Shop Notes #21: Single Task Table Saw Sled

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Blog entry by Steve posted 08-03-2018 11:32 PM 735 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 20: Odd Custom Projects Part 21 of Shop Notes series no next part

I’ve built quite a few different table saw sleds over the years but been happy with only a few of them. At the moment, the one I use most is a large version based on one I saw in a magazine recently. It came out pretty square and has T-slots for hold downs, which can be handy at times.

For precise work, though, I found it to be a bit cumbersome. I cut a lot of quarter inch tenons from 1” x 1/2” stock for my jewelry cabinet doors. There are two doors per cabinet, so 8 joints and 16 separate cuts for every one. And I often do runs of 4 cabinets or more! Until recently, I was using an old, smaller sled I had on hand. It, too, was relatively square, but the runner was a little small and loose in the table saw track. Still, it was good enough—until I dropped it the other day and it broke in half.

I decided that I would finally build a dedicated sled just for these joints.

I started with a flat piece of 3/4” plywood. For the end supports, I used some oak I reclaimed from a neighbor’s kitchen table. In the past, I’ve just lined up the supports with the edge of the plywood, then glued and screwed the pieces together. Usually, that results in the support squirming around a bit (and hence the “relatively square” end product). This time I cut a shallow dado to keep the supports in place during assembly.

I clamped the supports after gluing, then installed screws through pre-drilled holes to apply downward pressure. A temporary brace across the top helped to ensure that the end supports remained coplanar while the glue dried.

A shallow dado along the bottom of the sled holds a single runner in place. When everything was dry, I put a 3/8” dado stack in the saw and brought it up slowly to cut a kerf in the plywood.

As it turned out, there was a slight variation in the oak braces—enough that my small door frame parts would be slightly off of square when cutting. To fix it, I glued down a small piece of swamp ash using an accurate square to make sure it went in precisely 90 degrees to the blade.

The depth on the tenons is critical, so I mounted a small oak block with a nylon washer inset into it. A bolt running through the block as a depth stop allows for accurate adjustments. This is a little dangerous, as the bolt needs to be in contact with the center of the workpiece—1/4” from the work surface—but the saw blade—set for a 1/8” depth of cut—will be right below it. Clearance is tight, but it works: this test cut worked out fine.

The real test came, though, when I made some door frames from redwood earlier this week. The tenons were clean and square. The result was some of the best doors I’ve produced so far.

-- ~Steve

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4727 posts in 2759 days

#1 posted 08-04-2018 11:30 AM

Good looking sled…

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