Best Tool for Cross-Cutting

Chopsaw, up-cut saw, or sliding table saw? September 26, 2006

In my small chair shop, I need to cut 8/4 stock less than 8" wide to length from planks 8' to 12' long. Which should I get for the task - 12" chop saw or up cut saw?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor F:
I will make the assumption that you are not talking about large volumes of crosscutting. I think an upcut is a tool that is priced and built for large scale production. There might be issues of max cut dimension across the grain. Chop saws are great for field work, but not rigid enough for 8/4 hardwood stock, in my opinion. For my small production operation, I prefer shop built sleds for the table saw to do finish crosscutting. The table saw is the most robust and rigid means of crosscutting I have ever found. Most saws elevate a 10" blade to about 3", which is plenty for 8/4 material.

From contributor J:
If you have the budget for one, an Omga miter saw will give you dead square cuts in any thickness that will fit under the blade. Otherwise, it may be easier to cut your parts a little oversize and clean up on the tablesaw, as suggested.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I am looking for an alternative to what I am doing now on the table saw (an old Unisaw). I get nervous when dealing with 8/4 10" x 10' on my sled. I do try to figure out approximately where in the near middle I can cut (minimizing waste) to keep the plank balanced.

Contributor F, you're right in that I am not honking out a few hundred cuts a day. Contributor J, I'll look at an Omega and then determine if I have the budget.

From contributor F:
A foot note on my operation is my old heavy cast iron Dewalt 14" radial arm saw. I have it built into a bench with 12 feet on both sides of the blade. I never try to set it for precision. Just a handy machine to rough the lengths of stock on.

From contributor C:
It may not be the most practical solution, but when I cut large 8/4 or thicker stock in my shop, I use my SCM sliding table saw. This baby makes short work of those long, heavy timbers, and it is dead accurate. By the way, Omga is not Omega misspelled, it is actually Omga. These are super heavy duty chop saws that cost about three times what a regular one costs, but are still a heck of a lot cheaper than a slider, and will easily handle the work you describe.

From contributor P:
I would strongly recommend pairing a Tigerstop with whatever saw you end up with, as this will increase your productivity and accuracy considerably. We have one paired with a CTD chopsaw and it does a fantastic job of crosscutting - but you need to be doing a reasonable volume of work before this makes financial sense.

From the original questioner:
Thanks for all your help. I looked into an OMGA chop saw and they are a bit above my budget. It looks like I will pursue one of the sliding 12" miter saws. The beefiest one I find. Since I am not on a strict timetable on this, I will look closely at each. Also, I know the various distributors in our area and I will be able to test drive most any one.

From contributor F:
The thing I have noticed is chop saws are fine for mitering and crosscutting narrower stock. When you start trying to miter across 10" (personal experience) in a hard wood, the sharp blade won't track perfectly. I am speaking in terms of the regular duty chop saws, not the Omga type. If the chair parts are mostly narrow, you should do fine with one.

P.S. I have read a lot of posts where someone mentions a Tiger Stop. Everyone says they are great. No one has ever mentioned what they are (I know, duh, a part stop), how they are configured, why they are great? Just curious.

From contributor P:
A Tiger Stop is a fence that has a CNC stop block on it. Mounted securely to the saw station, it provides speed and accuracy you won't believe. No, I don't work for the company - I've just been very pleased with mine. They aren't cheap (5K), so the payback for a single man shop is slower than a multiple person setup, but still well worth it for any professional, in my opinion.

From contributor A:
I have used a 12" Dewalt slider for 7 years in my architectural woodworking shop. We have cut over a thousand board ft of 8/4 material over that time span. I have had to adjust the saw once. I stupidly cut a squirrelly piece of 8/4 African mahogany and took too big a bit and jammed the blade. Other than that one incident, it has remained Starrett square for 7 years. I use that saw for everything (6" crown, curved mouldings, little itty bitty mouldings, crazy compound miters, cabinet doors, cabinet parts, rough cutting every stick of wood that's come through the shop. Other than their chopsaws, I hate Dewalt tools. If it died tomorrow, a brand new one would be in its place the very next day. I have two other friends who have the same setup in their shops for 5 years after seeing mine. If someone gave me a radial arm saw, I would sell it and buy 2 more 12" Dewalt sliders and dinner for my wife. I also have one for installing 6" crown on the job site (it's unbeatable with their mitersaw stand). I hope I've made my point. This is the one tool in my shop I would never consider replacing with another type or brand.

From contributor F:
I guess it depends on the task at hand for how they work. I like 12" sliding Dewalt, too, and use it mainly for onsite work. The incident where it failed was when I tried to bevel 10" wide rock maple. Blade to fence setting @ 90 degrees, bevel set for 45 degrees. Sharp blade, but just would not give an accurate cut without wandering a bit. I ended up having to use the table saw after many trials. Other than that, it is a nice tool to have around.