Entry-Level Shopping for a Straight Line Rip Saw

      Advice on shopping for a used or low-end straight-line rip saw. November 12, 2008

We have always hand jointed our boards straight on a 16" Invicta jointer. Eight hours at that machine can be exhausting and I fear injury when in high production just because of the repetitive nature of the work. It gets very easy to forget what you are doing after a few hours and the action becomes almost automatic.

Our production has increased to the point I think a straight line rip is in order. What is the difference between a split chain SLR with the blade at the bottom, a straight line rip with the blade over the work piece, and a gang rip? I understand the gang rip keeps edges parallel. We need to have a straight edge on freshly planed material to make patterned flooring. Our space is limited, so a compact machine capable of handling 4/4 lumber would probably be best.

What is out there that is a quality, compact, and cost effective tool for straight line cutting? Am I better with an old Mattison or Diehl or a new Taiwanese saw such as Northech or Extrema? I am not a machine mechanic so I am looking for long term reliability and ease of maintenance. Our total monthly production on such a machine will most likely remain below 4000 bd/ft. We will need to rip a lot of 14-24" wide exotic material in 4/4. Are most machines capable of this?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor D:
4,000 b/f a month is not enough to warrant a gang rip saw, of which there are two basic types (roll feed and dip chain bed feed). Single blade ripsaws have either a lower blade or upper blade, feeding chains, and lots of anti-kickback measures, as well as a laser or shadow line for indicating the saw line.

Do you need to glue right off the saw? If so, then you need a saw that is glue line capable. If not, then you can get away with a less expensive saw - a used saw that is not fully reconditioned. With the collapse of the American furniture industry, you can pick up older SL52 and SL55 Diehls at auction for 2500 or so. It is real easy to put 2,000 to 10,000 into them to get them back into top shape. Once this is done, a saw will process 4,000 a month for the next 50 years or so, with regular maintenance. Do not count on a used saw being able to be adjusted to do a glue line rip without a thorough inspection by a Diehl tech. The tech can tell if the chains and chainways are able to be adjusted for glue line or replaced ($6,000 just for parts).

I'm very familiar, and a big fan of, the Diehl older saws. They are capable of glue line rips as long as they are tuned up and tooled properly. If you don't need glue line rip, they are still great saws for ripping to feed a molder or other equipment. Visit their website - they have great info on new and used equipment. If you are considering a particular used saw, get the serial numbers and contact them - they will tell you the history of the machine, parts and service they did or supplied.

From contributor B:
Any import saw will do what you need, and for the cost, you can't afford not to have one. My Powermatic has 15hp and rips 4/4 material like you cut butter.

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