The bigger fence is obviously a good choice if there is room. The
extra big flat space doubles as an assembly bench too.
If you were forced by sheer lack of square footage, you could build a
wall mounted panel saw for handling sheet goods, then move over to the
table saw for accurate cuts. There is a good article in last month's
Shopnotes that has a shop built panel saw. I was strongly considering
building it but it looks like I may be getting the bigger table saw
Bob the Tomato
I have a 52" fence, but have columns that make full sheets a pain. The
extra room on the side table is also handy to put sleds, etc... off to
the side for a moment without having to put them on the floor.
A 50-52" fence can easily be cut down to anything less than it's full
length (42, 64, 36...), should the craftsperson decide a shorter length
is better. You can't stretch a 30" rail and table. <G>
On another note, why mess with horses, etc... with full sheets?
Put the sheet on the floor, driveway, trailer, etc... on (2) 2'x8'
sheets of 2" foam insulation, kneel on it and cut away. Most of the
time, I freehand to a line and clean up the final edge on the TS. If you
need to clamp a straight edge for a finished edge (or no TS is
available), simply move the foam to clear the clamps. I cut my 2'x8'
foam boards to 2'x4' for easy handling and storage, and I've been using
the same boards for years.
That's another angle of the 30" vs 52" argument that is really
interesting to look at. You are not losing just the sq footage of the
saw footprint, you are also losing the sq footage of *any potential
usage* of the saw. If you rip plywood, you need an area as wide as
the saw by more than 16 feet long, free and clear (plus the area that
you stand in). If you crosscut plywood, you need at least 8 feet wide
by more than 8 feet long (plus the area that you stand in).
It might make sense to lay out the foam board atop the table saw to
perform the big cuts, to save that extra square footage that would
otherwise be taken up by the inrip/outrip footprint. But it would be
a major PIA to reach all the way across a 4' panel to finish a
crosscut with a circular saw and straightedge unless you are very
The inrip/outrip requirement just shows grapically how really
important it is to have everything in a small shop on rollers and be a
neat freak about keeping surfaces cleared off.
Bob the Tomato
Maybe it's just the type of projects I build (cabinets generally), but I
don't crosscut full sheets very often. Usually I rip the sheet down to 15"
or 24", then crosscut those to length.
Having said that, I did need to crosscut a full sheet of 1/4" plywood
yesterday and didn't find it difficult at all. I'm six feet tall, and my
worktable is about 30" high (whatever the height of my tablesaw is). If
you're cutting on the ground, reaching across would be a no brainer, though
it's a little harder on older knees. :)
Everything on wheels, and combine functions when possible. For instance, my
3'x6' rolling worktable doubles as outfeed for my tablesaw, has a router
mounted on one end as a router table, has drawers to keep router bits and
other accessories, and a large compartment underneath for storing all my
I built this table
and keep it folded up stored with the sheet goods. I made an eight-
foot and a four-foot straightedge guide for the circular saw and I
prefer cutting my pieces on that table rather than the table saw. I've
tried both and it's easier and faster with the table. Mostly because
my shop is so small that setting up the table saw infeed and outfeed
areas for an eight-foot sheet takes more time than just unfolding the
table and tossing the sheet on it.
And the table is much more of a multitasker than I thought it would
be. With a scrap piece of plywood it's a spare assembly/work table,
vinyl flooring cutter, and a yard sale table. Last summer it got a
sheet tossed over it and worked at a neighbor's backyard wedding
I find it interesting that so many of the household items I've made,
the ones that get used the most, are the ones I built in an hour or
two out of scrap and/or a few bucks worth of parts.
I have a mobile workbench that is 3'x6' that I can easily set a full
plywood sheet on for cutting. But, I almost always use the tablesaw for
ripping sheets lengthwise. The workbench is the same height as my tablesaw,
so I use it for outfeed support.
