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Shop Made – Table Saw Miter Sled for Perfect Miter Joints

Miter Joints

assembled-frameMiter Joints are very common in woodworking and can sometimes have a intimidating impressions, especially to a beginner. They are not hard to do but tricky to setup. There are two things  you need to have a successful miter joint. One, you need to have the two cuts equal 90 degrees. It is common to think that your joint needs to be perfectly 45 degrees and 45 degrees but you can achieve a perfect miter even if you don’t have two 45 degree cuts. Second, your matching parts need to be identical. No matter how accurate your cuts are, if your parts are not the same length, you will have gaps in your joints. You can purchase commercial products that make cutting miter joints easier but with a few hours of your time, some scrap material, and a couple bucks for hardware, you can have a fantastic miter sled that can make easy, dead on, and repeatable miter joints every single time.

Miter Sled

img_5763Why do you need a miter sled? Simple answer, you don’t! But a miter sled had many features and options that allow the setup (or lack thereof), accuracy, and repeatability to be easy peasy. A miter sled has endless opportunities to include features and that is entirely up to the woodworker building their own. Some key features that we believe are mandatory are: smooth operation (sliding on the table saw surface), clamps, safety features, and a stop block system.

A sled allows the user to put the material on the sled and make the cuts. Putting the material on the sled will significantly minimize the risk of having the parts shift when cutting when compared to a standard miter gauge.

Smooth Operation

paste-waxHaving your miter sled slide smoothly within the miter slots and on the surface of your table saw is very important for a few reasons.

First, safety. It is may more safe having a smooth operating miter sled where you can slide it with one finger rather than having a miter sled that has any friction at all and requires the user to think about pushing the sled through the saw rather than concentrating on safety around the spinning blade.

Second, quality of cut. A smooth motion when cutting any material will always yield a cleaner cut when compared to a jerky motion.

Clamps

img_5752Safety is always our number 1 priority in the shop. Clamps on a miter sled keep your focus on the blade and your hands free and away from the blade or material. They do cause the process a bit more time but they dramatically increase the safety of the miter sled. They also provide much more clamping pressure when compared to a individual holding a peice of material. This will help insure the material won’t move during the cut, increasing the quality of the results.

Safety Features

img_5751Again with the safety! Keep as many fingers when you leave the shop as when you came in with! The goal of the safety features that are on the miter sled are to keep your fingers away from the blade and to keep anything from making contact with the blade that isn’t supposed to, causing it to damage your equipment or hurt you.

We have a large handle that is at the back of the unit that allows the user to push the miter sled forward and back with ease while keeping as far away from the blade as possible.

The second thing we added was a block that your blade is buried in. This keep you and your equipment (clamps) from hitting the blade if you push the sled through the cut a little too far.img_5754

Stop block system

Aside from the safety features, the stop block system is the most important feature on the miter sled. As we mentioned earlier, having your matching parts be the exact same length is critical when making mitered joints. The stop block system ensures your matching parts are exactly the same.

How does the sled work

The concept is incredible simply. The user places the material on the left side of the blade and makes a cut. Then the user moves the material and places the previously cut end against the stop block and makes the second cut. The second cut completes the opposite side of the miter and also cuts it to length. The key to the jig is the angle from the left side of the fence to the right side of the fence is exactly 90 degrees. Which means, if you place the cut from the left side against the cut from the right side, you will be ensured your miter joint will create a perfect 90 degree angle.

Conclusion

A miter sled is a dedicated solution to making mitered joints in the shop. Simply store it in your shop and grab it when you need to make a mitered joint. The only setup required is locating your miter sled and putting it on the saw. Super fast, easy, and dead on accurate miters. The best part is, it cost you very little to make! What else could a woodworker hope for!

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