In case you own a table saw, then you know how great it works when it comes to ripping long pieces. However, did you know that you can cross-cut wide materials with equal accuracy and ease? Do you know that you can use a table saw to make 45 and 90 degrees miter cuts on narrow boards? Well, now you know. To do this, all it takes is a table saw sled. A table saw sled runs in the slots of a miter gauge and comes with a fence that is mounted at 45 or 90 degrees to the table saw blade resulting in precise cross cuts.
The following are steps on how to make a table saw sled:
Step 1: Making the T-slot guide rail
Cutting the material
Pick a hardwood and cut the material for the rails. You can choose exotic hardwood flooring as they can perform better in such a case. In case you do not have exotic hardwood materials, you can choose to use any hardwood that you have.
When cutting, make sure that the rail is a bit bigger. For example, if the slot of your table measures 0.755 inches, then the rail should measures 0.805 inches wide. With that, you need to move the fences in by 0.050 to make sure I cut to its size. To make sure you get the right size, use a dial indicator to move the fence by an exact amount.
After cutting the material, it is time to rip the piece. Use a push-stick to make sure that the piece remains pressed against the fence once you rip the piece; the piece should measure 0760 wide instead of 0.755. With your blade just cutting on the right side, it will deflect left slightly as you cut. In such a case, you need to rip the piece again.
Fit the rail
After cutting the piece for the third cut, the rail will fit in the slot properly. Once it fits, it offers a more secure mount to the rail and makes the rail stronger.
Step 2: Joining the rail with a Dado
You can cut the Dado to make sure it is only a bit far from the edge compared to the distance between the left edge and the left slot of the blade. Cut the dado by coming up with a series of cuts on your table saw, with the use of rip fence to help guide you when cutting.
After making several width cuts, start to check against the bar while moving the fence a bit at a time until the rail perfectly fits in the slot. You can even choose to add hot glue in one end of the slot as you press the rail into the slot.
You can use ¾ long wood screws to secure the rail in place, however, with exotic hardwood; remember to pre-drill to almost the main diameter of the screw threads.
Step 3: Front and back the pieces of the fence
For the front and back of the fence, the materials can measure 2 x 10. However, some of the wider pieces of the lumber that you can use are of good quality as they are heavy pieces. You can choose to use them.
Also, you can choose to put a chamfer on one edge of the rail which needs to be the bottom in the inner side of the edge of the front rail, where the materials you wish to cut are pressed against. In such areas, sawdust can stick in the corners and so if you choose to add chamfer in the inside, the sawdust will be pushed away as soon as they get there.
Step 4: Making sure the sled is square
Now we have come to the crucial part. Cut the slot in the bottom before you can mount the front and the back rails. After cutting, flip the part with the rail to cut the older edge too. Now, you have a narrow piece with the rail on it, with two edges running parallel to the guide rail. After that, frame square to place the front rail and then clamp it on the two bar clamps.
Once you clamp the rails, drill the pilot holes to screw with drywall screws which are best suited for this application since they are wide and with flat heads.
Use the same procedure to mount the back rail squarely and then rest the bottom of the sled on both rails. After that, cut the slot in the sled, and you are good to go.
All the best!