However, I do have an 8' sawboard too if I need to rip a thin sheet that is
difficult to maneuver on the tablesaw, or if I need to make a long angled
cut for some reason.
It's mostly when I'm crosscutting a panel that I use the circular saw and
my 4' straightedge saw board. If I have a 2'x8' panel and need to cut 6"
off one end, I'm not sure how you would feed that safely through the
tablesaw without a huge crosscut sled or sliding table.
It's quite easy to set the panel on my workbench, slide some spacers under
it, clamp on my sawboard, and cut. I have a pair of spring clamps dedicated
to the sawboard, so it's always ready to go. The only downside is the
circular saw is a lot noisier than my tablesaw. :)
On Wed, 23 May 2007 10:11:27 -0500, HerHusband wrote:
I made a panel cutting sled for the purpose. It has a runner that rides
in the right-hand miter slot, and another that rides on the right end of
the right-hand extension table. It has a fence on the leading edge that
runs the full length of the sled. It also has a few lengths of T-track
that run perpendicular to the fence, which allow for hold-downs.
To support the offcut, and effectively make a zero-clearance support, I
install another "sled" that locks into the left-hand miter slot. It
didn't take me very long to make these, and they see a lot of use in my
If I can find SWMBO's digital camera, I'll take a picture of it and post
it on ABPW.
I have the 30" Beisemeyer on a Unisaw in a small shop with the saw on
rollers. In 10+ years of use, I think I have needed more fence capacity
maybe 3 times. I build cabinets and casework for a business now and still
haven't upgraded to larger rails. while in the 1-car garage, I could not
imagine rolling such a big table around. My router table was in the RHS
table as well.
People will say that you can cross cut a full sheet of plywood, but I think
managing a full sheet of plywood on a table saw like this (without a
full-size cross-cut sled) is too difficult to do accurately. Especially in
a small shop. Personally, I like the Festool saw and guide rail to cut down
full sheets to manageable sized pieces and then it's off to the table saw.
So, my advice is that if you have a small shop, and room is an issue, the
30" fence will be fine. If room is not an issue, then go with the 50"
fence. Don't get too hung up in the "bigger is better" thing. We all seem
to needlessly strive to always have the biggest and latest thing when, for
generations, people didn't have a fraction of of the horse power we now have
and did quite well.
You have a very valid point, Mike. I picked up my dream table saw
this last weekend and have not had time to put it together yet. It's
the Jet JTAS 10XL with the 50" bessey clone fence... and the panel
crosscut attachment. It's going to be HUGE when it's assembled. I
actually wasn't going to get one this big, but the price was right...
a little over 1/2 discounted retail and the saw was used, but it was
so new that it hadn't been halfway assembled yet. I didn't get to it
this weekend because of the honey-do list which involved a leaky pipe
in the basement.
Bob the Tomato
On Sat, 26 May 2007 04:43:34 GMT, "Mike Dembroge"
That is a hard question, and, has been addressed in a number
of ways elsewhere in this thread. For my $0.02...I have a 20' by 40'
shop, which sounds large except it was also used for storing ALL the
wood I worked. Got small then, I have to say.
In spite of that, quite a few years ago, I bid on (and won) a
Unisaw with a 14' side table and fence system. It had been used in a
door factory, and, they made some BIG doors. Well, I did cut the
table in half, and used the half I cut off to build an outfeed table.
There have been half a dozen times when it as been VERY useful
to have that extra capacity in the fence. Also, I ended up mounting
a router in the table area, so I would have use of the fence system
for THAT too. Now, THAT has been really handy.
For me, the bottom line is that, as a "uni-tasker", I would
probably get the smaller fence, and cut down any stock that is too
large using the Skilsaw and a clamp-on fence. However, by getting
the LONGER fence system, you can turn the saw and table into a
"multi-tasker", and, for me that is a good thing.
Oh yea, I may be a "bad person", but, I also use that long
side table as an assembly table at times...adding to the
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