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Table Saw Sleds - 2 miter bars?

by richgreer
posted 01-19-2011 05:00 PM


37 replies so far

View TheDane's profile

TheDane

5694 posts in 4196 days


#1 posted 01-19-2011 05:06 PM

Rich—I think using both miter tracks is a good idea, especially if the sled is heavy. I may be wrong about this, but I think John Nixon’s Super Sled ( http://www.eaglelakewoodworking.com/post/Super-Sled-Crosscut-and-Miter-Sled.aspx ) uses both tracks.

I have seen some smaller sleds with no front cross piece (I have one that I use for cutting small parts), but for a larger-scale sled, you may need both the front and rear cross pieces just for stability of the work surface.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

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TheDane

5694 posts in 4196 days


#2 posted 01-19-2011 05:12 PM

I just browsed through the pictures of John Nixon’s Super Sled … looks like he uses a single miter track with a 3/4” UHMW runner. I still think using both tracks is a good idea … if you use stable materials like UHMW, you should be able to eliminate any binding by fine-tuning the installation.

—Gerry

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Cory's profile

Cory

760 posts in 3953 days


#3 posted 01-19-2011 05:18 PM

Rich—when I rebuild my sled, I’m going to use the Incra miter bars. I have an Incra miter gauge and the adjustment on that bar means ZERO play in the slot. They guide smoothly and are easy to attach. I would definitely use two bars on your sled if it’s big enough to use both miter slots.

Be sure and post pictures of your sled when it’s finished.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View mpounders's profile

mpounders

938 posts in 3429 days


#4 posted 01-19-2011 05:24 PM

The sled I use has two miter bars (wood) and no front piece….works well for me! My base is just 1/4” plywood and it lets me make the occasional cross-cut on material that is wider than my sled.

-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mikepounders.weebly.com

View RogerBean's profile

RogerBean

1605 posts in 3487 days


#5 posted 01-19-2011 05:30 PM

Rich,
I have a sled with two slot bars made of Baltic birch ply and cherry runners. Does not bind and stays true, but unfortunately, when I built it I made it far too heavy. Would work fine for cutting 8×8’s or the like but it is just too big and heavy and cumbersome, so I seldom ever use it. The two tracks works fine though. Making it like a tank turned out to be a mistake.

I also had a very light sled that a cabinetmaker working at my house many years ago threw together in about ten minutes for some little job, that has no front piece, is light being only a 1/4” ply bottom with a 1” rear support and one cherry runner shot on with a brad gun. Amazingly, it worked well, stayed true for about 25 years, and was the one I reached for.

I haven’t used any sled recently at all since I installed an Incra LS fence and Incra 1000HD miter gauge. For what I do, these are my current tools of preference.

I did, however, recently make a small sled along the lines of the one Steve Latta shows in his DVD for cutting inlay banding. Small, light and looks good, though I haven’t really used it for banding yet. But I expect it will work well.

Hope this helps a little. But then, it makes a difference what the sled is to be used for.

Roger

-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View Gregn's profile

Gregn

1642 posts in 3517 days


#6 posted 01-19-2011 05:31 PM

I have not made a sled with using both miter tracks, although I did make a box joint jig that utilizes both miter tracks and not had any problems with binding.
As for the 2nd part of your question I don’t know, but I would be concerned with the possible weakening of the one fence due to handling in removing and placing on the saw.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Radu's profile

Radu

333 posts in 3577 days


#7 posted 01-19-2011 05:36 PM

I am sure you looked at many of the sleds that were posted on this site. Most of the ones I’ve seen had two miter bars. One that I’ve seen recently was off center, which I think was a great idea. I find myself doing the cuts with the material on the left hand side, so I think my next one will have more “real estate” on the left hand side. Just something you might want to consider.

View sras's profile

sras

5227 posts in 3662 days


#8 posted 01-19-2011 05:47 PM

I think Gerry is on the right track (no pun intended) that 2 runners makes more sense as the sled gets larger. I have 2 runners on my large sled and I think it is a good setup. A heavier sled could be a bit much for a single runner.

I would also suggest that if you have an outfeed table that you limit the travel of the sled. I did this on my outfeed table . Then if you enclose the blade on your sled fence you have a very safe setup. You can see what I mean on my sled .

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View Jim's profile

Jim

98 posts in 3624 days


#9 posted 01-19-2011 06:05 PM

Rich, check out the Precision Crosscut Sled plans from the Woodsmith Shop Season 4: Episode 403. This is the one that I am going to build. Looks like a nice sled and only uses one miter bar.

http://www.woodsmithshop.com/episodes/season4/403/

Jim

-- Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity….

