Guide to cut at 90 degrees with the table saw.

DIY table saw crosscut sled + two safety tricks

I had long wanted to make this squad car for the homemade table saw. I always thought it was a very simple system to make very precise cuts at 90 degrees, and after doing the first cut test with it I think you can get a lot out of it. Now it is one of my first options when cutting wood for my carpentry projects.

Maybe I'll end up making one for cuts at 45º (<- I already did it and it's great), and then I'll still wonder if I would have bought the miter saw if I had had these cars before. Although I have to admit that the portability of the miter saw does not have the homemade table saw.

As you already know, this system is not too much more than a plywood sheet on which we put a pair of strips, one strip to support the wood (a fence), and another one to prevent the sheet from opening or deform. There should be also a thinner strip underneath (a runner) that we slide into a slot in the table saw top, so that runner helps to guide the sled.

When making a cross cut sled to cut wood at 90 degrees on the table saw, we have three main problems:

  • First problem is having a groove plus getting a runner that slides inside the groove snugly but smooth. As the top of my table saw is made with plywood board pieces, you can see in the video that achieving this is very easy for me, since my lateral guide fence is parallel to the sides of these small boards that I used to make the table saw top, and I adjusted the circular saw so that the cutting disc stays parallel to the fence (and not the other way around, since making the fence parallel to the sides of the boards is easier), and therefore, if I leave a slot between two plywood boards, the strip that runs inside the groove will run parallel to the disk. I can also apply furniture polish so that the runner slides smooth.
  • Make sure that the support strip (the fence of the table saw sled) is at 90 degrees with the cutting disc. I used a square and it took my time, and the result was pretty good. If you want to be very precise there is a technique to adjust the angle with great precision and that you can watch in «How to make a cross-cut sled» by The Wood Whisperer.
  • SECURITY.One of the problems when using these table saw sleds is that we cannot trust ourselves and put our hand behind the fence just where the disc will protrude, or the result will be an ugly cut in our fingers. The best thing is, in addition to being careful and avoiding putting our hand there, to use some system to be protected, so I thought of a screw into the groove in front of the runner to limit the advance of the sled, and also some wooden blocks that hide the disc when it sticks out from behind the fence.

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