How To Make A DIY Crosscut Sled For A Table Saw

Learn how to build a precise and safe DIY crosscut sled for your table saw with our step-by-step guide. Discover the essential tools and materials needed, along with tips for a smooth and accurate assembly process.

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If you’re an avid woodworker, you know the importance of precision and safety when making crosscuts on a table saw. A DIY crosscut sled is an invaluable tool that ensures your cuts are accurate and your hands are kept safely away from the blade. In this post, we will walk you through the process of building your own DIY crosscut sled, from gathering the necessary tools and materials to assembling the final product. Whether you’re a seasoned craftsman or a weekend hobbyist, our step-by-step instructions and pro tips will help you create a reliable and efficient crosscut sled tailored to your specific needs.

Tools & Materials For DIY Crosscut Sled

Before diving into the build, it’s essential to have the right tools and materials on hand. From a sturdy table saw to a range of router bits and safety equipment, we’ve compiled a detailed list of everything you’ll need. There are also optional tools that we used that can make the process smoother and the finished sled more refined, but aren’t necessary to build the crosscut sled.

Crosscut Sled Build Process

If you’re new here, check out our DIY Resource Hub to help find any answers to questions about our plans and give you guidance on getting started on a project! Now let’s jump into the build process for this DIY crosscut sled.

Step 1: Get Plans & Materials

The first thing that you need is to grab our DIY plan set available in our Site Shop or on our Etsy Shop for this build.

With the plans downloaded, you will need to get all the materials. The crosscut sled plans have a shopping list that makes it easy to get only exactly what you need. Some of the materials and tools are easier to order from Amazon, so you’ll find those items linked above. 

We recommend you use a sanded plywood for this crosscut sled. Most big box home improvement stores carry these sheets at a pretty reasonable price. You will only need a partial sheet, but it is cheaper in the long run to buy a full sheet. It’s always good to have some ¾” plywood handy for future jigs and fixtures.

RelatedHow To Read Engineering Drawings & General Project Workflow For DIY Plans

Step 2: Layout The Cut Pattern

The first thing you will need to do is lay out the cut pattern. You will need less than half of a 4×8 sheet of plywood for this crosscut sled, so now is your opportunity to think about what else your shop or project might need.

For example, we used the other half of our plywood sheet to make an outfeed table for our new table saw. Take some time to plan the cuts and minimize your waste. Our DIY plan set has a layout sheet that shows you how to position everything in order to minimize your waste.

Step 3: Breakdown The Pieces

Next, you need to cut out the pieces. A track saw can be very useful to help break down your sheet. Once it is a more manageable size, we recommend using the table saw to get the pieces to their final dimensions so you can ensure all of the cuts are parallel and square. 

Step 4: Glue The Blanks Into Fences

Once you have all of the pieces cut to their initial shape, you are going to glue the fence blanks together. The most important part of this step is to make sure that you clamp the fence to a straight edge while the glue dries to ensure it sets straight. 

A long level works well for this, but so does your table saw’s fence! Just be careful not to get any glue on the table saw’s fence, and try to clean up the majority of the squeeze out before it dries. Do this for both the Miter Fence and the Back Fence.

The Front Fence is also made of two pieces of wood, but it doesn’t need to be clamped to a straight edge. Simply glue and clamp the pieces together and that will be good enough.

Step 5: True Up The Fences

Once the glue is dry, come back and scrape off any glue squeeze-out that dried on at least one of the long sides. You’ll then put this long side against the table saw’s fence and trim the other side to true it up. 

Then flip the piece around so the side you just cut is against the table saw’s fence and cut it to its final dimension. Now both sides are straight and square.

Repeat this for the Back Fence, the Miter Fence, and the Front Fence.

Step 6: Shape The Fences

With the fences straight and parallel, it‘s time to finish shaping them. 