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3698 days


#10 posted 01-19-2011 06:12 PM

Well, seeing that I have been working on my super sled for about a year, and technically it is not finished yet (no guard or hinged stop block) you might imagine that I have a few comments. I also made a panel sled. Super sled is a Nixon variant with two runners. The panel sled has one runner. So first question is, what are you planning to do with it.

Steve’s sled looks heavier than mine. My super sled is 3/4” plywood, an adjustable rear fence, and a short front fence. I have been using it since soon after the basic sled was finished. My sled looks a lot like Scott Bryan’s, since I copied some of his features.

Here is the link http://lumberjocks.com/jbertelson/blog/19320

and a picture….....

Features are:
1)Reasonable weight
2)T-track for miter arms or on the fly jigs. I have used holddowns without the miter arms quite frequently.
3)Adjustable rear fence, with T-track on the top for the still to be built flip down stop. I have used the adjustment feature and I think that is the way to go.
4)Small front fence to keep the weight down
5)Miter runners are an aluminum bar/hardboard sandwich. You glue those to the board with super glue with the bars in the slots of your saw, and then add screws for durability. You make dents in the side of the bars with a punch to increase the width, and use a file to reduce width. My sled has basically no slop in it right now.
6)Travel stop on the left side that engages a stop installed on the side of the table saw. It stops before the blade can exit the bury block

I like my sled a lot, and right now, I can’t think of anything I would have done differently. A T-track in the face of the back fence, or a combo track built into it would be an option.

If you decide to build one anything like mine, just give me a shout. Same goes for the panel sled, but it has much less versatility. I have detailed pictures of both, including the construction techniques.

Off to work…..........

Later,

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View brtech's profile

brtech

1066 posts in 3456 days


#11 posted 01-19-2011 06:14 PM

If you use two slots, which I think is a good idea, the adjustable miter bars are of much less use. What you need to do is space the runners correctly. Most of the adjustable bars attempt to center the bar in the slot. You can’t do that x2. You need asymmetric adjusting, depending on exactly how the runners go in the slots. One technique I saw in a video was to use paper shims to push the runners to the outside edges of the slots and then sand or scrape those edges if it was a bit too tight.

If you can find adjustable miter bars where you can push the bar to one side, and you arrange them so you are pushing the left one to the left and the right one to the right, then you could use that with a sled. I think a hardwood or UHMW runner is probably better for a sled.

I also think you want a front bar, but you could try it with just a beefy back support and see how it works.

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16284 posts in 4752 days


#12 posted 01-19-2011 06:30 PM

Rich, I have two hardwood runners on my sled. It has stayed very true, and never any binding problems.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3698 days


#13 posted 01-19-2011 06:49 PM

If money is not an issue, the Incra miter bars are probably a good idea. I might have bought those myself if I was aware of them at the time I built the main structure. Plopping the sled onto the bars with superglue on them was a Nicki trick. I still had to do a little adjustment, but none for months now, and the sled does get used with some regularity.

Again, make sure what you want to do with it, there are a lot of designs out there, and this thread makes that very obvious. I needed a large sled, because small crosscut is done on the RAS in my shop. But I cut a whole pile of identical small triangle shaped pieces with a jig made from a couple of scaps of wood afixed to the sled with holddowns.

I bet there are a thousand different sled designs out there, or more. And each probably has its peculiar advantages.

........later

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1565 posts in 3729 days


#14 posted 01-19-2011 06:55 PM

I use two miter bars on mine as well. Very stable, no shifting.

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View richgreer's profile

richgreer

4541 posts in 3608 days


#15 posted 01-19-2011 07:09 PM

WOW! I’m very impressed to receive this much good advice so quickly. Thank you.

Yes, I want a large sled and these responses have reminded me that I want to keep the weight under control. Perhaps the key weight question is how thin can I make the bottom of the sled. Roger uses 1/4”. That seems too thin but I may try it. If I’m going that thin, I wonder if hardboard or some other product would be better than plywood.

I like the idea of the good Incra miter bars but I think the need for good fitting miter bars diminishes some when you use 2 miter bars. My theory – If the left bar hugs the right side of the channel and the right bar hugs the left side of the channel, I don’t need to worry about how well each bar fits in the channel.

I like the idea of UHMC if I can figure out where to get it.

