Advice on Table Saw Crosscut/Miter Sled - Router Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 02-28-2019, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
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Default Advice on Table Saw Crosscut/Miter Sled

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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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 12:19 AM
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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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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 04:57 AM
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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...

Nick

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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 07:41 AM
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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-cu...ross-cut-sled/
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 08:04 AM
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When making the sled put a T slot on the top edge so that you can install a flip stop. This will come in handy when cutting pieces the same length. Of course you can do this other ways but the stop is just a nice thing to have.

https://www.rockler.com/rockler-3-fence-flip-stop
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 11:02 AM
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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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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 11:18 AM
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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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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JOAT View Post
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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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 06:12 PM
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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 Ė 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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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2019, 06:49 PM
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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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