In Tricks of the Trade

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Adding a hold-down to my shop-made crosscut sled makes the sled easier and safer to use. My parts don’t slip and my fingers are far from the blade because I don’t have to hold the workpiece. The hold-down swivels so I can place it on either side of the blade.

To build the hold-down, you’ll need three hardwood blocks (the arm, the foot and a support block), two 1/4-20 threaded inserts, two 1/4-20 jig knobs (one with a through hole and one with a 1″ stud), a 1/4-20 flathead machine screw, two 1/4″ washers, and three 1/4-20 nuts. Make the arm 3/4″ x 2″ x 8″. The foot is 2″ x 2″ x 2-1/2″ and the support block is 2″ x 2″ x 6″. Glue the support block to the sled’s fence, flush to the top.

Rout a 1/4″ x 4″ slot in the arm and install a threaded insert in one end of the arm. Install another threaded insert in the fence’s top, in line with the blade slot. Drill a 1/4″ hole through the foot, countersink the bottom end of the hole and insert a 1/4-20 machine screw through the hole. Slip a washer onto the screw, then thread two nuts onto the screw all the way down to the foot. Tighten the nuts against each other, leaving the foot free to swivel.

Thread the machine screw through the arm’s insert. Install a jam nut about 1/2″ down from the end of the screw. Thread a through-hole jig knob onto the screw, then tighten the jam nut against the knob.

To use the hold-down, slide the arm over the piece to be cut. Tighten the arm, then tighten the foot. –Will Nickles

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