Budget Cross-Cutting Solutions

Suggestions on gearing up for wide panel cross-cuts without investing in an expensive sliding table saw. March 25, 2007

What is the best way to cross cut on a budget? I have a new pm 2000 50" fence, fine for cuts up to 50". I do a lot of built in book cases and media centers that are 60"to 96" tall. I use a Dewalt sliding miter saw that only cuts 3/4 up to 13". My problem lies with my wider cabinets, 13" wide and over 50" long. Iíve been looking into radial arm saws and sliding table attachments, but nothing that seems like it is going be efficient. As usual, I am limited on space and on a tight budget so a 5-30k sliding table saw is out of the question.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From contributor A:
I'm a hobbyist, but I have found the Festool saw and guide great for what you are describing. The guide I have been using is slightly over 8ft.

From contributor B:
Contributor A is right, the Festool and straight edge is a great tool. Why can't you cut the shorter parts first and let the offal be your longer parts?

From the original questioner:
Howís this for repetitive cuts Ė at one time I had made a jig for the circular saw. It was time consuming marking each board and placing the guide on each board.

From contributor C:
Sawtrax makes a fairly low cost panel saw that does a fairly good job at what it was designed to do. Mine cost under 2K and I can cut 4 x 8 sheets without any problem. It's not a Holz-Her but it does the job and is a very good value for the money. They also make a beam saw that is the same basic design but is made to be used horizontally. They are a good company. I've had nothing but good experiences with the product or the customer service. At each show I go to I see little upgrades they developed for the saw. If it is something I can walk out with, they usually give it to me.

From contributor D:
This is certainly low tech but I have the same saw and on those rare occasions when I have to square and end or cut a panel without the fence, I work from a jig that follows the left edge of the tablesaw's top. I have a skinny (12 inch or so) table the same height as the saw. Normally keep it out of the way, but for crosscutting, I bring it to within 2' or so of the saw. My "sled" is a piece of ply 4' or so long. I screw a ripping to the bottom, which rides along the tableís edge. Then I run it through the saw to cut it, then carefully add a piece along the back, making sure it is absolutely square to the cut. This sled, in conjunction with the side runoff table, allows me to cut larger panels with moderate ease and very low cost.

From contributor E:
Look at a SawTrax, Milwaukee or other vertical panel saws. For under $2k you will be happy for a long time and it will be a lot safer than a sled (have you ever tried to cut a full sheet on a little sled?) and much quicker and more accurate than a saw guide.

From contributor F:
Your two best options are a shopbuilt crosscut sled or a sliding attachment. I have the Excalibur and a Sawtrax, but for the life of me I cannot get consistent cuts off the Sawtrax. The Excalibur, although certainly not the quality of a dedicated sliding t.s., is very accurate once setup, and quick to put on and take off the saw, plus you have a built in stop to make repeatable cuts that works to roughly 7', I think. If youíre trying to do production style work, using a circular saw will get to be too slow. Less expensive radial arms are very difficult to keep accurate, and still have a small crosscut capacity. I use mine just for cutting lumber down to rough sizes.

From contributor G:
Take a look at an old z15 beam saw 5 foot cross cut. The last one I saw on ebay went for $1000. Itís the way to go (with scoring).

From contributor H:
www.jessem.com Mast-R-Slider

From contributor I:
If you want inexpensive, the Excalibur works just fine. If you want even cheaper, then make your own with some plywood and a few strips of 3/4" maple, and some wax. Thatís the way it used to be done, before sliding tables came along.

From contributor J:
I second the Jessem Master Slide. I love mine. With additional support I can crosscut two 3/4" X 24" X 8' pieces. Since there are no legs attached to it, it moves with my saw on a mobile base.

From the original questioner:
To contributor J: How do you have your set up for the master slide? It doesnít look like it has much support for an 8' cut - do you have a table to support the overhang? How freely does it slide while cross cutting a 24" x 8' piece?

From contributor J:
I just use a ball bearing roller stand to support the piece. I also use a Bessey clamp to clamp the pieces to the fence - this helps a lot. I've also thought about adding a toggle clamp to the fence to help hold pieces down. I've just started my shop (working on the business plan and stuff) but I've landed a couple projects already and the Jessem slide has helped me out a lot. I used to use EZ guide and a shop made cross cut sled. The Jessem is much faster and much more accurate.

From contributor H:
To contributor H and contributor J: That MastRSlide looks interesting. The web site says the fence rails 'have to be modified'. How much modification are they talking about? I'm not keen on taking a cutting torch to my Biesemeyer fence rail.

From contributor K:

To contributor H: You'll need to either rebore the fence rail holes or cut the rail with an angle grinder so that you can shift the fence rail to the right so that the sliding table can clear the left side of your table saw. It seems like a pain but you'll definitely appreciate your newfound crosscutting abilities once you've made the necessary modifications. I just upgraded my delta sliding table to an Exaktor recently and wish I had done so earlier. Crosscutting full sheets of plywood and melamine are a breeze now and I don't need to waste time setting up extension supports although it does take up more space in the garage.

From contributor J:
After you remove your left wing, you have to either cut the front and back rails flush with the top, or if possible, just unbolt the rails and slide them over. I couldn't do that because the rails have notches for the miter slots and I thought it was easier to hack off the end rather then re-drill mounting holes and cut notches.

From contributor L:
I use an extremely low-cost setup for cross cutting: a hand saw and a square. It gives very precise cuts compared to my old method: the axe.