Well while I am preparing for the kitchen project I had some time to build and test a small panel cutting sled. I have seen many articles on sleds for panels but all of these articles build sleds a lot bigger than I can store and operate in my small shop. The one I came up with combines a few features from various articles that I think are required to get some sort of accuracy on cutting panels and doors.
The panel cutting sled body is made from a piece of 1/2” MDF I had in the shop, some Baltic birch plywood, an Incra 24” mitre slide, and a piece of hardwood for a side guide. The sled size is 32” long and 24” wide.
To make the jig sliding system, I first located the Incra mitre slide at a distance of approx 5” from the right side of the jig base. This distance would allow for a bit of the right side of the base to be cut off when I ran the sled through the blade of the saw and thus provide a zero clearance on the right side of the jig. I also made sure that the slide was mounted 90 degree off of the front of the sled base. A neat feature of the Incra slides is the adjustment screws located along the slide that allow you to take any movement out of the jig as the slide moves along the table saw mitre slot. The mitre slide also comes with screws to mount the slide to your jig base. I drilled holes and countersunk the heads to make sure the heads of the screws were into the base and would not mark any panels or doors being cut.
I then turned the jig over and made the first cut through the saw blade. I then added a side slider strip, which I made from a Qtrd sawn lumber strip I had in the shop. The strip is mounted on the underside of the jig and sits snugly against the table saw side table extension. This additional strip helps ensure that the panel sled does not move sideways during operation.
The front fence of the jig is made from two pieces of 3/4” Baltic Birch plywood thick, 1 1/2” wide and 30″ or so inches long, both screwed together. I cut a 1/8” recess in the bottom face of the fence to allow for sawdust so that it does not build up on the fence when the panels or doors are placed against it. I then mounted the Baltic Birch front fence to the sled base using screws. I made sure that the fence was at 90 degrees from the table saw blade.
Now she was ready for the test cut of a panel. Well first cut was good, so now I have a panel cutting sled that meets my needs and is the right size for the shop. Maybe you can build your own and let me know how you built yours and how it works.
See you in the Workshop!!