It's always easier to carry on doing things the way we always do, and only when things go wrong or when we get fed-up with things that aren't working right, are awkward or dysfunctional ... do we make changes, such is so with my Table Saw Sled.
I loved to hate my table saw sled, it was well built, and accommodated a variety of attachments (which I seldom used) and the main thing I needed it for was cross cutting wide boards that my sliding mitre saw could not cut. The problem with this, is just the weight of the sled would make me cringe at even the thought of dragging it out... 26 pounds of raw wood and plastic ...
And so it happened, a couple of so years ago, I decided to make a simple, accurate, easy to use, crosscutting jig for the table saw. I used some old (very dry) construction grade plywood and some also very dry Red Alder for the fence, and of course a plastic mitre gauge blank.
This crosscut prototype came together quite quickly and was astonishingly accurate, even years later it is still dead-on accurate. The thing worked so well, it was replacing my MEGA Table Saw Sled for every job, and even doing more ... I kept mumbling that I needed to ditch the prototype and make a quality version and many of you encouraged me to make another one from better quality wood products ... and so I listened, and here it is!
Below is my MEGA Table Saw Sled that will likely become "used wood around the shop"
As I mentioned in the video, my table saw came with a HORRIBLE mitre gauge, made of cast iron with a steel runner that weight almost 6 pounds. I fact the head was so heavy it if it got near the back of the saw it would sometimes flip out of the mitre slot and on to the floor, which is what caused the black handle tightening handle to snap off. It was very poorly balanced. BUT, by chance, I happened to notice one day that the steel mitre gauge blank they used was excellent, it was the cast iron head that was terrible, so I wondered if rather than throw the whole thing out, maybe I could salvage the steel runner for a NEW jig ... and so I did, and below is what's left of the old green mitre gauge I complained about so often.
And below is the replacement Incra Mitre Gauge I purchased to replace the old green one. You still need a mitre gauge for table saw for angles and other things that the wooden cross cut jig I am making here, will not easily do. I love the Incra Mitre gauge, but to be honest, for quick straight forward 90 degree cuts, I gets used very seldom now.
For more details on the INCRA Cross Cut Mitre Gauge, Available here from the Woodworkweb Amazon Store - HERE
I have a hunch, many people watching will be inclined to build this easy-to-make jig, but few will have access to an old dis-used mitre gauge with with metal mitre bar. The alternative, as I mentioned in the video is a UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight) plastic blanks, pre-cut as shown below, or you can make your own with plastic you can purchase online of from a local plastics supplier.
If you are looking for Plastic Mitre Slot Runners, these are available through the Woodworkweb Amazon Store - Here
This UHMW plastic is easily cut with any table saw and a better quality table saw blade with probably a 50 or 60 tooth blade. I will come in sheets and you may be able to purchase an off-cut piece about 36 inches long and 3/8" thick x 3/4" wide (all mitre slots are 3/4" wide)
** SEE BELOW FOR INSTALLING PLASTIC MITRE BLANKS
I used good quality 1/2" Baltic Birch plywood for my jig with the measurements that best fit my saw 23" wide by 19" long. It is best if the finished jig will overhang the side of your table saw by about one inch, this make is easier to set up during the build. If you are using a smaller portable saw, I would judge the distance for the size of the jig to be the distance from the table saw blade to the left side of the saw then add about 2 inches (you will be trimming of at least 1/2" when the jig is completed).
In terms of the fence, I laminated 2, DRY pieces of Beech together, Oak or Walnut would work well as would most hardwoods. The lamination is important as you want to make sure the fence will remain flat and straight over it's lifetime and laminating 2 boards together will accomplish this.
The final size of my trimmed fence is 3/4" thick, x 2" high and 21" long. Note, my fence does NOT reach all the way to where the table saw blade will during a cut, this was done on purpose to allow space for some cuts I make from time to time, in your case you could create with the space of have it match right up against the blade when it is finished which means your fence would be the full length of the width of your bottom plywood.
I have found that the best way to install plastic mitre blanks is from the top down. Do NOT install them the way I installed the metal blanks because the plastic blanks often bend too much doing it this way. The second thing to know about use plastic blanks is the MUST be pre drilled before inserting the screws. The UHMW plastic is very hard and if you do not pre-drill the plastic will extrude from the force of screws being driven in and the extrusion will pile up between the bland and the plywood making for an uneven base.
*** USE THIS METHOD
1 Lay the plastic blanks in your mitre slot and elevate them so the are even or slightly above the table saw base.
2 Lay your plywood base over the mitre slot with plastic blank in it
3 Use a 23 Gauge air nailer or equally small and short brad nails and drive them through the plwood into the plastic, but not so
they bottom out on the table saw, you may need to trim these nails, headless is best and 5 or 6 nails should be fine
4 Now that the plastic blank is firmly attached to plywood base pick a drill bit size and counter sink size and drill through the plywood into
the plastic but again NOT into the base of the saw, especially if the base is composite or aluminum.
It MAY be helpful to acutally remove the plywood base with plastic attached and to this away from the table saw. The nails should be
holding he plastic ridgidly.
5 Drive the screws through the plywood and into the plastic, then check to make sure plastic has not extruded from the plastic blank
and formed a lump between the plastic blank and the underside of the plywood.
The rest of the build is exactly as shown in the video.
The final test is to see if your jig is accurate by making some test cuts and you could even make the 4 side cut to see just how accurate your new crosscut table saw jig is.
I have every confidence you will enjoy and use this jig as much as I do ... maybe even more. If you mitre gauge for your table saw is one that you love hate like mine was, this will be a refreshing way of crosscutting wood on your table saw.
Copyright Colin Knecht
Taylor Tools Affiliate Store - https://lddy.no/18zkg