Front Fence

Starting with the Front Fence, use the table saw’s miter gauge to cut the two ends and get this piece to its final length. Then you can set the miter gauge to 45 degrees, set a stop block, and cut off the top two corners. Then take the fence over a belt sander or orbital sander and smooth over each end of the cut corners.

Miter Fence

Next, tackle the Miter Fence. Since the miter gauge is already set to 45 degrees, go ahead and cut off one end of the Miter Fence. This gives you a quick reference to 45 degrees for future projects. Now reset the miter gauge to 0 degrees and trim the other end of the Miter Fence to square it up. 

Finally, you are going to add a slot to the gauge so that you have a way to lock it to the T-Track. The hardware we bought has a 5/16-18 thread, so we cut our slot a little over 5/16 wide. The best way to do this is with a router table. 

  • Start with a ¼” bit and set your fence so that the slot will be centered. 
  • Then either add stop blocks if your table is big enough, or make a mark that you can reference so you know where to start and stop your piece.
  • Raise your bit so it is ¼” above the table, carefully lower the piece down onto the bit, and make your first pass. 
  • Raise the bit ¼” at a time and repeat this process until you have made it all the way through the material. Our router bit could only cut 1” deep so we had to flip the piece over and finish the cut from the other side. So long as you put the same long edge against your fence, the two cuts should meet in the middle. 
  • Then move the fence back a hair and run the bit along the cut again to widen it. It will now be slightly off-centered, but you can keep it centered if you then flip the piece around and put the second long side against the fence. Since you aren’t removing much material, you can do this at the full cut depth of your bit. 

Now just check to make sure your hardware fits in the slot. If it doesn’t fit, move your fence a bit more. If it does fit, then you are done with the Miter Fence. Congratulations!

Back Fence

For the Back Fence, use the miter gauge on the table saw to square up both ends and then bring it back to the router table. First, you are going to use a roundover bit to radius the top edges. Since this part is where your hands will be constantly touching, you want it to be smooth to the touch. 

Then use a chamfer bit to remove some material along one of the bottom edges. This will give sawdust a place to go so that it doesn’t get between your boards and the fence and cause the cut to not be square. 

The last thing to do to this fence is add a T-Slot. There are a few ways to do that, so let’s consider our options next.

Related A Beginner’s Guide On How To Use A Router

Step 7: Adding Router Slots or T-Track

Here are a few different methods for adding T-slots or tracks to your crosscut sled: T-slot router, T-track router, or T-track table saw method. You can opt for whichever method you find more reasonable or convenient for you. 

T-Slot Router Method

The cheapest way to add a T-Slot to the crosscut sled and all of your future fixtures is to use a T-Slot cutting router bit. Most of the ones you’ll find online are only sized to cut slots big enough for ¼” hardware, and they won’t work for the 5/16” thread that many T-Track accessories have. Luckily, we found a T-Slot Bit that works well and is very affordable. 

To get the best results with this bit, you should first make a pass with a ¼” router bit. This removes enough material that the center of the router bit doesn’t have to work as hard to make the rest of the cut. This significantly reduces tear-out and burning, and it ensures your T-Slot Bit will stay sharper for longer.

T-Track Router Method

The other way to add a T-Slot is to add a physical piece of T-Track. Standard T-Track is ¾” wide, so you can use a ¾” straight router bit to cut a ⅜” deep slot in your sled. Then you need to install the T-Track into this slot. 

Adding super glue or epoxy to this slot can help keep the T-Track in place, but it really needs to be screwed down every 6 inches or so to keep the track from lifting when you apply clamping force. And be careful of what screws you choose to use. If they are too long, then you will end up having to cut off the bits that stick out the bottom of your sled. 

We used this method for our original crosscut sled. It worked well enough, and it does look nice, but the cost of the track can add up pretty fast. 

DIY TIP: Any tool in your workshop that cuts wood will also cut Aluminum. The only concern should be geometry and speed. For example, a low TPI band saw is more likely to catch on the profile of the track. But a high TPI band saw or table saw blade will make quick work cutting the track to length. 

