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December 19, 2014

Dedicated Miter Sled…revisited

“Many of the things you can count, don’t count. Many of the things you can’t count, really count.”
…Albert Einstein…Genius, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics (1879-1955)

The table saw is a primary tool in the woodworking shop and has been for many years. If you are a power tool woodworker chances are you have a table saw. Some woodworkers may debate which is their first tool of choice for their shop, however that is an argument for another post. In this post we will concentrate on one tool and one fixture for this tool.

Little is said in woodworking books, woodworking magazines, or woodworking online about the dedicated miter sled for the table saw and perhaps if you are a woodworking beginner you may not even know about the miter sled. So while you may not find this workshop accessory in woodworking catalogs, you may soon come to realize the difference this fixture can make for you and your projects.

The dedicated Miter Sled for the table saw is a woodworking video tutorial on how to build one of the truly great table saw accessories. If you have ever worked with an accurately made table saw sled then you can attest to the difference it makes for your skill level and also for the all important qualities of your fine woodworking projects.

Now, some woodworkers may say that they use a a table saw miter gauge or some type of miter jig and that’s fine. Other woodworkers may say that they have chop saws or compound miter saws and that’s OK too. However, chances are if they ever had the opportunity to use a precision miter sled for the tablesaw then they would be using the miter sled.

It’s easy to see how this fixture for the table saw could find its origins in a cabinet shop, furniture shop, or a planing mill as the miter sled is worth its weight in gold when its time for production work. The nice thing about the miter sled is that you will never have to set up the angle for the miter after you accurately set the interior fences. (as the video reveals.) So, anytime the craftsman wants a dead-on miter that totals 90 degrees he reaches for the miter sled. One may raise the question “What if I need to cut my stock square and I don’t want to have to remove the miter sled or run to the chop saw all the time to make my cut?” In this case the miter sled can do the job again. Take a look at the push/pull fence closest to the woodworker and you will notice that there is ample room to make square cuts and thus adding to the versatility of this table saw sled.

The table saw miter sled is made with production work in mind. A convenient example in this instance would be making multiple picture frames as it really does not matter if you are make 10 picture frames or a 100 of them. If your picture frame is of equal lengths on all four sides then you really only need one stop block set- up to cut the necessary length for all four sides. In this case you simply need to cut the initial miter and then measure the needed length. Now, mark this length on the stock with a pencil and this will indicate where the table saw blade will cut the next miter. Set this pencil mark to the saw kerf as the side of this stock is set along the interior miter fence. Now, place the square end of a stop block against the miter fence and butt the block against the previously cut miter. Secure the stop block in place with a wood clamp and you are ready cut all day long if you need to.

(The above is a basic example. For production it would be better to cut stock lengths perhaps a 1/2 longer than needed and then cut one miter. Once the length of the piece is determined then cut the remaining miter. Then do the same for all remaining pieces of that particular length.)

The advantages of the miter sled:
1.) Dead-on accuracy.
2.) Can be used as a cross cut sled.
3.) It is very cost effective.
4.) In a small shop it can save space and possibly costs by eliminating the need for a chop saw or typical miter saw.
5.) The miter sled can easily be built within a few hours and ready for immediate usage.
6.) It may save the woodworker from unnecessarily buying an expensive miter guage.

Notes:
a.)Make sure the base material is flat. Baltic Birch plywood or MDF are good choices. (1/2″ – 3/4″)
b.)Use straight grained hardwood for the push/pull fence and for the 90 degree miter fence. (maple is a good choice.)
c.) Use straight grained hardwood for the runners. (quarter sawn is preferred. maple and oak are good choices.)
d.) Should the fences be glued? (this is a personal choice. The miter sled pictured has fences that are glued using yellow glue.)
E.) Use a sharp, quality saw blade for best results.
f.) Make sure the table saw blade is set 90 degrees to the table.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

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