Panel Handling with a Vertical Panel Saw

Equipment and techniques for moving panels around in vertical saw cutting operations. July 5, 2006

We use a Holz-her 1265 vertical panel saw. I currently have to use two men just to lift the panel onto the saw. Does anyone have suggestions on how to make this a one man operation? I know I could use a vacuum lift, but I am looking for some way to rotate the panels from the stack on the forklift to a vertical position with one man.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor R:
Hafele sells two shop cart designs that allow you to stack either 10 sheets or a full stack of 3/4" sheets on them, then rotate them from horizontal to almost vertical so you can slide them off on edge right onto the vertical saw.

From the original questioner:
I did a little looking online and found the HPC cart by Hafele. It holds 1000lbs. I would like to look at the one that you said was heavier duty and would hold more.

From contributor S:
I use a 1265 to cut all our parts, also. The best way I've found is to make a vertical stack of 4 X 8 sheets to the right of the saw of as many pieces as it will take and not to exceed the depth of the bottom support rail of the saw. This can be accomplished by one or two men off a unit of sheet goods on the floor (or forklift). Then it is very easy to just lay each sheet down on the bottom support and cut away.

From contributor O:
I agree with the above. We keep all of our sheets laying horizontally up against the wall next to our saw. We also set them on a platform that is the same height as the bottom rail, making it easier to slide them right onto the saw.

From the original questioner:
Do any of you make a "dust cut" of the top factory edge and then flip the panel so the good side is on the bottom rail? This is how we do it and we measure off the bottom. This operation also requires two men, which I am trying to get away from. Any ideas on this?

From contributor S:
It depends on the shape and finished dimension of pieces. If all I want is two 23" X 96" pieces, I start by ripping the full sheet in half. Then I drop the top piece down in front of the bottom piece, give the saw motor a bump with my hand and trim both pieces. Now I've removed the "banana" edge and I've got a straight finished edge on each. Then I remove these and repeat the procedure with as many full sheets as necessary. When I've got enough half sheets with one good edge, then I fold out the aluminum rail, set my saw to rip with the preset stop, rip one and while it's still on the saw, do whatever crosscuts I need to do.

From contributor A:
I drag the sheet on the floor on the long edge to either end of the saw, lift up one corner, place on the rollers and roll to the desired position. I crosscut whenever I can and rip when I have to. The edge that was scuffed on the floor can always be cleaned up.

From contributor K:
I do the exact same thing, except I glued sandpaper to the floor and place my unit 20' away, so by the time I slide the sheet over, it's sanded smooth and I don't need to cut it.

From contributor T:
Streibigs are set up so one man can spin a panel the way you describe. You should look at one of them and see if you can modify your saw to do the same thing. I don't know if you have rollers that support the bottom of the sheet on your saw, but both ends of the roller deal on the Streibig has spaces so the corner of the panel can drop down as you rotate the panel. One 3/4 sheet is easy for one man, and I have done two at a time with care when I stack cut.

From contributor L:
A shop near here installed a vacuum lift that allows rotating the panel to vertical; they love it. We use a vacuum lift to load a CNC router and it works great for that, also. You can use either a jib or gantry crane with the lift and cover a fairly large area of panel handling. Look at Gorbel cranes.

From contributor H:
The Panel Handler from is probably your best choice. It has the ability to rotate 10 sheets of 3/4" board vertical to horizontal and horizontal to vertical. It also can raise while vertical to match your infeed blocks on your Holz-Her. It rolls real easy and also has a foot brake to keep it docked at the end of your saw while loading and unloading. We also have a Holz-Her and for years used a simple drywall cart. You could load your panels and just park it at the end of the saw. It did not match the height of the blocks, but you just had to lift it up a bit. Watch out for the Hafele versions - they don't have the scissor design that is exclusive to the Shopcarts. They also don't come assembled!

A thought on how you are cutting. We have always just crosscut on our saw with a section of conveyer mounted parallel to the saw for offcuts that you work on and off the saw in a circular fashion. Start by making a trim cut, then width cuts, then set on conveyer in a stack, then load back on the saw to make your depth cuts. You will find that you will move your stop half as much. We also have always cut two sheets at a time. Our saw has scoring, but there is no better way to get chip free cuts than to have two sheets stacked together. Your saw should cut somewhere around 66" vertical. This will handle all but a few of your parts and is much more efficient than changing from ripping to crosscutting. Finally, one of the main reasons for having a vertical saw is so that one man can operate it by himself!

From the original questioner:
That was very helpful - thanks. What's got me screwed up is the technician that put the saw in for me said that the first thing you always do is make a "dust cut" of the top edge. I am finding out that his advice doesn't really work for us. I assume you just load the sheets on the Shopcart by hand, or can you forklift them? I would like to find a cart that would handle 20 sheets, as that's how I get my wood in.

From contributor H: used to manufacture a unit handler. I saw a picture of one on under some listing. Not sure which category.

From contributor M:
I have one of the unit handlers and it works great. I can get a whole unit delivered and loaded onto it and never have to pick up a sheet. We load right off the cart onto the saw. I tried to buy another one at the IWF show in 2004, but the rep told me that the vendor they purchased the hydraulic rams from was no longer in business, and they were trying to find another supplier. I'll be back at IWF this year, and will buy another (or 2) if they are available.