Whether on a table saw or a bandsaw, a sled is a useful addition. It allows you to make
fast, accurate, ninety degree cuts safely and quickly. And there’s loads of videos
on YouTube to build these, but none that I’ve seen include a mitre arm.
With this, adjustment is simple, allowing you to cut any angle you want, with the same
smooth sled action. Let me show you how I made this one.
If you saw my review of this Draper Bandsaw a few weeks ago, you might recall that I liked
the saw, but like most other saws out there the mitre gauge was quite weak. It’s quite
loose in the track and not long enough to offer decent support. But using these grooves,
it’s possible to make something much better. I took some hardwood and trimmed this down
until it just fit snugly in these tracks, but was loose enough to move freely.
You’ll also note that these sit proud of the table at the moment, and that’s deliberate.
Here I’ve removed the blade from the bandsaw. You’ll need a piece of plywood or, like
I’m using, MDF. This should be a minimum thickness of 18mm and I cut mine to roughly
the same size as the table. Starting with the far track, I added a little
masking tape to the face of the table. I then added a thin bead of wood glue on top of just
this one strip. The MDF is placed on top and positioned carefully before adding weight.
Once the glue was fully dried, the blade was placed back in the bandsaw. The glued strip
was carefully aligned with the slot, and a groove was cut just a little over half way.
A mitre arm is needed and I decided to use this scrap of U channel as it’s smooth and
straight, though a length of straight timber would work just as well.
I cut a couple of pieces of hardwood and glued this into the channel.
With the adhesive dry, I drilled a pivot point hole at one end.
It was then just a matter of working out where this pivot point should go and lightly marking
this. It’s important the hole is perpendicular, so I used a drilled block as a guide.
A bolt the same diameter as the hole was pushed through from underneath.
I fixed a scrap piece of angle iron to my router and used the pivot bolt to form a compass.
I then used a narrow router bit and cut out a curved slot. With that done, on the underside,
I used a wider router bit to cut down roughly half way and give the slot a T shape.
On the underside of the MDF, the head of the bolt was outlined, and a hole is chiselled
to receive the bolt head. The head should fit flush and it was bonded with adhesive,
taking care not to get any glue on the thread. Using a scrap of paper, I made a simple template
of the slot shape. I transferred this onto a section of hardwood and sanded it to shape.
A hole was drilled through the centre of this to receive a bolt.
The head of the bolt was ground down by roughly half.
A hex shape relief was chiselled into the curved scrap and the bolt slid perfecting
into this. A little adhesive was used to bond the bolt
in place and the wood was sanded, rounding the corners and easing the edges slightly,
to enable it to travel within the T slot. If you have a second guide slot on your bandsaw
as I did here, it’s time to glue on the hardwood guide strip as before.
Once dried, the wooden rails were countersunk and screwed. It was then time to thin these
down with a wood plane and some sanding. I drilled an appropriately placed hole through
the mitre arm and did a trial fit. It was at this point I realised I’d cocked up.
Any tension knob I fitted would likely sit proud of the front edge, so I had to make
a couple of adjustments to my arm design. You can buy threaded knobs, but I decided
to make one. I cut down a few scraps into different size
squares. The larger was trimmed to be roughly octagonal. A small sanding drum helped to
add a little shape to this. The smaller scrap was also rough cut with eight sides before
having a hole drilled through its centre. I then used my drill press to turn and sand
the piece into a cylinder. A hex shape was chiselled into this cylinder
and nut fit nicely inside this. Using a spare bolt, tightening the bolt draws
the nut firmly into the chiselled hole. The upper section can was be glued on, being careful
not to get any glue on the thread. Finally a few coats of wax were applied to
the MDF to make it shiny and reduce friction. This included waxing the table.
With the MDF in place, it was time for final fitting. It was a little fiddly, but the mitre
arm went on nicely. A couple of large washers go on the tensioning
bolt, and the knob was twisted on. The pivot bolt got a washer and a nylon locking
nut. This was tightened until it was snug, then a quarter turn back loosened it enough
to allow it to turn. And that’s a finished mitre sled.
It is possible to add a few improvements to this sled. For starters there’s currently
no markings. That’s because I have an accurate square on order and I want to make use of
that before I mark anything. Once I have that accuracy, I may add a couple
of guide holes for quick stops, like 90 degrees, 45 and 30. A hole and a peg will make precise
alignment quick and easy. The pivot arm could be longer so that it supports
on both sides of the cut, but I like it how it is. And you could always increase the height
of this arm with a simple screw on section. Some people like to secure a stop to the underside
to prevent the sled being pushed forward, but I’m happy to just stop pushing.
And finally a simple handle could be screwed on to help with pushing and pulling.
But personally, I’m happy with this sled just how it is. It cost me nothing to make
as I had everything lying around, but it does allow for quick accurate cuts on both 90 degrees
and angles of my choice. I hope you enjoyed this one guys, and if you
did please like it. Subscribe if you haven’t already done so, share my videos with all
your woodworking buddies and check out my other videos on my YouTube Channel.
So that’s it for now guys. Take care and thanks for watching.