Canadian Woodworking

Table saw crosscut sled

Author: Carl Duguay
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: February March 2007

A crosscut sled enables you to cut material safely and accurately.


A crosscut sled enables you to cut material safely and accurately. This sled was made for a 10″ Steel City Tool Works cabinet saw. You will need to customize your sled for your saw. The size of the sled will depend on your needs. Many woodworkers build two – one for cutting large panels and another (as in the photo above) for smaller stock. For this sled to work, your table saw blade must be perfectly parallel to the mitre slots on the tabletop. If your saw needs adjusting, refer to your saw’s user manual.

• Begin by cutting and milling ⅜” x ¾” hardwood stock for the two runners that will run in the table saw slots. They should slide without sticking, but not be loose. A dense straight grained hardwood, like beech or maple, works best. You can also use polyethylene strips.

• Cut the sled base to size. Half inch thick Baltic birch provides a stiff rigid base without significantly reducing the effective cutting depth. (Note: make the runners and the base the same length).

• Set the runners in the table saw slots, and place the base on top. Lock the table saw fence against the right side of the base to keep it from moving; it will also serve as an aid in squaring the base to the front edge of the table saw. Glue the base onto the runners. Optionally you can countersink and screw the base to the runners. You may need to use a cabinet scraper to carefully fine-tune the runners, so the base glides freely in the table saw slots.

• Cut stock for the two fences. You can use ¾” Baltic birch or hardwood. The front fence needs to be at least 1″ higher than the maximum cut height of the saw blade.

cross cut sled

• Install the front fence (farthest from the operator). Ensure that the fence is parallel to the back of the sled.

• Make a stopped cut from the front of the sled, stopping about 2″ from the back of the sled (closest to the operator).

• Using a sharp pencil extend the cut line to the back edge of the platform.

• Lay a square against the saw cut and temporarily screw the back fence to the edge of the sled, and 90º to the saw cut.  Take a piece of scrap wood with parallel edges and cut it in half using the sled. Take the two pieces, flip one upside down and bring them together against a straight edge. If there is no gap between the ends of the two pieces, then the back fence is square to the saw cut. If there is a gap you will need to adjust the fence. You may need to repeat the test cut several times. Once you have a perfect alignment, fasten the fence in place permanently.

Carl Duguay - [email protected]

Carl is a Victoria-based furniture maker and the web editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement.

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