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Thread: Track Saw or Panel Saw

  1. #1

    Track Saw or Panel Saw

    I have been looking at a way to cut up plywood and MDF. I have seen used vertical panel saws in the range of 500 to 800 dollars. I have looked at the track saw line that starts around 600 new. Has anybody looked at these selections and pick one of them? What did you pick and are you happy with what you chose? Thank you for any input on this decision.

  2. #2
    I bought a track saw because of price, confidence in name brand, and reviews. I have not been disappointed at all. Working alone to cut down sheet goods, this thing was a good investment. It is very accurate and consistent; easy to set up; gives good cuts. The only panel saw I have ever used was the one I had in my shop when I was in the business but it was a very expensive one.

  3. #3
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    For me, a big issue is space. A panel saw that will handle a 4x8 sheet of plywood is a pretty big thing. It needs that space whether or not you're using it. In constrast, a track saw stows in a much smaller space. So it wins hands down over a panel saw.

  4. #4
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    +1 to what the first two have said as my reasons for going the track saw route.
    I believe it's a more versitile tool also. But - I've never had a panel saw so I can't be sure of all it's capabilities.
    I can't imagine a panel saw would be as easy to make tapered cuts on a sheet of plywood as a track saw is.

  5. #5
    Not the most lively demo, but here's a DIY version.

  6. #6
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    I had a shop built panel saw on my to-do list for a long time. Finally needed the functionality and bought a PSI Portable Panel Saw. It's really more of a track saw that uses an off the shelf circular saw. It worked so well that I quit trying to figure out how to make room for the panel saw and built a cutting table out of half lapped 2x4s and a set of banquet table legs. Eventually I got a good deal on a Festool, but I still use the PSI on occasion (and still leave my Hitachi circular saw mounted on its carriage). Just to take the strain off my back (I can slide sheet goods off my truck directly on to the cutting table for break down) and use the shop space for something else, I'd go with a track saw over a panel saw. The panel saw is kind of a one trick pony...but it is a very good trick <g>.

  7. #7
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    I built my track saw. It's no big deal, actually. Dead on accurate.
    That being said, as I get older, (71, now) my back wants a panel saw.
    Gene
    Life is too short for cheap tools
    GH

  8. #8
    I would prefer a good track saw over a bare bones, bottom of the barrel panel saw. The cut quality and accuracy are going to be better and it will be much more flexible. Now, if we were talking about an Optisaw or something like that, I would think differently.

  9. #9
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    I'm buy a good used Safety Speed Cut or Milwaukee. The Milwaukee looks like it's made by Safety Speed. Here's a review:http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/indus...08404&artnum=1

    The problem with track saws is getting repeatable cuts. With a stop or sliding against the bottom fence you get accurate repeatable cuts on a panel saw.

    I had a Safety Speed from 1970 to 2005. You get splinter free cuts with good blades. Now in my hobby wood shop, I use a vertical panel saw that I made. I get cutting accuracy of 1/64" straight and square just like my old Safety Speed Cut.


    The vertical saws are the way to go for 1 person. You can store your sheets on edge and flip thru sheets on edge with less effort. I can slide sheets thru without scratching veneer faces.

    One key thing to cut quality on these verticals ,shopmade or mass produced, is to use a saw with no wobble in the bearings. Test for wobble by shaking the blade sideways and feel for play. On a good saw the blade will bend a little but no play.


  10. #10
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    To reiterate the space issue for panel saws- remember that if you want to use your panel saw for a rip cut, you need to have infeed and outfeed room on each side of the saw, since you have to push the panel through the saw. So you'll need a little over 8' on each side of the saw, for a total of a bit more than 16'.

    I have an excalibur sliding table attachment on my table saw (not exactly a space-saver either, lol). So I can make squaring cuts and rip cuts on the table saw... which means that I don't need to break down my sheet goods very accurately. So I take out the circular saw, break down the sheet into rough size, then cut it to final size using the sliding table attachment.

    The sliding table is nice because it's useful for other operations too that you probably wouldn't us a track saw or vertical panel saw for.

    I got my excalibur sliding table attachment for $250 used on Craigslist.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Aeschliman View Post
    I got my excalibur sliding table attachment for $250 used on Craigslist.
    Stealth gloat, that deserves a big

    YOU SUCK!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Aeschliman View Post
    ...To reiterate the space issue for panel saws- remember that if you want to use your panel saw for a rip cut, you need to have infeed and outfeed room on each side of the saw, since you have to push the panel through the saw. ......
    The OP said he's considering a vertical panel saw, not a slider.

  13. #13
    I was considering panel saws and before I had made up my mind my wife bought me an EZ track system, probably as a pre-emptive strike, and I'm very glad she did.

    I love that i can lay the vinyl edge down right on the line (for practical purposes) and cut exactly on that line. 1/64" is not unrealistic. Another plus is that with an add on handle it becomes a big speed square, but better. the last advantage is that I have three tracks so I can rip a nice almost jointer quality edge on a 12 ft board. The sleds will accommodate large circular saws, including Makita's 16". Panel saws have a pretty good footprint, and aren't exactly portable, then to accurately rip a panel the long way, you still need a track.
    What does it mean when you've accumulated enough tools that human life expectancy precludes you from ever getting truly good with all of them?

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    The OP said he's considering a vertical panel saw, not a slider.
    Vertical panel saws do rip cuts by rotating the head and pushing the stock trough the saw on rollers, so a full sheet needs in excess of 16 ft.

    Don

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    The OP said he's considering a vertical panel saw, not a slider.
    Even on a vertical panel saw you need about 17' of wall space, unless you make or buy a
    SLIDING-CARRIAGE PANEL SAW. ShopNotes No. 88.has a cool design.

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