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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently bought a new table saw, Sawstop Jobsite. I had wanted a SS for a long time but never had a good place to put/use it until now. I also have a granddaughter who I hope to interest in woodworking. I wanted a cabinet saw but just don't have the room for it. The JS is quite perfect for my current space situation, which I see being the case well into the future. I've had it for a week and am thrilled with it.

But, to the point, or to the question(s)...

I've been looking at a number of different crosscut and miter sled designs. There are so many. Too many to sort out immediately. I think I'll build a basic crosscut sled just to get started and see what more I really want/need. But, I do want to get some feedback on some considerations and on some options of interest to me.

Primarily, which side of the blade for the off-cuts or drop-offs. Of course, I've seen sleds both ways. I used a RAS for decades and it was my only saw most of that time. As a result, my muscle memory is for my left hand to hold the workpiece and my first inclination is to build a sled with the workpiece on the left and the off-cuts come off on the right.

But, the SS JS is left-tilting which means the blades go on/come off on the right side. That could suggest having a sled where the workpiece is on the left and the off-cuts fall off the right and would suit my proclivities. I'm going to call that type of sled "left-handed" and visa versa.

The concern I have is that the left side of the table is the short side (edge 13" from the blade). On the right side, the edge of the table with the extension in, is 18" and 30" with the extension out. That, to me, suggests having a right-handed sled - due to the greater support. I realize that having a sled on the table can make the closeness of the edge a little bit moot, but I think it makes sense to take advantage of the support on the side where it is. I am sure I can retrain my muscle memory, with time, especially since I no longer have the RAS.

Which side the blades go on/come off may not matter much when using just saw blades, although for having a true zero clearance kerf slot, it might matter a little when different kerf width blades are used. It seems it matters a whole lot more when it comes to dado sets.

I saw one design, that I liked a lot, that had a moveable/replaceable section of the sled on the off-cut side that allowed for using dado stacks of differing widths and allowed for making zero clearance kerfs for those dado stacks. That design assumed the blades come off on that same side, so it was pretty straight-forward. That is not the case if the sled is right-handed and the blades come off on the right, which is what I think I'm looking at.

I think it would be fairly easy to make a right-handed sled that has a replaceable panel in the floor, on the right side, that would provide for making zero clearance kerfs for whatever blades are installed.

A bit of a long post, but I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Rick
 

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Don't care for the concept of the saw stop myself. I feel it instills confidence in people that the saw will keep them from getting harmed badly. But gadgets are known to fail at times. I prefer some fear of the tool, so I pay attention to what I'm doing to keep me from getting hurt. That's worked for me for around 68 years. And if the saw stop is 'used', I understand the replacement whatever is not cheap.

I find saw sleds easy to make, so I would not put any moveable part on one to change some function (the only thing moveable might be a clamp to hold the work piece), I'd just make one or more additional sleds to take care of that. Right or left, whatever you feel more comfortable with. With a blade spinning at a zillion RPM I don't think it will care which side you work from.

I tend to make a 2X4 bridge across the saw over the blade on my saw sleds, so in order for the blade to cut me I would have to intentionally slide my hand under the bridge, and I'm not about to do that. I usually put a stop on each end also, so when it gets to the end of the cut it stops, and the blade is still hidden. My sleds are probably a bit heavier than most, but you'd have to work at it to get hurt using one.
 

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Rick...let's look at it from the cut point of view...

1. Any piece of wood you bring to the table saw would need to be small enough to be handled comfortably and safely or it would need to be cut differently.

2. If the piece to be cut is too large or too long, an edge guide and circular saw (or your RAS) would be better suited.

3. Sleds can be made a bit bigger than the table top provided it does not tip from the weight on either side of the slides.

4. Sleds should use both runners if you will need to cut bigger pieces.

5. If you need to use the dado set, don't use the sled but rather use a good miter gauge with an auxiliary fence screwed to the base of the gauge.

