When we use a miter saw, we rely on miter gauges to help support our workpiece as we cut into it at an angle.
So why would anyone bother to make and use a crosscut sled instead of a miter gauge?
Crosscut Sled vs Miter Saw
- A miter saw allows you to cut at a range of different angles. Which makes it great for cutting door frames, picture frames, window casings and the like.
- A miter saw usually comes with a miter gauge, which is a piece of apparatus that holds your woodwork piece at a set angle.
- A crosscut sled, on the other hand, is designed to slot into the miter gauge slot. Once setup, it allows you to safely make a fixed and precise angled cut over and over again.
- A crosscut sled is better than a miter gauge at allowing you to safely and accurately cut wood without it slipping and sliding.
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Do I Need A Crosscut Sled If I Have A Miter Saw?
In theory, no. But in practice, yes absolutely.
For safety reasons alone, it is worth investing the time in setting up a crosscut sled.
Plus, miter gauges are pretty limited when compared to a crosscut sled.
While the miter is great for angle cuts, they aren’t very flexible.
Sleds, on the other hand, allow you to saw wood every which way without it slipping around. Plus, they also make it easier for you to perform a range of other tasks, such as making shoulder cuts and finger joints.
So What Is The Actual Purpose Of A Crosscut Sled?
The term ‘crosscut’ refers to the way we cut into wood.
There are two types of cuts;
- Rip Cuts: This is when we cut straight, right along the grain. This type of cut is not a problem for a table saw.
- Crosscut: This is when we cut across the grain of the wood. This is a trickier and more risky cut to make. Still, with a Miter Saw – combined with the extra support that a Crosscut Sled offers – they can be done cleanly and safely.
So, the purpose of a crosscut sled is to replace a miter gauge with a tool that is more practical (and safer) for cutting accuracy.
Do I Really Even Need A Miter Saw?
It depends on the complexity of the kind of cuts you want to make.
Table saws are used for making straight cuts. In other words, you won’t be able to get too inventive with your angles when using a table saw.
A miter saw, however, can make both straight cuts and angled cuts with ease.
If you are new to woodworking, you probably aren’t making a lot of difficult and complicated woodwork projects just yet. So, forking over extra money to get a miter saw, (only for it to collect dust in a corner of the workshop), isn’t required.
What Size Should A Crosscut Sled Be?
You can make the sled any size you want. However, the exact size you choose to make it will be determined by the size of the lumber you will be working on.
So long as the length of your sled is lengthier than the width of the wood you are cutting, then you are on the right track.
Ideally, you will want to make at least two sleds. One large one for large work pieces. And then a second scaled-down version, specifically for using on those smaller projects.
How Do You Make A Good Cross Cut Sled?
If you want to build a useful cross cut jig, then Steve Ramsey has a brilliant tutorial showing you how. You can watch the quick 6 minute how-to below to learn more:
So, to sum up, should you bother using a crosscut sled on a miter saw?
If you want to perform a crosscut, then a crosscut sled is the best way to hold any sized work piece safely in place as you saw. The sled keeps the wood from slipping and sliding around, allowing you to cut accurately.
Which is why crosscut sleds are so important to have in your workshop.