Norm’s Crosscut Sled Homemade Machines & Jigs
Way back in the late 80’s, one of my favourite things to do was to get up on Saturday morning, make coffee and watch the latest episode of The New Yankee Workshop. I was a 23 year old apprentice carpenter at the time and living in an apartment in Brampton, so no workshop at my disposal and that was my woodworking “fix”. I learned a lot from that show and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every episode at least twice.
Norm usually stuck with manufactured tools and equipment, but did do some homemade jigs occasionally. His crosscut sled (or he called it a panel cutter) is one that I’ve made several times over the years, the last one was before my homemade table saw with the sliding table.
It’s particularly handy for squaring up midsize panels, and since I’m currently building my kitchen cabinets, I thought it would be a good idea to make one for that.
I started with a piece of 1/4″ plywood roughly 20″ x 25″ and cut a 3/4″ wide strip off one edge that will be the runner:
I measured the distance from the miter slot to the blade and squared a line to locate the runner. I could then glue and clamp the runner onto the base, using the framing square to make sure it’s as square as possible to the base:
The heavy hammer acts as a clamp to hold the strip in the middle until the glue dries:
A cleat for the front is cut from 1/2″ plywood about 1-1/2″ wide and fastened to the front edge with two short screws on each end:
I tested the sled to see how close it is to square using the five cut method. I found that the cleat needed just a very small adjustment. After that, I put in the rest of the screws to fully secure the cleat:
This jig is lightweight and easy to tuck away when not in use. It’s perfect for squaring panels for drawer bottoms, shelves and doors, or any other larger plywood or solid wood stock:
Here’s a video of the jig in action (you can skip ahead to 1:40 to see that part only):