Crosscut Sled

One of the most common jigs for a table saw is definitely the crosscut sled.  It allows you to make accurate and safe crosscuts for boards or panels wider than even most sliding miters saws can cut.  There are literally a million different designs and styles of crosscut sleds that can be found with just a quick internet search.  But basically it is a board that has two runners that ride in your table saw’s miter slots and has a fence which allows you to make accurate cuts.  This jig like most jigs needs to be customized to fit your specific tool. The measurements here are what I used so it fit my table saw.

Crosscut Sled


I start off by cutting down a piece of 3/4 plywood to the size of the top of my table saw.  My saw top is roughly 40 1/2 inches by 27 inches.  You can use 1/2 plywood or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) also but I picked to use what I had on hand.  I used my track saw to rough cut a piece that was a manageable size and then cut it to final length and width on the table saw.

Cut base

Once I had my plywood cut down to size it was time to make the hardwood runners that would slide in the miter slots.  It is best to use some kind of stable hardwood so that your sled will be and retain its accuracy and how smooth it rides in the miter slots.  I am making my runners out of oak I had left from a previous project. I cut them to length first on the miter saw.

Cut runner to length

It is important to have your runners as accurate as possible and to do this I take it over to the jointer to joint one face and edge of the board.

Joint the runner

Once the board is jointed and I have to edges that are 90 degree of each other I prepare to cut them to their final height and width on the table saw.  But before I do that I get my digital caliper out and get the measurements of my miter slots.

How accurate

Next I cut the board to width to perfectly fit in the miter slot. It is safer to creep towards that perfect cut than to try and get it right on the first cut… don’t ask me how I know this.

runner to width

Once it perfectly fits in the miter slots I will cut it to the depth of the slots.  Both runners will be cut from this one piece of oak.

runner final cut

Once both runners are finished it is time to attach them to the base. I like to put a couple washers in the miter slots to lift the runners up just a little about the top of the table of the saw to help with the alignment and ensuring a good tight glue up.  I then place the runners in the miter slots setting on top of the washers and align them with the front of the saw.

Both runners in place

It is now time to glue the base to the runners.  I use a small bead of wood glue along the entire length of both runners.

Glue the runners

I then place the base onto the top of the runners and line it up with the table top. This is one way why I made my sled the same dimensions as my table saw top.  The closer you get this to being perfectly aligned now will make it easier later one when we go to line up the fence.

Align the base

Once you are satisfied that you have everything lined up it is time to apply some pressure and let the glue dry.  One thing I seem to have plenty of in the shop is paint cans so I put them to good use.

Paint can press

Once the glue dries I drill and countersink some holes along the underside of the runners to give them some additional strength.  Make sure you countersink them below the surface of the runner so they don’t scratch up your miter slots.

Screw the runners

Now that the base is together you can set it back on the table saw and raise the blade to come through the base. Do not cut it the entire length of the sled yet until you attach both fences. This is just to help later when you go to align the fences.

cutting the slot

You can set the base aside and start getting your stock ready for your back and front fences.  I had some oak that were the stringers from some rather large pallets left over that were perfect for this.  There are many different options to use for your fences as long as they are straight and preferably stable.

material for fence

I cut a 40 1/2 inch piece for the back fence and a 14 1/2 inch piece for the front one.  Because this rough cut lumber I have to joint and plane them.  Just as I did with the runners I take it to the jointer to joint one face and one edge of the board.

Joint the fence

Then it is over to the thickness planer to plane the opposite face parallel.  I try and keep the board as thick as possible by only taking off as little material as needed.

Plane the fence

I then take the two fences to the table saw and rip them to width. Once again I try and only take off as much material to make the edge parallel to the other edge.

Rip the fence

To help with the build up of saw dust against your front fence that could throw of the alignment of the work piece sitting on your sled, it is good to cut a 45 degree chamfer along the bottom inside edge.


Now that both fences are prepared it is time to do a little shaping.  I decided to cut out an area for my hands when using the sled. This will help keep my hands and fingers away from sharp spinning objects.

I used the band saw to cut out the shape and then the oscillating spindle sander to clean up the saw marks.  I just rounded off the corners on the back fence.

Sanding the fence

To make it a little more comfortable I use a round over bit in my router table to round off the edges of both fences. Make sure that you don’t round over the bottom edges that will be connected to the base.

