June 13, 2022
The table saw often serves as the centerpiece of most workshops from where most of your woodworking activities emanate. Thus, purchasing a table saw is always a smart option when you want to make precise cuts on wood. Besides, if you are desirous of raising your level of woodworking a notch higher, you need to have the right accessories for your table saw.
Table saw accessories come in a wide variety of forms and designs. Yet, one excellent table saw accessory you should always have at hand is the saw sled. The sled can help you make those crosscuts with ease, accuracy, and greater safety. Moreover, you can buy an off-the-shelf table saw sled. You can also build your saw sled customized for your table saw.
Facts About Using Table Saw Sled
The table saw sled comes in handy when you want to make precise cuts sans adjusting your saw blade angle. The sled works excellently when you cut angles or want to make specialty cuts. You can also use the table saw sled to trim the excess material off. It will be best if you look for a well-designed sled to ensure that you can safely use it and accurately cut.
The table saw sled features a movable contraption that you can slide in the miter gauge slots. The front of the sled comes with a wooden fence where the workpiece rests. Setting up the workpiece against the front wooden fence helps prevent the workpiece from slipping. Thus, you can ensure a clean and perfectly square cut from your table saw.
Table saw generally comes with a miter gauge for crosscutting. Yet, this miter gauge isn’t accurate and safe. So, if you can make an excellent sled, it will be best for your use. Besides, you can purchase a factory-built sled, but it will only add up to your expenses. Moreover, it might not perform well compared to a nice custom-built sled.
Building your sled will not consume much of your time. You can make it in just a few hours. Furthermore, you don’t need to buy materials for your sled. You can use scrap wood around 3-foot long and five-foot-long 2×6 lumber.
How Does Table Saw Sled Works?
The table saw sled is a device that lets you make accurate cuts without worrying about cutting or losing your fingers. You can utilize it to make cuts on large wood pieces. The table saw sled is easy to use. It fits nicely into the miter gauge rail of your table saw, and it can hold the workpiece while you cut. Table saw sleds come in various sizes and dimensions. For example, a crosscut sled, which is a form of a table saw sled, can help you cut the wood into smaller and manageable pieces. It allows you to position the workpiece against the table saw fence while you cut.
Besides, a table saw sled helps you work safely because it positions your fingers away from the spinning table saw blade. Thus, you raise the level of safety while using the table saw a notch higher.
Major Uses & Applications of Table Saw Sled in Woodworking
As mentioned above, table saws come equipped with a miter gauge for making angled cuts and crosscuts. So, you may ask why you would still need a sled. Well, there are several reasons for using a table saw sled, and below are the following succinct reasons:
Enhances Miter Cuts
One of the apparent advantages of using a table saw sled is in the field of making miter cuts. The table saw sled can quickly enhance your miter cuts. Remember that it is always challenging to lock the miter cut’s precise angle because the workpiece tends to slip.
If such a slippage happens, you need to redo the cutting process repeatedly. Yet, you can breeze through the cutting process with ease and precision with an excellent table saw sled.
Table saw sleds usually come with a protractor to let you make the desired miter cuts. You simply need to lock in place the angle on its protractor, and clamp the wood piece to the back fence of the sled. In this way, you can make the cutting process safer and more accurate.
Serves as a Miter Gauge’s Replacement
The crosscut sled functions differently compared to the miter gauges. It comes with a more extensive base for supporting workpieces while cutting. The workpiece will not touch the saw table if you clamp it to the sled. Thus, its use reduces friction that often causes the shifting of workpieces.
The crosscut sled also improves the safety level of your work. If you’re crosscutting a small piece of wood, you will find it hard to hold the small wood piece without getting your hand too close to the saw blade. Of course, you may use a scrap fence for clamping the small workpiece in place. Yet, professional woodworkers will tell you that a crosscut sled provides a better option when cutting such a small workpiece.
You can let the workpiece sit on the sled and let the sled’s base do the sliding for you. You can clamp the small workpiece onto the back fence of the sled to keep the workpiece from moving and your fingers away from the saw blade.
Allows for Better Grip
As mentioned above, you may find it hard to grip workpieces when cutting them. Besides, not having a good grip might lead to losing your grip on the workpiece, leading to crooked cuts or injury. Such a problem might also get aggravated as the workpiece increase in dimensions.
So, it will be best if you use a table saw sled. The table saw sled lets you have a full grip on the material you are cutting.
