I bought a used 2002 Laguna sliding table saw a few months ago. Can you share any techniques on getting the best results cutting material on a sliding table saw?
From contributor P:
For a slider to give the best results, it must be correctly set up. Step #1: check the slide carriage in relation to the blade trunion. They must be parallel. Step #2: Square the crosscut fence with the (5) cut method. The larger the material used in the squaring process, the greater it will magnify the out-of-squareness. Step #3: Parallel the rip fence to the blade. If anything, have the gap between the fence and blade .005" further away on the output side over the input side of the blade.
Blade selection is also important. The hollow ground blade and high ATB blade cuts the cleanest but does not hold up as long between sharpenings. For most materials, a triple chip will work okay and last much longer. The rake of the tooth, the height of the blade and material thickness are elements in how well a blade performs.
Blade speed is a factor, also. Faster is not normally better. The more RPM, the more the blade expands and causes a side to side or walking movement (think of a dragster's rear tire on a burnout).
Let's say you have an 8' long by 12" wide rip of material that you want to cut down to 11 inches wide. If you set the fence at 11", you don't have enough material left sitting on the sliding table to be able to push the rip through. On my saw it is difficult to run a piece of material 12" wide through the blade without sitting on the sliding table. If I push it solely on the stationary table against the fence, the carriage restricts my movement to the left, making it difficult, and I don't want to reach over the blade to push the rip through, as I value all ten of my fingers. How do you do things like that?
With 11", you will not have enough of an edge to push this through on the carriage side. My manufacturer makes an accessory to make narrow rips on the carriage. If you feel unsafe about making these cuts, you might want to call Laguna to see if they have something.
For casework, your carriage fence should have multiple stops - set these for lengths and widths per your cut list. Utilize the load carrying capacity of the carriage and double or triple stack your panels to maximize your efficiency. But square your stock first. Many manufacturers provide a "jam shoe" for holding rough lumber and ripping a straight edge. This is a huge time saver in the jointing.
As to your ripping to 11" x 8', I would recommend the rip fence. On pieces like this, the sliding table cannot hold a candle to a properly set up rip fence for parallel. There is just not enough width resting against the fence to counter the sawing forces pushing the work piece. You could clamp it at both ends, but then you would have to make sure the original squared edge is perfectly parallel to the blade - 1/16" over 8' is a mere .007" per foot. If a piece of sawdust is holding the narrow edge away from the fence, the opposite end could be off as much as 1/8" or more! Not worth the time to set up. To see one in action go to your local cabinetmaker to watch.