T-Track Table Saw Method

If you’d rather not use a router at all, you can also cut the slot for the T-Track using a table saw. Just make sure you are using a Saw Blade that has a flat ground tooth so you get a cleaner slot surface to mount the track to. And of course, using a Dado Set will make cutting these slots even faster.

Once you have picked your preferred method, go ahead and add the T-Slot or T-Track to the Back Fence and the Base. The Base is easy enough to do by clamping a straight edge to your piece and running the router along it. However, it is a good idea to use a router table for the Back Fence since that piece is so narrow.

DIY Tip: There’s a possibility for glue layers to fail due to the direction on the back fence. Make sure you have good plywood and that you’ve created a good glue joint. Having a sharp bit will also help ensure less tear-out.

Step 8: Cut Other Router Details

The last major cut to make is the slot in the Base of the DIY crosscut sled for the zero clearance insert. This will be a replaceable insert so that as it gets worn down, you can replace it and maintain your perfect cut lines. It also allows you to have inserts for dado sets that are separate from the insert for your standard saw blade. 

To cut this slot, simply bring a straight edge over to the Base piece and use a router to cut out the pocket. We recommend using a spiral downcut bit to get the cleanest edges. If you have a plunge router, you can also use the ¼” plywood to set your depth stop and get a perfect fit!

Now that all of the pieces are cut, we recommend rounding over any corner that you will be handling. This prevents splinters but also helps to prevent damage to these edges when moving your sled around. An ⅛” roundover is definitely our preferred roundover size. It’s not much, but it is quick to apply and dramatically improves the feel of the piece.

Related –  The Ultimate Guide to Router Bits: Exploring Types and Applications

Cut Handle Holes

The handle for the DIY crosscut sled has large diameter holes for the dowel rod. Because we wanted all the handle holes to perfectly align, we clamped the three pieces together to drill into all at once. Then we used an Automatic Center Punch to punch a starting point for our drill bit to keep it from walking. We drilled an initial pilot hole through all three pieces. Next, using a Forstner Bit, we drill out the holes for the handle pieces through all three pieces to ensure alignment.

Step 9: Sand Everything

Congratulations, all of your pieces have been cut and shaped. Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part. Sanding!

The good news is that this isn’t a piece of furniture. You don’t have to sand it to a high grit. In fact, 80 grit is probably enough for 90% of this sled. 

The only surface we recommend sanding further is the bottom side of the sled. This surface will be sliding on your table saw, so you want to reduce friction as much as possible. We highly recommend sanding this surface up to 180 to get a nice smooth surface in preparation for the next step.

Creating Rounded Profiles

We utilized a belt sander to create the rounded profiles on a few of the pieces. The radii don’t need to be perfect, but a rounded edge makes for softer corners and a finished look. It’s totally optional, but we also gave each piece a small roundover to ensure all splinters were gone and give it a finished edge.

Step 10: Wax Everything

Okay, so maybe you don’t have to wax everything. I mean, that’s really up to you. At the very least, you want to wax the underside of the sled to help it slide as easily as possible. The top surface of your sled may actually benefit from a little friction to help keep the pieces from moving as you cut them.

However, you do want to seal every surface of your wood to keep it from warping with due to the elements. Oil would work great here as well, so feel free to use mineral oil, tung oil, or whatever you have lying around the shop.

Step 11: Install Zero Clearance

Once the finish is dry, it’s time to start assembling. The first thing to install is the zero clearance insert. The easiest way to install this insert is to simply use some double-sided tape. This works fine if the insert is simply going to be a consumable part that you put in the scrap pile when it wears out. But if you want to be able to swap your inserts back and forth, then we recommend drilling and countersinking some holes in the insert and then installing it with some ⅝” long screws. 

Step 12: Position Miter Rail

Next is installing the Miter Rail. 

