Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Table Saw Sled

I have been looking at pen blank designs on the internet and have been a lot of designs that use pieces cut at different angels.  I would like to the to create some of these designs in the future.  I'm a little nervous about using the Compound Miter Saw to cut the angels because the pieces are so small, so I try to avoid it.  I've been using the band saw to free hand the angled cuts I've been making so far, and even though they're pretty good, they still need sanding afterwards and I have made some sub-par cuts in the past.  And using just the miter gauge on the table saw also makes me nervous.  So I decided to make a sled for the table saw to use.  The one thing I think I'll always like more about using the band saw over the table saw is the thickness of the blade.  The band saw produces less direct waste from cutting than the table saw does.  But if I need to sand the piece after I cut it on the band saw then there's probably not much different in the end.  I did some research online and built the sled in the pictures below from extra pieces around the shop.  I also made angles guide pieces from thin plywood to use in the sled.  I made 45, 60, 30 and 15 degree guides.  The guides have a pieces of wood glued to the top so that it can be clamped to the back fence.  The sled works pretty well, and I can cut pieces at certain angels at consistent widths.  I incorporated a stop-block on the right side so that I could control how wide the piece would be.  But I quickly found out that having the blank up against the angled guide and also pressed against the stop-block violated the "Don't use a miter gauge and fence together" rule.  I almost had the saw shoot the thin piece of would I was cutting out of the sled.  So I moved the stop-block a few inches to the right and clamped it to the fence.  Then I found another piece of wood that I could place to the left of the stop-block to butt the blank up against, then remove before I made the cut.  So the piece isn't being pinched between anything.  After the cut the loose stop-block can be placed back in, the blank slid down until it touches, the loose piece removed and another cut made.  But once I get down to a little over an inch of blank left, my fingers are too close to the blade for comfort.  But I don't want to waste material.  So i want to get a toggle clamp to somehow mount on the sled so the smaller pieces of the blank can be held on place so less wood is wasted.  There's still some other things I want to tweak on the sled, but overall it works well.

Table Saw Sled

Underside of the sled

Sled with the angled guides

Sled with guides and stop-block clamped down and pieces that have been cut

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