Beam Saw Versus Sliding Table Saw

Which to buy, slider or beam saw? Versatility, productivity, and ease of maintenance are issues to consider. August 24, 2008

I need help on a saw. I was looking for a sliding table saw but in the process I came across a beamsaw that is in great shape for the same price I found a used sliding saw for. I currently have two guys working but I am expanding, My cabinets are currently cut out on a small panelsaw that I would keep. I put it together with glue and screws. I know the beam saw is capable of doing lots more than I need but for the same price why not. Any input would be great.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor L:
A sliding table saw does have more flexibility for the more custom shop. You can cut angled corners and edges and you don't need software to operate the machine. Depending on the volume that you do and the type of work you do will determine which better suites you. With a beam saw you have the ability to cut more sheets than you would on a slider assuming you have numerous identical parts and you are cutting multiple sheets together.

You also have the ability to link software to the beam saw depending on make/model of the beam saw which can help with your yield and time spent optimizing your panels. I also think that beam saws are safer than sliding table saws since the beam saw has a blade(s) that travels in an area that is semi-concealed. A beam saw may limit the size of panel you need to cut whereas typically with a few steps you can cut very large panels on sliders.

Beam saws do have a lot more parts than sliders. You have valves, cylinders, PLC's, switches, etc. and you will find that some of these will need replacing more often than you may like. When we first purchased our beam saw we contemplated on getting rid of our slider. We decided to keep the slider and we have not regretted it to this day.

From contributor C:
Don't forget the parts that can cost between $200 and $1000 (in a beam saw) for a part and until replaced will completely stop production.

From contributor R:

Id go for a good slider for the versatility. Beamsaws are expensive to maintain because they are complex. You will get 4 or 5% better yield with a beamsaw and optimization software plus being able to cut more sheets per day especially if you are stack cutting.

Some of the older beam saws are pretty slow, dont have clamps (operator must be very careful,) and the cables that move with the saw are subject to flex wear and are expensive to replace. (We just had them replaced on our Schelling along with a little other tuning up by the technician - $9,000.) We also have our trusty old SCM SL16 that is still used for lots of odds and end work. Much of what the Schelling used to do has been taken over by running nested on a Komo CNC router.