6. A left tilting saw is perfect for the way you cut so the cutoff should naturally be on the right of the blade. This allows the cutoff to fall away from the blade where the angle is largest.

7. The sled should only be used for 90 cuts and not for bevels. One of the major benefits of the sled is that it will make a zero clearance slot for the blade allowing you to slice small slivers from your project piece without them falling into the workings.

8. Don't try to make the sled do multiple functions...straight cuts only, use a miter gauge for miter cuts or bevel cuts. Use your miter saw if you have really big pieces.

What all this says is to use the sled for 90 cuts only, use a good well-aligned miter gauge with aux fence for dado's and bevel cuts and make a sled big enough for your largest piece to be handled safely. Use other cutting methods for bigger pieces...circ, RAS, hand saw, etc...

A sled can be as simple as a piece of 3/4 baltic and a couple of 2/4's or as ornate as is pleasing to your eye...you've seen that already. In this case, form/fit/function is more important.

William Ng, on youtube, makes a super accurate sled with his 5-cut method. Others just use a carpenter square to align to 90. Your choice on this one.

Good luck...start simple and grow to your needs...
 

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@RickKr - Nick makes some good points - I use my crosscut sled for straight cuts only. Mine was copied from a sled that Norm Abram used for years on the New Yankee Workshop - just a plain panel with a fence. I usually use it to the right of the blade with the fence going through first but if my workpiece is too wide (front to back) I can use it in the slot to the left of the blade and have the fence trailing.

You can make a simple sled like mine or one that straddles both sides of the blade and get as fancy as the one that William Ng made in this video:

https://wnwoodworkingschool.com/5-cuts-to-a-perfect-cross-cut-sled/
 

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Ditto on all the above points. First, the moment you cut at an angle, the sled is ruined. So you can really only use them for 90 degree cross cuts. Dados, grooves cut on the table saw with a dado set are not appropriate use of a sled, a really well set up, accurate miter gauge is the way to go. Cutting a rabbet is best done with dado stack buried in a fence, with only the amount of the width of the rabbet exposed. Depth of cut is precisely set by moving the fence.

I stopped using narrow kerf blades some time ago and now only use wide kerf blades, which are 1/8th wide. I keep one blade in my saw for most uses, the glue line from Freud. If I want to cut a fairly narrow grooves, you can mark the piece for width and make multiple passes on that particular blade. It has a flat top every fourth tooth so it makes a nice, flat bottom in the cut. This is a very useful method.

I also think the most important safety device on a saw is a touch of fear-inspired caution and pre planning of your cuts. Next comes any method that holds the work piece in polition throughout the cut. That includes push blocks and sticks, feather boards and the Gripper (pix attached). Using a good quality miter gauge with a sarificial (replaceable) wooden fence is a big part of that list. For better control, clamp a vertical work piece to that fence and add a strip of sandpaper to the sacrificial fence.

Personally, i consiously converted that fear into literally breaking into a cold sweat whenever any part of my body, including hands, gets in line with the blade! I developed the habit of pre planning every cut I make on the TS, putting up with the blade guard whenever possible because it is really protective. I would onsider drawing an oval about 6 inches away from the blade with a red marker. That would be the no hands go there zone. Extend this zone to the entire pathway of the blade.

I understand the concern about your grand daughter, kids don't think about such issues, but they are the essence of power tool safety. Imagine the worst, and work out a way to minimize the risk.

Regardless of all this, your sled will be ruined if you don't make certain the blade is 90 to the table. So if you don't have one, get a Wixey digital angle gauge. The new ones use conventional batteries and have an illuminated screen.

I added a picture of the Wixey and glue line blade FYI. You have to stop and adjust the Gripper for most cuts to avoid the blade, which makes you keenly aware of that nasty spinning cutter!

Hope this is useful for you. I really enjoy that you are bringing your granddaughter to woodworking. Mine all live so far away I rarely see them.
 