Rout the fence

Now over to my multi-purpose table for a little more sanding.

sand the fence some more

The next step is probably the most important one.  It is time to align the front fence and attach it to the base.  I use a large framing square to align the front fence and make sure it is 90 degree to the blade.  There are several methods out there to make sure the fence is perfectly online but I have used this method several times and have had great results.  The most popular method of squaring your fence is the five cut method which you easily find several videos and articles describing this in detail.

Align the fence

Once you align the fence it is best to clamp it down and then check the alignment again.  It is easy to knock it off while clamping it.  Then I flip it over and drive multiple screws into the fence through the base.

Attach the fence

The other fence can be lined up to the back edge of the base since the faces purpose is to keep the both sides of the base stable once you cut through it.

attach the other fence

Now that everything is attached there is just a  couple more steps. I like to do just a little final sanding to break all the edges and round off the corners.

even more sanding

Place the sled in the miter slots and and push it cutting the base the entire width of the sled.  Only raise the blade as tall as you think you will need.  This will keep the fences stable and keep everything aligned.

Cut the sled

To help your sled slide smoothly over your table saw I use a paste wax to wax the bottom of the sled.  Some people only wax the runners but I have found that waxing the entire bottom of the sled helps alleviate any friction.

Wax the runners

This a worth while use of an afternoon that can help you with safe and accurate crosscuts on your table saw.  I made a very simple crosscut sled but you can add a bunch of options from blade guards to stop blocks.  I hope this helps you make your custom crosscut sled and I’d love to see pictures of what you come up with.

Crosscut sled


Pallet Wood Wine Box

A perfect gift for the wine lover in your life. Give this custom made wine box as a birthday present or as a gift for the host of dinner or holiday party. Here I will show you how I make them out of planks from a pallet. You can substituted pallet wood with any other board and all the measurements should be adjusted to fit the wine bottle you intend to put in it. To cushion the bottle while it is in the box, I use wood shavings but there are also many materials that you could use. The tools I use for this project is a table saw, router table, miter saw, thickness planer, random orbital sander, and brad nail gun. As there is many different way to accomplish the same task in woodworking I am just showing you one way to do it. 

The basic construction of the box is simple. The sides are glued and brad nailed together. The bottom panel of the box is glued in to a dado that has been routed in the all four sides. The top slides into another set of dados routed into the top of the sides. 

The boards I have are 5 1/2 inches by 39 inches. Since these boards came from a pallet there are nail holes at the ends and middle of the boards so I plan the layout to avoid these nail holes.

At first I just cut the boards down to rough length. I will cut them down to final size later to make sure they fit perfectly. Basically I am cutting off the ends and the center section where nail holes were. Once I have all the boards cut down I take them over to my thickness planer where I plane them to 1/4 inch.

Now take all four side pieces and the top and bottom to the table saw and first cut the the rough edge off the board and then rip them all to an width. For my wine boxes I rip the sides to 5 1/2 inches and the top and bottom to 5 inches.

I then take them back to the miter saw where I cut them to their final length. The long side boards get cut to 16 inches and the short sides get cut to 4 1/2 inches.

To make the dados for the top and bottom panel to fit I set up a 1/4 inch straight cutting bit in my router table at a depth of a 1/4 inch. Both short end sides get a 1/4 inch dado that is 1/4 inch from the edge. The longer side pieces will get a stopped dado on the bottom edge and a dado that is stopped on one end and through on the other end to allow for the top to slide on and off.

Take one of the short end pieces and cut off the 1/4 strip above the dado and save. This small piece will be glued on the top to act as a handle and to maintain the original lines of the box.

It’s finally time to build a box. Make sure to apply enough wood glue to each of the joints. I use brad nails to help hold it while the glue dries. Even with butt joints the box is plenty strong enough because of the long grain glue joints between the bottom panel and the sides.

Slide the top panel into the dado in the box and then mark where you need to cut it to length. I then take the top panel to the miter saw and cut it. Then I take the small piece that I cut off the short side panel and glue that on as a pull.

And now to everyone’s favorite part of a projects… SANDING!!!! Here I just do a light sanding. I don’t want to take the wood down all the way since I want a rustic look. I also slightly sand the edges just to brake the sharp edge. It is also a good idea to slide the top panel on and sand the end flush while it is in the closed position.

At this point you can decorate the box like I did with a ink jet printer photo transfer and then apply some spray lacquer or come up with your own method of decorating and finishing the box. If you really want to get crazy you can just leave it unfinished. Either way your finished at this point!

I hope this tutorial has helped and I would love to see what you come up with for yours!

