Building a table saw sled.

By | August 21, 2018

So, now that I have the new rip fence put on the table saw, it’s time to build a table saw sled. If you haven’t used a table saw sled, you don’t know what your missing. The table saw sled will open up a whole new world for you and your table saw. It is a jig that you use for crosscutting perfectly accurate 90 degree crosscuts with, and I do mean PERFECTLY accurate. It’s an amazing tool that I’ve been lacking and should have built years ago.

First off, there are two video’s that I found EXTREMELY helpful and want to share. I’ve watched many videos related to building a table saw sled, and these two were the most helpful to me, so I’ll save you the pain of wading through the others.

First a video from “The Wood Whisperer”. I enjoy most of his video’s as he seem’s very down to earth and readily admits when he’s made a mistake. This video explains all the basics in an easy to understand fashion.

This next video is probably the most important part of building a table saw sled. It explains in detail the 5 cut method for getting a perfectly square setup for the jig. You can get amazingly accurate cuts after using this method to square up your table saw sled.

So, the first step for me was to get this guard off my saw so I can set the saw flat on the tablesaw. Yeah I know, my shop is messy… but hey, that’s because I use it alot. Anyway, step one, removing the guard.

This next picture shows the aluminum rails that I bought from Rockler to use instead of wood strips. I think this will provide more accuracy and stability in the sled as unlike wood, they will not move or swell with changes in humidity etc.

These next few images shows you what those little things in the track slots are, washers to hold the blue rails up just enough so that when I glue the top to the rails, it sets on the rails and contacts the glue and doesn’t just sit on the tablesaw top.

Now that I have the blue rails set into place, I am going to use superglue to glue the rails to the top. For reference, my top is made out of 3/4″ birch plywood, approx 30″ wide and 24″ deep…about the size of my table saw table. There is no hard and fast rule on size, and I simply decided on this size after watching several video’s.

This is the base after I glued it to the rails. This took only about ten minutes to complete, as superglue dries really fast. It was probably dry enough after just a few minutes, but I left it alone for ten minutes just to be sure. I didn’t want to have to try to clean off superglue to try again because I was impatient.

Next, I use some brass wood screws to hand screw the rails to the plywood sled base. Even though the superglue might actually hold all by itself, I sure don’t want to take that chance.

Oh, by the way, did I mention my cat followed me to the shop to help out with this ? lol

So the back and front top rails on the sled, I decided on using 2×6 oak. I didn’t want to glue up two layers of plywood like they do in some of the video’s. 2×6 oak is super strong, and a 30″ piece will probably stay straight forever if I seal it up. That, and it looks much nicer on the jig than just plain old plywood. I forgot to take pictures of my layout on those before I cut them, but you will get the idea.

Next was tons of sanding of the back and front rails to get them smooth and then routing some of the edges of the sled base. For what it’s worth, I sort of see why many of the builds video’s used plywood for the rails, as oak takes forever to sand … especially 2″ oak.

So, now after sanding and attaching the rails and glides to the sled it’s time to start using the 5 cut method to get it perfectly square… note, the front rail is only attached with two screws, until the final calibration, then it’s locked into place with several more screws. I still can’t believe how crazy accurate this method is.

Now all that is left is to put a finish on the top of the sled, and to put wax on the bottom of the sled and table top. I used just plain old Johnson past wax for the bottom, and it made a HUGE HUGE difference in how easy the sled moves over the table…do NOT skip this step! For the top of the sled, many say not to finish it at all, it’s “just a jig”, but hey, I took the time to build it, and I’m going to do it right. So like the Wood Whisperer in the first video, I simply used some wipe on poly to seal it up. Since I’m a bit worried about humidity here, I thought sealing it completely might keep it from ever warping, and it makes the sawdust come off of it easier as I am using it.

All in all, for my first ever table saw sled, I think it came out pretty good. I’m very happy with it and can’t wait to put it to good use!