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My 90 degree sled is just like Vince's. I also have one for 45s and it is a double runner sled. For short pieces I just clamp a stop to the back and keeping it short like Vince's makes that easy. I also use my saw fence for pieces longer than the sled is wide. There is nothing dangerous about that because there is no chance of the piece getting cocked between the fence and blade. That's what causes binding and kickback. You do have to watch when backing the sled up after the cut. A one handed squeeze clamp adds a safety factor into that.
 
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Don't care for the concept of the saw stop myself. I feel it instills confidence in people that the saw will keep them from getting harmed badly. But gadgets are known to fail at times. I prefer some fear of the tool, so I pay attention to what I'm doing to keep me from getting hurt. That's worked for me for around 68 years. And if the saw stop is 'used', I understand the replacement whatever is not cheap.

I find saw sleds easy to make, so I would not put any moveable part on one to change some function (the only thing moveable might be a clamp to hold the work piece), I'd just make one or more additional sleds to take care of that. Right or left, whatever you feel more comfortable with. With a blade spinning at a zillion RPM I don't think it will care which side you work from.

I tend to make a 2X4 bridge across the saw over the blade on my saw sleds, so in order for the blade to cut me I would have to intentionally slide my hand under the bridge, and I'm not about to do that. I usually put a stop on each end also, so when it gets to the end of the cut it stops, and the blade is still hidden. My sleds are probably a bit heavier than most, but you'd have to work at it to get hurt using one.
Although I have the 3HP PCS model I have as much respect for the damage one can get from any saw with this as well. You can still get hurt, maybe not as badly, so that's no excuse really unless you just want to "think" so. It's like saying wearing a seat belt and having air bags makes you safer and it's okay to drive like a crazy person. It's simply another layer of protection. And then there's the finical hit if you don't pay attention like a damaged blade and blown cartridge. And everything man made is subject to fail at some point or another but then again when was the last time, or for that matter the first time, you heard of it failing? With that mode of thinking we don't need safety harnesses for working on multiple story roofs or life vests when boating. We'll just be extra careful......

I did notice you went to some extra steps for safety on that sled. But if you're careful why bother? Not trying to mess with you but rather maybe look at it a bit differently. Stuff happens and if you can do something to less that chance aren't you better off. My father-in-law was a very careful man and patient as heck but he still almost lost 3 fingers in an accident with his tablesaw and he was a skilled and learned craftsman. I didn't think twice and I still have a very high regard for a sharp fast spinning blade regardless. I know it's safer but I can still be hurt. My method of use hasn't changed one iota from any of my previous saws.
 

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Congratulations on getting the Sawstop. While all of the comments above are pertinent, I don't think that any of them are implying that you are not a careful woodworker or that you will train your granddaughter to be lax and inattentive just because you have a Sawstop. I'm sure you'll be teaching her that routers, drill presses, band saws, miters saws, lathes and almost every other machine can be very unforgiving if not given due respect. But mistakes do happen and if the Sawstop prevents a crippling injury, good for that!!

As for the design of the sled, unless you want to make one of the ultra-refined and complicated sleds right off the bat, you may just want to make a fairly inexpensive, simple sled – maybe even make a "right-hand" model and a "left-hand" model and try them and see which one you prefer. It doesn't have to be expensive to be accurate and functional, and you can figure out which model you'll be most comfortable with before you start adding a lot of T-tracks and fancy stops. Plenty of time to do that after you let your experience tell you whether you like the right-hand model more than the left-hand model etc.

I hope you are successful in encouraging your granddaughter to join you in the workshop. Should be great times ahead..
 

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There's a great tendency in woodworking (and just about everything else) to make things complicated for all the wrong reasons.

Try the simplest sled you can make; the example above from vchiarelli is the place to start. Make that; use it; and become proficient with that before moving on to something else.

Jigs can be useful, but too many jigs without knowledge of what you want to accomplish are eventual fodder for the shop woodstove.

