If you have worked with wood at all. You understand the need to cut it into pieces that will be beneficial to you and your work. Cutting a straight line or angle is imperative on many projects, from simplest to the most intricate time-consuming. However, it can be somewhat confusing at times even with a table saw on hand. Table saws are great for ripping long pieces of wood down to size. But when it comes to making angles in our forest. We tend to move on to smaller or different machinery. But table saws can be used for cutting these intricate pieces and corners as well. To assist in this effort. Many people have built table saw sleds that make this process as easy and accurate as ripping a board. Today we will show you how to create a sled for making perfect 90?
What Is A Table Saw Sled?
Mostly, a table saw sled is a jig used to make the cutting of certain angles. Easier and more precise when you are using a table saw. Often when you are creating projects no matter what they are. You have to find a way to secure your workpiece. Somehow so that it does not move or bend while you are trying to cut it. This means going to drastic measures such as having someone else hold your work or attempting to use clamps. The problem is that it doesn't always work. People move or flinch and then so does your job. And clamps can slip or cause your pieces to move slightly or even bend when more pressure is added.
These sleds are created to slide onto your table saw and be a guide for your blade. All while holding your work in the place it needs to be. It doesn't add pressure to keep it in one spot. But instead provides a stop for the wood to rest against during the process. They come in a variety of sizes and styles based on project you are completing and dimensions you need. This makes projects like picture frames much more accessible. It ensures that every angle will be spot on. So your plan is square and fits together precisely how you want it to.
What Does A Table Saw Sled Do?
A table saw sled ensures that every cut, every angle, and every piece of wood you use. For whatever you are creating is cut at the precise and exact angle you need every time. The sled sits on of a runner or two that rest directly into the miter gauge slots on your table saw. These runners make sure that your sled slides along the surface of your table saw. Smoothly and quickly with little effort on your part.
They also make sure that your sled only moved in that one direction, either forward or back. It can not move from side to side. This ensures that once you start a cut. The wood piece you are working with does not run in a way you don't want it to. Therefore makes the cut straight and precise every time. The sled also has "fences" which are stops at either end perpendicular to your blade. These prevent your work piece from coming off of the sled in either direction.
How To Build It - Instructions, Tips, & More
To build either of the sleds we will discuss today. All you will need is a sheet of 1/2 or 3/4 inch plywood. Some wood glue and particle board or MDF. Please make sure that your plywood has a smooth surface so it will slide easily along your table saw. And prevent any splintering when you are using it.
First The Cutting
Begin by cutting your sled base from the plywood. The size of this will be determined by size your table saw and projects you plan for. This sled will have fences or stopping boards that run along two sides of it and are parallel. Therefore, it is essential to make your sled full enough that you can use it for some larger projects. But not so complete that it does not fit entirely on top of your table saw. Once you have cut this base piece. You can set it aside and begin to lower your sides or fences. These need to be same the length of your sled base at least in the front. The back one can be shorter and not run the whole range if you would like.
It is essential to have one in the back that at least 3/4 of the length and covers the path of your blade. These fences are not only designed to keep your work in the sled and it hold the chair together. These can be cut from the same plywood that your base came from. Or they can be made from other pieces of wood. In either case, they should be sturdy pieces. These are what hold your sled together, so they are essential. If you are using plywood, it is suggested that you make two or three strips of the same size. Glue them together so that your fence is thicker and more durable. It is also important to note that these fences should be taller. The highest you will raise your blade ensuring that they will always keep your sled together.
Second The Runner
Next comes the runner or runners. Here you have another choice. These can be made from hardwood that is cut and sanded to fit your miter gauge slots exactly. You can purchase pre-made metal ones from most home improvement or hardware stores. Lots of people make their runners for their table saw sled. However, it can be a little tricky.
These runners must be precisely the right size to both fit into your miter gauge slots and to also slide effortlessly in them. Thus it is vital to make sure that your runners are smooth and do not catch anywhere on your table saw while it is moving. This may take some time and effort in sanding for them to be just right. We recommend that if you go this route that you cut your runners to the appropriate size, glue them in place onto the underside of your sled base and then wait about 20 minutes for the glue to dry. After this, you can go about trying them out in your gauge slots and making sure slide well. It will be easier for to you sand them for a precise fit if they are already attached to your base rather than before.
If you are going to buy them, it is rather simple to install them on the bottom of your table saw sled base and then continue. Just be sure that if you are going to use two, one for each miter gauge slot, that you put them onto your back so that your sled is centered on the top of your table saw.
Last The Installation
After your runners are installed and working smoothly, you can attach your back fence. Put a bead of glue on the edges and place it squarely on your table saw sled base. Then secure them with screws. Before you add your front fence, the one that needs to be square, you need to cut your kerf. This is the cut that your saw blade will sit inside every time you place the sled onto your table saw. Turn your sled base around so that the back fence you just put on is closest to you. Turn on your saw and slide your support into the blade. Be careful to stop about three inches from the back fence you are holding. After the saw has ended, then you can remove your sled and flip it around again.
Now you can add your front fence. Attach the front wall in the same way that you did with the back one. However, after you glue it into place, only secure one end with a screw. Clamp the other end. When you attach the front fence to the base, it will be vital that it is square to your sled base and the kerf.
If you do not make sure that this fence is square you will most likely need to add another wall. Somewhere within your sled so that your work will rest against it at a perfect 90? Angle every time. You can test the squareness of your fence with a test cut. While your front wall is still clamped into place on one end, make sure your sled is placed correctly onto the table saw.
Place a scrap piece of wood into your vehicle so that it rests against your front fence and cut it in two. Flip one half of this over and place it up against the cut you just made. If there is no gaping at all, then the fence is square, and your sled is working well. In this case, you can go ahead and secure the rest of the wall with screws. If it is not square, make the necessary adjustments and try again. Repeat this process until your fence is square.
Now that you have built your table saw sled, you can construct many more projects with ease and accuracy. You will have confidence knowing that your cuts and angles will square and precise every time. There is no need for extra steps or even extra hands, at least for this step of your project. Making a simple table saw sled is comfortable and can be made very cheaply. It will undoubtedly benefit you to have one in your garage or shop. It just might make all the difference.