How well does a vertical panel saw rip sheets? I am looking at a Safety Speed Cut 6400, and it looks like a pretty good saw, but it had me thinking about ripping. Sometimes I get sheets of plywood in that are not straight along their 8' length. Sort of banana shaped along the edge. I was wondering if there is any way to correct this on the panel saw. On shorter length cuts I would imagine you crosscut first, then rip either on the vps, or go to a traditional table saw.
I want to get a vps as I have limited shop space, and want an easier way to cut up sheet goods than how I do it now, which is on a Unisaw, ripping first, then crosscutting on a sled on the saw. I have to use a circular saw for any panels that remain wider than 26". I have read everything I can find on the site here, and most seem to prefer sliders, but I just don't have the room for one.
From contributor A:
I have a Saw Trax and I like it. I use it to rip full size sheets for only a few things. We got a CNC so only use it a few times a month. But before the CNC, it worked its butt off. To rip a straight edge, I would assume you would have to set the sheet in some sort of support. Maybe a 2" strip of oak so the material rides on the oak and the oak rolls on the rollers.
The only thing I would caution you on is when you rip, the upper portion you are ripping tends to slowly transfer weight into the kerf as you cut the material. At the end of the cut, with 6 inches or so, most of the weight is in the kerf and tends to slightly bind the blade. Not an issue for me, but might be for your shop.
As for sheets with a wavy edge, I would keep a piece of ply 4 or 5" wide, and dead straight, that can be screwed to the bottom of any wavy edges. Then you can run it through for a perfect edge. I don't see too many edges that bad from my supplier, so it's not an issue.
Lastly, contributor A is right about the saw binding on rip cuts. Keep a couple of shims nearby for whenever you're cutting on the panel saw. As you start cutting, stick a shim into the kerf, then when you're near the end of the cut, put in another shim. This will keep the top piece from binding and dropping on the blade, both of which cause a lot of heat, which will quickly destroy a carbide blade.
All in all, one of my better investments to this day. Paid for itself many times over. And for around 2K, it's easily affordable. To this day, the sales girl that works the shows knows me and we always talk. She gives me stuff, too.
But I'm curious… What about the saw is not square and what were they trying to sell you? Nothing I've ever seen that they sell effects the squareness of the saw.
To resolve this issue they want to sell me some sort of bolt-on frame attachment. The fact that they have such an attachment ready to go leads me to believe I'm not the only one with this problem.
Additionally, I have the older model PC saw, which is crap. The chances of getting a square edge with this thing are minimal. I still find it hard to believe someone actually thought it was a good idea to use such a flimsy saw. So that needs to be replaced also.
Someday I may get motivated enough to spend the time and money to fix this thing up (I should say this is only 3-4 years old), but for now it just breaks down the full sheets to smaller sizes so I can run them on the tablesaw. Unless I hit the lottery first, in which case I'll be rolling in a nice new Striebig compact.
I'm in a similar position of desire. My back and shoulders are just not up to humping sheet goods (I've got an Excalibur on my General), but have pretty severe space constraints, and don't do enough to justify a mainstream panel saw. I've read about the SSC and Sawtrax, but even their lesser cost is cause for pause. My current thinking is a Festool with a homemade frame setup - a square alignment tool like described above, and a series of support mounted to an interior wall that allow the sheet to be held vertically.