You may discover it works just fine or you may see places where you can improve it. But start simply.

I see many woodworkers who spend all their time making more jigs in order to make more jigs, yet that's all they ever make. And next week when another woodworker shows another "new and improved" jig, it's off to the races on that one.

If that's what you want to do that's fine. But if you want to make other things besides jigs, start simply, learn the tool, then you'll be better off and will have something to show for your efforts besides the latest gizmo.

Good luck.

Steve
 

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Rick,

I built the sled in the picture below many years ago when I was younger. It is really nice, but as I get older, it gets heavier. I has several features. It runs on two slide channels. It has the ability to do miter cuts. It is hard to see, but there is an insert in the top that allows you to attach an arm to cut angles at any degree selected. Also, where the blade comes up through the sled is replaceable. I have the insert shown for 90 degree cuts and made another insert for 45 degree cuts. Do not use often, but have if needed. The last feature is the large block on the back end for safety as mentioned above. It keeps the blade protected. I am sure this came out of one of my magazines, but not sure which one.

I have often thought about building a lighter version using one slide, but for now I will keep this one.

Frank
 

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I usually put a stop on each end also, so when it gets to the end of the cut it stops, and the blade is still hidden.
When I read this I thought it a great idea so I looked at mine on the table saw and don't see how I can put stops on the fence and still get the blade to finish the cut...

Where did you put the stops...how about a picture of yours...?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all, for the feedback. A lot of great information, some of which raises questions. Here are some of my take-aways, comments and questions:

1) First, I do plan on starting simple and small and figure out what works and what I need,
2) I do plan on using both miter slots,
3) I like the idea of the box or block on the exit side to shield the blade and I have incorporated it into my design,
4) I definitely like the 5-cut method of getting the near fence square and will do mine that way,
5) I have two push block accessories, one of which is a MicroJig GRR-Rip Block, but not the one DRTom pictured. The other is a Bench Dog product,
6) The saw came with a push stick but I think I want to make one or more that can be sacrificial for thinner pieces,
7) I have an Angle Cube, similar to the Wixey but had not considered using it on the saw blade. I've found it to be quite accurate and use it on other machines/setups,
8) I have a good quality miter gauge (Incra 1000SE) with an aluminum fence, but either need to make a whole new fench for it from wood or make an end plug from wood so it doesn't trip the SS safety brake.
9) I like the idea of travel-limiting stops, but will save that for when I have figured out some of the basics (and if JOAT can provide more info),
10) I like the notion of the saw blade that creates a flat bottom, such as the Freud Glue Line. I have only the stock blade that came with the saw now.

I am curious about some of the comments/recommendations.
1) I think I get it about not making bevel cuts (blade at an angle?) with the same sled for 90º cuts. It is because the different angles would ruin the zero clearance slot of each. Is this correct? If not, could someone please explain? If that is it, this is where it seems replaceable panels/inserts might allow for using the same sled,
2) I do not get it about not using the sled for miter cuts. I've seen a couple designs that incorporated an adjustable angle fence and I know Rockler sells one (Tablesaw CrossCut Sled) that I have actually used at a pattern-maker friend's shop,
3) I agree that it would be nice to see some photos and have more information about the bridge to keep hands away from the blade and how the travel-limiting stops are implemented.

On the notion that a sled might be a bit heavy, I had thought of previously and have seen one YT video, a guy who put a bunch of holes in a sheet of BB plywood and sheathed it on both sides to lighten it. I have on hand some resin-impregnated honeycomb sheets that I plan on using to make light weight table tops and an extension for my router table. It seems that if a sled were too heavy, these honecomb sheets could be used very nicely to make one that is very rigid but also much lighter. This also is for a later time, after I've figured out a bit about using sleds, if I even find it necessary or desirable. I can also see using it for constructing the fences, if one were to take it to an extreme.

