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I recently completed building a mammoth vertical panel saw. Measuring over 8' long and 6' tall, this was to be the tool to end all tools as far as cutting sheet goods goes. I was pretty proud of it, but in the end it did not work quite as well as I expected.
Then, I came across an article in Fine WoodWorking, Issue #143, titled "A Circular Saw in the Furniture Shop?", written by Gary Williams. Dang! It hit me that his Panel Cutting Table was really what I needed. Most of us have built or used something similar to Gary's cutting table, it was his simple procedure for lifting the material onto the table that I had never thought of. Ingenious.
Anyway, I purchased a banquet table folding leg set at Menards for $13.00, four 2 x 4s (I needed one additional 32" piece), and 1 hour later I had myself a panel cutting table. And his procedure for lifting the material onto the table works like a charm. If only I had seen the article before I built my blasted contraption. Thanks FWW. Thanks Gary. Thanks Luzimar for putting up with my failed inventions.....
Update: After using the panel cutting table and my shop-made cutting guides for several months, I can honestly say that I have absolutely no interest in purchasing a vertical panel cutting saw. My setup is easy to use and produces perfectly accurate cuts with minimal chip out. I purchased a Forrest WWII blade for my DeWALT circular saw thinking it would out perform the less-expensive 7-1/4" CMT Cut-Off blade. After comparing the two, the CMT blade produces a cleaner crosscut (no chip out) in hardwood plywoods. The Forrest blade might have a slight edge on rip cuts, though the difference is miniscule.
Design / Construction Notes:
In the past I have used Penn State Circular Saw Guides with my circular saw to cut large panels. However, I decided to toss the Penn State guide for several shop-made guides that in my opinion, work better. I have three primary shop-made guides:
Recently, I have begun using the Festool circular saw and guide system. They have advantages over shop-made guides. You can check out our review of the Festool system at our Tool Reviews page.
There are numerous ways to calibrate a circular saw guide to cut square. Unfortunately, using a carpenter's square or even a machinist's square does not always cut it. There are three methods that are regarded as being the best practice methods for squaring a crosscut device (guides, miter gauges, sleds, and sliding tables). Click Here to read about and view demonstrations of three methods for calibrating crosscut devices.
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