Pallet Wood Headboard

My daughter recently moved in with me and we realized that her room needed some upgrades. The first being getting her a full sized mattress. Then Sterling Davis over at Sterling’s Woodcrafts posted a video to announce the Pallet Up Cycle Challenge 2014. Since I’ve never made anything with pallet wood I thought this would be a great opportunity. A few short minutes on Pinterest and we had found a couple ideas for headboards made from pallets. I just on my trusty PC and started drawing up a SketchUp model to fit her bed size.

The construction of this headboard is fairly simple. The wider boards that act as joists on a pallet would be used for both the main frame and also as an external decorative frame to finish it off. The frame for this bed would be 48 inches tall and 54 inches wide. Again, this is for a full sized mattress but you could easily adjust the dimensions to fit any size of mattress.
Before we get ahead of ourselves we have to break apart some pallets. I found some really nice pallets that had longer joists and slats that were in pretty good shape. Now keep in mind this was my first attempt at a pallet project so there was a little learning curve to take them apart without making a complete mess and destroying the wood.
My wife had suggested I cut off the ends of the slats to ease taking the pallets apart since most of the ends were already so tore up I wouldn’t be able to use them. This worked out perfectly and really sped things up.When I got them all done I had a good amount of usable wood (and a little firewood).
Now it was time to start building. I used the long wide pieces to build the frame. The vertical styles were cut to 45 inches. Once both were cut I measured them laying together so I could subtract that measurement from 54 inches so I would have the exact width I needed without having to rip the boards down. I did this for a couple reasons but the main one was so that I didn’t have to run a board that might still have nails in it through my table saw and risk damaging the blade.
The joinery I used was simple butt joints secured by pocket screws using Kregs K5 Pocket Hole Jig. These pocket holes won’t be visible once the headboard is all together. I drill two pocket holes at either ends of the three horizontal rails.
Then it I just attached the frame pieces together making sure to check for square and I attached each joint. Having a flat work surface that you can clamp your work pieces really helps for projects like this.
The next step was to cut a 27 x 54 inch piece of half inch plywood to act as a backing so I could glue and nail the slats to. My table saw only has a 26 inch rip capacity so I had to rip it into a 25 inch and then a 2 inch piece. This isn’t an issue since the slats will be hiding these pieces here shortly.
Once the plywood was cut to dimension I just glued and then nailed it to the frame. I used 18 gauge brad nails but you could using nails or screw since this will be covered by the slats.
Now its time to start ripping the slats. The chevron pattern I made will need five inch and 3 inch slats. I rip one clean side to the slat and then flip it and rip it to its final width to have both edges clean and parallel.
 With all the slats cut to width I took them over to the miter saw to cut them to length. I tried to cut them all to 24 inches since this was going to be the longest part used to make the chevron. Because some of the ends were a little tore up and others had other messed up sections I had to cut them shorter. This isn’t an issue since some of the pieces will end up getting cut down later.
To begin laying out the pattern I find and then mark the center of the headboard and also mark a 90 degree V. This will be the starting point to starting laying out the pieces. The slats get glued and then nailed to the plywood.
From there its just alternating rows between the 5 inch and 3 inch slats to make the pattern. The pattern possibilities are really just about endless. I altered the widths just to add to the visual design of the headboard.
 I used my bandsaw to cut the slats down to rough size before I glued and nailed them. Once all the slats were down I used a belt sander and then a orbital sander to clean up the slats and even them off a little. I think if I was going to do this again I would have ran the slats through my thickness planer. Once it was sanded to my liking I took a flush trim bit in my router and then cleaned up the edges.
The final steps of the build is to measure two 45 inch boards for the sides to frame out the headboard. Then after gluing and nailing them to the sides I took a measurement of the overall width and then cut another board to be the top section of the frame. I used my finishing nail gun for these pieces since they were thicker than the slats.
To finish off the headboard I used two coats of a water based polyurethane and sanded it lightly between each coats. I chose the water based poly because I wanted a little protection but didn’t want the yellowing that you get with normal polyurethane. I would have preferred to spray on the finish but because of the weather I chose to go with a brush on application.
Here it is with both coats of poly. I really like how it maintained some of it’s rustic look without looking to “rustic”.
Once the poly was dry I carried it up to my daughters room. To attach the headboard to the metal frame I used 8 small bolts with washers and nuts.
My daughter really likes how her headboard came out. She has now also requested a matching nightstand. I guess that will be an upcoming project. Here is the video I made of the build. I hope you enjoy it and if you want a free copy of the SketchUp you can find it at


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