Supercharge Your Table-Saw Crosscut Sled
Woodworker Charles Mak shows how a crosscut sled can benefit from a few simple upgrades
A typical crosscut sled suffers from three common shortcomings: 1) Lack of dust collection, 2) Lack of a fence stop for repetitive cutting of long stock, and 3) Lack of the ability to make angled cuts such as a miter. My crosscut sled is as basic as it can be, but I have overcome all of the above deficiencies with a few enhancements that you too can easily add to your sled.
Dust Collection Shroud
The first upgrade is a shroud constructed with scrap plywood and acrylic to provide proper dust collection. It is basically a bottomless box with a hole cut through the acrylic top to accept my table saw’s overarm dust collection hose (Photo 1). Alternatively, you can cut the hole on the side of the shroud for use with a shop vac (see Diagram 1 for suggested measurements).
Photo 1 – The author used a drain elbow and short hose as a connector.
To use the shroud, place the workpiece on the sled and slide the hosed shroud down between the guide blocks (Photo 2). With the upgrade, your crosscuts will be dust-free!
Photo 2 – The shroud also works as a safety shield.
The typical stop block on a crosscut sled can only handle repetitive cuts up to a certain length that is less than half the width of the sled. To cut much longer stock repetitively, here is a simple trick: Use a stop bar. The bar is a long strip with a block attached to one end as a stop (Photo 3).
Photo 3 – A round or oval screw installed in the stop allows for fine adjustments.
In use, clamp the bar in position to the crosscut sled’s fence and butt the stock against the stop block (Photo 4).
Photo 4 – The long bar is clamped to the fence, extending the fence’s reach.
To some woodworkers, the crosscut sled is a one-trick pony that can make square cuts only. Let me show you how to add a simple fixture and instantly turn your crosscut sled into a miter sled for projects such as a mitered frame (Photo 5). The fixture is just a shop-made right isosceles triangle, and the triangle is easy to make – math-free (Photo 6).
Photo 5 – The test piece featuring tight corners is shown here taped together with no glue.
Photo 6 – These triangular fixtures enable the sled to cut miter corners.
American woodworker James King came up with a brilliant way of cutting a triangle that has two 45° angles and one 90° angle almost effortlessly as follows:
- Start with a square plywood board (1/2" or 3/4" thick and about 14" × 14") and two identical square pieces (roughly 5" × 5") (Photo 7).
Photo 7 – Prepare two identical square blanks.
- Tape both squares side by side to the bottom edge of the board (Photo 8).
Photo 8 – The outside or corner square is flush with the edge of the board.
- Remove the corner square piece and place the taped set-up on the crosscut sled against the sled’s fence (Photo 9).
Photo 9 – Carefully place the taped board with its two corners against the sled’s fence.
- Cut the set-up into two parts to form a miter fixture (Photo 10).
Photo 10 - The stand-alone piece (left) is a right isosceles triangle.
In use, position the miter fixture against the sled’s stop block and place the work against the miter fixture (Photo 11).
Photo 11 – The miter fixture guides every cut at 45° to the saw blade.
No matter how basic your crosscut sled may be, these few enhancements will expand its capabilities and offer a dust-free feature that no ordinary, run-of-the-mill crosscut sleds can match!
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