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Forum topic by Markslawes posted 09-22-2018 03:41 PM 1077 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Markslawes's profile


109 posts in 677 days

09-22-2018 03:41 PM

I have made a table saw sled and tried to make it more accurate than my first. I am starting my forth project as soon as I can afford to by the wood. I am making a a sewing box storage stool for my wife, my previous 3 projects have been for my mum and my first two grandchildren, but this is my most important project to date. Since the day we got married my wife has gotten up every morning at 4am to make my sarnies for work, iron my clothes and get me ready for the day ahead. So this needs to be my most perfect project because my wife deserves the very best for being the most perfect wife a man could wish for. My previous 3 projects have been either small or projects that can cater for minor discrepancies in the build. This needs to be perfect! So I am making a sled more accurate than the first as there will be a lot of panels that need to be perfectly cut. So I am using the 5 cut method and when I am happy I clamp it up and screw it in position. When I recheck after securing it’s all out again. So fed up drank a bottle of wine and that has not helped my accuracy. My table saw is just a £99 machine which is all I can afford which may have an effect. But drinking a bottle of wine in the process has probably not helped. I am trying to get perfect right angles with my table saw sled on a £99 contractors saw…. am I being over optimistic or could I actually do this. I have followed all the YouTube videos, but after clamping it and securing the fence it is out when I check it. Could it be the saw or my lack of experience?

-- If your going to your mums.... can I go in the shed ?

14 replies so far

View Andybb's profile


2762 posts in 1374 days

#1 posted 09-22-2018 04:19 PM

First question….What are sarnies? Second question….Is there any wobble of the sled and the runners you are using?? If so, fix that.

Before you stress yourself out…Try a simpler method and get to building that stool for your most perfect wife. Use a square against your fence and the blade and screw it down. Then try cutting a board and check it for square. If its square it’s square and you are good. Then add a few screws along the length of the fence to secure it. Don’t overthink it. Guys like Jay Bates and others say they do it that way and never have a problem. I’ve been where you are. I have probably built 4 or 5 sleds and drove myself crazy with the 5 cut method until I just squared the fence to the blade. Done and done.

-- Andy - Seattle USA

View Rich's profile


5608 posts in 1360 days

#2 posted 09-22-2018 04:20 PM

Odds are when you are driving the screws the fence is moving. You mention clamps, but I’ll talk about them anyway. Once you get your fence square with the two screws at the ends of the fence, carefully clamp the entire length. F-clamps are easy to work with and I’d put one ever 3 or 4 inches. Tighten them down well.

Next, be sure to drill pilot holes for the remaining screws. Without them, the screw will want to find the path of least resistance as it enters the grain of the fence and can possibly move it ever so slightly, which is all it takes to mess it up.

To summarize, once you have the fence square and your five-cut check is good, you have to do everything possible to maintain that and not knock it out of place as you finish off your construction.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View jmos's profile


917 posts in 3140 days

#3 posted 09-22-2018 04:33 PM

I had the same issue with the 5 cut method. The act of screwing the fence to the base always seemed to shift the fence. I got mine close enough for my purposes. If I really want square I take it to my shooting board.

One option to fix the sled you just made is to attach another piece of wood to the fence and shim it square.

You have what you have. I assume it a sturdy sled, with a solid rear fence. Take another board, about 3/4” thick and as wide as your fence is tall, and screw it to the inside face of your not-so-square fence. If you apply it straight away, it too will be out of square. But, you can shim one end out until you get it square to the blade, then screw the board down to the fence. Keep adjusting the shims until you’ve got it nicely squared to the blade. You can shim with metal, card stock, or tape; whatever works. Check it occasionally to make sure it’s still square.

You’ll loose a bit of crosscut capacity, but you won’t have to junk the sled you just built.

-- John

View jdmaher's profile


468 posts in 3350 days

#4 posted 09-22-2018 05:12 PM

I’ll talk just a little about the sled and bit more about “perfect”, but the important message is: “You’re doing fine – even great – just where you are.”