As an FYI – In the past, I have slapped together a few quick and crude sleds for particular projects. I used wood runners and whatever plywood I had laying around. I considered them throwaway sleds. I finally want to take the time to make a good sled that I will use over and over.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5849 posts in 4118 days


#16 posted 01-19-2011 07:15 PM

I still can’t understand why the americans haven’t decided to sell and design the European design of saws with sliding full tables built into the side of the saw.I love mine and wouldn’t swap this design for what appears to be a rather old fashioned idea currently sold in the USA where you need to make your own inferior sliding wooden ad ons.Sorry to be blunt but this does mystify me til this day. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Tomoose's profile

Tomoose

422 posts in 3907 days


#17 posted 01-19-2011 07:26 PM

Rich – my sled has two hardwood runners and no issues at all

Tom

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

16284 posts in 4752 days


#18 posted 01-19-2011 07:28 PM

Alistair, you know we Americans can’t recognize a good idea unless it was our own! :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View SCOTSMAN's profile

SCOTSMAN

5849 posts in 4118 days


#19 posted 01-19-2011 07:52 PM

Unfortunately Charlie a lot of your good ideas and ours get snapped up by others and made by them like the vcr the japanese made the money from them what a pity we don’t allow our ideas to be governed more bye ourselves.Anyway SAWS copy the Europeans for a change and be done with it their always copying yoursLOL just kidding don’t want to start ww3 he he.Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3310 days


#20 posted 01-19-2011 07:55 PM

My sled has one runner – a 3/4” wide, 1/4” thick, 28” bar stock from tractor supply or home store. After drilling the holes, I tapped them and used flat head machine screws. Nice snug fit into the track and after several years there has been no wear and no binding. Just a thought.

Using both runners can cause issues from humidity and tempurature, even plywood will move differently from the steel top causing binding which could kick your sled off the saw if it bound with the blade spinning.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View RonTanc's profile

RonTanc

24 posts in 3311 days


#21 posted 01-19-2011 08:27 PM

I have several sleds that I have built over the years, all are single track mounted and they work just fine. Last year I bought a new TS and added an Incra 1000 miter gauge. I did one small project with it and then moved, its been in storage ever since. I know the Incra is dead accurate; has anybody got experience with the Incra and does it eliminate the need for a sled.

-- Cut the hole twice and it's still too big!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11870 posts in 3962 days


#22 posted 01-19-2011 08:45 PM

Alistair,
I’ve used a couple of those saws with sliding tables. One was a Powermatic and the other a Delta…I think. Both appeared to be original equipment and both were in High School Shop classes.
They were a dream to use and I agree with you that they should be available on more saws.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Eric_S's profile

Eric_S

1565 posts in 3729 days


#23 posted 01-19-2011 08:48 PM

Rich, my runners are made of 3/4” UHMW which is what I think you are referring to with UHMC. You can buy sheets of it in different thicknesses from woodcraft.com. Planes very easily so if you need to thin it it isn’t hard to take a sliver off.

I got mine to be very tight, layed them in the tracks and them double side taped them to my sled before attaching with screws from the bottom up. I also made dadoes for them to sit in on the sled.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/25873

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

View crank49's profile

crank49

4032 posts in 3504 days


#24 posted 01-19-2011 09:02 PM

I just built a double runner miter sled this last weekend. CessnaPilotBarry’s post a few days ago about building just such a sled was posted just as I got to the point of being stuck trying to figure out how to keep everything square and avoid runners binding. I pulled my runners back off, and reworked it using his method. Worked perfectly!

I started out to not put a front piece on mine, but I had a drop from the fence that wasn’t going to be used for anything else so I put it on as an afterthought. I saw one of these sleds with a plexiglass guard and dust hood above the blade, mounted between the front and rear fences and I liked having that option. The sled itself was ridgid enough that I think it would have worked without the front piece, but I think I’m going to put a guard on mine. Overall ridgidity depends on how much beef you build into the rear fence and deck I think.

My sled is 1/2” birch plywood, back fence (and front stiffener) made from a 40 year old quarter sawed SYP board that was planed down to 1-1/4” thick, 5” wide. I very carefully planed and jointed the piece for the fence to be sure it was absolutely square and flat. Runners were made from red oak ripped from a 3/4” thick board and sanded flat and smooth. Bottom of the sled and the runners got a few coats of Johnson’s paste wax.

I personaly feel that you might need the 1/2” thick base if you leave off the front stiffener. Otherwise, if I was building this again, I might have used 1/4” hardboard. As careful as I was being, I still see the plywood warping a little. One of the front corners wants to raise up off the table just a hair until I put a load on it. Don’t think hardboard would have done this.

View Cory's profile

Cory

760 posts in 3953 days


#25 posted 01-19-2011 09:28 PM

Ron: I’ve got the Incra 1000SE and a shop built cross cut sled. I use both all the time. I find the cross cut sled to be safer for smaller pieces and larger pieces. For the medium sized pieces I always use my Incra. The stop blocks are micro adjustable and work perfectly. I also built a dedicated 45* miter sled. I use that for all of my picture frames. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and I wouldn’t be without any of them.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View crank49's profile

crank49

4032 posts in 3504 days


#26 posted 01-19-2011 09:54 PM

I have an INCRA miter bar as well, and an older Delta compound miter saw (not sliding). I wanted the sled for small pieces and wide stuff that won’t fit my miter saw. I’ll use the INCRA or the miter saw for angles and the sled for wider parts, like drawer boxes. Heck, one time I put the Incra in the left slot and the OEM miter bar in the right slot and clamped a piece of 1×4 to both of them to use as a fence. That worked pretty well and gave me the idea to make the sled in the first place.

