How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

How to build the N°1 crosscut sled that fit ALL your needs | FREE PLANS

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When I bought my table saw, making this crosscut sled was one of the first table saw jigs to follow.
I didn’t regret it for a second!

To make this table saw cross cut sled, I did this in two steps.

First, I made a basic table saw sled, consisting of a bottom plate with two runners on the back, and a fence on top that is perpendicular to the saw blade.
After working with the sled for a couple of months, I made improvements in the second step.

Now I can say that this is the most complete crosscut sled existing, at least for me and my workshop.

In this blog, you will get answers to your questions like: What is a table saw crosscut sled, or what is a table saw sled used for?
I will also show you step by step how to make a cross cut sled just like mine.

This type of DIY table saw sled can be used on any brand of table saw that has slots.

With the free crosscut sled plans available for download in this article, this is the perfect beginner project.
It will certainly help you improve your woodworking techniques in the future.

Let’s build this table saw cross cut sled!

What is a crosscut sled?

A crosscut sled is a movable attachment that slides into the slots of the table saw.
Once it is placed in the slots of the table saw, this table saw sled can be moved so that it slides perpendicularly over the saw blade.

Instead of making a cut in the workpiece directly on the tabletop of the table saw, the workpiece will be placed on the cross cut sled. 

The fence in front of the sled keeps the workpiece in place and prevents it from slipping.

Why should you make a crosscut sled?

There are a few reasons why you should start using a table saw crosscut sled like the one in this article.

  • Making cuts on a table saw sled, especially when cutting smaller pieces of wood, is a much safer way of working.
    Your workpiece will be held in place thanks to the fence.
  • Every time you cut wood with the cross cut sled, you get a clean cut through the zero clearance inserts.
  • The cut made with a table saw sled is always perfectly square.
  • The T-tracks in the table saw crosscut sled make it possible to attach clamps or other attachments. 
    This will make it possible to expand this DIY table saw sled further to your own needs.

Tip:

If you are looking for a new table saw or to replace your old table saw?
Check out my article 5 Affordable table saws, to find a table saw that perfectly fits your needs.

Watch the video & learn how to build a crosscut sled

In this video, you can see how to make a crosscut sled, just like mine.
After watching this video, you can continue to discover all the details on how to make a cross cut sled for your workshop.
The step-by-step instructions below will show you how to build a crosscut sled.
Also, don’t forget to download the free cross cut sled plans!
You can find them in this article.
That will make building yours so much easier.

What do you need to build a crosscut sled?

To prepare you for building this project, I have made a few handy lists.

In addition to a few personal protective equipment that I use*, I also list the materials as well as the (power) tools you will need to build this jig.

* Safety is always your own responsibility!

How to make a crosscut sled?

Now that we have gone through the list of what we all need for this project, I will explain step by step how to make this crosscut sled.

Basically, to make a table saw crosscut sled you add one or two runners on the bottom, that will slide into the slots of the table saw, and you install a fence that is perpendicular to the saw blade.

In this step-by-step guide, I will go more in depth in how to make a crosscut sled?

Let’s go!

Step 1 | The runners and bottom plate ​

I started by making the runners for this cross cut sled. 

To make these runners, I used tropical hardwood.
The reason I have used tropical hardwood for this is that this is the most stable type of wood.

If you make your runners, take your time and make them as accurate as possible.
That way they will fit perfectly into the slots of your table saw. 

When you have placed the runners in the slots of the table saw, you should not be able to move them left and right.
Yet, they must be able to slide the table saw crosscut sled smoothly through the slots.
This is necessary in order to be able to work effortless with your table saw sled.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

When the runners have the perfect size, place them in the slots.
Do this preferably with the top of the runners slightly above the surface of the table saw.

To raise the runners, you can place washers or coins into the slots of the table saw underneath the runners.
This will make gluing the bottom plate to the runners much easier.

Apply glue to the top of the runners and place the bottom plate on the runners.
I used wood glue for this, but you can speed up the gluing process by using CA glue.
Use the links above to see a more in depth article, and to know more about what wood glue or CA glue to use.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Step 2 | The fences​

For the fence that comes at the front of the crosscut sled, I glued 2 boards of birch plywood together using wood glue.