Finally, at the risk of inciting a flame war, in regard to the safety brake on the SawStop. I am not concerned about what others think. I know what is important to me and I can only speak for myself. Table saws scare me. Other saws scare me also, but not as much as table saws. When I was making the transition from a RAS to a table saw, I commented that table saws scare me. Someone commented back that if I used a RAS for so many years without incident, I would do well with a table saw. I'm not sure that transfers but I am sure that it is incumbent on all of use to maintain the highest diligence of safety awareness and practices when using any of them.

In regard to bringing my granddaughter into woodworking, I am enjoying it, but she is not yet that interested. She is too young to use any power saws, but has shown great interest working with me on more simple tasks. I plan on slowly introducing her to hand tools that are sized for kids. I plan on making her, her own small workbench with a small woodworking vise. I have a kid-sized hammer for her and will get her hammering nails and sawing random slots in scrap wood. Going to try to keep it very simple and fun for her.

Thanks again for all of your comments and input,

Rick
 

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I am curious about some of the comments/recommendations.
1) I think I get it about not making bevel cuts (blade at an angle?) with the same sled for 90º cuts. It is because the different angles would ruin the zero clearance slot of each. Is this correct? If not, could someone please explain? If that is it, this is where it seems replaceable panels/inserts might allow for using the same sled,

You are correct...you would lose the benefit of the zero clearance. Cuts using a dado blade can best be handled directly and with a good miter gauge. EDIT...I would also add that you might not want to make the sled more complicated than it needs to be. Start out as a simple cross cut and see what you need for bevels, etc... There are sleds built on Youtube that sport a replaceable insert for different functions.

2) I do not get it about not using the sled for miter cuts. I've seen a couple designs that incorporated an adjustable angle fence and I know Rockler sells one (Tablesaw CrossCut Sled) that I have actually used at a pattern-maker friend's shop,

Nothing says you can't use a dedicated sled for miter cuts. More of a preference issue, you might need to create a sled for each of the miter angles you might use. You can certainly create an additional sled for 45's or incorporate a way of adding a miter gauge to your sled. I think most would prefer to use the miter gauge for angles and the sled for 90 cuts.

3) I agree that it would be nice to see some photos and have more information about the bridge to keep hands away from the blade

There are lots of images of sleds (google) that show a box of sorts to keep the blade away from your thumbs as you push the sled. Generally, it would be a piece of wood or box that simple does not allow your thumbs near the blade. This generally happens when you over-push the sled past the point of the cut being finished.

and how the travel-limiting stops are implemented.

Can't help you there...right now I don't know where I would incorporate the stops on my saw...unless the back of the sled is extended to have stops hit the back of the saw.

On the notion that a sled might be a bit heavy, I had thought of previously and have seen one YT video, a guy who put a bunch of holes in a sheet of BB plywood and sheathed it on both sides to lighten it. I have on hand some resin-impregnated honeycomb sheets that I plan on using to make light weight table tops and an extension for my router table. It seems that if a sled were too heavy, these honecomb sheets could be used very nicely to make one that is very rigid but also much lighter. This also is for a later time, after I've figured out a bit about using sleds, if I even find it necessary or desirable. I can also see using it for constructing the fences, if one were to take it to an extreme.

Great idea...would love to see what you come up with.

Finally, at the risk of inciting a flame war, in regard to the safety brake on the SawStop. I am not concerned about what others think. I know what is important to me and I can only speak for myself.

Good for you...!

Table saws scare me. Other saws scare me also, but not as much as table saws. When I was making the transition from a RAS to a table saw, I commented that table saws scare me. Someone commented back that if I used a RAS for so many years without incident, I would do well with a table saw. I'm not sure that transfers but I am sure that it is incumbent on all of use to maintain the highest diligence of safety awareness and practices when using any of them.

