One of the first tools many, if not most woodworkers recommend for beginners, after a cordless drill, is a jigsaw. I used to disagree with that, and say a circular saw is better and suits most peoples' needs more accurately, since a large portion, if not most beginner woodworking projects can be summed up as crosscutting 2X4 lumber and gluing it together - Homemade workbench frames, sawhorses, beds, benches...
Out of the dozens of woodworking projects I've made so far, I can't recall ever needing to resaw a piece of wood in half. Homemade fidget cubes, articulating arm lamps, impossible puzzles, drill presses, and bench vises, all of which I have Instructables on.
Not only are most jigsaws cheaper than circular saws, they are also safer, allow for adjusting the speed of the reciprocating blade, can cut much more materials, and have a shorter learning curve, no pun intended! ;)
With all of that said, if you've ever used a jigsaw to cross cut wood, you know that achieving accurate cuts is not an easy task. It's hard to push the jigsaw in a straight line, and when trimming only a few millimeters off of the edge of a board or any piece of wood, only one side of the jigsaw shoe (aka the base) rests on the piece of wood, and the vibrations make it next to impossible to cut accurately and in a straight line- the jigsaw tilts and jumps, and the shoe also leaves marks on finished wood, etc.
In this Instructable, I will show you how to make a wooden crosscutting sled for your jigsaw, using basic tools you should already have lying around. This jigsaw crosscut sled is what changed my mind, no longer do I look at a jigsaw as an inaccurate tool (!) for making crosscuts through hard or soft solid wood, sheet goods, aluminum, steel, plastic, or any other material.
If you've ever wanted to get into woodworking, but were terrified by finger-eating blades that spin thousands of times per minute, this is the saw for you!
Let's get started!
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Step 1: What You'll Need:
Want to make this project? Here's what you'll need, or at least what I used!
For those who aren't able to salvage parts for free, I've added some links to eBay below. Keep in mind that these parts can be acquired at a hardware store, or anywhere else online. If you don't see something that you think should be here, or would like to know more about a specific tool/part that I used, feel free to ask in the comments. *The eBay links below are supposed to be affiliate links, meaning that I get a small percentage of what you paid when buying through the link, at no extra cost to you. At least they are supposed to be affiliate links, that is, if they work...
I made it for FREE since I already had everything that was needed on hand.
Hardware, Materials, & Consumables:
- Hardwood... Strips?What would you call them? Free things from chair legs?!
- Countersink bit (I like using center drills )
- Japanese saw
Subjects: Woodworking, Making Your Own Tools
Approximate Time: <2 hours
ALWAYS USE PROPER PPE.
Step 2: Mount Your Jigsaw in a Vise
For this crosscut sled, the jigsaw is meant to be used upside down, and the easiest way to achieve that is to mount it in a bench vise. The handle part of my jigsaw is pretty tough, but if yours isn't you might want to make these homemade wooden vise soft jaws.
I'm planning on making some type of mount that will hold the jigsaw better, since I've had this jigsaw slip out of the jaws once, and repairing the severely bent shoe was not very entertaining process. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
Step 3: Attach the Side Runners
Runners or sliders, call them whatever you want to!
I placed the thin piece of hardwood plywood on top of the jigsaw, and clamped two of the strips of wood to it, making sure that it wasn't too tight so it could slide back and forth. I spent probably like half an hour messing with it and making sure it was a tight enough fit, without too much play.
Once I thought it was good enough, I tightened the clamps even more to make sure nothing would move, drilled a bunch of pilot holes, drove in a ton of screws to hold the runners in place, and removed the clamps. I like using center drills (which are normally used on a lathe) to countersink wood, and they worked really well in this instance.
At this point, you should be able to slide the sled back and forth fairly easily, and parallel with the blade.
Step 4: Add a Fence
I'm not sure what you would do with a tablesaw sled that doesn't have a fence in the front, and I think it's the same here.
I cut another small strip of wood to length, and after making sure it would cut piece of wood that would be pushed into the blade at 90 degrees, I screwed it to the front of the sled. I think it's strong enough even with only two screws through the bottom, we'll see.
This way, I can either hold a piece of wood against the fence, or clamp it to the fence, and then push (slide) it into the blade.
Step 5: Cut the Slot for the Blade
I drilled a hole in the middle of the plywood, as shown in the first picture, and widened it slightly, to make sure I could insert a jigsaw into the hole.
I then flipped the sled over, and cut a slot in the plywood, first with a blade that produced almost no tearout, and then, although not pictured, widened it with a wider, more aggressive wood cutting blade. I think this works better.
I could have made the slot longer so I would be able to cut wider boards, but I prefer having the sled a bit stiffer. I think this is more than enough for what I do, I find it more convenient to bring the tool to the work on really big pieces of wood, rather than the opposite, anyway.
I then flipped the sled back, so the blade cuts toward the fence, like it's supposed to.
Step 6: Add the Bottom Runners (stop the Sled From Tilting and Lifting!)
Since there wasn't anything to hold the sled down onto the jigsaw, it kept "jumping" up and down while I was cutting. Also, if I wasn't holding it down, it would fall... Worthy of fixing?
I slid a narrower strip of wood under the jigsaw shoe on both sides, and like the side runners, I clamped them to the point where they were loose enough, but without too much play.
After I made sure it slid properly on the jigsaw, I cut off the excess wood that stuck out using my homemade magnetic handsaw guide with my Japanese saw.
Step 7: Use!
I slid the sled onto the jigsaw, clamped a blade tightly in the blade clamp, clamped a piece of wood to the fence of the sled, and started sawing.
I love it!
Since most of the wood I use for projects comes from chairs I take apart, more pieces of wood had mortise and tenons at the end. This will help me remove them, accurately and fast!
Just don't forget that in this orientation, the jigsaw blade is exposed and can cut you easily. Make sure you place your fingers to the side of the blade at all times!
Step 8: It's Not Only a Crosscut Sled!
Embeds don't show up?
Watch the first video and see it in action!: - DIY Jigsaw Crosscut Sled!
Watch the second video: More Tips & Tricks for using the Homemade Jigsaw Crosscut Sled
Picture frames? It's not only a crosscut sled! I also found out that by clamping a speed square, I can also use it to cut miters!
If I flip the sled over and clamp it to clock it in place, I can also use the top of the sled as a jigsaw table. Works great as an alternative for a scrollsaw!
I also tried clamping a dowel in my drill and moving it from side to side across the blade while the drill was running. It did resize the dowel, however it did leave a rough edge. Very rough sandpaper might even be faster, I guess.
Some more thoughts:
- What would you use this crosscut sled for? Do have any ideas for other uses?
- Do you think something like this could work on a reciprocating saw?
- Be careful not to clamp the jigsaw with too much force in your vise to not break the speed control trigger/mechanism which is in the handle. Might want to make some soft jaws!
- In case you're also wondering, it does shake quite a bit when in use, but the automatic image stabilization in my phone camera takes care of that for the video. Take a closer look :)
Unless you change the design of this somehow, you will need to remove the blade to attach or remove the crosscut sled. I realized this only in the middle of the build, but this isn't much of an issue for me. Better than the opposite!
- If you're like me and love building your own tools, don't forget to check out The Ultimate Collection of DIY Workshop Tools, which contains dozens of Instructables on all sorts of homemade tools, perfect for your budget!
I also will be giving away free Instructables premium memberships (please read before commenting) to members that make their own jigsaw crosscutting sled based on this Instructable. Will you be the first one?
I read ALL comments, and reply to as many as I can, so make sure to leave your questions, suggestions, tips, tricks, and any other ideas in the comments below! - Thanks!
Armzap made it!