Expanding Table Saw Capacity

Woodworkers discuss choosing a second table saw, building on an outfeed table, using a "shoot board," and other ways to expand panel ripping and crosscutting capacity. August 3, 2009

Forum Responses
We are looking for another table saw and we are going to use the saw we have now for dadoing only. I can spend $2,000 on a saw and I have found many saws used on auction and various other places but canít find a happy medium between getting the Rikon sliding table for $2,000 or a used 3-5 hp sawn and then a sliding table add-on. A used saw and sliding table will be almost $2000. The Rikon saw itself is probably durable and it comes with a two year warranty but how durable is itís slider? As Iím typing I thought of maybe two used saws, one to rip lumber with an out feed roller and one for sheet goods.

Right now we only have one saw and it is difficult to be productive sometimes. All of our sheet good has clean edges so would it be feasible to trust that crosscutting off the fence would result in square panels? If this would work I could afford two used saws for under $2,000 and make a large melamine table for a sheet-goods saw. I was looking at the Grizzly pro cab 5 hp and was going to use one machine for ripping and sheet goods but now that I think about it two different machines would speed up production a lot. Would two 3 hp saws be efficient enough or would the weight and the large cast iron surface of a big machine be better?

Itís a big decision for us and it needs to be the right choice and thatís why Iím asking for your assistance. How about old Rockwell saws? I see a ton in great shape everywhere. It may be short rail for ripping and long for sheets, and then I would be much under $2,000 and have money for nice new blades.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor M:
You donít mention what type of construction, or style of cabinetry you make. Of course this is all my opinion based on my experiences. If you are building faceframe cabinets, and using traditional joinery for the carcass (dados or nails and glue) I do not think a sliding attachment or saw is justified. Your panels should be straight enough. It is the faceframe that accepts the hardware and doors so the carcass has a lot of tolerance for out of square.

If you are using dowel construction, or if you are building frameless cabinets, a slider is a must. No add-on will come close to the real thing, but a slider is not in your budget. Adding a sliding table to a perfectly good saw is not going to help you. The add-on sliding tables do not feed the same way. When you hear the owners of large sliders talking about the time savings their saw offers them it is because of features and details that the add-onís do not have.

The Grizzly saws are great. I would just get the three horse saw. It is plenty tough. For your primary sizing saw you definitely want a melamine out feed table that extends at least 60" behind the blade. That way a ripped sheet can pass through the blade and not fall off (teeter-totter style) the outfeed table.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I do faceframe construction and have 8' in front of blade and 8' across right now so I would put the dado saw at the opposite corner and a 4' x 3' sled for squaring. No doweling, so basically what I need is more table on the left of the saw to accommodate a full sheet handled by one man.

From contributor M:
That was always a problem in my shop too. I understand now. I added an additional surface to the left of the blade before, then I took it off. I was tired of walking around it. For 90% of the cuts (maybe 99%) it was in the way so I just used an outfeed roller to help support the panel. I also used a shooting board to cross-cut the panels before ripping. That avoided the awkward 50" left of the blade scenario. Remember that even if you have the extra 20 or 30 inches left of the blade it is still very difficult to push the panel through and keep a good cut - especially towards the end of a long day.

The best thing you can do is save some more cash and get a real slider. Laguna and Grizzly both offer some great saws for 6K. You can get a used saw at an auction as well. A scoring slider will allow you to process material faster than anything else. In my shop we can process material faster and cleaner using a manual slider than the 150K CNC we used before. Also if some day you get crazy enough to ignore all the dowel construction nay-sayerís you will only need a boring machine.

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From the original questioner:
What is a shooting board, and what do think of the old Rockwellís? Do you run a lot through your machine with that setup it the picture? I understand the walking around the extra table on right and actually more table is more friction.

From contributor X:
After reading your opening statement, it got me to thinking about this one company that I worked for in the 1960's. They had an air operated sled that moved over the dado blades and it was fast and made clean cuts. Iíve never seen one like it again. It had air operated hold downs. It looked homemade but really performed well. One could be made with a double scoring blade on it. The shop had a lot of automated tools that were homebuilt.

From contributor F:
The older Delta/Rockwell saws are great time tested basic saws. I use a pair of them, one set up to do ripping and the other has a slider attached to do sheet goods. You can pick them up pretty cheap and as long as there's no damage, cracks, broken parts chances are you'll be fine just replacing the bearings and going to work.

I paid $235 for the most recent acquisition with a 78" Beis fence and over-arm guard. My first saw, a 54' Uni which I bought many years ago cost me $200, plus another $200 for a replacement fence. In the 15 or so years I've had it I replaced the motor, the bearings, and the belts and it's still running great. So between the two saws I've spent less than $1,000 even with the replacement parts and they've made me money for years.

As the others have said the sliding attachments are not the same as a dedicated slider. Mine works ok but it certainly has its shortcomings. If I survive the economic downturn I'll be looking into a used vertical panel saw to improve my sheetgood processing.

From contributor V:
Just an opposite point of view on saw table to the left. I have never felt like mine was in the way. I have the space and I like the support it provides. My outfeed and side tables are laminate face and I keep them waxed usually so friction is not a huge problem.

From contributor L:
I have two friends that bought Holzher 1205ís at auctions for nothing - $1,800 +/- and they both love them. I have a Powermatic 66 and SCMI 305si slider. The SCMI is awesome and we do mainly frameless, but it is space hog.

From contributor L:
A shooting board is a straight edge attached to a surface that allows a hand plane to ride on its side. This allows you to use the straight edge as a reference so you can hand plane a perfectly square and straight line, or in some cases set up for planing a perfect miter.

From contributor T:
The shooting board is for cutting down a full sheet of material resulting in smaller pieces that are easily pushed through the TS. Itís the same as the planer model mentioned by contributor L except that it uses a circ saw in place of a planer.

At 50" long it is basically a glorified straight edge (3/4" x 3" plywood rip) with a 1/4" plywood base that is ripped wide enough for the entire saw to ride on. It extends right up next to the blade providing a zero clearance, splinter free cutting action similar to the commercially available track saws that are the latest trend in panel processing. The major difference is price.

From contributor M:
Contributor T is describing what I meant. Not a hand plane jig. Using a shooting board may seem like a PITA, but if you are alone it is better than wrestling a full sheet onto the saw. I generally had a helper so I only used it if I was working solo. I always marked the "bad edge" so I wouldn't reference it to the saw fence. The old Deltas are as good as the new ones. Just make sure it is not junked out. Despite popular statements to the contrary they do wear out.

I used that saw for five or six years and ran it is much as a two man shop can. The last year and a half I had that shop I switched to CNCíing all my sheet goods. Most jobs cost me $700 to outsource and the turnaround was 24 hours. So on a job of 20 linear feet of face frame cabinets I would have fully assembled cabinets ready for finishing two to three days after the client made the down payment. Plus there were no mistakes, less waste and faster assembly due to the blind dado construction. I canít stress how that changed my business. It was a two man shop that could out-produce most of the shops three or four times bigger. The only hitch is the software. But there are lots of inexpensive (even free) options. You have to take the classes if you really want to benefit from it. Now I am in the Philippines opening a large production shop doing 32 mm stuff.

From contributor F:
I recently bought one of those track systems mentioned above and have to say it's better than I expected. I needed to cut down a bunch of 1-1/2" stock for a project and it was just too heavy to manhandle onto the tablesaw. I bought the Festool saw with two sections of 55" track and it cuts dead on very cleanly with almost no splintering. Itís not as powerful as my old Porter Cable saw, but so much faster and cleaner it's worth the expense.