Need help with the Excalibur sliding table.


I have this sliding table and I am not sure I want to keep it. I have it all aligned and set up but it is a pain to use. I crosscut some sheets using the fence in the back position, then reversed the hold downs and put it in the front position. I had to calibrate the cutoff stop to make it accurate. I then had to rip some more pieces which meant removing the fence. I then put the fence back on and crosscut some more. Am I not doing it correctly or is this a pain? max
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Max:
I bought one several years ago, and have since come to the same conclusion. If you are doing a lot of panel work, and can leave it set up for that all the time, I think its OK as a relatively inexpensive alternative to a true slidinging panel saw. But if you need to change from ripping to crosscutting, as most of us do, its a royal PITA, as far as I am concerned. I recently moved my shop and had to disassemble most of the big equipment. When I put the Unisaw back together, I doubt that the sliding table will be attached.
HTH
Jim Ray, President McFeely's Square Drive Screws www.mcfeelys.com
Festool Fanatic and ISA since 2002

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hi max. yes, i feel your pain. i, too, have the excalibur, and when i first got it i thought the same. but, with a little TLC it really is worth keeping. a few points:
1)    most people i know don't move the fence from back to front. they either keep it in the back or keep it in the front. personally, i keep it in the front. when i'm dealing with sheet goods, i typically use a cutting platform/circ saw to rough cut panels, then bring them over to the saw and use the table for the rest. fast, easy.
2)    to keep the sliding table even with the saw surface, i use large plastic washers that fit over the pegs - that way i can level the tables exactly, and have the fence float 1/8" or so above the saw surface.
configuration takes a bit of time; once you get the fence configured, it does stay very accurate. use a 5-cut technique to square it up, and use a good crosscut blade that's raised only as high as it needs to be - no higher. i've found that if the blade is way up above the stock, i get a bit of flutter and not the smoothest cuts.
hopefully that helps. if i think of any other tips i'll let you know.
--- dz
max wrote:

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Folks Thanks for taking the time to reply. I guess I am impatient with constantly changing things which is why I don't own any combination machines. The fence can go on the front or back but you have to switch the hold down attachments from side to side. When I reinstall the fence on the front I then have to recalibrate the cut off stop. I think I am going to take a good long look at it this weekend and see if I can make any of these changes easier. max

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Your impatience aside, when it's calibrated properly in front or back, what is your opinion of how well it slides when cutting? Any difficulty with sawdust or little pieces of wood binding it up or impeding a sliding cut? Have you found the size of the apparatus makes it difficult to use or anything like that? Any other comments on its functionality will be appreciated.
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Hi Max,
I'm not sure what width sheets you are cutting, but I think you may be mixing up large panel production cutting with everyday normal crosscutting (under 24" length of cut). I think changing setup from one to the other is a royal pain. The big sliding table merits its worth for production cutting. Maybe you are just trying to use it for everything and that's the problem.
I have the smaller (but heavier and more precise) cast iron sliding table on my Jet supersaw. Its not suitable for production sheet cutting because maximum cut length is 24". But its a demon and wonderful addition for regular cross cutting. Like another poster said, I rough cut large sheets with a jigsaw or circular saw, then do finish cutting on the table saw.
Bob
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max wrote:

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I think you've got the correct process going.
I try to arrange my cutting so that the fence goes on the back of the table and all the longer cuts get made. Then the fence goes on the front and all the shorter cuts get made.
Before the sliding table I used a circular saw and straight edge to break down panels, but every cut done that way takes at least as much time to measure and set up as to move the fence on the sliding table. By doing all the cuts with the fence on the back of the sliding table, followed by cuts with the fence at the front, I find I get the cutting done considerably faster. I believe I'm also getting better quality cuts on the tablesaw, too.
For most ripping I just loosen the clamp screws on the fence brackets and and slide it out of the way without having to take it off. If a part is wide enough that the fence would have to come off, and the part isn't over four feet long, I'll rip it with the sliding table. (I sometimes use quickgrip clamps to lock the part to the table.)
I also find calibrating the cut off scale on the fence to be a pain. Unless I have a lot of repetitive cuts, I don't bother with the scale on the sliding table fence.
Depending on what I'm cutting, I'll clamp a block that's exactly 1/2" thick to the rip fence. It has a good scale, so it's easy to set to an accurate position. Then I set the rip fence to my length plus 1/2", put the work on the sliding table, push it over to contact this block to set my length, and make the cut with the sliding table. This works when there's enough off-cut material on the sliding table to hold onto it properly. (Of course, make sure the stop block is positioned at the start of the rip fence so your part never gets pinched between it and the fence as the cut is made.)
I'm also going to get a quick release pin ( such as at http://www.mcmaster.com/ctlg/DisplCtlgPage.asp?ReqTyp TALOG&CtlgPgNbr088), then drill a hole through the sliding table fence and one of the mounting brackets for the pin. Then, putting the pin through this hole will put the fence in the same place. Calibrate the scale on the fence once, and the fence can be taken off, but it should be back to exactly the same spot when the pin is put back in. Hopefully this will reduce the pain level.
Do you want to keep your sliding table? Well, you can always take the fence off, lock the table in position and do some projects without it. If you don't miss it, might as well turn it into some extra cash for other tools.
Tim
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