Comparing sliding and vertical saws

Woodworkers voice their views on the virtues and liabilities of both sliding and vertical saws. November 15, 2000

I have come across what I feel is a good deal on a Striebig Optisaw. I would like your views on sliding vs. vertical saws. Which would be more useful for a small cabinet shop? I have a long narrow shop so I actually have more wall space than floor space.

Forum Responses
I do not know about the brand, but as far as type, our guys felt that the vertical saw was very cumbersome and hard to get used to. They did not like the way the scale was set up (holtzer saw). They felt much more comfortable with a sliding saw, because it was more traditional like a table saw.

I have owned both a vertical and a slider. There are advantages to both saws. Let's look at the vertical saw first. They are very space efficient. Mine stood 5 feet from the wall to the outside of the motor. Some come with a dust collector\bag type already attached. It is easier to move large and small panels around using the vertical saw. You don't have to lift panels up to a saw hieght of 3 feet. You can place a unit of mel. close to the saw on eiher side of the saw. A vertical saw takes up a lot less room than a slider!

But there are some bad things about vertical saws. It's very hard to cut small pieces. Some have scoring knives and some a scoring blade. In my opinion, scoring blades work better and longer and are more precise than scoring knives. You can not cut angles on a vertical saw. If you don't have large quantities of datos to do, don't waste your time in setting up the saw. When you're cutting an 11, 20, 23 rips the back side of the piece drops down 1/8" when travelling down the length of the panel. Plus you will need a table saw to do angles.

A slider will do angles and cut small pieces. It's easier to set up the fences for square, and calibrate. But you have a very large foot print. Ours is a 10 table and it takes up 14' x 24'. That is if we just cut 8' cross cuts. You need a dust collector. It's easier for an employee to get hurt on one. You have to pick up the panels to the saw.

I prefer the slider. You need to do a couple of things. Call four shops--two that have a slider and two that have a vertical saw, and ask them what the drawbacks are from their saws. Then ask yourself what you want to build and what saw will best suit your needs.

We have both saws in our shop. I would hate to give up either one of them.

Different jobs call for different setups. We do frameless cabinets and find the vertical saw faster, safer and more accurate for panel sizing. This is what it is designed to do, and it does it well.

It is a specialized saw and not as versatile as the slider. Which would be better would depend on your personal preferences and the type of work you expect to be doing.

The last post hit the nail on the head. If you need a super-accurate panel saw for cutting boxes the Striebig blows all others away. You can easily hold your squareness to a couple thousandths of an inch for many years as long as you don't hit it with your fork lift very hard. We frequently cut panels two and three deep. Talk about banging through a lot of boxes quickly and accurately. Use a hollow ground triple chip and you'll be very happy with the edges you get--they're razor sharp.

We have both horizontal and vertical panel saws in our shop and the Striebig outperforms the horizontal hands down. With its multiple stops on the column and fence, you are done processing a sheet in one shot. No more of the old 1. Break the sheet in half, 2. Stand half the sheet against the wall, 3. Rip a straight edge on one half and stand against the wall, 4. Rip a straight edge on the other half sheet and stand against the wall, 5. Continue till you've estimated how many rips would be necessary to do the whole job, 6. Now double handle the whole stack again and rip them to width, 7. Now start crosscutting your common ends and tops and bottoms.

On the Striebig you 1. Set the sheet on the middle shelf and rip it in half, 2. Slide the top sheet down in front of the bottom half and straight line rip the two of them at the same time, 3. Flip the two pieces over at the same time and rip them both to width using one of your stops on the column, 4. Crosscut them two at a time using your stops on the fence, 5. Label and stack on the cart. Done.

You can cut your base common ends double up like this so much faster it'll blow your mind. If you need partitions in these bases just hold a couple of thicknesses of material against the stop and they're exactly the right length when you crosscut them. I will have to admit that a horizontal saw does some jobs better, such as narrow rippings, mitering and working with small pieces. But if you're a smaller shop and have to process a lot of panels the Striebig is the king. I've had to do a fair amount of work in the past on three different Holz-her panel saws and they don't work 1/10th as good as the Striebig. You want strong as all hell, accurate, clean cutting, easy to use and maintain? Grab that Striebig.

We have a Striebig and a SI 12-inch SCMI slider. Like stated in some other post, the vertical saw is a whole lot easier for one man to use. We built a panel cart that loads eight boards and wheels up to the Striebig, level with the rollers. The slider cuts strips, laminate, and small items. Go this route. Get a reverse scoring/panel blade from Leuco for the Striebig ($190). It scores going up and cuts going down, even thermo (fussy chip) fused board.

Another post from the original questioner:
I went and looked at this Striebig and it was not what I wanted. It is about 9 years old with no scoring. Would this saw with a reverse scoring blade do chip-free cuts?

Striebig has this thing called optiscore. Basically, it's a little hook that limits the penetration of the main blade by grabbing the carriage as you plunge the blade in. By setting this so the blade only penetrates the face of the board by 1/8" or so, and climb-cutting, you will score the face of the panel. Next, you pull the hook back and make your forward cut in the normal manner. If your saw has been set up correctly the main blade will track right through the slot and give you a razor sharp edge. This optiscore unit can probably be retrofit on an old machine. You'd have to call Colonial Saw to find out for sure.

We have this unit on our machine and it works well when we use it. I say "when we use it" because we get very high quality edges for a long time without having to use it by using a Leuco hollow-ground tripple chip with a +10 degree hook.

I really don't think you need a seperate scoring unit because we've been doing just fine without one. Some of the newer Striebig saws have this option, but I have no idea what they cost.

Remember one thing. Striebigs are built like brick shit houses. Their design is simple and easy to understand. I've never heard of anybody burning the motor up. A 9 year old Striebig is still a baby.