Crosscut Sled

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A basic build of a crucial table saw accessory

A miter gauge is a great tool for crosscutting on the table saw, especially if outfitted with an auxiliary fence. But wide pieces force the miter gauge off the front of the saw table, creating an unsafe situation. And long pieces tend to drag on the table, making cuts inaccurate.

For these reasons and more, most serious woodworkers make a custom crosscut sled for their saw. A sled does everything the miter gauge does, but better. With its broad base, long fence, and double runners, a sled carries workpieces of all sizes smoothly and accurately past the blade with no wobbles, as opposed to dragging them. This makes the sled the more accurate option for workpieces of all sizes, but especially larger ones. The fence also carries the offcut safely past the blade, and provides a place to clamp stop blocks. And the zero-clearance blade slot in the base and fence eliminates tearout on both the bottom and trailing edge of the workpiece.

Making a crosscut sled is not complicated. However, it does entail a couple of exacting procedures, including setting the runners and adjusting the fence, both of which are critical to successful operation of the sled. Not to worry: I’ve got great ways to tame each of these challenges. Follow along here and I’ll show you one of the easiest approaches for outfitting your particular saw with this crucial accessory. I think you’ll be amazed at how much control it provides and the smooth, accurate cuts it delivers.

Five components assembled for accuracy

This simple sled consists of a plywood base, two hardwood runners, and two fences made of MDF. For accurate operation, the sled’s base must be flat and the runners perfectly fit to your saw’s miter gauge slots. The front fence is made of two layers of MDF glued together to ensure that it’s dead-flat and stable when set perfectly square to your saw blade. The fences are shaped to reduce weight and provide easier handling of workpieces. Base dimensions and runner placement are provisional; suit them to your particular saw.

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