Cutting miters can be a pain in the neck if you don't have an effective and accurate way to make them. In my opinion, using hand tools is the most precise way to achieve perfect miters but since I don't have the required tools to do it that way I decided to make a miter sled for my table saw. This jig is pretty simple to make and depending how precise you want to be takes less than a day in the shop to create. If your the engineering type and pride yourself on getting things within a thousandth of an inch than I suggest researching the five cut method for squaring the fence on this jig. You'll see the way I do it shortly which is less time consuming but not as accurate. For my purposes I didn't need it to be extremely accurate over a long distance so the method I demonstrate worked for me. This entire jig is made from MDF and kiln dried 2 x 4 lumber and didn't cost me a dime. I already had the hardware that I used laying around the shop so it was pretty convenient. If you don't have any of these materials then don't fret because they are all very inexpensive and can all be found at your local big box store.
I begin this build by ripping a piece of 3/4" MDF down to size at the table saw.
The first cut I made at the table saw was larger than I actually needed, so I use the table saw once more to finalize the jigs body dimensions. The exact dimensions can be found in the detailed plans that are companion to this article and video tutorial.
Two miter slot runners are required for the jig to ride across the surface of the table saw accurately. The wood you choose for these is important. You want to make sure that the wood is both straight grained and some kind of hardwood. Hardwood is used for its durability and the reason for needing straight grained wood is to combat seasonal expansion and contraction of the wood fibers. If you don't pay attention to the wood grain you may find yourself with very tight fitting runners part of the year and loose fitting runners in other parts. The other option of course is to purchase manufactured aluminum runners or something similar. I personally use the Microjig runners when not wanting to deal with making them myself. The ones I create for this jig are cut and sized at the table saw.
Use your table saw to adjust the width of the runner until it fits snug but slides freely in the slot. I accidentally took to much off when making mine but I provide a fix for this later on in the tutorial.
I didn't want to fuss with adjusting two separate miter slot runners so I cut my stock wide enough to create two runners from the same piece of material. With the runner sized to my miter slot I divided it equally in two at the table saw giving myself two identical miter slot runners. I trim the runners to length at the miter saw.
With the base of the jig and the runners completed I moved on to a little assembly. I have to elevate the miter tracks off the bottom of the slot as well as above the surface of the table saw in order to secure them to the base. I do this with pennies at both the front, middle, and rear of the miter track runner.
Here is the little fix I was talking about in the previous step. In order to make sure the there is zero play in the slot I am wedge little pieces of paper in between the side of the runner and the side of the miter slot. This will make sure the the runner is tight against the side of the miter slot during glue up. If you have to do this yourself make sure you place the paper on the inside edge of both miter tracks.
Little dabs of glue are used to secure the tracks to the base of the sled body. Since the glue isn't the main mechanism holding the tracks to the sled base this is all the glue you will need for this step. Make sure that the tracks are both even with the front of your table saw surface as you see in the images above. Place the jig body panel on the tracks and center it as best you can. Use your table saw fence to square it if you like but make sure that the edge of the panel is square to the edge of your table saw surface.
While the glue is drying you can start working on the fence construction. I begin this step by cutting 2 x 4 lumber to length at the miter saw. Using my jointer I square one face to one edge on each fence piece. I use my planer to bring the apposing faces into parallel. I trimmed both fence pieces to width at the table saw ensuring that the jointed edge is against my table saw fence.
The forward fence needs a dado cut into it which will except the extruded aluminum t-track that I will install. This t-track will be used to position a stop block for making repeated cuts. I do this at my table saw with a dado stack installed.
Now that the glue is dried on the miter runners I can now secure them permanently. I first drill pilot holes with countersinks then sink 1/2" flat head screws through the runner into the base.
With the base of the jig finished I can begin installing the fences. I start with the back fence by applying glue and driving 2 1/2" drywall screws in from underneath. Pilot holes with countersinks are drilled and clamps are used to secure the fence in place before driving the screws in. Make sure that you don't place any screws in the vicinity of the blade kerf that you will be cutting shortly.
Its time to cut the blade kerf. Before doing so you need to ensure that your table saw blade is accurately tilted to 45-degrees. I do this with a Wixey brand digital angle gauge but a reliable and accurate miter square can be used as well.
With the blade angle set make the initial kerf cut. This cut should not go all the way through the jig base quite yet. Only go about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through, you will understand why in a moment.
Before attaching the front fence the t-track has to be installed. I first cut the miter track to length at the miter saw then use a little persuasion from my dead blow hammer to fit it into the dado I cut. I secure it with 1/2" flat head screws using the provided screw holes in the track.
Here is the point where you would employ the five cut method to square the fence to the blade. Since I didn't need that level of accuracy I forwent that procedure and just used my most reliable and accurate square. After squaring the fence, the same method I used to attach the front fence was used to attach the back fence.
With both fences attached it's time to finish cutting the blade kerf. Make sure your blade is accurately tilted to 45-degrees and raise the blade as high as it can go witout cutting into the t-track. Plunge the blade all the way through the base of the sled being careful not the place your hands anywhere near where the blade will come through.
The adjustable stop is made up of a t-track bolt, star knob, and a piece of scrap 3/4" Medium density fiberboard. This isn't glamorous but it does the job. You can get more creative with this stop if you would like but I'm more of a function over fashion kind of guy. I cut the MDF to size at the miter saw and drill a hole through it using my drill. I know... super fancy.
The stop is installed by sliding the t-track bolt into the t-track, sliding the stop onto the bolt, and then tightening the star knob. Hopefully this is descriptive enough.
This sled is essential for making wide end grain miter cuts on anything from case pieces to small ring boxes. Hopefully you found this tutorial useful and end up making one for yourself. If you do I would love to hear how it went for you and weather of not you made any modifications to my design. I love constructive criticism as well so if you have something to say about this project please feel free to leave a comment down below in the comments or on the video post via my YouTube Channel. All of my social media accounts have links at the botton of this page so if you have a second and want to support what I do here at Golden Coast Woodworks please subscribe or follow me. I thank you for reading and I will see you next time.