Thursday, February 10, 2011

Evolving a better crosscut sled: followup review

So, in the past few days I've been able to take the sled through it's paces. I'm really impressed. Having zero-clearance inserts built into the floor makes a HUGE difference. Having them made out of something as cheap as masonite is a bonus, because I can already tell that I'm probably going to go through two or three of them on so many projects. But combining the clean cuts that those inserts give me with the reliable precision of the Kreg stops gives a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. I'm mad as hell that I didn't think of this before.

The ability to cleanly cut rabbets and dados is huge. The veneer on the plywood I'm using on my current project has already shown a tendency to blow out horribly when crosscutting. A fresh insert fixed that problem. And using the Kreg stops made rabbeting out side panels for bookcases a snap: once the dado stack is properly set up, run it through the insert. Nudge the panel up to the edge of the insert, and set the stop at the other end of the panel. Next, slide the panel over the gap in the insert, and stick a piece of plywood cutoff as a spacer between the panel and stop. This sets the panel to the right position for a rabbet that's exactly the thickness of the plywood. Re-set the stop, and run rabbets. SO easy.That's the first and most obvious method that I've figured out so far... more will come, I'm sure.

I've already had a few ideas on what I would do differently on the next version; it's just the kind of guy I am. How would I build another sled more simply and easily? What functions did I not consider when I did this one? I"m already kicking myself over the replaceable insert: It's a brilliant idea that I could have done better. If I run the blade at a 45 degree angle, I'm pretty sure I'm going to run it through the screws that are holding the insert in place. I hadn't really thought about using a beveled blade with a sled before. In school, the sled was just a tool for running 90 degree crosscuts. Nothing with a dado stack, nothing with a tilted blade. And the Kreg fence has really changed everything. Having used this sled a few times, it's very clear to me just how much more is possible.

Or will be, when I make a newer, modified-again sled.


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