A lot of woodworkers love to show you how to make a table saw sled. They’ll go on and on about the best dimensions and what wood to use. They’ll even try to sell you their ‘super plans’ but rarely do they ever tell you just how incredible and helpful they are for your table saw.
Why build a table saw sled? Table saw sled not only make your work safer and easier but it allows you to do so many other things for your woodworking projects. From super straight 90 degree angles to crisp beveled edges. Safe, fast, and easy.
If you’ve been thinking about making that table saw sled, read on to get a clear idea of the possibilities. You’ll finally get to see what all that fuss is about.
What Exactly Is A Table Saw Sled?
A table saw sled is a multi-functioning table saw jig that can be created from scraps for several types of large or small scale woodworking projects. Recycle some of those pieces of wood or MDF board sitting around your shop collecting sawdust, into a simply designed sled for more safe and accurate cutting jobs.
You will need a large piece of wood or board to act as the base. This will hold big and small project pieces onto an otherwise friction ridden table saw surface. Then two fences (two being optional), for adding safety from the blade and a place to hold the pieces being worked on against.
You can also add a cutting guide designed to make cutting perfect squares and crosscuts safely and accurately. Your sled will be able to cut large scale projects such as doors and cabinetry parts. You can even use them to make repetitive cuts for tiny wood projects.
What Do Table A Saw Sled Do?
Sometimes woodworkers have to cut small pieces for their projects. Using a table saw sled provides even more safety for fingers that are a little too close to the saw.
It not only keeps the piece from shifting but you’d be able to clamp anything to the fence or with any other threaded clamps you create to keep the piece in place as you cut. No need to move your hands at all. Unless of course, you like to be risky while working.
Furthermore, have you ever begun cutting something kind of big and heavy? Just as you’re about to cut, the material shifts slightly to the left? No matter how hard you try to grip that piece to the miter gauge and table saw itself, that friction catches you off guard, especially with those smooth surface materials. Throws off your accuracy.
However, with a table saw sled, the friction would be widely reduced. Even if the material you’re cutting is heavy or large, removing that contact between the table and material will lessen the friction for an accurate cut. It can also ease your overall grip, which can be a pain when done repetitively.
Then there are angled cuts. Sometimes you just want to make a custom picture frame…or box. Either way, you’ll probably want perfect miter cuts. With the table saw sled, you’ll be able to use the miter gauge to make exact miter cuts quickly and often without any shifting.
With the pivoting attribute and increased back support, your material will stay aligned making the cutting process smoother. No more will you have to deal with sliding fences you have to continually manage to make sure the angle is right. Later on, as you read, you’ll learn of some other helpful jigs that can be added to your sled for this reason as well.
Also, let’s not forget cross-cuts. Using the sled makes against-the-grain cutting easier. Your cuts will be precise and chip-free.
Lastly, with those more than helpful jigs in place, make cuts repeatedly with ease. For those long projects that require max precision for particular designs, the table saw sled will not only make this safer but quicker.
All you’d have to do is set your measurements or angles, stack your material, and waltz through the process like a good assembly line. You’ll be a human woodworking machine and who doesn’t want that?
The Benefits Of Using A Table Saw Sled
Table saw sleds can be as simple or as complex as you wish. I love using multifunctional tools because you’re able to get so much bang for your buck. What’s even better is being able to build that tool and adding what I may need as I go.
It also keeps you from having to buy so many other tools that inevitably clutter up your space with their single job capabilities. This could mean less space to work with…yeah, not ideal.
One of the benefits of a table saw sled is: Making a two-part base. A two-part base consists of two pieces of wood acting as your base, joined together by sliding the two pieces back and forth and tightening them with easily accessible threaded knobs.
This enables you to adjust the width needed for different saw blades. You’d be able to use a standard thin blade or even a dado blade for consistent cuts or grooves. As you adjust the base, it will hug the saw blade just enough for those smooth even cuts.
Track system: Add some pizzazz to your fences by adding a track system. A track system can be put on the sleds fences to give you accurate measuring while maintaining alignment. This tracking system will also give you the ability to make adjustments for your projects without excess moving of project pieces.
Flip-stop or swing-stop: On your track system, you can add a flip-stop to hold the desired measurements for your project pieces from its end to the saw blade. Along with amazing accuracy, you’ll be able to continually get the same results for several pieces in one inning. If you’re making cabinets or special door designs, this piece can be a huge time saver.
Add an attachment fence and base: to accommodate even longer pieces. Say you needed to cut a border for your cabinets; the piece of wood you’re using extends past the sled base, but you still need to keep a good chunk of that board. Add an attachment fence/base connected with threaded knobs or grooves to extend the work area. You can also attach an extended track to keep up with accurate measurements and continue being able to use a flip-stop.
Runners: Adding a runner to the bottom of your sled will allow you to slide your project back and forth with ease through the table saws miter slots. If your table saw does not have miter slots, it’s very easy to add them and if you do this will upgrade your saw for a lot of different uses, one being a runner for a table saw sled.
Additionally, using a separate material from the wood will enhance your sled by making a run that is more stable and prevents the edges from extending and contracting with the seasons.
Normal wood that you may use for the base of your sled tends to expand due to excess moisture in the air or on the surface. When that moisture is gone, the wood will retract.
This can cause inaccurate measurements when cutting projects. If you made this for example, with an HDPE plastic, the runners will move effortlessly over your table saw making your building process a little quicker.
Blade guard: While not obligatory, it can help against any possible injury or mishaps that can occur when the blade passes through the sled fence.
T-track slots: Adding t-track slots will give your sled the ability to clamp project pieces to the board to make accurate cuts for large or small pieces. With the track, you will be able to use threaded clamps to put into the slots for a secure hold. The firmer hold will keep any pieces from rummaging around due to vibration, smooth surfaces, or being small in size. As stated previously, this can make cutting a lot safer for those small pieces because by clamping it, your fingers don’t have to be near it.
Miter jig: This is another piece that can be added while using the t-track slots. With an angled piece of wood; threaded with a tightening handle, you will be able to create beveled edges, miter cuts, and crosscuts easily. The angled edge will act as a template for you to then cut according to whatever angle you choose. Perfect and crisp corners and angles every time.
Along with this is a beveled edge. Cut the edge of your table saw sled to make cutting beveled edges easier. With this added trait, instead of only being able to keep a straight saw as you would with the miter jig piece, you can slant your saw against this edge for a clean bevel cut.