When I bought my table saw, making this crosscut sled was one of the first projects to follow, and I didn’t regret it for a second.
Since I made this crosscut sled in two steps and made improvements and adjustments in the second step, I can say that this is the most complete crosscut sled, at least for me and my workshop.
In this blog, I will show you step by step how to make this crosscut sled.
With the free plans available for download, this is the perfect beginner project and it will certainly help you improve your woodworking techniques in the future.
A crosscut sled is a movable attachment that slides into the slots of the table saw. The workpiece to be sawn then rests against a wooden fence at the front of the sled so that it does not slip.
Every time you cut wood with the crosscut sled you get a clean cut through the zero clearance inserts and the cut is always perfectly square.
The T-tracks also make it possible to attach clamps or other attachments to the crosscut sled and make it possible to expand this attachment further to your own needs.
Watch the video here
Before we start building
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!
Safety first! Protect yourself!
Materials I used for this Crosscut sled
(power)Tools I used for this Crosscut sled
Building the crosscut sled step by step
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 cross cut sled.
Step 1 | The runners and bottom plate
Start by making the runners for this crosscut sled. I used tropical hardwood for this because it is the most stable type of wood.
Make your runners so that they fit into the slots of the table saw.
You should not be able to move them left and right when they are placed in the slots, but they must be able to slide smoothly through the slots.
When the runners are perfect, place them in the slots, preferably with the top of the runners slightly above the surface of the table saw.
To raise the runners you can use washers or coins to place into the slots of the table saw.
Apply glue to the top of the runners and place the bottom plate on the runners.
I use wood glue for this but you can speed up the gluing process by using CA glue.
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 crosscut 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.
The fence that comes on the back of the crosscut sled only serves to keep the crosscut 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.
There I made the fence 2 cm higher than the highest position of my saw blade so that I can be sure that this fence is never cut in half.
Step 3 | Preliminary assembly
In order to be able to give a first cut, which makes it clear where the position of the saw blade is, I already mounted the crosscut sled.
The fence mounted on the front of the crosscut sled can be adjusted perpendicularly at any time.
For this, I made a hole at the downside of the bottom plate with a diameter much larger than the washer I wanted to use for this.
After that, I made a smaller hole in the middle of the big hole. That smaller hole was about 2 times the diameter of the screw I would use.
By making the holes much larger than the screw and washer, I now have the opportunity to move the fence until it is perfectly perpendicular to the cut.
The rear fence was mounted with screws.
Always pre-drill with a drill just slightly smaller than the diameter of your screw. Do this to prevent splitting of the wood.
Now that the crosscut sled has been provisionally mounted, the first cut can be made.
Step 4 | Zero clearance insert & T-tracs in the fence
To make the crosscut sled even better, I placed a zero clearance insert in the front of the fence and a t-track at the top of the fence.
Due to the zero clearance insert, the chance of chip out of the wood is much smaller.
An additional advantage is that when you place the marking on the wood flush with the cut in the zero clearance insert, you get the perfect cut.
I made the cutout for the zero clearance insert with the router at exactly the same depth 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.
The wooden board for the zero clearance insert was screwed down the back.
If the zero clearance is not correct over time, you can simply replace the small wooden board.
For the groove in the top of the fence where the T-track should be, I used my table saw.
I didn’t have made my kerfmaker at that time but if I had made my kermaker, making that slot would be much easier.
So if you would like to make grooves, consider making that kerfmaker first, I can recommend that.
After making the slot, I updated it with the chisel after which the T-track could be inserted into the slot and secured with screws.
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 and 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 sawed 5cm next to the saw cut I made earlier in the crosscut sled.
That way I got a gap of 5cm between the saw blade and the crosscut sled, ideal to place replaceable parts that can always guarantee me a zero clearance.
In that bottom plate, I made slots in which I attached a T-track.
Here, too, you can use the kerfmaker to perfectly tailor the slots.
The T-tracks were secured with screws.
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 that allows, when the crosscut sled is mounted, to slide clamps or other jigs into the T-tracks.
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.
Now screw the fence to the bottom plate.
Use long screws and a washer for this.
The long screws secure the fence to the bottom plate and the washers allow the screw to move freely in the drilled holes when we want to adjust later.
The rear fence can be fastened directly with screws.
Perpendicularity is less important here.
Still, I looked at putting it as perpendicular as possible, but that was my perfectionism who took over.
The zero clearance inserts could then be placed into the bottom plate.
I made these two boards so that they hit each other when assembling. That way I was able to make a zero clearance by separating them with a cut from the saw blade.
Please note that I also use larger holes in which I place the screws here. That way, the inserts can be adjusted if necessary.
Finally, I placed a security block on the front of the fence.
This prevents the saw blade protruding from the crosscut sled when cutting.
Also, it avoids putting my hands in this place.
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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 whose long side just fits into the crosscut sled.
Now perform the following steps:
Step 1: Place the board in the crosscut 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 2cm over the saw blade line and make a fifth cut to 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 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 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 so that it is 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 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:
d: length of cut number5= e
e x length of pivit point to point of correction= ENDRESULT
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