You’ve already been told that you’re probably going out of square when you screw down the fence. That’s kinda inevitable. As jmos said, you might need to adjust to square after you screw down the fence. There’s probably a video or two out on the interwebs to guide that effort (and there’s more than one way to skin that cat).

A perhaps better technique is to use a shooting board, after you’ve cut as square as you can. That’s the kind of thing I do: use a machine to get close, then handwork to make it even better. But there’s a gotcha: “perfect” is both relative and transitory. What I used to consider “square” 20 years ago, now seems sloppy. And I often find that a cut I measure as perfectly square Friday night is noticeably off Saturday morning – because wood moves.

It don’t matter! Pay attention, do the best you can, adjust as you proceed and realize the absolute truth that only you will notice the imperfections. Everybody else in the world looks at the finished whole (which you should try to make appealing), and their interest is more functional than aesthetic.

Keep trying to make it as perfectly as possible. That will virtually ensure that you make it perfectly acceptable. But DO try really hard to “get ‘er done”!!! An imperfect result (which is all any of us will ever achieve) is infinitely better than no result at all.

-- Jim Maher, Illinois

View Markslawes's profile


109 posts in 677 days

#5 posted 09-22-2018 05:12 PM

Cheers guys I think I just needed to know I am not alone with this problem. I wii
lol take on board your suggestions and give it a go again tomorrow (wife permitting) failing that I will try the add another board on the inside and shim it. I will stay sober for it and preserve my fingers

-- If your going to your mums.... can I go in the shed ?

View BlasterStumps's profile


1681 posts in 1210 days

#6 posted 09-22-2018 05:13 PM

I tried some European style bacon the other day from the grocery store here and was super disappointed in it. I wanted a bacon butty so bad but, yuk. Maybe next time I am in a bigger city, I will look for some good bacon.

I think AndyBB has it covered. It worked well for me.

-- "I build for function first, looks second. Most times I never get around to looks." - Mike, western Colorado

View oldnovice's profile


7558 posts in 4139 days

#7 posted 09-22-2018 06:27 PM

Trying to reach perfection is what we all strive to do, many of us never reach that point but the trying is the fun part.
Don’t feel defeated, just plow ahead like the rest of us mere mortals.

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2257 days

#8 posted 09-22-2018 07:45 PM

Don’t use the same hole when making adjustment. Drill a new one with a pilot or countersinking bit.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Lazyman's profile


5389 posts in 2158 days

#9 posted 09-23-2018 12:57 PM

As long as your blade is parallel to the miter slots there is no reason to think you can’t make a good sled for a cheap saw.

If you haven’t seen William Ng's video for makeng a sled using the 5-cut method, it is worth a look. He has good tips for adjusting and setting the fence. One key thing is to make a new hole for the screw each time you move the fence during fine tuning.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Markslawes's profile


109 posts in 677 days

#10 posted 09-23-2018 08:36 PM

I think that I drilled holes for the base before I made my final adjustment of the fence, so when I put the screws in it pulled it out of where it needed to be. So will try again next weekend. Thanks for all the advice I have been given.

Much appreciated

-- If your going to your mums.... can I go in the shed ?

View Lazyman's profile


5389 posts in 2158 days

#11 posted 09-23-2018 10:42 PM

It is okay to predrill the hole in the base if that makes is easier but wait until you clamp the fence into the new location before you drill a pilot hole into the fence before driving in the new screw.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2257 days

#12 posted 09-23-2018 11:05 PM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Rayne's profile


1312 posts in 2310 days

#13 posted 09-23-2018 11:20 PM

One question: How are you predrilling the holes when you do the final clamp-up? (step by step).

View Markslawes's profile


109 posts in 677 days

#14 posted 09-24-2018 08:18 AM

Well I got it about 95% correct and thought to myself it will be easier if I drill the holes now make my final adjustment and then screw it down, but in doing that I probably dragged it back to 95% by screwing into those holes. So I am going to remove the fence and start again but not drill any securing points until it is 100% aligned, clamped and then I will rescure and try again….. fingers crossed :)

-- If your going to your mums.... can I go in the shed ?

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