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July 31, 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

A French Built Dedicated Miter Sled

Hello Bob
I’ve seen one of yours videos ( a very interesting video) for a miter sled
I’ve decided to do one for my table saw : all is in the video

Thanks a lot for all yours videos

Have a nice day

Diggerjacks – France

A fellow woodworker who lives in France recently saw one of The Apprentice and The Journeyman’s woodworking videos, Building a Dedicated Miter Sled for the Table Saw. So, he decided to build table saw sled for his workshop. This dedicated miter sled certainly is a beauty and is very well made. It has a plywood base and the woodworker has wisely selected straight grained wood for his fences. Notice how the tall sweeping fence allows for the hands to comfortably push the sled with plenty of clearance from the saw blade. It’s a smart safety feature as well as an elegant design. With an accurate interior fence set at dead-on 90 degrees our fellow woodworker has elevated his woodworking and now he will be confidently cutting perfect table saw miters with ease for a long time. Also, by using a stop block and a clamp along the interior fences he can control the lengths of his cuts with precision.

Another great feature of the sled is that it can also serve as a crosscut sled. 90 degree cuts can also be made when placing stock against the tall fence closest to the woodworker. One can see that the interior fence have an adequate length to cut miters and yet there is also ample room for making crosscuts as well. This is very handy for making quick square cuts and also repetitive uniform cuts of equal length when a stop block is in place.The dedicated miter sled allows for excellent control, dead-on accuracy, and the ability to go into shop production mode for fine woodworking.

Diggerjacks…Great job and thank you for sending in the comment and pictures of your recent build to share with fellow woodworkers!
If you have a build that they would like to share please send your message as well as the pictures of your wood projects.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

13…Let’s Build a Dedicated Dado Sled for the Table Saw

This episode is part of the Let’s Build Series

The dedicated dado sled for the table saw is a highly versatile woodworking shop fixture that can expand the woodworking approaches used by many woodworkers. (The woodworking video shows how to make a precision dado sled for the tablesaw.) Dado blades are used on the table saw instead of a typical saw blade and the dado blades are often said to be “stacked.” This term implies that the dado blades, chippers, and shims are combined to create a certain width. For example, a width of a dado may be determined by the thickness of shelves in a bookcase that will fit into the dado. Perhaps you want to create dentil moulding. The dado sled is an excellent choice for repetitive cuts. As you can imagine this shop accessory can be very useful to the cabinet maker, the custom furniture maker, or the typical woodworker as the dado widths can be adjusted up to 13/16″ on this crosscut sled.

Joinery that can be cut with this table saw sled include: slots, dadoes, grooves, half laps joints, rabbets, and finger joints. As mentioned previously, you can even make your own dentil moulding for a cornice with the dado sled. A reference key is set up on the dado sled fence to control the equal spacing of the dentils just as it is done for creating finger joints. The adjustable dado spacing feature is an add on to the basic dado sled, however you will find it very easy to build and quite useful.

Note:
Take incremental passes with the dado blade to increase the depth of cut. How much material you remove at one time will depend upon the density of the material being cut.
A dado set may be purchased as a “stacked dado” set or an adjustable wobble set.
Most dado blades sold today are carbide saw blades.
Dado saw blades can be used in the table saw or radial arm saw.
Dado blades work well on hardwoods, soft woods, and sheet goods. Use the instruction manual that comes with the dado blade set as a guide.
A dado table saw sled is economical to build and is highly effective for production work.
Set the dado sled for zero clearance for safety and to avoid tearout.
(If you have made a wide dado and now want a narrow dado.)To create a fresh zero clearance you can simply layer the the top of the sled’s base with a thin sheet of plywood or mdf. Make sure to firmly attach the new surface to the existing sled with screws or double stick tape.
On the fence directly in front of the operator there is a 4” x 4” block of wood. This is installed as a constant reminder of the spinning blades of the dado blade. The top of the block is elevated far above the blades and can serve as a handle for pushing and pulling the dado sled. Always use caution and think safety first.

The dado set used in the above woodworking video is the Freud SD508 Super Dado 8-inch Stack Dado. The set includes 2 blades, a shim set, 6 chippers, and a protective case. The blades are eight inch, 24-tooth blades for table saws with 5/8″ arbors.

The Apprentice and The Journeyman University

How to Build a Table Saw Miter Sled

How to Build a Table Saw Miter Sled

Table saw miter sled with 90 degree fenceHas there ever been a time that you’ve struggled to cut a perfect miter joint? Believe me, there’s no need to feel alone. All of us have had our challenges with the miter joint at one time or another. This woodworking article and video show how to make a precision crosscut known as the table saw miter sled.

So, let’s say that we want to build a woodworking project like a picture frame and we are looking to create four dead on miters joints. What’s going to be the woodworking tool of choice? We could use a table saw miter gauge  or a miter saw for cutting our joinery. We could use a fine handsaw and block plane. I think you’ll agree that they are a number of ways that a woodworker can cut miter joints for our wood projects. However, what’s the best method for getting outstanding results? Have you ever considered the dedicated table saw miter sled?

Table Saw Miter Sled measured with a Wixey Digital ProtractorFor my money I’ll use the table saw miter sled with a quality saw blade any day because an accurate miter sled gives the woodworker a greater amount of control over the material being cut. The centralized miter fence needs to be accurately set to 90 degrees when the the miter sled is being constructed. Since you’ll be making both a left miter cut and a right miter cut, you are guaranteed a joint that will add up to 90 degrees every time. This is provided that the material is properly secured and and also provided that there is no sawdust or debris between the material and the fence that it rest against. The perfect miter joints are predictable and duplicatable when a woodworker uses the table saw miter sled.

Cutting perfect miters with the Table Saw Miter SledPerhaps you already have a miter sled. If you do not have one, it’s not a problem because they are simple to build just like other cross cut sleds. Just take your time and enjoy the process. Before long you too will be cutting miters for your wood projects efficiently and confidently every single time. You will quickly notice an increased quality to your woodworking when you make a decision to build this saw sled. A dedicated table saw miter sled provides the woodworker with a tremendous advantage. This advantage is called accuracy.This woodworking tutorial walks you through all the steps of building the table saw sled.

Your materials on hand may differ from mine and that’s OK. Use what you have available.

(The following are the materials that were used to build my table saw miter sled.)

1/2″ Baltic birch plywood is used as the miter sled base. The runners and handles are of hard maple. Paraffin wax is applied to the bottom of the miter sled to allow for a better sliding action.

Cutting perfect miters on the table saw miter sledThe table saw miter sled can also be used as a cross cut sled by leaving space between interior miter fences and the fence closest to the woodworker. A SketchUp model for the dedicated table saw miter sled has been created for your convenience. Access Google’s 3D Warehouse for the miter sled plan. (Google offers a free acount if you do not already have one.)

Let me know how the dedicated table saw miter sled works out for you. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to build a better miter sled, then I’d love to hear about it. If you have any pictures of your miter sled that you’d like to send just click “Contact“.

This episode is part of the Let’s Build Series

Recommended Videos:

Mastering the Miter Joint
Let’s Make Picture Frames with the Dedicated Miter Sled

Article:

How to Make Perfect Miter Joints

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