This cross-cut sled is about as basic as it gets (the clamp is the stop block, base is 1/4" MDF, walls are stacked plywood, sliders are 1/4" plywood, all parts attached with glue):

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It seems to have added a whole new level of danger to my table saw, with the blade right there in the middle of my workspace making through cuts with no guard, and the large surfaces I can push on with slots that the blade comes through.

How can I use this sled safely? What safety improvements can I make (or should I have made), how should I push it along, how should I remove cut pieces and load/position new boards, and what kind of new kickback dangers (or any new dangers really) should I be aware of?

  • I guess I could paint the base orange around the center although I don't want the paint coming off onto wood. I was going to stick no hands warning labels on the walls around the center too to remind me, esp. to watch my wandering thumbs. But that's all I can think of, and I have no ideas for safer technique.
    – Jason C
    Nov 7, 2015 at 20:44
  • 2
    It looks like you have a ripping blade in place for your cross-cuts. True, you could be ripping a short piece of wood, but still if you're going to the trouble of using the sled, you might want to use your cross-cut blade or a combination blade for a cleaner cut.
    – Ast Pace
    Nov 7, 2015 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


You can add a guard to the front so you can still use the full (planned) depth of the blade all the way through the cut without the sharp bits peeking through. Then add a backstop so you can't push the sled so far that the blade would cut through that guard.

Add a handle on the front to the side a obvious holding point so your hand is not near the blade. If you can make is awkward to hold where the blade is by adding some height to that part even better.

As a habit don't reach into the sled without pulling it all the way back towards you.

  • A back stop is a good idea. But it'd stick out a foot at least. Maybe I can do some sort of removable thing for storage, like dowels that stick into the wall with some long set bolts or something. Although the guard will add 6" on its own anyways.
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2015 at 1:16
  • Do you pull the sled back towards you before removing the cut piece? Doesn't that risk jamming it between the blade and the stop or at minimum marking up the piece on the way back?
    – Jason C
    Nov 8, 2015 at 1:17
  • 1
    @JasonC You stop the cut and reverse the sled when the top of the blade just entered the front of the sled. This means the piece hasn't gotten past the blade yet. Nov 8, 2015 at 1:34
  • Typical guard for the sled is essentially a box on the back of the sled's fence, to keep your fingers away from the area where the blade will come through the fence. Though you should always have your hands clear of that area anyway. (If the blade comes through the back of the guard, you're pushing the sled too far.)
    – keshlam
    Nov 8, 2015 at 17:01

I wanted to build on the information from ratchet freak's answer

Concerning the runners and gauge slots of the table saw

Runners in most cases are sized to the tables mitre gauge slots. A dimentionally stable material is recommended (not required) so that the runners will not change in size too much and risk the sled binding. People still use wood obviously and the tip there would be to make sure the grain is parallel to the gauge slot.

Regardless of the runners you use you should always test the sled before running it. Not necessarily everyday but check often. Clear the gauge slots of debris and run your sled back and forth with the saw off to be sure that the movement is fluid.

The sled own safety features

The rear fence is most important as it gives a true surface for the wood to rest against. It reduces the chance of kickback to next to none. All cuts should be made with the wood resting against the fence. Ensure that your stops are also secured as you are going to be putting some pressure on them. You do not move, nor want to move, the work while the sled is in motion.

Another great thing about the sled is that it functions as a zero clearance insert. In order to use that feature properly the sled is usually partnered with the blade it was designed with. You basic blades are 1/8th of an inch in width so this might not be a big deal. Note that not all blades are put to the same standards and that there could be a minor variance. This comes back to testing before running.

Additional features for the sled

Again, ratchet freak's answer covers this area but I wanted to at least add pictures.

Sled with extra safety features

Image from lumberjocks

You can see an acrylic/plexglass guard that runs above the blade and a box guard on the end to help when you extend the sled farther.

Not all sleds have either of these features but you can never be too safe and these cause virtually no operational issues as long as they are secure.

Your hands and other objects

Keep them on the fence and if possible use clamps to keep objects in the sled secure during operation. Become a clairvoyant when you are about to make a pass with the sled. Know where your hands, clamps and work piece are going to be. This can help ensure that no object will come close to the blade path.

When it comes to clamps there are a slew of optional items you can use like t-tracks that can help with frequent stop positional changes.

Blade clearance

Like covered in this answer don't have the blade higher than it needs to be. Also make sure that the blade height wont cut the fences while making a operational pass. Again this refers to a point I made earlier.

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