Miter Rail Materiality

The Miter Rail for this sled is made from UHMW. Sure, you could make your own rails out of wood, but wood changes over the seasons, and this can make your sled too tight one season and too loose the next. Plywood is better, but its rough edges still cause drag and are likely to wear down. 

Then there are the metal rails. The best ones have set screws or bushings that you can adjust to get a perfect fit, but those can get pretty expensive, and they still don’t glide as smoothly as a plastic strip. The rail that we linked is precision cut and fits perfectly in our table saw. We’ll also show you how to adjust it if your table saw’s miter rail slot isn’t a precise fit. 

Installing The Rail

The easiest way to install this rail is to set the fence so that when the DIY crosscut sled is against your fence, the saw blade is roughly centered in the zero clearance insert. Lower your saw blade so it is below the table and then place the Miter Rail into the Miter Slot. Depending on the size of the rail, you may need to put washers or some other shim under it to help raise it up to have it just above the face of your table saw.

Now, put some double-sided tape on the top of the miter rail. You’ve probably seen people use super glue, but that doesn’t stick to plastic very well, and who wants to risk getting super glue on their saw anyway? Double-sided tape is definitely the way to go. If your tape is too wide, use a knife or scissors to trim it down then lay a piece on top of your rail.

Now put the edge of the sled against the fence and lower it until it pressed down on the miter rail. Press hard to set the tape, then lift the sled and flip it over. Use a drill bit with a countersink to drill holes in the miter rail every 4 to 6 inches. 

If you want to use the same screws that you used for the zero clearance insert, you will have to make the countersink deeper so you can get good thread engagement. Luckily, this is pretty easy with the adjustable countersink that we own. Otherwise, you’ll need to use screws that are ¾ – 1” long.

Adjusting Rail Fit

Now here’s the important part. If your rail was too tight in the slot, then you’ll need to take it off and sand one edge until it is a perfect fit. 

If it is too loose, then you want to drive your screws into these pilot holes and tighten them down. As they tighten down into the counter sink, they will deform the material of the rail slightly making it wider. You can now check the fit. If it’s still too loose, try tightening down the screws some more. If it’s now too tight, try backing out the screws until you get the perfect fit.

Now, if your rail was already perfect, drill out the pilot holes in the miter rail (but not the sled base!) so they are the size of your screws. Now drive the screws in until they are just pinching the miter rail. Test your fit and adjust the screws if necessary, but these should be perfect already!

Step 13: Install Front Fence

With the miter rail installed, you are ready to attach the fences.

  • Start with the front fence since it is easier and it will give us some rigidity. 
  • Simply position the front fence at the front end of your sled and get it approximately centered with zero clearance insert. 
  • Pre-drill and countersink two holes on either side of the fence and drive the screws in from the bottom of the sled and into the underside of the fence.
    • Try to place the screws so that you don’t screw through the zero clearance insert or poke through the angled side of the front fence. Make sure the screw heads sit below the surfaces of the base so that they don’t catch on the saw.

Step 14: Install Back Fence

Next up is the back fence. This fence is a little trickier since you need to make sure it is square to the cut line. To do this, start by screwing in the far left corner of the back fence only. This allows the fence to pivot at this point so you can adjust it for square. 

Now raise the blade and cut through the zero clearance insert, stopping short of cutting into the back fence. Now if you lower your blade back down, you can use this cut line as a reference to square up your back fence. 

Use a large framing square for this. To make squaring it up easier, you can insert some playing cards into the cut line. This way you have a surface for your square to press against. 

Now pivot your back fence against this square and clamp it in place. Once clamped, drive a screw into the right end of the fence to set it in place. Don’t screw it along the entire length yet.

