As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.  

Cross Cut Sled #1

 

[diagram of cutoff table]


I have a 20+ year old Rockwell/Beaver (Delta) table saw. I bought it used for a good price, as a beginner's/learner's table saw. So far, it has served me quite well. Someday perhaps I'll either upgrade it or replace it.

In the meantime, one jig that I've repeatedly heard is very useful as an "upgrade" to table saw owners is a Cutoff Box. I've also heard this referred to as a Sliding Cutoff Table or other variations on those words. Hopefully the diagram above will clue you in, if you've never heard of one. The runners fit into the miter slots, and you use it to make 90-degree cuts. It is reported to perform better than a miter guage.

In my case, I hope that this will help me make better 90-degree cuts than I previously could with my miter guage. Which in turn should extend the useful life of my table saw.

I built my jig based on instructions from the April 1996 issue of "The Family Handyman", pg24. I've seen other instructions in books, magazines, and even on a Table Saw How-To video. However, at a mere 3 paragraphs plus 1 photo, the Family Handyman instructions were the most clear and concise that I'd yet seen. They really illustrated how easy it can be to build one of these jigs.

I have no desire to violate copyright by quoting from that article. So I'll just summarize my steps here:

Materials/Costs: The cost was nothing, as I just used leftover material that I found in my garage. The runners were cut from some leftover oak (3/4" wide X 3/8" tall X about 15-18" long). The plywood was a section of 3/4" birch, about 2' wide by 15-18" deep. The front and rear boards were a pair of 2x4 cutoffs. I did try and ensure that the front board was straight and square. I also roughly shaped the front board (see the diagram). I left the full height of the 2x4 where the saw blade would go, but cut it shorter over the rest of the board to make it easier for my hands to hold down whatever workpiece I might be cutting. Slightly chamfering the bottom edge of the front board is also a good idea, as you often get a bit of sawdust on the jig and you don't want it interfering with placing a piece of lumber tight against the front board for cutting.

I tried to keep this simple. I would have liked a slightly larger piece of plywood, but I just settled for what was available. My goal was just to get this built quickly and cheaply so that I could get down to the important task; which was using it.

Later on if I decide that I need a better cutoff box, I have no worries about junking this one, since it was so cheap, quick, and simple to assemble.

Follow-Up: I found the jig a bit stiff to push, so I applied some furniture wax to the bottom of the table (A Carnuba/Beeswax mix) and then it slid far better on the tablesaw. I first used this jig to cut out the material for a Foot Stool and it was a pleasure to use.

Further Follow-Up: Yowza, I love this jig! For the last month, just about every time I turn on the table saw I reach for this jig. It is so nice being able to crosscut wide stock with accuracy! I'm happy to leave my mitre guage on the shelf gathering dust.

 

Thanks for reading!