I have been looking at either an industrial size table saw or a slider for my shop. I have gone from a low production custom shop to very busy cabinet shop this year and I need to upgrade my saw. I probably have about $6000 - $8000 to deal with. I hear everyone say how a slider has drastically improved production in the shop, and my question is how? What exactly were the improvements that you experienced? Where can a good used one be bought, or new one?
From contributor H:
A slider or vertical saw are better because there is less effort to make a cut and it will be square if the machine is set up properly. If you do not make a lot of angle cuts a vertical is faster and takes less space. For one man to cut on a slider a lift table or fork lift is a great help. Check out ex-factory or any of the used machine outfits on this website as well as the machinery exchange on this site. A new slider will be double your budget and a vertical even more. I have a Casolin Astra with Tiger rip fence and my Unisaw is reserved for hardwood ripping and small drawer parts when the slider is in use. If you have not seen a slider in operation, go to a local shop to check it out. You will never go back to panel processing on a regular saw again.
The saw does take up more room than a unisaw, but like the unisaw you can put a large outfeed/storage/assembly table behind it to fill in an area and make use of it. The moving part (wagon) of my saw travels right next to my assembly/outfeed table, so it didn't cost me much space.
I have also used it to true up the boards as mentioned here. Clamp them down to the wagon, push them through (very easy) and you have a perfectly strait and square edge without trying to hold a long board steady through a jointer as you make several passes and the wood chips out!
If you have room, get one with a 10' stroke so the cross-cut fence doesn't have to be removed when you are ripping anything under 10'. Otherwise, get used to taking it off and putting it back on and do some planning to minimize it or just keep your regular saw for those rips. If you are on a budget, check out the Mini-Max 315. I saw it at the wood working show and it was pretty impressive.
The cross fence is easily brought to exact 90* or any other angle so you can do compound miters with ease. It is easy to do stress relief cuts in melamine so you get away from the banana rips. Putting a tiger stop on the rip fence will speed things a lot. When we got to the point we were double shift cutting on the slider we bought a beam saw, and it was much faster. But now a lot of our cutting is done nested on a Komo. If the beam saw is single sheet cutting the Komo is faster.
The smaller sliders are generally not as well built. Let's face it; the heart of a slider is the carriage. You can attach almost any saw to it. But it is the carriage system that makes the unit. Smaller units have systems that don't wear as well, or allow more play in the travel. My Altendorf has a tolerance of .006" over 10.5' for 3 or 5 years. Martin may have similar specs. Why won't these smaller units guarantee such tolerances? Better to have more than enough and not use it than not enough and need it.