I have found that there are three jigs that every woodworker needs. They are the miter sled, the crosscut sled, and the router table. All of these jigs can be built relatively cheaply, and all you need to do is take some time to read through the steps.
How To Build a Crosscut Sled For The Table Saw?
The first one I want to go over is the crosscut sled, which is one of the most useful jigs you can build. Before we get started on the actual construction, let’s talk about safety:
The most important things to have when building a crosscut sled are safety glasses and a dust mask. That’s it! Read more here How to build a miter saw table
Make sure your table saw has a blade guard before doing any cutting with the crosscut sled.
The two primary materials you’ll need for this project are plywood and miter track. I prefer using hardwood plywood because it is less likely to chip out using the crosscut sled. However, if you plan on using your crosscut sled regularly, getting a piece of MDF to place underneath the hardwood plywood will provide better support and prevent warping.
I used 1/4″ poplar plywood for this project because my saw is not powerful enough to cut through thicker hardwood plywood. You can adjust the dimensions of your crosscut sled accordingly if you have a more powerful saw. Read more here How to build a radial arm saw table.
Steps To Build a Crosscut Sled For The Table Saw
I can explain how To Build a Crosscut Sled For The Table Saw in straightforward steps.
Determine the length of the miter track
To determine the length of your track, measure the length of your miter gauge’s fence to the back of the saw blade. Subtract an inch or two for space between the blade and where you’ll attach the miter track to the saw.
Cut miter track
Attach your saw to the miter gauge and cut your miter track. Here’s a demonstration of how I did this in case you have questions about attaching the saw to the miter gauge.
Test out your ripping fence
The best way to test whether or not you cut your track evenly is to put it on the saw and test it out. Once you’re satisfied that your miter track is even, take it off of the table saw. Read more here How to build a saw table.
Make end cuts for t-track
Now it’s time to cut the edges of your miter track so that it forms a T. There are two ways to do this: with or without using a jigsaw. You can use either method, just be sure you’re cutting perpendicular on both sides of the miter track. I used a tape measure and a pencil to draw lines going across my miter track. Then, I used a drill with the jigsaw to cut out that area.
Drill holes for t-track
Once your end cuts are made, you’re ready to drill the holes in the miter track for inserting T-bolts. Use a 1/4″ bit to make 5 evenly spaced holes along the top of your miter track. Make sure they line up along the width of the track! These will be used for putting in T-nuts in order to attach your crosscut sled’s base plate.
Use wood screws to attach two pieces of scrap board perpendicular to each end of your miter track by drilling into them with a 1/4″ bit and screwing them in. This will be used to attach your crosscut sled’s base plate and stop blocks.
Attach the stop block
Simply attach a piece of scrap board perpendicular to the end of your miter track using wood screws. Make sure when attaching it, it is at least one board length away from where you drilled your holes for putting in T-nuts (see STEP 5).
Cut out the base plate
Use a pencil or compass to draw a line on the backside of your base plate that is parallel to the tracks in order for it not to interfere with them when cutting; we’ll call this line “the backslide”. Using a ruler and tape measure, mark two lines on the backside of the base plate that is 1″ away from the “backslide” line. Draw a diagonal line between these two marks. Use your jigsaw to cut out this area (watch your fingers!!).
Attach the base plate
Screw-in T-nuts into both ends of your miter track and attach one end of your base plate to them using wood screws. Make sure you’re attaching it right along one edge of the “backslide” line (see STEP 8). Now screw in T-nuts to the other end of your miter track and attach the other end of your base plate using wood screws.
Now crosscut something!! Since my pieces are so short, I had to use blocks of wood as spacers in order for them not to drop through my saw’s throat plate. Simply place the pieces of scrap between the blade and the inside edge of your crosscut sled. Once I build myself this nice new cabinet, I can do entire sheet goods without fear of kickback!
- Miter Gauge/Lawnmower Blade (the most useful tool in my workshop!)
- Tape Measure
With a crosscut sled, you can do efficient accurate crosscuts with your table saw. Crosscutting is when you are cutting pieces to their exact length on the band saw so they fit properly in a project without having any overhang or gaps. Having a crosscut sled allows for this as it saves time and reduces errors because it holds your workpiece at a consistent width. The best way to test whether or not you cut your track evenly is to put it on the saw and test it out. Once you’re satisfied that your miter track is even, take it off of the table saw.