Ripping Hardwood on a Sliding Table Saw

Advice on ripping hardwood lumber on a sliding table saw, and other useful slider tricks. February 6, 2007

Is a sliding panel saw a good investment for a small shop? I currently have a cabinet saw and a small panel saw. I was pondering whether it would be a good idea to get rid of both of these and go with an 8' slider. My only concern is that I do face frame cabinets and do need the rip fence for ripping hardwood. The slider doesn't look like it would be as good at ripping hardwood and I would like to know if others do this, or if it is ideal to have both. If that is the case, I do not have the room to have a slider and cabinet saw.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor T:
I would get the slider. Most of them have the ability to lock the slide carriage, which turns it into an acceptable ripping saw. You can't say the reverse about a cabinet saw.
That said, I'll bet you do have the space for both.

I'm constantly amazed at how re-evaluating our processes always ends up creating more open floor space. In LEAN parlance, this exercise is called value stream mapping. You start with a scale drawing of your shop with the machinery situated on the drawing where it lives in the building. Put a colored pencil onto the drawing where a product starts and trace the path the product travels. You will probably end up with a piece of paper that looks like a plate of spaghetti. This exercise is a real eye opener about what life is like in your shop.

The goal is to minimize the distance between work stations and eliminate the need for carts. Every time you can make the next work station serve as the outfeed for the previous one is a cart you won't need and an aisle-way you could put to better use.

Moving the work stations closer together not only knocks out steps, it also creates more open space somewhere else. Moving our drawer box station closer to the Altendorf not only made drawers easier to build, it gave us a bigger storage district that can serve as a staging area, warehouse, or a place to put a bench.

One of the best things we did was put the majority of our equipment on skids. A $400 pallet jack makes it so you don't have to arrange work stations according to the every now and then, worst case scenario. A lot of times mandatory infeed-outfeed distances can be defeated temporarily by just pulling the machinery off the wall a couple of feet and moving it back when you are done.

There are a bunch of ways to increase floor space without renting more. A simple lazy susan on an assembly bench will not only make it faster to put your boxes together, it will cut a couple of feet off the real estate needed for the other side.

From contributor P:
I rip hardwood on mine all the time - tend to stand to the left of the sliding table, then lean over and feed the material. It's not as uncomfortable as it sounds. I've looked at changing to a vertical saw and using a regular cabinet saw for ripping and small panel cutting, but end up happier with my sliding-saw-only configuration. Your mileage may vary.

From contributor F:
I do face frame and have a 10' Italian slider. What's great about a slider is the fact that you can straight-line the board on the first rip, and rip face frame stock with more control than with a standard table saw. I've never used a power feed on my table saw, but another company that had a slider would put on a power feed and rip their lumber on their slider. With a 9 hp motor you have the power to get the job done. Also, sliders have a fence that you can slide back (so there's no fence beyond the blade). This helps with boards that have tension in them that want to bow out a little (or a lot). I'd love to have room myself for a small Powermatic 10' besides my slider for the small parts, mainly just so I don't have to fire up the rotary phase converter every time I want to trim a small piece as I'm building cabs. Also, the table supports long heavy boards that you can lock in at the front and control from the back, so much more control. Sliders work great. Sometimes if you make a cabinet too big, you can put the entire cabinet on the slider, and trim off a little instead of tearing a cabinet apart. Sounds crazy, but at least a couple of times a year I'm putting a large cabinet up on the saw to take off an inch.

From contributor P:
Ditto everything from contributor F's post. Including, unfortunately, the cutting-down feature - happens all too often!

From contributor B:
I rip on my slider too. The only drawback is that the sliding table is a touch higher than the solid table, resulting in a slightly out of square edge. The angle of the edge varies with the width of the board. Is there an easy fix for this?

From contributor S:
Contributor B, if I understand your question... My table has adjustment nuts that can be used to lower or raise the table. If yours does not, perhaps you could add shims (washers) where it bolts on in order to raise it.

From contributor H:
Ditto to having to cut down a whole cabinet, or more often cut a drawer narrower due to miscalculation. A slider is great for this. For ripping hardwood, rip just a bit oversize, and then re-rip using rip-fence side only so that there is no overlap on the sliding table. The sliding table is higher for a good reason; it makes it easier to cut sheetgoods, which is the main purpose of a slider in the first place. I have a Tiger rip fence as my ripping fence and Accurate Technology digital display for my crosscut. It's better than a remote for the TV!

From contributor L:
I had a socket made for the edge of the slider's cast iron table that takes a power feed post. It is below the top surface so doesn't cause any problems when saw is used for panels. I used brass shims to bring the cast table even with the slider. A Tigerstop is well worth it for the rip fence. A slider is also great for attaching jigs for oddball cuts (in addition to fixing screw-ups). The clamp that fits in the sliding table groove is quite useful too. You can straight line up to 10' very quickly and it does a good job. Our saw came with a plate to wedge the far end of the board in to hold it while straight lining. If you have room, put a 10" table saw out of the way for small parts, dados, etc. Since it will just be for small parts, it can be put into a fairly tight place. We put a fold down out feed table on our crummy Unisaw so it could be lowered to provide a little more space to walk around when the saw wasn't being used. Sliders are really useful; they do take some getting used to. You can use 12, 14 or 16 blades; just remember to shift the drive belts to match blade speed and diameter. Keep the splitter in place!

From contributor E:
I agree with the other posts here. You can do so much with a slider. I'm glad to see others cut assembled cabinets on the slider. Keep the cabinet saw. Put it on a mobile base, then you can move it around. You can always sell the saw later.

Contributor H, I have been thinking of putting the Accurate attachment on my cross cut fence. How has it worked for you? Which unit did you get?

From contributor H:
I got the pro250 - it is the only model you can use on a slider. Easy to install and is deadly accurate. I got two displays for the two flip stops. Tell them which model saw you have, as there are different attachment plates. I had to modify one of mine to fit my Casolin Digit, but it was not difficult. No more bending over a 24" panel to try and see the hairline, and you can switch from imperial to fractions to mm instantly.

From contributor E:
Thanks. Now if they only had a keypad and moved by themselves like the Tigerstop. I did look at Tigerstop cross cut fence at the IWF. Nice, but too expensive for me.

From contributor H:
The Tiger crosscut is nice, but you will find the digital display so much faster than bending over and eyeing the hairline. Between my Tiger pir fence and the digital crosscut, I can fly when cutting up a kitchen and be deadly accurate every time. Make an accurate sample 12" piece and Velcro it somewhere on the crosscut sled for daily morning verification. I do this each day for the rip fence and crosscut display. Hope you are already using an optimizer program for your cutting. I rip all my sheets and as my helper offloads, I go to the next cutting diagram in order. At end of rips, I start the list again doing my crosscuts. We often band the long rips and then cross cut. Happy cutting!

From contributor L:
If you use your saw very much, the Tigerstop will pay for itself in time savings. One of the biggest time killers on a slider is walking around the end of the saw to reset the rip fence a hundred times a day. Wild - guess you will save a $1 worth of time for every sheet you cut. Your time is the only thing you have to sell and nobody will want to pay you to run around your saw. Eliminate it; it's wasted effort that yields nothing.

The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).

Comment from contributor A:
To save on floor space and still have both a slider and a cabinet saw I copied an idea I got from a former employer. I placed my cabinet saw facing the opposite direction as my slider as part of the out-feed table at the far right of the slider. With a Biesemeyer or other quickly removable fence it is never in the way and we use it quite frequently for quick cuts and ripping of hardwoods, as well as setting up our dado blades.