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 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 Note – I 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.
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
Once the sled is constructed, I cover the following techniques for using the sled:
Using The Stop Block
Small Parts Cut