There are many benefits to the table saw sled. Your saw probably came with a little miter gauge, so why not just use it instead of building this huge miter jig for the saw? There are many great advantages of the sled over the miter gauge. For one, it is more accurate. It is also safer and even feels safer because when using the miter gauge the board you are cutting can rock on you or even turn slightly resulting in kickback.
The sled is going to provide you support on both sides of your blade as well. This makes it easier and safer when crosscutting on it. Sleds can also be designed with hold downs, making the safety factor even higher, and you can make cuts that don’t go completely through the wood without any issues. Though these things can be done using the miter gauge, complications can arise that won’t with the sled.
One thing that a cross cut sled also helps with is if you have a ton of small cross cuts to make. You can set up a stop on the sled and repeat the cut over and over. Again, with the tiny cuts you don’t have to worry about your fingers so close to the blade (which you should never make tiny cuts without a push block on your table saw anyway.)
There are so many benefits to using the sled over the miter gauge with one exception – time. Usually the sled takes longer to set up than just using the miter gauge. But once you get used to the sled, you get faster with it as time goes by.
Here is a great video on making a simple cross cutting sled. The design and video is by the famous Steve Ramsey, and we all love his great sense of humor and antics in the shop! Hopefully it will be of use to you in designing and building your own.
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Ted Leger –
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