August 12, 2021
In this article, we will giving you some succinct pointers about the ideal dimensions and sizes for crosscut sleds. But before I delineate my response to him, let me elaborate first about what a crosscut sled is and its use.
The crosscut sled is one of the necessary jigs for woodworking. It is easy to make and offers a couple of benefits to woodworkers. It improves safety while you cut and prevents shifting while you feed the workpiece. It also improves accuracy and lets you work faster. Moreover, it facilitates repetitive cuts while producing more precise miter cuts. Lastly, it is inexpensive and straightforward.
The Ideal Dimensions and Sizes for Cross Cut Sleds
You will indeed find the table saw excellent for ripping long workpieces. But you may think that it is not suitable for crosscutting wide pieces. Yet, it will also do great for crosscutting wide workpieces with excellent accuracy and ease. Plus, it can make perfect miter cuts. However, you will need a sled to make the table saw work well when crosscutting.
The table saw sled usually rides along with the miter gauge slots and comes with a fence mounted precisely at 45 to 90 degrees relative to the saw blade. Thus, you can make accurate 45-degree cuts or square cuts. The recommended dimensions for a table saw sled are 1/4″ or 3/4″ plywood or particleboard. Moreover, it should be 42 inches.
If you visit cabinet and furniture makers, you will discover that they mostly use fine-tuned table saws for making precision cuts. Their secret, however, is the use of a table saw sled when making perfect miter and crosscuts on wide boards.
You can likewise use the miter gauge for crosscutting. Yet, it is less accurate and safe compared to a table saw sled. Furthermore, you can make your table saw sled or buy it online. Yet, I would suggest that you make your own and it’s fun to make.
Avoiding Dead Zone of the Sled
When you make your table saw sled, you can make any depth depending on your preference. You can even make several table saw sleds with different dimensions. You can create, for example, 32-inches or 42 inches. Yet, it will be good to note that making a sled with an offset center is good. In this way, you can avoid dead zone on your sled. These dead zones are those spots wherein you can’t use your fence or set a stop block.
An excellent way to explain the dead zone is via an example. If you have a 24″-wide sled with the saw blade at the center, you would have 12 inches on both sides. Most probably, you can only set a stop block at 10 inches. You will also need some other areas for clamping the block against.
So, if you will make repetitive cuts longer than 12 inches, you can use the fence as your block. However, removing the fence will find the stock not binding and not against the fence. So, if the blade is at the center, your sled can use the stop block up to a ten-inch cut, utilizing a TS fence for 12- inches or longer cuts. So, there is no way you can set the stop block for cuts longer than 12 inches.
But if you would offset the saw blade by as little as 2 inches to the left side, you got 14 inches on the left and 10 inches on the right. Thus, you can position a block when making cuts of 12 inches. On the other hand, you got ample room for using your TS fence near enough for making cuts down to 10 inches.
Factors to Consider When Deciding the Size & Length of the Cross Cut Needed
Understanding how to make a table saw sled and the ideal dimensions will allow you to make the perfect table saw sled. Yet, it will also help if you know the following essential factors to consider when choosing or creating a table saw sled:
Table Saw Size
It will help if you consider the table saw’s size when choosing or buying a table saw sled. If you got a small table saw, a two-foot-deep sled would be too big, especially if the table saw doesn’t come with much space in the blade’s frontside. So, it will be best to consider the table saw size when making or buying a sled.
Reason would tell you not to leave very wide left side because it will not have enough support if its left extreme edge overhangs off the table and with the right having less sled fence to balance the stock against. In a way, you should ensure that the table saw sled has ample support on both sides of the blades to ensure that you have a balanced table saw sled that would not tip off.
The Complexity of the Cut
You may find sleds that are one-sided, and they use only a single miter slot. So, when choosing or making a table saw sled, you should consider the cut complexity you want to make. If you will engage in more complex cuts, I would suggest you go for more complex table saw sleds that come with many slots for various angle fixtures.
Materials You Will Cut
You can use the left side or the right side when cutting material, depending on what you will cut. You would indeed not want to have a sled characterized by lopsidedness or imbalance. Besides, you don’t want the more significant portion of your sled to be overhanging to cause imbalance.
You would surely want your sled to be well supported when cutting various materials. If your material is heavy, you want your sled to be well set and balanced on the table. Moreover, if you clamp the stock onto your sled, the risk will be higher for tipping off. So, you want to ensure that your table supports enough parts of the sled.
Furthermore, you don’t want your material to lift your sled, especially if you are cutting long stock clamped to your sled. As much as possible, you want perfect control of your sled and materials. You want to hold your sled and stock down and pressed on them tightly.
It will be good if you have support pieces wrought in the same material as your sled base. You can clamp these support pieces to the far side of the extension table. In this way, you get the longer stock supported to prevent tipping off.
As mentioned above, you can make different types of saw sleds that feature different sizes. Yet, the more suitable your table saw sled to your cutting needs, the better you can work. Moreover, the safety level of your work radically increases as you use a suitable table saw sled. The crosscut sled undoubtedly can improve the accuracy of your cut. The rigid support it provides and the proper alignment it affords you will keep the stock in the correct position for precise crosscuts.
The wood sits at the sled bottom and not on your tabletop with a suitable table saw sled. So, there’s no chance for friction to pull it either way as you slide the sled through the tabletop. Moreover, the sled’s larger backstop provides ample support for your workpiece, allowing you to make steady cuts on your workpieces.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.