Related – 15 Tips On How to Use a Speed Square Like A Pro

Step 15: Adjust Back Fence

With the back fence temporarily set, you need to make a test cut. If you want to be super precise, you can look up the 5-cut method, but we feel that is overkill for most woodworking projects. If your cut is off by a hair across its whole length, the wood is likely to flex when you clamp it and you would never know. Instead, we will be simply relying on a good, accurate square that we have tested and know is trustworthy. 

Grab a large piece of wood with a straight side and place it against the back fence. Raise the blade and cut through it, then check to see if your cut is square. If the cut is square then congratulations, you are done and you can screw the fence down along the rest of its length.

Adjusting If Non-Square Cut

If the cut is not square, then you will need to adjust the fence. 

  • First, you will need to determine which way the fence needs to rotate. 
  • Then, to make this easier, use double-sided tape to attach a block to the base, next to the side of the fence that needs to move back.
    • Ideally, this block will be touching the fence. This way, when you unscrew the fence at that corner you can place a shim between the fence and the block. Playing cards work great for this if you don’t have feeler gauges. 
  • Now use a clamp to clamp the fence to the block with the shim between them and retest your cut. Keep adding shims and repeat until your cut is perfect.

Once the cut is perfect, you will need to screw in the fence along its whole length. Do not use the hole that you previously removed a screw from. You will need to make a new hole nearby in order to ensure your fence stays square where you have set it. 

Step 16: Bevel Edge Cut

Now that you have the fence set square, let’s discuss why we only installed one miter rail on this sled. Pick up your sled and shift it over to the miter rail slot on the left side of your table saw blade. Now raise your blade and angle it to 45°. You can now make a bevel cut along the length of your sled without messing up your zero clearance insert in the middle of your sled.

This beveled edge is extremely convenient for making mitered boxes like we did for our Wall-mounted Headboard build

Step 17: Assemble Handle

Now that you have a fully functioning crosscut sled for your table saw, you can add some features to make it even better. 

The first feature to address is safety. You want to make sure that you never put your hands on the back fence where the blade will be coming through. To address this, you add a handle between the blade and the miter rail.

You already cut and shaped all of the pieces earlier, so all you have to do now is assemble them. Since you applied finish to the fence, you will need to give it a light sanding where the handle attaches to help the glue adhere. Then put a couple of clamps on there and give the glue some time to set.

Step 18: Position Flip Stop Tape Measure

While the handle sets, you can also install a flip stop and position the tape measure for it. To install the flip stop, you simply slide it into one end of the T-Slot on the back fence. The flip stop is reversible so you may have to undo the nut and flip the arm around to get it to position correctly.

  • Now, slide the flip stop along the slot until the arm is at the edge of the cut in the fence. This is the zero position of the flip stop, so lock it down here. 
  • Then, peel the adhesive backing from the beginning of the tape measure and bring it over to the flip stop. You want the 0 of the tape to sit right below the edge of the flip stop this way you can use the edge of the flip stop to read and set measurements. 
  • Once you have the end positioned, peel the rest of the adhesive backing and fully press the tape down along its length. 

Step 19: Add Other Crosscut Sled Accessories

Finally, you can add your other accessories. 

Hold down clamps are always good to have to keep pieces from moving when cutting them and to keep your hands safe. These will just slide right into the T-Slots from the front end of the sled.

You can also add the Miter Fence when you need to cut miters. This pairs really well with a digital angle finder to help you set precise angles when needed. To install the Miter Fence, simply slide the T-Bolts into the T-Slots and then drop your Miter Rail onto them so that they sit inside the slot we cut earlier. Now you just have to position your Miter Rail and then tighten down the knobs on the T-Bolts to lock it in place. You could even enhance this Miter Rail further by adding a T-slot to it and giving yourself a place to add a stop block. 

More DIY Projects & Tools

The possibilities for customization with a DIY crosscut sled are endless! So get out there and make something amazing! Check out more of our DIY projects articles for inspiration!

We hope you love using your new crosscut sled! Let us know what modifications you make to your DIY crosscut sled to help you build these amazing projects in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

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