About to give up on getting square cuts

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Forum topic by Tom posted 08-21-2015 12:02 AM 1561 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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180 posts in 1508 days

08-21-2015 12:02 AM

I built a sled for my old (crappy) Ryobi table saw and thought I’d gotten it pretty square using the 5 cut method and a borrowed dial caliper. I also played with the blade and got it square (well more than it was)

I’ve tried FIVE times to re-adjust the fence and no matter what I do I end up with the exact same amount off pretty much every time, about .04” from one end to the other of my cut piece. I’ve got everything clamped tight, used a feeler gauge to space the adjustments and drilled a new screw hole and still get my cuts off. I’ve watched people on youtube do this…but I can’t seem to get it right.

I’m running out of places to put screws on the left side of my fence and don’t have any scrap to make a new one. I’m about to say “good enough” and figure anything I build will just be a bit off.

18 replies so far

View firefighterontheside's profile


20434 posts in 2304 days

#1 posted 08-21-2015 12:12 AM

How big is your cut piece? .04 in an inch is not real good. .04 in two feet is good enough if you ask me.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Tom's profile


180 posts in 1508 days

#2 posted 08-21-2015 12:15 AM

My saw is small and so is the sled…so we’re looking at about 9” and one cut was 11” and it was the same amount off.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4666 days

#3 posted 08-21-2015 12:45 AM

If you’re not getting square cuts with a sled, it can only mean the back of the sled controlling the work piece is not perpendicular to the blade when you advance the piece through the cut. So either the sled runners and the sled back are not perpendicular to each other, or the miter slots are not parallel to the blade. Are you able to narrow the problem down to one of those two possibilities?

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

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20434 posts in 2304 days

#4 posted 08-21-2015 12:53 AM

When you readjust to put a new screw in are you putting a clamp on first. Screws like to take the path of least resistance which may cause the fence to move slightly as the screw goes in.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Tom's profile


180 posts in 1508 days

#5 posted 08-21-2015 01:09 AM

I adjust the fence, clamp it, then drill a pilot and screw it in place. Each time a new hole. Then I test it again…and get the same general result. The error went from being + to I did something right.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2910 days

#6 posted 08-21-2015 01:21 AM

Homeboy, build a shooting board for squaring cuts…. Nothing more satisfying than a razor sharp plane taming some endgrain for dead on balls square ends…

View Slemi's profile


118 posts in 1989 days

#7 posted 08-21-2015 06:22 AM

I had simmilar problems as You do. My problem was that the board at the back wasn’t 100% straight, it was plywood. I then put that plywood aside and hand planed a straight board from solid wood and then I could easily set the board to be perpendicular. I too have some crapy saw, even crappier than ryobi. :)

View tacocat22's profile


9 posts in 1457 days

#8 posted 08-21-2015 06:45 AM

I had the same problem as you! made me feel like crap. Not the best solution but I splurged and bought the incra miter sled 5000 and have been happy with it since. I always prefer to do everything myself but sometimes you can’t beat something factory made that you can make fine adjustments with (at least that is what I think). A shooting board is a good idea for squaring cuts but if you don’t use hand planes then that isn’t an option.

View BadJoints's profile


103 posts in 1536 days

#9 posted 08-21-2015 07:46 AM

The only other thing I can think of is slop in the sled runner. That could also be a contributing factor.

-- Producing furniture grade firewood since 1984

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 2043 days

#10 posted 08-21-2015 10:30 AM

If you’re consistently getting .04” off after readjusting your fence that makes me think that you fence ends up in the exact same place after each readjustment. Try marking the fence, use a very sharp pencil and put a mark where the fence meets the bottom board.

If you make a very fine mark you should be able to see if the fence has moved or not after readjusting.

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1678 days

#11 posted 08-21-2015 11:29 AM

Just a thought, have you checked parallel from the blade to the miter gauge slots?

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Tom's profile


180 posts in 1508 days

#12 posted 08-21-2015 12:47 PM

Thanks for all the help. I’m going to pass on the Incra item…don’t have $300 to buy one. I was thinking about using some bar clamps I have to squeeze the middle of the fence then re-attach it to the deck. I did use 3/4” plywood that I laminated to get a 1.5” piece so it is possible that there’s a bit of warping there. The sled doesn’t have any sideways movement that I can detect, I did manage to cut the runners snug. Gotta love the fact they’re 5/8” wide slots instead of what appears to be a more standard 3/4”.

I’ll definitely try the pencil trick to see if the fence actually moves to a new location and I’m starting to consider just replacing the saw….but that’s an issue of it’s own.

View johnstoneb's profile


3123 posts in 2620 days

#13 posted 08-21-2015 02:01 PM

If the blade is not square to the miter slots it does not matter what you do to the sled, fence or miter guage it will not cut square.

The manufacturer tolerance should be .010 front to rear on the blade.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 1670 days

#14 posted 08-21-2015 04:09 PM

This is what I did to square my TS and panel sled. I used a dial indicator to check my fully extended calibration disk to my miter slot. Front to back of blade was a smidge under .002, good enough for me, turns out to be 1/512” .

I then went to staples and bought 2/12” drafting squares, put a small piece of DS tape on 1 and set it on my sled and against the disk. I then ran my straight edge along the bottom of the square and slid the 2nd square to the sled and disk. I released the fence slid the sled to the squares and squared the fence to the squares.

A couple 3 yrs later I heard of Mr. NG’s method of squaring a sled and tried it 2 times, I discovered my sled was under his .002 qualification.

If your blade is not square to your miter slot you should expect to find a deviation in the cut results because one end of the blade, (in/out feed) will always be pressed against the mat and affect the cut off and or the project.

-- I meant to do that!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3138 days

#15 posted 08-22-2015 12:42 AM

I used to have that little Ryobi saw and it served me well until I could afford an upgrade. I went pretty low tech when I built my sled and used 2 plastic drafting squares (one on either side of the blade) to align my fence. It worked well (or I had beginner’s luck). I used a piece of doug fir for the fence after jointing the face and the down side.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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