Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Table Saw Crosscut Sled

I've been working on a crosscut sled for the table saw the last couple of days. I also plan to make a miter saw sled as well. This will enable me to make more accurate cuts than if I just used the miter saw. Also the miter saw is my dad's and someday he'll want it back so I can still make most of the same cuts with the table saw and not really miss it. I used one of my favorite woodworkers, Steve Ramsey's design, here's the video for those interested Steve Ramsey's crosscut sled

Here's the slides that fit in the tracks on the saw and ensure the sled keeps the cut at a 90 degree angle. I made four while I had the settings set on the saw so I could use the other two on the future miter saw sled. The Craftsman table saws have little clips on the tops of the tracks that turn them into t-slides. Making the slides to fit in the tracks was a little more difficult than just a regular track. Of course I saw somewhere after, that some people just grind the clips off. I wish I had seen that before but I might still grind them off later.

Here is a great example of why you always stand to the side of the blade at the table saw. When I was cutting the bottom of the sled, which is made of a melamine board so it will slide easily, I measured from the blade to my rip fence on the front and back of the saw blade to make sure it was accurate all the way through the cut. Well because I didn't let the cam lock just lock the rip fence down I guess it was a little off, which caused the board to become more and more pinched between the fence and the blade as I ran it through. Add to that the slipperiness of the melamine and the board got pulled out of my hands, lifted up on top of the blade, spun around, hit the blade again, and then thrown back into the garage door. This is known as kick back and it's very dangerous if your standing behind the blade and the board is thrown into your body. When kick back occurs it happens at a surprising speed and most people don't realize just how fast that board will be coming at you. I was standing off to the side so the board missed me completely and luckily hit something else before it hit the garage door, saving my body and the thin garage door from a lot of harm. Here you can see the big gash the blade put on the middle back of the sled.

I attached the slides to the sled bottom by putting some washers in the saw's tracks and putting the slides on top of the washers to bring the slides off the bottom of the tracks so when i remove the washers the slides won't bottom out on the tracks making them slide more easily.

I then put glue on the slides and placed the melamine bottom of the sled on top of the slides and against my rip fence. I used the table of the then taken apart band saw to weight it down.

Next I added the front fence to the bottom piece of the sled. I made the front and back fence out of two pieces of 1/2" plywood glued together so they would be solid and straight. It's crucial to the accuracy of the crosscut sled that the front fence be lined up exactly 90 degrees to the blade. To do this I turned the saw on while the sled was over the blade then slowly raised the blade until it cut through the middle of the sled. Then I used a drywall square to set the fence against making sure it ends up at the right angle to the blade. Because the underside of the table saw isn't flat the clamps wouldn't hold right, so I just just used them to weight it down a bit while the glue dried. You can also see the slot I made in the front of the fence that will hold a bolt for the built in stop clamp.

The back fence went on pretty much the same way except I had to use a smaller speed square to fit in the space. I then flipped it all over, drilled pilot holes, drilled a countersink, and screwed the pieces in. The screws have to be countersunk so the sled can slide freely on the top of the table saw.

I added some boards across the top to act as support for the fences and also act as blade guards. These were thin pieces leftover from a pallet project so you can see the little dots of the nails that were keeping the pallet together. I disassemble pallets with a sawzall and cut right through the nails because it's a lot faster and you end up with a lot more pallet boards that are all intact.

Next I cut a piece of wood for the adjustable stop. This piece allows me to set the stop to a specific measurement so I can but a board up against it and make multiple cuts that will all be exactly the same.

Lastly I added some leftover fence pieces on the back of the sled to act as another blade guide. These blade guides all keep my body away from the blade. They are on Steve's design and aren't exactly necessary, but I spent enough time on it already that I decided a little more work making it safer was always a good decision. I didn't however take the time to make it square because it wasn't a big deal if it was a little crooked.

There you have it, a completed cross cut sled. I used some paste wax on the slides, bottom of the sled, and top of the table saw so now it slides like a dream.

In other news, I got the new tires in for the band saw. After installing them and a bit of adjustment by both myself and my dad it is up and running. I actually trimmed the stop piece on the sled using the band saw and the blade stayed lined up just fine after cutting. I'm so glad it's working for now. My dad and I probably stood staring at it and adjusting it for about a whole day just trying to get it to run properly and this was after fixing the busted piece. Also my son decided he wanted his plane red so he painted it. It has since been stepped on by his little cousin and repaired. I guess he likes the Red Baron. And here I thought he was a Snoopy fan.

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