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Issue Keeping Cross Cut Fence Square After 5 Cut Method

1216 Views 25 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  DrRobert
Good Morning,

Newbie here to both this group and to woodworking. :)

Does anyone have any tips on keeping the fence square on a cross cut sled while putting in the remaining screws once you've confirmed it square using the 5 cut method?

I built my first cross cut sled and squared the fence using the 5 cut method. I'll get it to .001 or even a few times at .000 and as soon as I install a few more screws to secure the fence to the bottom, I lose my accuracy. I do predrill the holes.

Needless to say, I'm extremely frustrated...though my husband's ecstatic that he hasn't had to split kindling for the woodstove lately. lol

I've watched countless videos on woodworkers building a cross cut sled and using the 5 cut method and at the end, when they've finished squaring, they just flip the sled over and finish screwing it down. I'm curious if they do a retest after to confirm it's still accurate like I do...and if so...what's their secret?


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First of all, .001 is irrelevant unless we know what the .001 is referring to. You may need to do nothing. If you’re trying to move a 30” long fence .001” you are already way past the accuracy you need. The 5 cut method is neat, but send some people down a rabbit hole.

Have you checked to make sure your fence is absolutely straight and all four sides are square? Lots of problems start there.

Are you using a precision square? If you can‘t see light under the blade over 12”, it is square, period.

When I hear people talking about thousandths of an inch in woodworking, relative to accuracy there is a point past which you gain nothing and just drive yourself batty. We need to realize wood has a mind of its own and a memory. A board won’t even maintain a dimension that much from morning to afternoon.
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So, the distance from my pivot point is 28". I use a precision square (and I confirmed it's square) to start squaring the fence. Once I have the fence in line with the blade, I clamp the fence to the base and use a single screw to anchor that side of the fence down...then I proceed with the 5 cut method. Once I get it to, at least 0.001, I clamp again and install more screws. I'm sure it's those additional screws that's...well, 'screwing' with my accuracy.

As suggested by 'woodnthings,' I'll try removing the fence, cleaning up the splinters from the holes and begin again. And, I'm also buying a brad nailer now rather than waiting any longer. I was looking at the 18 gauge Metabo HPT NT50A5 - the 'pro' series as that has an aluminum magazine whereas the NT50AE2 has a 'composite' magazine.

So, the question of if the fence, itself, is square and straight...it was when I first built it. If it was out of square, would I have been able to get it as close as I have been able to (before anchoring with more screws)? I don't know if being able to get so close to, and a few times right on, square, is an indication of my fence being square or there's no actual relationship.

And, yep, I am down a rabbit hole...a place I'm extremely familiar with!

I appreciate everyone's input.


You're more than close enough. 3 cut method is all you need. The real test is how far off are you over 12"? Can't see light = good!!

I would never ever say disregard what WNT says :)
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How square do you really need to be? You're working with wood, metal working tolerances can not apply. If you're off by +.001, wait until the temperature and humidity change. Rest assured, that will be off. Also, what is the margin of variability of your measuring tool? If you're that fussy it would need to be less than10x your tolerance.
Another important variable is how flat and square is the fence you're locating against?
Troubleshoot problems with a handy 6Sigma tool, ask WHY at least 5 times.

Remember, woodworking should be fun and challenging. Coming from a metal cutting engineering background into woodworking I soon realized the paradigm is different.
I’ve been preaching this forever! 😉

“If it looks straight it is straight"….. I wouldn’t go that far but 2 thou over 12” is more than enough accuracy in this craft. 😁
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