I did this to make the fence stronger and to be sure of the squareness of the table saw sled.

By making it twice as thick, I also had the opportunity to work in a T-track in the top of the fence.
I will tell you more about this later in this blog.

To know the dimensions of this fence, or all other parts, download the free crosscut sled plans.
You will find the download form on this blog post.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

The fence that comes on the back of the crosscut sled only serves to keep the table saw sled together.

To compensate for the weight of the double fence at the front, I made this fence a little smaller.
Except where the saw blade has to pass.
At that point, I made the fence 2 cm higher than the highest position of my saw blade.
That way, I’m sure that this fence will never be cut in half.

Also, to reduce the weight of the crosscut sled, this fence consist of only one layer of plywood.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Step 3 | Preliminary assembly​

First, I have mounted the crosscut sled fence for the time being.
I did this i
n order to be able to make a first cut.
That cut makes it clear where the position of the saw blade will be.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Before I could do that, I had to take some other steps.

I’ll explain myself:
The fence mounted on the front of the crosscut slide can be adjusted perpendicularly at any time.

Before that, I had to make some custom holes before I could add the fence to the bottom plate.
To do this, I made these holes from the bottom of the bottom plate.
First, I made a shallow hole.
I did this with a diameter much larger than the washer I wanted to use in a later step.

Then I made a smaller hole in the center of the big hole.
That smaller hole was about 2 times the diameter of the screw I would be using.

I made the holes much larger than the screw and washer I want to use.
By doing that, I have the option to move the fence until it is perfectly perpendicular to the cut.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

I mounted the rear fence with screws.

Tip: Always pre-drill with a drill just slightly smaller than the diameter of your screw.
Do this to prevent splitting of the wood.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Now that the crosscut sled has been provisionally mounted, the first cut can be made.
To avoid tear-out, I had clamped a piece of scrap wood on the rear fence.

Step 4 | Zero clearance insert & T-tracs in the fence​

To make the DIY table saw sled even better, I placed a zero clearance insert in the front of the fence.
Another thing I did was to add a t-track at the top of the fence.

Due to the zero clearance insert, the chance of tear-out of the wood is much smaller. 

Placing a zero clearance plate in the fence has another advantage.
When you place the marking on the wood flush with the cut in the zero clearance insert, you always get the perfect cut.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

I made the cutout for the zero clearance insert with the router.
The depth of this cutout is the same as the thickness of the wooden board I used for this. 

You can make the cutout just as well by making different cuts with the table saw.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

To attach the wooden board for the zero clearance, I screwed it from the back.

If the zero clearance will be worn out over time, you can simply replace the small wooden board.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

For the groove in the top of the fence where the T-track should be, I used my table saw and table saw fence

I didn’t have made my kerfmaker at that time.
If I had made my kerfmaker, making that slot would be much easier.

After making the slot, I updated it with the chisel.
Then, the T-track could be inserted into the slot and secured in place with screws.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Tip:
If you want to build your own kerfmaker be sure to watch my blog DIY Kerfmaker for perfect dados and grooves. 

In that blog I will show you step by step how I built my kerfmaker. Also, in that blog, you can download FREE PLANS as a guide to make your own kerfmaker.

Step 5 | Zero clearance insert & T-tracs in the bottom plate ​

I also made zero clearance inserts in the bottom plate of the crosscut sled.

To make those inserts, I made a cut 5 cm next to the saw cut I made earlier in the table saw sled.

That way, I got a gap of 5 cm between the saw blade and the crosscut sled.
That is ideal to place replaceable parts that can always guarantee me a zero clearance.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

In that bottom plate, I also made slots in which I attached a T-track. Thanks to these T-tracks, other jigs can be attached to this crosscut sled. To inspire yourself, check out the hold down clamps, or the table saw miter jig I made for this sled.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

The T-tracks were secured with screws and I deliberately did not use glue. If the T-tracks that ever need to be replaced, this can now be done very quickly and easily by loosening the screws.

