Handling large sheets of wood with a regular table saw is doable, but very difficult. As any artisan can tell you, it is never easy to cut larger pieces of wood with a regular table saw. There is a better way to cut larger pieces of wood, and it is called a panel saw.
If you aren’t familiar with panel saws, don’t worry because in this article I will tell you everything that you need to know about this amazing power tool.
What is a Panel Saw and How Does it Work?
A panel saw is a machine tool that is designed to cut large panels of wood, MDF, plywood, etc. into small sections and to the desired size. A rotating circular saw blade is moved across the wooden panel to size it.
There are two types of panel saw.
- Horizontal and
Horizontal Panel Saw
The horizontal panel saws work in a very similar fashion to regular table saws. With a panel saw, there is a single spinning blade and the material is fed into it. So, in that sense, people who are used to cutting with a regular table saw will have no issues using this power saw.
On large-sized units, the workpiece is fixed on the table and the rotating blade is moved across it to make the cut.
How to Use a Panel Saw
Here is a video that explains how to use a horizontal saw.
Vertical Panel Saw
A vertical model is the one that is often used by professionals. They require way less floor space when compared to the horizontal models.
Vertical panel saws can make two kinds of cuts, cross-cuts (which are vertical cuts) and strip cutting (which are horizontal cuts). In order to make the different kinds of cuts, all one has to do is reposition the saw blade. However, it is worth noting that because of the panel saw’s design, you can’t use vertical models to make angled cuts (also known as miter cuts), you still need a specialty miter saw or a circular saw to do that.
Panel Saw vs Table Saw
The problem with most table saws is that their table simply is not big enough to accommodate larger pieces of wood. So, when a carpenter or woodworker goes to push the wood into the blade, they have to be very careful.
Where a panel saw differs from a table saw, is in the actual size of the saw, more specifically, the panel saw’s table. They have a huge surface area, meaning you can easily fit an entire sheet of plywood (or any other kind of wood) on the surface of this saw. This makes it a lot easier for someone to accurately cut a large sheet of wood.
Uses of a Panel Saw
What is a panel saw used for? You could technically use a panel saw to cut any size of wood, but that would be missing the main point of this powerful saw. The main use of a panel saw is to cut large pieces (think at least as large as 4 feet by 8 feet, if not larger) of wood into smaller, more manageable pieces. A panel saw can be used in conjunction with other kinds of saws, such as regular table saws or miter saws, or it can be used on its own.
- To cut large wooden panels to smaller sizes
- To size plywood, MDF, Particleboards and other engineered wood
- For custom cabinet making and joinery
- To build tables, dressers, furniture, etc.
- Build small houses, play houses, cabins
Unlike a lot of other saws, these saws tend to only be found in commercial settings. This is due to a variety of factors, including the size of your average panel saw, the cost associated with buying and running one, as well as the fact that most DIYers don’t tend to cut large pieces of wood. You will often find panel saws in hardware stores (where the employees use them to cut wood before selling it) or in factories. Now, I’m not saying that you can’t use panel saws at the home garage or that smalled sized saw for home users aren’t sold, they are, it is just that panel saws tend to be far more common in commercial settings than in DIY workshops or garages.
Vertical vs Horizontal Panel Saws – Differences
If you are familiar with power saws, then you are probably aware that pretty much every power saw out there has different variants. For example, with miter saws, there are regular miter saws, sliding miter saws, and compound miter saws. Well, panel saws are no exception. There are two main types of panel saws (as you can probably tell from the subheading); there are vertical panel saws and there are horizontal panel saws. Each has its own unique purpose.
The biggest difference between the two kinds of saws is their design or appearance. A horizontal panel saw looks very similar to a table saw, except with a wider table. A vertical panel saw essentially looks like a giant, flat board with a saw attached to it. Vertical models actually need to be mounted on a wall to be used properly.
Obviously, the differences in appearance affect how each kind of saw functions. With a vertical panel saw, you have a lot more control over the blade itself and can easily reposition it. Likewise, because it is vertical, pushing the wood into the blade is a bit different. You have a bit less control over the wood because it is placed vertically, as opposed to horizontally.
With a horizontal saw, it functions very similarly to a regular table saw. You either push the work across the table or large units, the blade travels across work. Anybody who is used to using a regular table saw will have no issue whatsoever using a horizontal panel saw.
Both kinds of power saws take up a lot of space, but horizontal panel saws take up a lot more. You can easily fit a vertical panel saw into most home workshops, it will be a bit of a hassle, but it is doable. The same cannot be said for horizontal saws, which take up a huge amount of space.
Pros and Cons
Vertical Panel Saw
Vertical table saws cut through wood panels with both accuracy and speed. There is a reason they are used in commercial settings. If you need to cut through a large amount of wood paneling in a short amount of time, then a vertical panel saw is your best bet.
The main downside to using a vertical panel saw is that there is nothing else really like it on the market, so they can be very difficult to use, especially for amateurs.
Horizontal Panel Saw
Horizontal panel saws function a lot like regular table saws, so they are really easy to start using. Eve an amateur DIYer can learn how to use a horizontal saw with ease.
However, the horizontal type can be difficult to fit into your standard workshop or garage. So, unless you have a particularly large work area, you might find it difficult to use a horizontal panel saw.
This is everything you need to know about panel saws; so, next time you are in the market for a new power tool, see if a this saw is right for you.