled, and I am thrilled with the results. Thank you! I’m especially grateful for the short demo at the end of the video showing how to use the sled for repeated cuts and how to use it with the table-saw fence.

      I have to agree with Matt, who suggested that you moved the fence in the wrong direction at 11:05 in the video. Moving the left side of the fence back causes the front end of the cut-off scrap to become skinnier, not fatter. I picture this by imagining an exaggerated move of the fence, like for a 30 degree miter cut. The scrap on the right side of the blade would be a triangle, skinny at the front, and fat at the back.

      I actually followed what you said first, putting my sled even further out of adjustment, before going the opposite direction to correct it. No problem–the only result is a couple of empty screw-holes on the underside of the sled.

      I suspect your first attempt was so close to square that other imperfections in the materials or the saw account for your seeing an improvement with the “wrong adjustment.”

  63. Chris May 27, 2011

    Thanks Marc–Great video

    I’ll be making some tweaks to my sled–I need to work on the alignment.

    Aslo the small piece jig is pretty smart!

  64. Mikey June 7, 2011

    After watching I took my old crosscut sled out and re-jiggered it.
    Thanks. It now cuts much more accurately. Those tips on readjusting the fence were terrific. Well done Mark.

  65. Andrew June 16, 2011

    your video have solved a good number of puzzles that I have for my crosscut sled.

    Now I am ready to build my first crosscut sled.

    Thank you so much, Marc!!!

  66. Kevin June 17, 2011

    Another great video. Getting together supplies for my own custom sled on my 10″ table saw. I can’t wait to see how much enjoyable it is to use. One question I have is in regards to using the HDO boards for the fences- the stores around me don’t stock this stuff. I wonder if I could use some 3/4″ plywood and layer it between 2 pieces of “hardboard”, masonite? This would give me that added smoothness to each side. How to join the layers together is another question I’d have. I’ve still got much to learn so any help here would be a great benefit. Thanks everyone.

    • I use a sandwich of two 3/4 inch baltic birch plywood. Seems a little grip is a good thing for this fence, as pieces are not supposed to slide easily as you are making a cut (unlike the rip fence). Hardboard doesn’t seem like a good idea. I used one or two coats of shellac or thinned varnish on my sled. Wax the bed on occasion, but not the fence.

      • Kevin June 18, 2011

        Great insight Tom, thanks!

    •  

      What Tom said. I would probably skip the hardboard and just go with the ply sandwich. And even thought he HDO has a relatively hard resin surface, it still has better grip characteristics than hardboard would.

      • Kevin June 18, 2011

        Excellent information. You definitely have the better perspective on the matter so I’ll go with the given advice.

        Hopefully by next weekend I’ll have something to share.

  67. Marc,

    I just found your site a week or so ago and think i have watched every video by now. I am a fairly new woodworker and your site has helped me tremendously. I created a cross cut sled off your video that i though i would share the result. I think it turned out great and learning the 5 cut method helps re-assure me that i’m getting a square cut on it.

    http://mikeshobbyblog.blogspot.....-sled.html

    Thanks Again…

  68. Kevin Washburn June 23, 2011

    Update: I said I would post a picture after I got my sled completed. Well, here we go! The link is below.

    I had a great time building it. Between work and kids I hoped to be done by this weekend. Looks like I am a day ahead of schedule. I actually had a unique problem with my build. My 10″ table saw, gifted to me by my father-in-law, only had 5/8″ miter slots. At only 1/4″ deep they didn’t leave much for viable options for quality runners. I would up using 5/8″ square hard stock and routing a 3/8″ dado on the underside of the sled. Made my stock squares fit like a glove. This also gave the added beef to the runners I was looking for since my miter slots were only 5/8″ wide. Maybe someone else encounters the same problem and needs a fix.

    http://i1022.photobucket.com/a...../photo.jpg

  69. Raymond July 9, 2011

    Mark, when adjusting the fence, how do you decide where to place the feeler gauge?
    The closer you place the gauge to the remaining screw (pivot point) the greater the adjustment. (I think)

    • Raymond July 9, 2011

      BTW Great sled and terrific 5 cut test.

    •  

      I just put my feeler gauge out toward the end of the sled. Seemed like a good place for it. You are right though, if you bring the gauge closer to the pivot point the adjustment will be greater. Something to keep in mind if you just need to move it a hair.

      • Eamonn July 13, 2011

        Regarding the placement of the feeler gauge to adjust the fence, am I correct in thinking that the distance over which the error is measured (i.e. the length of the board) should be the same distance from the pivot screw to the gauge? So in Mark’s case a .005 feeler would be placed 24″ from the pivot…

  70. Julian July 12, 2011

    The 5 cut method is new to me also. Really interesting vidoe. Thanks for posting these videos on line. I really enjoy them and have learned a lot.

  71. JohnT July 29, 2011

    Thanks to your vid I built a new sled to replace my smaller one. I hit a snag after screwing in the runners though, I couldn’t get the platform to move. The solution? Remove the clamp I was using to hold it in place while screwing in the screws. Duh! I did find a new use for the back fence, which might be old news, but I found a spreader clamp or two helped fill in the space between the back fence and work piece, and kept my large board from racking. Thanks for another great video.

  72. John Kenyon July 30, 2011

    Marc,

    when you re-do the test, do you have to find and use a new 2×2 square sheet, or can you square up the one from the first test and measure it to get the total board length for the error calculation. I was thinking you would not want to start with the old board from the first test since you would be starting with error built in. Thanks for the video!!

  73. Brian August 4, 2011

    Like many here, I just learned of 5-cut method also. Clearly a great way to multiple and easily measure the error. What I personally found more exciting was the method you used to adjust the back fence once the error was measured – Feelers and a stop block; gotta love it!
    Along these lines I thought I’d share with you and others my adaptation of your 5-cut method and the feeler adjustment technique. A frustration of mine has been getting my miter gauge dialed in super well. So rather than do a 5-cut on a hunk of plywood, I just wacked off a strip from a 1×8 scrap of pine. I suppose you could call it the 2-cut method. Now the error is not multiplied like it is with the 5-cut on a 2’x2′ piece of plywood but in my case it turned up enough error even over the 8″ to warrant adjustment. Using your feeler gauge method, I clamped a long board across the table saw with the miter fence firmly against it. Then loosened the bolts on the miter gauge for adjustment, slid in the appropriate feeler gauge between the fence and the clamped board on the appropriate end- (I did 1/2 of the measured error – front to back on the cut strip) – then while pressing the miter gauge firmly against the feeler and block, tightened the adjustment bolts.

    With just one iteration I reduced the error down to about 1/1000 over the 8″ length of pine. In my case, as you’d say – “good ‘nuf”. I’m typically making short cuts so it’s really quite exceptional for my needs.

    Sorry for the overly descriptive narrative. Just got pretty stoked about having the miter gauge tuned up as nicely as the sled.

    Your tool tuning videos are second to none and have brought much joy to the workshop. Now maybe I can stop giving out trapezoidal boxes for gifts. Next time I’m in AZ, beers are on me.
    thanks very much Marc!

  74. Tommy August 5, 2011

    Marc,

    What purpose does the second fence serve? Im sure it’s there for some reason, but i didnt see it get used at all…

    -Tommy (who is getting his first table saw this weekend!)

  75. Izzy October 7, 2011

    Marc,
    Great sled and great video! For cutting precise miters are there additions to your sled that you can describe?
    Thanks!

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