Lets You Make Repeatable Cuts
The good thing about using a crosscut sled is that it allows for repeatability. If you are engaged in making repeatable cuts, you will find the use of a sled very useful. As a woodworker, you will often make repeatable cuts, such as making a chair, drawer box, and many other pieces of furniture. Using the crosscut sled, making repeatable cuts becomes a breeze, especially if you equip your sled with an adjustable stop.
With this adjustable stop, you simply need to set the stop anywhere you want to index your cuts’ length or width. You can also make repeatable angled cuts using the sled. Aside from using an adjustable stop, you can also clamp a scrap block of wood onto the fence to serve as an adjustable stop.
Provides a Higher Level of Safety
Statistics show that around 67,000 injuries happen every year due to table saw use. Most of these injuries include lacerations. So, using the table saw is risky and injury-prone if you are not using the necessary accessories when cutting.
If you use a crosscut sled when cutting, the risk level gets reduced because the sled improves the safety level of the table saw. The saw blade spins at a tremendous speed of around 3,500 RPM. So, if you are not extra careful, within a split second, you might get injured.
With the use of the crosscut sled, you can lessen the risk of injury. You can set the wood piece comfortably in place without holding the workpiece. Moreover, you can position your hand away from the saw blade using the sled. You will also not hold the workpiece, and you can clamp it to the sled.
The sled, however, slides along the table while you cut. The workpiece also doesn’t touch the table while you cut. So, the cutting process is almost frictionless. Hence, the sled can undoubtedly make the cutting process safer and less risky.
Prevents the Work Piece from Shifting While Feeding
The table saw sled enhances the accuracy of cuts using a table saw. The reason is it prevents the workpiece from shifting or moving. Thus, it dramatically reduces slipping, which causes inaccurate cuts. Without using a table saw sled, you will need to press down towards the flat table against the miter gauge fence to prevent your workpiece from moving and sliding. Using a table saw sled, you don’t need to press down. You only need to hold the sled and slide it because the sled already supports the wood under. This setup reduces the need for you to use your fingers to apply pressure on the workpiece, and thus, your fingers are safe from injuries. Besides, you will create less movements with less pressure from your fingers.
Moreover, using the table saw sled creates less friction between the tabletop and the workpiece. In fact, the workpiece barely or not touch the tabletop because the sled serves as a buffer between the workpiece and the tabletop. Furthermore, you can maintain proper alignment throughout the cutting process because the sled rides on the miter gauge slots.
Ease of Ripping Smaller Pieces of Wood
You can further enhance the functionality of the sled by adding clamps and stops. You can make angled cuts or rip cuts on smaller wood pieces using the sled with clamps. You can also crosscut many smaller pieces of wood simultaneously if you clamp a stop block to the fence of the sled. You can use, for example, a crosscut sled to make repeatable crosscuts on your table saw. So, you turn your table saw into perfect cutting machines with the help of these table saw sleds. Besides, the cuts are without tear-out, and they are dead accurate. Moreover, you also raise your cutting activities a notch higher using table saw sleds.
You will find a typical crosscut sled fixed at a 90-degree angle and features a zero-clearance kerf. You will find it hard to rip smaller pieces of wood without this remarkable table saw sled.
Another purpose of using a table saw sled is reducing or preventing kickback. Kickbacks are highly dangerous because they put you at high risk of injuring yourself while using the table saw. Using a table saw sled, you can prevent kickback because the workpiece and movement of the sled are supported by the fence that is perpendicular to the saw blade.
Thus, the chance of kickback becomes almost nil. But if you will not use a sled and rely only on the miter gauge, you increase the risk of kickback and injuring yourself. As a woodworker, you will often make various table saw sleds for different applications. You will build, for example, a sled for cutting small pieces. You can also create a sled for making angled cuts. You might not be able to use your blade guard with your crosscut sleds, but you should still utilize the riving knife when cutting. The design of your table saw sled should allow you to keep your hands and fingers away from the spinning saw blade.
Without the crosscut sled, you will be holding the workpiece as you push it against the miter gauge and the table. So, the cutting process produces much friction between the table and the workpiece. If you can’t grip the workpiece well, it might slip out of your hand and get misaligned. So, you sacrifice accuracy as well as safety when not using a crosscut sled.
The use of the table saw sled comes with many advantages. It makes the cutting process smooth and easy. So, if you still don’t have a crosscut sled, it will be best to make one for your use with your table saw. In this way, you can enhance your woodworking tasks and raise your level of woodworking skills a notch higher.
Liam is a 37-year-old woodworker and interior designer who loves to make every furniture project an art piece. He is very experienced in furniture design and woodworking project planning.