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Don’t just make a table saw sled, make a MegaSled

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MegaSledMake correct and protected crosscuts with ease – and set the stage for intelligent equipment

by James Hamilton (aka Stumpy Nubs)

Most energy-device woodworkers have at the least one table saw sled. And whereas a sled can make your work safer and extra correct, a well-thought-out sled may also do far more.


Typically I name this one the “MegaSled,” different occasions the “Tremendous Sled,” as a result of its giant measurement makes it so versatile. Actually, it’s the right platform for any variety of joinery jig attachments. Since designing the sled I’ve added jigs for chopping miters, splines, tenons, finger joints and dovetails, and I’ve plans for extra jig attachments sooner or later. It’s all potential due to the sled’s fence design. In truth, you will notice a number of distinctive and helpful options as you construct this table saw fixture. On this article, I’ll concentrate on the sled itself; within the subsequent challenge, I’ll cowl the jigs. Let’s get began!
Most energy-software woodworkers have at the least one table saw sled. And whereas a sled can make your work safer and extra correct, a well-thought-out sled can even do rather more.

Reduce the Elements

I don’t sometimes advocate starting a challenge by slicing out all of the elements. It’s often greatest to cut every half as wanted (and make positive it matches earlier than committing) because the challenge strikes alongside. However on this case, it’s easier to organize the whole cutlist on the outset.

As you do, use a pencil to label each bit with its assigned letter from the exploded diagram offered. I’ll refer to those letters as I’m going alongside.

Take care to cut each bit rigorously. Verify that your table saw’s blade is perpendicular to the table. Square elements must be sq., each of their corners and on their edges. As you assemble the undertaking, use a mixture sq. to maintain every thing true – additional care now will repay in the long run with an correct sled.

Additionally, select high quality plywood. Whereas Baltic birch is all the time a superb selection for jig making, I’ve had good success with off-the-shelf, hardwood-veneered plywood from the house middle – however I don’t advocate construction-grade plywood.

The Base

Most table saw sleds are produced from a single plywood panel, which is cut in half the primary time you employ the sled. However I made this sled’s additional-giant base from two panels (P and Q on the drawings). As you’re employed on the 2 panels, understand that they’re mirror photographs of one another. As you lay out the dados, rabbets and slots, reference from the correct fringe of the appropriate panel and the left fringe of the left panel.

Start by slicing a pair of 1⁄2″-vast x about three⁄sixteen″-deep dados within the backside floor of every panel, utilizing the places offered within the accompanying diagram. Then flip the panels over and cut 1-1⁄2″-vast rabbets alongside what is going to turn out to be the 2 internal edges as soon as the sled is assembled. These rabbets must be deep sufficient that your 1⁄four″-MDF inserts will lay in them flush with the panel’s floor. It’s a good concept to cut them with a number of incremental passes, checking the depth with one of many inserts as you go.

Dados & rabbets. Plow the dados within the bottoms of base panels, then the rabbets on the highest inside sides.

Place the 2 panels in your benchtop with the rabbets dealing with upward and touching one another. Mark the sides nearest you as “entrance” and the other edges as “again.” Now use a 5⁄sixteen″ router bit to cut a slot down the middle of every of the 4 dados, starting 6-1⁄2″ from the entrance edge and four″ from the again edge of every panel. The slots are for the T-bolts.

Slots. Rout slots down the middle of the dados, creating a monitor for the shaft of your T-bolts to run in. You may also want to spherical off the entrance corners of the panels, although it’s not strictly essential.

When you have your 5⁄sixteen″ router bit useful, cut the slots within the fence extensions (A and B), centered 1-three⁄eight″ from the underside edge; they begin 6″ from the surface finish and terminate 1-1⁄2″ from the within finish of every half. Now set these apart and find the higher fence panel (O). Alongside certainly one of its edges, cut a rabbet to suit a piece of T-monitor. Most T-monitor is three⁄four″ extensive x three⁄eight″ deep, however take care to measurement the rabbet to your specific model.

Fence extensions. Maintain the slotted fence extensions shut by; you’ll quickly use them as spacers.

T-monitor rabbet. Measurement the rabbet within the higher fence panel rigorously in order that your T-monitor shall be flush with each the highest floor and the sting.

It’s time to start placing all of the elements collectively, so in case your two base panels have wandered off, return them to their former place on the benchtop, dealing with upward with the rabbets collectively. The fence help blocks (H-M) have to be positioned alongside the entrance fringe of the bottom panels.

Referencing from the left fringe of the bottom panel meeting, place one block 2-three⁄four″ away from that edge, one other eight-three⁄eight″ away and a third 14″ away. Place three extra of the blocks the identical distances from the correct fringe of your proper base panel meeting. This could depart just sufficient area between the 2 internal blocks to suit the fence guard (N).

Get it sq.. Guarantee your table saw sled will probably be correct in the long run by taking care to sq. the elements up throughout meeting.

Safe all of the blocks to the bottom panels with glue, taking care that they’re perpendicular to the entrance edge. Brad nails pushed from the underside of the bottom panels will maintain the blocks in place because the glue dries, however take care that the 2 halves remained aligned as you progress them round your benchtop. At this level, solely the fence guard (N) holds the panels collectively. You possibly can add extra help by attaching the top piece (R) to the far aspect, centering it over the seam on the again edge between the 2 base panels.

Cautious now. As you progress issues round throughout meeting, needless to say the seam is supported solely by small blocks on every finish at this level, so take care!

The Fence

Subsequent you’ll connect the fence face panel (G) to the rabbeted fringe of the higher fence panel (O), rabbet-aspect up, as proven within the photograph under, left. Earlier than nailing the joint, make sure the seam is flush, and wipe away any glue squeeze-out. This shall be a essential floor of your sled’s fence.