Pay attention! The T-tracks are not placed along the full length of the groove. 
Leave an opening of about 10 cm at the back of the table saw sled.
That allows you, when you gave mounted the crosscut sled, to slide clamps or other jigs into the T-tracks.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Step 6 | Final assembly​

Now that all pieces are ready, the crosscut sled can be mounted.

Do this by placing the 2 bottom plates with the runners in the slots of the table saw.

Adjust the 2 bottom plates to the same height and place the front fence in the correct position. 

Try to place the fence as perpendicular to the saw blade as possible.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Now screw the fence to the bottom plate.

Use long screws and a washer to do this. 

The long screws secure the fence to the bottom plate.
The washers allow the screw to move freely in the drilled holes, when I want to adjust later.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

The rear fence can be fastened directly with screws. 
Perpendicularity is less important here. 

Still, I looked at putting it as perpendicular as possible.
I think that was my perfectionism who took over.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Then I could place the zero clearance inserts into the bottom plate.

I made these two boards that wide, that they hit each other when assembling.
By making the first cut with the saw blade, I separated them.
That’s how I now have the perfect zero clearance insert plates.

Please note that I also use larger holes in which I place the screws here. That way, the inserts can be adjusted if necessary.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

Finally, to make this table saw crosscut sled safer, I placed a security block on the front of the fence.

This prevents the saw blade protruding from the table saw sled when cutting.

Also, it avoids putting my hands in this place.

How to make the most complete crosscut sled | FREE PLANS

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How to set the perpendicularity of the crosscut sled?

To be able to place the fence perpendicular to the cut of the saw blade, we have to make a small test and calculation.

Take a piece of wood with 4 sides, preferably a rectangle.
Make sure that the long side just fits into the crosscut sled.

Now perform the following steps:

Step 1: Place the board in the table saw sled and cut on one of the long sides.
Mark this side with a number to indicate that it was cut first.

Step 2: Turn the board clockwise so that the cutting edge is against the fence, and make a second cut.

Step 3: Turn the second cut towards the fence and cut the third edge.

Step 4: Turn the third cut towards the fence and cut the fourth edge.

Step 5: Turn the fourth cut towards the gate.
The first cut side is back to the same position it was in the first cut. 

Slide the board about 2 cm over the saw blade line and make a fifth cut. By doing this you will remove a narrow section from the board. 

Mark the end furthest from the fence as “a”, and the end of the strip closest to the fence as “b”.

Step 7: Using calipers, measure the width of the cut strip to “a” and “b” and record them.
Also, measure the length of the fifth cut.

Now calculate how to adjust the fence as follows:

Step 8: Subtract “b” from “a”. Note whether this is a positive or negative number.

Step 9: Divide the result by 4 (4 cuts, 4 corners) to give the error ratio, and then dividing again by the length of the fifth cut.
This gives the error ratio per cm.

Step 10: Now notice where the pivot is relative to the front of the fence. Now measure from the pivot point to a point on the other end of the fence.
You have to measure to the point where the correction to the corner of the fence will be made.

Step 11: Take the result in step 9 and multiply it by the length determined in step 10.

The result determines how much the fence has to be moved in mm.
That way, the fence will be perfectly perpendicular to the cutting line of the saw blade.

If the result in step 8 was positive, the fence must be moved backward.

If the result in step 8 was negative, the fence must be moved forward.

Step 12: Now that you know how much the fence has to slide, you can clamp a block as a reference point on the crosscut sled.

When the fence needs to be pushed back, clamp the reference block against the fence.
Release the fence and slide the fence back.
Do this until you reach the calculated distance between the reference block and the fence.

When the fence needs to be pushed forward, place the reference block at the calculated distance from the fence.
Then release the fence and slide the fence against the reference block.

After adjusting, fix the fence firmly again.

Step 13: Repeat the 5-step cutting procedure to check for square, and make one adjustment if necessary.
If the error ratio is 0.001 or less, the fence is square.

I’ll give you the formula to calculate this:

  • a-b = c
  • c:4 = d
  • d: length of cut number5 = e
  • e x length of pivot point to point of correction= RESULT

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4 Comments

  1. Could removable inserts be made to use a dado set by rabbiting the two bottom strip pieces.

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