Minimalist's router sled for flattening rough cut lumber

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Project by Oldtool posted 07-29-2012 07:48 PM 34775 views 106 times favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Not having enough room or money to put a jointer in my shop, and with a big project in the works that will require a large amount of lumber, I decided that rather than flattening all this straight from the sawmill rough cut lumber with hand planes, I would try my hand at making a router sled for this task.
The requirements I determined were to be: small for easy storage, adjustable for lumber of various thicknesses, and of course cheap to make.
Using one 2 ft. by 2 ft. section of 3/4” hardwood lumber from the big box store, 4 bolts @ 3/8 X 3”, with wing nuts and washers, I came up with the device in the photos.
It is basically a small sled to hold the router, the same width as my workbench less 1/16”, and two side members with slots to permit height adjustment. Also attached to the sides, one each 1” X 1” X 9” cherry scraps to add some stability to the assembly.
Friction holds the sled in place during use, but not enough to prevent one hand pushing it down the bench as I progress. If necessary, or for dado routing, the sled can be clamped to the table using the cherry stabilizers. The sides are marked in 1/2” increments starting at 1 and 1/4”, for quick adjustment for 4/4 through 12/4 lumber, and the plunge router is used for fine adjustments.
It works, its small for storage, its fast, and best of all it was cheap.

Thanks for looking.

I just surfaced about 1/3 of the 75 bd-ft of cherry I need for the 18th century secretary I’m making for the wife, and can provide the following improvement;
The scale I mention for the sides at half inch increments should be more like 1/8th inch increments. I’m working with 4/4 rough cut that was air dried by someone, without stickers. I have cupping, and warp, but the cup is almost as much as 1/8th inch or slightly more to be removed from the middle of the boards. I found that with a 1.25” setting, I was bottoming out on the sled, so I quickly set it for 6/4 boards, (1.75”), and this was too high or my plunge router.
I then had to disassemble and put additional markings on the scale to permit correct and level height settings closer to the boards.
That’s it, otherwise the sled worked very well, and the “Swivel Dogs” – – were great as well.
If I had tried to surface these boards by hand as I have in the past, I think I’d drop woodworking for basket weaving.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

21 comments so far

View ZED's profile


83 posts in 3602 days

#1 posted 07-29-2012 08:01 PM

This is a great idea. I have had to make some counter tops recently and I would have loved to have seen this before I startted ;) nice work!

-- A good craftsman is able to make it work with the tools he has, I still need more tools

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


22405 posts in 4919 days

#2 posted 07-29-2012 08:25 PM

Looks good to me.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3671 days

#3 posted 07-29-2012 08:28 PM

The sled is great, but the swivel jaws on your bench dogs caught my eye, nice job.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View intheshop's profile


58 posts in 4082 days

#4 posted 07-29-2012 10:30 PM

Looks like a great setup. Thanks for sharing.

-- Fast is fine, but accurate is final. The real trick is learning to take your time when you're in a hurry. - Wyatt Earp

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 4480 days

#5 posted 07-29-2012 11:43 PM

It works, how could it be better? Next time make one improvement and sooner or later you’ll have a fancy router sled. It sure beats hours of belt sanding or planing, doesn’t it? Great jig!

-- Hal, Tennessee

View jaysonic's profile


219 posts in 3386 days

#6 posted 07-30-2012 05:17 AM

Very cool! I’ve been planning on making one of these for a little while now, love your idea!

View Tugboat706's profile


39 posts in 3406 days

#7 posted 07-30-2012 02:29 PM

Nice work! I will probably need one sooner or later and work like yours inspires me to get to it :)

-- Clark in Georgia

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 4563 days

#8 posted 07-30-2012 02:40 PM

Ah, I’ve been trying to figure out how to incorporate my workbench into this idea! Thank you so much for posting your project, it’s just what I needed! Favorite time!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View CL810's profile


4176 posts in 4231 days

#9 posted 07-30-2012 02:58 PM

Great idea and +1 on the swivel jaws.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View Pete Pedisich's profile

Pete Pedisich

140 posts in 3890 days

#10 posted 07-30-2012 03:54 PM

Fantastic – I think you struck a nice balance between good design without getting overly complicated and obviously great results.


View sras's profile


6346 posts in 4373 days

#11 posted 07-30-2012 03:59 PM

The small size of your solution is great! The larger sled designs have held me back from making one. Thanks for sharing.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Pete Tevonian's profile

Pete Tevonian

78 posts in 4161 days

#12 posted 07-30-2012 06:14 PM

Very cool design, and certainly much easier to store than my giant torsion box and sled! Nice job avoiding over-engineering it. I may have to build something like this to use with smaller pieces. Well done.

-- Pete in Wilmette, IL

View Newage Neanderthal's profile

Newage Neanderthal

190 posts in 3794 days

#13 posted 07-30-2012 08:23 PM

Gotta say, while hand plane would be much faster, that is a great set up if you don’t have or don’t like hand planes. Definitely the best sled set up I’ve seen.

-- . @NANeanderthal on twitter

View tyvekboy's profile


2132 posts in 4256 days

#14 posted 07-31-2012 02:19 AM

GREAT IDEA! A well deserved DAILY TOP 3.

I’m in need of one of these but I don’t have a workbench (yet) that I can use like you use yours.

I have another idea for something like this and will need to make it this week.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View Milo's profile


869 posts in 4563 days

#15 posted 07-31-2012 12:32 PM

Oldtool, I hope you see this. Stupid question. What do the bolt on the end do? Are you going to use this sled on something wide that the table it is on now?


-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

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