Step 1: Gather the materials
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You'll use three pennies as spacers to make your sled slide smoothly.
Any true shop rat knows that the
best tool for making perfectly
square crosscuts isn’t a miter saw—it’s
a table saw. That’s why table saws
come with a miter gauge. But the truth
is, if you want to make perfectly square
cuts, you’re better off leaving the miter
gauge in the rack and building a crosscut
A table saw equipped with a crosscut
sled is more accurate and allows
you to crosscut material up to 2 ft. wide
depending on the size of your saw’s
table. This sled design is the world’s
easiest and fastest to build. It’s made
with scraps you probably have lying
around the shop and three pennies
you’ll find under your sofa cushions.
You’ll need a 2 x 2-ft. scrap of 3/4-in.
plywood; any type, as long as it’s flat.
Dig up a 2-ft.-long chunk of super-straight
hardwood 1x3. That’s it for the
wood, but you’ll need double-faced
tape and 3/4-in. No. 8 flathead screws
as well. It’s best to have two adjacent
factory edges on the plywood so you
know you’re working with a square corner
(see Photo 2). Remove the guard and
unplug the saw to build the sled.
(To find out how to build a larger, two-runner table saw sled, type “table saw sled” in the search box above.)
Step 2: Cut and attach the runner
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Photo 1: Apply double-faced tape
Stick double-faced tape to the runner.
Three pennies in the slot will keep the
runner slightly above the saw table so it'll
stick to the sled's underbelly.
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Photo 2: Position the plywood
Lower the plywood onto the runner. Be sure to keep the plywood even with the saw
table edge and tight against the fence as you lower it into place. If there are any gaps
at the fence, your new sled won't give you square cuts
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Photo 3: Secure the runner
Screw the runner onto the underside.
Don't overtighten the screws—that can
cause the runner to bulge and bind in the
Most miter gauge slots on full-size saws
are 3/4 in. wide and 3/8 in. deep. Rip a
5/16-in.-thick, 24-in.-long strip off the
1x3 and test the fit in the slot. The strip
should slide smoothly with very little
play and be slightly below the surface
of the saw table. If the strip’s too wide,
you’ll have to hand-sand the edge a bit
until you get it to
glide smoothly. If
you have a surface
planer, use that to
get perfect dimensions.
spending time on
the strip since it’s
the key to smooth,
accurate cuts with
the sled. Some
saws have slots of different dimensions,
and you’ll have to custom-make
a runner that fits.
Tip: To find wide spots
in the runner, rub
the slot sides with
a pencil. Slide the
sled through a
few times and the
graphite will show
you where to file
or sand more.
Apply double-faced tape to the runner
(Photo 1). Keeping one end of the runner
even with the saw table edge, set the
fence to 23 in. and lower the plywood
onto the runner. Keep the plywood
tight against the fence and even with
the edge of the table as you lower it into
place (Photo 2). Flip the plywood over
and then drill four evenly spaced
1/8-in. countersunk pilot holes. Add
the screws but don’t overtighten them
(Photo 3). That would make the runner
bulge at the screws and cause binding.
Move aside the fence and give the sled
a test slide. If the action is a little tight
or sticky, hand-sand the runner edges
until the action is smooth.
Step 3: Add the fence and cut the end
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Photo 4: Add the fence
Glue and nail the fence to the edge of
the plywood. Keep the right edge even
with the plywood and don't worry about
the left side.
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Photo 5: Cut the end square
Push the sled through the saw to cut everything square and true. You're ready for
Rip the leftover hardwood down to
2 in. for the sled’s fence. Glue and nail
the fence to the plywood with 1-1/4-in.
brads (Photo 4). If your saw table has a
sharp corner at the infeed edge, prop
the fence up with the pennies before
fastening so it won’t catch during sled
operation. Run the sled through the
blade to true up the outside edge and
cut off the excess fence. You’re now
ready to make perfect crosscuts. But
never use the fence while you’re using
the sled. That’s dangerous because
even with a sled, a workpiece can get
pinched between the blade and the
fence and kick back at you.