Shopping for a Used Slider

Cabinetmakers discuss the desireable and undesirable attributes to consider in purchasing a previously owned sliding table saw on a budget. November 15, 2011

I'm in the market for a used slider. I'm a one man (sometimes two) shop. I used to have an Altendorf F45 and loved it (no money for that kind of saw now). I currently have an older Felder (hate it). Anyone have a comparison of an Altendorf to say an SCMI or Robland? What would you get? I can't spend more than $10K. By the way, I build frameless cabs. 80%, FF 10%, and furniture the rest of the time.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From the original questioner:
I should add that digital and motorized rise/fall/tilt is a huge factor in decision. Is this realistic?

From contributor C:
How about a manual SCMI 350i and save the extra cash for a CNC router?

From the original questioner:
CNC is not possible in my small shop.

From contributor C:
Then maybe a vertical panel saw and get rid of the slider idea. I have a slider and it is a space hog. I have a ptp with a router and it is also a space hog.

From the original questioner:
Yeah, I wish there was a vertical P saw that did what a slider does, but they don't. So I'm all in for the slider.

From contributor T:
With a budget of $10k, a good used Altendorf (post '98 - stainless rod slider system replaced the old phenolic) should be workable, especially in this market. Personally, I'm not a big fan of motorized tilt/rise/fall - digital angle readout is great, but I've spent too much time working on a friend's (also F-45) motorized tilt system to have a lot of confidence. I'd put my money into the guts of the machine, with my eye on a Tiger Fence crosscut if there was anything left over.

Agreed, it's a total pain to kick the saw to 45 degrees, cut a batch of beveled stuff, spin it back to zero, and then recognize that one cut piece is defective or I'm one piece short. Like you I hated my Felder, and a number of other sliding saws I've wasted my time with. I'm a "pay cash" kind of guy, but would probably take a loan if necessary to get the saw I wanted. It's a big investment, resale value is poor on marginal equipment, and the downtime and expense of swapping out a slider become significant. Good luck with whatever you end up with.

From contributor L:
One other Altendorf to avoid - models with hydraulic raise/tilt. The pumps failed way too often, and the valves wouldn't hold the blade from drifting down. That model also had the phenolic guides that didn't last as well as the newer system.

From the original questioner:
This is exactly why I posted this question here. Who knows this kind of stuff like "The pumps failed way too often, and the valves wouldn't hold the blade from drifting down"? Didn't even know there are "valves". Thanks for the input.

From contributor T:
I believe all of the post-phenolic models are motorized, rather than hydraulic tilt/raise.

From contributor K:
"One other Altendorf to avoid, models with hydraulic raise/tilt" My 1996 with hydraulics and phenolic guides works flawlessly. No problem what so ever with the pump or valves. I think the history of the machine is critical. Mine was used in a custom one man shop so he took care of it and didn't beat it to death. The phenolic guides show virtually no wear and probably never will with the kind of work I do. I wasn't looking for a hydraulic model, but when a deal comes along sometimes you have to grab it.

From contributor O:
I worked in a shop with two sliders made by Martin that had the hydraulics and a clamp beam. I think they were both from the early 90's. No automated fences or tilt, but they worked flawlessly. The blade tilt was operated by the same foot pedal as the height adjustment. I just flipped a switch to change back and forth. In the seven years I worked there, we had one service call because a clamp failed. When I think about all the other sliders I've used since, I always wish I was working with those Martins.

From contributor M:
Electric lift is likely to be standard on any Altendorf. I would not care if it had the digital readout. I also like the Martin saws a lot.

From contributor E:
Can you tell me why you both disliked the Felder so much? I have a Felder k500s which is not bad but am I missing something?

From the original questioner:
My Felder is old and in bad shape. The reason it is in bad shape is that the many "occasional" adjustments required are not spelled out in any manual anywhere and apparently the adjustments need a lot of attention. I called Felder and there is nothing available besides cryptic and incomplete literature. Not even in German and I speak and read German fluently!

In short, the slider to table relationship is on divorce terms, the slider support "arm" keeps coming off the threaded part, and the fence is just bad. You can't easily slide it off and on so that it is in front of the blade (for repeat crosscuts on waste side). The manual cranks for rise/fall/tilt takes me to a level where I have to psych myself out to use them (so I usually procrastinate and leave the dreaded 45 degree cuts until there is nothing left to do (including sweeping the shop and cleaning the bathroom). The dust collection is horrible. There are huge gaps all the way around the base and top of the machine (to allow for adjustment I guess) which spew out dust with every cut even though the dust collection is massively sucking away. The crosscut fence stops have a lot of slop in them and don't slide easily, and finally the crosscut fence does not have a quick release cam like the Altendorf, but rather bolts which have to be screwed into threaded holes every time you want to remove it or put it back on. I'm sure the newer Felders are nicer (I've seen them briefly at the last AWFS show in Vegas). As I said, itís time for a better saw.

From contributor D:
I would agree with the idea of finding an older Martin or Altendorf in good shape. $10K should get you there. We have a 1984 Martin T71 that we paid $8500 for a couple years ago, no motorized or digital anything , but it is in great condition, dead accurate, almost never requires adjustment, and you can still get parts if needed. It is so much better than the Griggio slider we had before.

From contributor Z:
I have a Casolin slider with a Tiger rip fence. I have owned a Casolin before and it is a great saw. In the 7sevenyears I have had this one I squared the fence once. Most cuts are 90 degrees and the lift is not used much, but it is pretty easy. A new Tiger rip fence is less expensive today than a few years ago and deadly accurate. Once you try one you will never go back to walking around the saw again. Altendorfs and Martins may be the Cadillacís, but Casolin is built to last and very powerful.