The fence face panel (G) and higher fence panel (O) collectively make up what I’ll name from right here on out the fence panel meeting.

Fence panel meeting. Right here’s how the fence face panel and higher fence panel look when mixed to make the fence panel meeting.

Retrieve the slotted fence extensions (A and B). Place them on edge throughout the sled’s base towards the row of fence blocks, the place they’ll function momentary spacers. Now run a bead of glue on the highest edge of every of the seven fence help blocks (H-M), and alongside the decrease fringe of the fence face panel (G). Rigorously set the fence panel meeting on prime of the blocks, with the rabbeted panel dealing with upward. The glued fringe of the fence panel will contact the sled’s base just in entrance of the slotted “spacers.”

These two slotted elements ought to have the ability to slide easily out and in of the hole created. You don’t need them pinched in there too tightly – however you additionally don’t need any additional area.

From beneath the sled, shoot a few brads by way of the bottom panels up into the sting of the fence face panel to safe it in place.

Area out. Use your fence extensions as momentary spacers earlier than attaching the fence panel meeting.

Returning to the highest of the sled, verify the fence panel meeting for sq. earlier than the glue units up. If the face panel isn’t perpendicular to the bottom of the sled, nudge the rabbeted prime panel ahead or backward a tiny bit as wanted to right it. Lastly, take away the 2 fence extensions you’ve been utilizing as spacers…earlier than the glue dries they usually keep in there eternally.

Safe fence. Right here’s how the fence panel meeting seems as soon as it’s been secured in place (notice that I’ve already put in the T-monitor right here).

Now seize the extension helps (D and F). Fasten these to the underside edges of your fence extensions, as proven within the photograph at prime proper. Notice their location close to the ends farthest from the slots, and that the 2 ensuing assemblies are mirror photographs. Additionally, notice that open area on the slotted elements above the items you just related. There, glue the extension spacers (C and E) on edge, on prime of the extension helps. I feel it’s a good concept to shoot some brads by means of these help blocks from beneath to strengthen the joints. This completes what have now turn into your fence slide-outs. Slip them again into their slots on both aspect of the sled when the glue is dry.

Take a look at the mirror. The fence slide-outs have to be mirror pictures of one another.

Start the hardware set up by securing T-monitor within the rabbet on the fence panel meeting, and to the highest edges of the extension helps in your fence slide-outs. Don’t attempt to drive the screws with out first boring pilot holes! You danger spreading the plies within the fringe of the fence face panel beneath, compromising its clean and correct floor.

On monitor. After boring pilot holes, connect T-monitor to the fence and slide-outs.

Chuck a 1⁄four″ bit into a drill. Withdraw one of many slide-outs a few inches and place the bit within the middle of the slot, about 1″ from the top of the fence. Bore a gap via, then counterbore the opening from the opposite aspect so you possibly can slip a carriage bolt via the opening, finding its head under the floor of the fence face. Repeat these steps on the opposite finish of the fence, then safe each slide-outs with washers and wing nuts.

Bore & counterbore. Bore a 1⁄four″ gap within the middle of the slot, then counterbore from the other aspect to create an inset for the carriage bolt head.

Safe. The slide-outs are secured with wing nuts and washers.

Ending Touches

Minimize a number of additional replaceable inserts to slot in the throat of your sled, one on all sides of the kerf. You’ll be able to counter-sink three flathead woodscrews to carry every strip in place, preserving the screws as removed from the seam between the 2 strips as you’ll be able to in order that a sawblade won’t cut into them. By making the a variety of inserts forward of time, you possibly can be sure that the screw holes are in the identical location on every strip.

MDF throat inserts. Make a bunch of inserts now; that makes it simpler to make sure all of the screw holes are in the identical location – and also you gained’t be caught with out an insert once you want one. The inserts are secured with three flathead wood screws on every.

Since you took your time to construct the sled good and sq., mounting the runners is straightforward. Set your table saw’s fence 18″ from the blade. Place a strip of runner materials (MDF or excessive-density polyethylene) in every of your miter slots, shimming as wanted to convey the runners flush with the floor of your saw. Place a strip of double-sided tape on every runner. Now raise your sled over the saw and slowly decrease it onto the runners, retaining the aspect of the sled towards your table saw’s fence (you need to take away the slide-out on that aspect of the sled).

Rigorously flip the sled over then safe the runners extra completely to the underside with screws. I like to recommend utilizing #eight screws with giant pan heads. In case you bore enlarged holes (counterbored for the screw heads) by way of the runners, it is possible for you to to sq. the sled by shifting the runners – nevertheless, since you have been cautious as you constructed, no changes must be wanted.

Fenced in. Use your table saw fence to maintain the sled sq. to the saw blade when you place the sled onto its runners.

As a crosscut sled, the operation is self-explanatory. However we’re just getting began! Within the subsequent situation, I’ll present you methods to decorate and switch your crosscut sled into a MegaSled! PWM

James is a full-time woodworking writer and teacher, and writer of “Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal” and stumpynubs.com. 

Video. See learn how to make runners and use them to regulate your sled.
Movies: Watch an summary of the sled’s options and jigs, as well as a scaled-down model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGmQBMSXt4Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROPv_6fczwQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ahJmNtMp-g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYOQqG0LZW4
Web site: Go to James Hamilton’s web site: stumpynumbs.com.
In Our Retailer: “The Selfmade Workshop,” by James Hamilton, obtainable in paperback and as an eBook.

From the October 2017 challenge, #234

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