Best base wood for table saw sleds

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Forum topic by Slabguy posted 01-09-2014 07:55 PM 2506 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2333 days

01-09-2014 07:55 PM

I have read a bunch of different opinions on what is best to use for table saw sleds. Here’s the consensus I’ve gathered: MDF absorbs moisture too easily and will warp, plywood from Lowes is a terrible product and will warp, Lowes hardwood veneer plywoods have terrible substrate and will chip and separate. So, I’ve basically come to the conclusion I cannot build a table saw sled with a decent base. Just kidding, but really what do you guys recommend for crosscut, miter sleds etc…? Thanks.

13 replies so far

View bondogaposis's profile


5571 posts in 2915 days

#1 posted 01-09-2014 08:03 PM

I use whatever is on hand at the time, MDF, or junk plywood or sometimes even OSB. Usually warp-age is not much of a problem when you cut a piece of plywood into smaller pieces and then reinforce the sled w/ straight stock. My sled bases are 1/2” and will conform to the straight stock I attach them to and the runners add stiffness as well.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View hudub's profile


1 post in 2177 days

#2 posted 01-09-2014 09:43 PM

Mine is made out of melamine, no problems so far.

View CharlesA's profile


3387 posts in 2362 days

#3 posted 01-09-2014 09:46 PM

Big Box hardwood plywood works just fine. I’ve used Baltic birch as well, but I can only get it locally in smaller sizes at Woodcraft, and it is expensive.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3795 days

#4 posted 01-09-2014 10:12 PM

1/2 inch Baltic Birch. I buy a sheet and use it for projects. 5×5 foot sheet.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View JustJoe's profile


1554 posts in 2603 days

#5 posted 01-09-2014 10:20 PM

I have two in plywood, one in pine, and one that started life as a plastic-covered termite barf shelf. It’s just a sled – no need for exotic hardwoods or NASA approved materials, just a flat bottom, a stiff front rail, a straight back rail, and two strips underneath. (Also no need for .pdf plans or fancy mathematical equations.)

As for mdf – my sleds sit on the floor underneath the saw or under the jointer when not in use. There aren’t any puddles there or any other place in my shop. And except for the annual summer festival where I tie the hose to the tablesaw top and make a slip-n-slide for the neighborhood kids, that tool stays pretty dry too. But I suppose if you do your woodworking in an igloo or under camo netting in the rainforest then moisture might be an issue though, so if that is the case then indeed you should take water into account.

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View MrRon's profile


5784 posts in 3808 days

#6 posted 01-09-2014 10:20 PM

A sled is one of the most valuable additions to a saw. You want it to be accurate; keep it’s accuracy and be durable. That said, 1/2” baltic birch is the wood of choice. I’ve tried other materials, but they would eventually fail. My baltic birch sled is in it’s 5th year and still going strong.

View Slabguy's profile


33 posts in 2333 days

#7 posted 01-09-2014 10:27 PM

Thanks for the advice guys. I’m not operating in a rainforest or holding annual slip n slide festivals on or around my table saw so hopefully I’ll be good with plywood or MDF. I’ll look in to the Baltic Birch and see if I can get that locally too.

View pintodeluxe's profile


6017 posts in 3377 days

#8 posted 01-09-2014 10:55 PM

1/2” Baltic Birch here. Any cabinet grade plywood will work. The more layers the plywood has, the better.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2850 days

#9 posted 01-09-2014 10:57 PM

Another vote for Baltic Birch. Super stable.

-- John, BC, Canada

View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2753 days

#10 posted 01-09-2014 11:19 PM

I vote for Baltic Birch ply if you are sure this sled is the last one you will ever need.

I’d go with cabinet grade plywood if you’d like to use it for a couple of years while you are figuring out how you want to build your utlimate sled. That’s the thing about the sleds. Once you get used to it, you start to want more features but those features will depend on you and what ‘special’ tasks you use it for on a continual basis.

I’d go MDF if you are planning on parting with the table saw in the near future.

Have fun! The cabinet grade plywood on mine has not warped or separated and I use it a lot. No dainty treatment from me. My old MDF sled outlasted my HF benchtop. I gave it to someoe else who is still using it.

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2437 days

#11 posted 01-09-2014 11:31 PM

Baltic birch is fine stuff – and way too expensive IMO for a table saw sled. I use whatever I have on hand. My current crosscut sled – in use for three years – is made from a piece of plywood that started out as an orderly room sign board on Fort Lewis and was headed to a dumpster when I rescued it. I live in a very damp corner of the country but have never had a cheap plywood sled warp.

-- Dave K.

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 3128 days

#12 posted 01-10-2014 02:46 AM

Baltic birch or melamine. Ikea kitchen cabinet shelves are really inexpensive melamine options if there is a store near you.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View spcbike's profile


40 posts in 2538 days

#13 posted 01-11-2014 12:01 PM

Both MDF and big box cabinet grade ply.

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