DIY Router Sled – Planing, Flattening, Leveling Live Edge Wood

DIY Router Sled - Planning, Flattening, Leveling Live Edge Wood

In many of my past live edge woodworking videos, I demonstrate how you can level out an uneven piece of wood…sometimes very large pieces of wood…with a routing sled as one of the first steps to getting it ready for a project. If you have access to a large, industrial planer, or don’t mind coughing up a pretty big chunk of cash to have a professional lumber mill operation level and flatten out a large slab of wood for you, then you have nothing to worry about. However, if neither of those is an option for you, then using a router, a router sled, and a large planning bit is the way to go. In this blog article, I’ll share with you a fast, fairly inexpensive way to make a sturdy, adjustable routing sled that you can use for all your future projects for years to come.

When I first got into live edge woodworking, I made a router sled out of some scrap lumber I had laying around the garage, as a sled doesn’t have to be anything too terribly fancy. Afterall, a routing sled is simply an adjustable, sturdy rail that secures and guides your router as it slides back and forth over a piece of wood. While my first couple of router sled designs worked fine, they were a little bulky, and they also began to slightly warp over time, which resulted in a not so smooth or even finish on the wood that I was trying to level.

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One of my first wooden router sled designs.

 

Recently I decided to build a new and improved router sled for some very large upcoming projects. I wanted this one to be stronger, lighter, and easier to set-up and adjust. There’s really only a few basic components to this design, which are two pieces of aluminum angle bar, a couple of blocks of wood, and some screws. To put the sled together, I simply drilled two holes in each end of my aluminum angle bars, filed down the rough edges, and attached the bars to a couple pieces of 2×4’s while leaving about an eighth of an inch of room for the base of the router on each end.

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Most of the wood that I level out with a router sled I plane down to around 1 to 1 ¾  inches thick, so using sections of 2×4’s as the bases for the sled works fine, but if I’m leveling a larger slab of wood that I want to be thicker, I simply attach the rails to thicker bases, such as 3×4 or 4×4 blocks of wood.

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After the sled is all put together and set up at the proper height, I usually secure the wood I’m working on with some wood clamps or a big, heavy weight, and then start routing away with a large, 2 to 3-inch planing bit, which makes the job go quite quickly. If you’d like to check out some great router bits, as well as routers, click here.

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As a word of caution, if you’ve never used a router or a routing sled before, it’s important to be very careful: take your time, go slow and always be aware of your where your fingers are. Also, be sure to use eye and ear protection, a dust mask, and be prepared to clean up an enormous mess of wood shavings afterward.

If you’d like to see more, check out the video below…

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