The Fifth-cut Method and the Dial Indicator Method
Newly constructed Cross Cut Sled
The crosscut sled is probably the most important accessory that you will ever make in your woodworking shop. It transforms a simple saw table into a multi-purpose tool, not just for making accurate cross cuts and dados but, with appropriate jigs, to do miters, box joints, tenons and joinery. Its main benefits are accuracy, safety and repeatability. For these reasons, it is worth putting in the effort to make sure that it will always cut square to the fence (against which your workpiece or jig will be registered). Furthermore, the miter gauges commonly supplied with table saws are usually not up to much, with runners that wobble in the track, and do little for accuracy, safety or repeatability.
I made a new sled recently for my table saw and it struck me that it might be worth doing a post on the methods used for calibrating the front (or near) fence of the sled. There are tons of tutorials online on how to actually make a crosscut sled so I didn’t feel I needed to go there. But beginners to woodwork may not fully understand the business of fence calibration so, hopefully this post will help.
I will deal with the 5th Cut method first (because it is the most laborious method and we might as well get it over with). If you happen to own a dial indicator, you can opt to skip this section and go straight on to The Dial Indicator Method.