View TMcG's profile

TMcG

191 posts in 3534 days


#27 posted 01-19-2011 10:09 PM

I built the Nixon Super Sled and have gone from hardwood thru UHMW to miter bars and would vote for miter bars in terms of “feel” and solidity

-- http://wood.mcgivern.org

View Pdub's profile

Pdub

926 posts in 3713 days


#28 posted 01-19-2011 10:57 PM

I built a sled a couple years back that has only one oak runner and it only runs on one side of the blade. It works pretty good, but I don’t have any support one side of the blade for the off cut piece and it has become a little sloppy lately. I have been thinking that I need to build one that straddles the blade and has two runners. Good luck with your decision and make sure you post it. Maybe I’ll copy yours when I decide to build.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3698 days


#29 posted 01-20-2011 12:05 AM

Just to restate a couple of aspects. There are many easy ways to make and accurately attach runners. The only reason to use thicker wood for the sled base is if you want to put in T-track or slots. In my opinion, my T-track greatly improves the usability of my sled and I would not make a utility sled without them. Slots are OK also, but either needs 3/4”. For my T-track, I used countersunk nuts on the bottom with flathead screws to maximize the holding power. You really put upward pressure on the track when you tighten a hold-down.

My panel sled may be the simplest type of sled. One side of the blade, very large. Only 1/2” MDF, and aluminum angle for a front fence with no back fence. That is a very quick, cheap, and very accurate, one runner sled. But it is a specialist.

This thread illustrates a phenomenon.

I said to myself, that I had my say, and you knew where to find me for details. So I would just go on my way. But here I am, writing again, because each person thinks he/she has the best answer…..........and each person just needs to make you understand that he/she has the best answer…..........(-:

This phenomenon probably drives a lot of the responses to queries, not just simple altruistic helpfulness. There is ego involved. And I am the perfect example…........(-:

You are getting more input on the sled topic than a plane topic, and that is saying something….........(-:

Have a good one…......I suspect you are going to get overloaded with suggestions…...but that is not so bad.

Jim

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4896 posts in 3582 days


#30 posted 01-20-2011 12:28 AM

SCOTSMAN
” I still can’t understand why the americans haven’t decided to sell and design the European design of saws with sliding full tables built into the side of the saw”
Amen and Amen

I had one back home 30 years ago, it is fantastic, more accurate, better, easier and safer to use.

-- Bert

View lc48's profile

lc48

22 posts in 3222 days


#31 posted 01-20-2011 12:34 AM

question, wingchundummy. would like to c plans for one there was a lj working on one how can i find that article thnx in advance

View tdv's profile

tdv

1202 posts in 3603 days


#32 posted 01-20-2011 12:41 AM

I also used two runners on my sled it works fine & supports unweildy pieces better without racking I think the use of a support bar at the front is sensible if you don’t it may be fine on the table but when you take it off the two(or nearly two) halves may flap about

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Gator's profile

Gator

383 posts in 4209 days


#33 posted 01-20-2011 12:51 AM

Rich,
I have two teflon miter bars on the bottom of 3/4” baltic burch ply – nothing fancy – no issues with binding at all.
I know.. boring sled, but it works.

Gator

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3310 days


#34 posted 01-20-2011 02:40 PM

Bert—
You make a good point and sliding saws are available here. One of the things that I like about a sled is that you can create multifunctionality into the sled and do more. For production cuts, the sliding saw is great but for me, I can have 2 or three sleds to do small cuts, angle cuts, cove cuts and the like – or make a single heavy duty sled that does all of these things. I have a couple of sleds so when I put the blade at an angle, I don’t make the blade groove bigger on the sled for 90 degree cuts.

I have to admit that I really have not explored the sliding table saw because I don’t have the room to use one, but the models that I have seen did not offer the flexibility easily – but I could be wrong on this and hope I am. This could be an interesting topic to explore when I move out of my current house in about 8 years.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View crank49's profile

crank49

4032 posts in 3504 days


#35 posted 01-20-2011 09:01 PM

Jim, did anyone ever point out that you make your smiley face backwards, :^)

View b2rtch's profile

b2rtch

4896 posts in 3582 days


#36 posted 01-20-2011 09:16 PM

dbray45 you are right sleds are more flexible and I use them also.

-- Bert

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4268 posts in 3698 days


#37 posted 01-21-2011 04:02 AM

crank49
Did anyone ever point out that you make your smiley face backwards, (-:

Actually, I have made them both ways over time, but this one for some reason is easier for me to type…..............and its funnier (-:
..........but the real reason is it works better following my inevitable pause periods….........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

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