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Improved Crosscut Sled


Improved Crosscut Sled

A split fence guarantees accurate cuts.

By Tom Caspar

Whenever I want to make an accurate square cut, I reach for my crosscut sled. Unlike a miter gauge, its right-angle setting doesn’t need constant tweaking. My cuts are always right on the money.

Crosscut sleds have been around for a long time, but few are ideal. Many are heavy and hard to store. Most develop an extra-wide saw cut in the fence and allow the blade to throw sawdust in your face. My design solves all these problems.

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1. Make runners 1/32-in. narrower than your saw’s miter slots. Place nickels in each miter slot, then put the runners on top to raise them above the saw table. Insert playing cards to force each runner tight against the slot’s outside edge, farthest from the blade. Cut the cards flush. 

Click on any image to view a larger version.

2. Glue the sled’s base to the runners. Square the base using the tablesaw’s fence. Place weights on the base to apply clamping pressure. When the glue is dry, lift the base and remove the playing cards. In use, the sled won’t wiggle in the slots; each runner bears against a slot’s outside edge.

3. Install the fence assembly. Begin by driving one screw through the base and into the fence’s right end. This screw will serve as a pivot point when you adjust the fence in the next step. Install the brace that spans the other end of the base.

4. Insert playing card shims between the fence’s left end and a block that’s temporarily screwed to the base. Clamp the fence to the block. Check the squareness of the fence with a test cut. Add or remove playing cards to rotate the fence’s left end forwards or backwards as needed.

5. Add the subfences.  Butt them tight together, centered over the kerf in the sled’s base. Make a saw cut to create a zero-clearance opening in the subfences. This opening will gradually widen with normal use. To make a new zero-clearance opening, remove the subfences, recut their ends and reinstall them. 

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker April/May 2007, issue #128.

April/May 2007, issue #128

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