Good point...but this should concern you...you should have RESPECT for the saw but not be scared or uncomfortable with it. Having used the RAS, I'm willing to bet you have ripped and cross cut with it...and keep in mind that many people are scared of RAS's and can't wait to get rid of them. Trick here is to make the table top comfortable so that you can push your piece through to the end and still not have to stand directly behind it. Another trick is to make sure the end of the saw can comfortably handle long pieces without picking up its rear when you finish with the cut by extending the table or using a stand. Always use an appropriate push stick and NOT the plastic one that came with the saw. Make sure your push stick comfortably pushes the project piece down further up the piece and does not pick up the piece on the back side of the blade. Proper alignment of blade to runners, fence to runners and fence to blade will ensure more comfort with longer rip cuts. Also, make sure you don't raise the blade too high into the piece when you set the height...bottom of the gullet should be fine. Others will only raise it till it just exits the piece. I prefer to set the height at the bottom of the gullet just in case the piece raises a bit...expecially true when breaking down sheet goods. It also runs cooler that way and gets rid of more of the dust and swarf. I agree...if you've used a RAS you should be okay with a table saw. I have used mine on its side to create tongue and groove for hardwood floors...I bet you've done the same.
 

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I do not think that being "scared" of a table saw is a good thing, rather it's counter-productive.

Perhaps the better terminology is to "respect" the table saw (and other tools) for what they are capable of doing if you're not aware and present in the moment.

Scared people often do stupid things and living in that fear is certainly not a pleasurable aspect of working with power tools.

Respect, on the other hand, brings you to a point of understanding of the potential dangers and pitfalls but allows you to do what needs to be done.

When I was a policeman, the last thing you wanted was a partner who was scared. They would over-react and shoot someone, or under-react and get you hurt. A good partner recognized the dangers neither minimizing or obsessively over-blowing the situations.

Can power tools be dangerous? Sure, but more people percentage wise are hurt or killed by falling off roofs, ladders, and step-stools where people underestimate the potential for trouble.

Learn respect for your tools, but try to stop being scared of them. You'll enjoy woodworking more and won't teach your granddaughter unreasonable fear.

Steve
 

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Well said Steve. Respect and fear are two entirely different entities. Fear needs to be replaced with good work practices and good planning on how to do the job safely. Fear tends to cloud the mind and adversely affect good judgement.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Yes, you guys are right. Scared is not the right frame of mind. Healthy respect is better, with those good practices and planning. I stand corrected :smile:

As for the blade height, I like the bottom of the gullet. I had not heard that before. I had heard and practiced having the blade just above the surface, but recently learned that can increase the likelihood of kickback, but did not like the notion of the blade sticking up a huge amount. Bottom of the gullet sounds really good.

Rick
 
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Rick,

I took some more pictures of my crosscut sled. The first two pictures show how the stop on the sled and the rail of the table saw. The third picture show the miter guide attached to the sled via an insert nut. The black knob attaches the guide. The forth picture shows the removable insert out of the sled. The fifth picture shows two inserts: one for 90 degree cuts and one for 45 degree cuts. I guess that you could make as many inserts as you want. When you use the 45 degree insert, you must replace the table saw insert with one that will allow for a 45 degree cut. Hope this helps.

Frank
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Rick,

I took some more pictures of my crosscut sled. ...snip...
Hope this helps.

Frank
Thank you, Frank. That is very informative and very interesting. I like it. A bit more involved than I'm going to do now, but almost exactly what I was thinking of for later.

Rick
 

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Don't care for the concept of the saw stop myself. I feel it instills confidence in people that the saw will keep them from getting harmed badly. But gadgets are known to fail at times. I prefer some fear of the tool, so I pay attention to what I'm doing to keep me from getting hurt. That's worked for me for around 68 years. And if the saw stop is 'used', I understand the replacement whatever is not cheap.
I own a SawStop cabinet saw and the thought of relaxing my safety standards when using the SawStop never enters my mind. It gets treated with the same respect as any of my power tools. The cost of a new cartridge and saw blade will be about $150; this is pretty cheap in comparison to a trip to the emergency room.
 
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