Straight Line Rip Saw Versus Gang Rip Saw

A discussion of the pros and cons of lumber ripping machinery. July 28, 2012

If you had to choose between a straight line saw and a gang rip saw which one would you purchase?

Forum Responses
(Architectural Woodworking Forum)
From contributor G:
It depends on what I was planning on using it for. For simplicities sake I would choose the SLR.

From the original questioner:
We do a little bit of everything, including solid wood sheet goods, but the one area where we are not efficiently working is solid wood. I want to speed the process up but at the same time we need to be flexible.

From contributor O:
A gang rip is typically used to feed a molder. A couple of hours can feed a conventional molder for a couple of days. Longer set-ups (vs. none for a single blade) as well as higher tooling costs are to be expected. Single rip is more versatile. You can rip out for S4S parts, molder blanks, sizing plies, etc. You may consider if you need glue line quality edges or not. A proper saw, tuned and operated, will produce glue line joints with predictable reliability. Many SLR's will not do this, especially as parts get longer.

From contributor V:
A gang rip is not as efficient without a good feed system, preferably with lasers to help you be most efficient in yield. I like a joystick powered movable fence on the infeed with lasers.

From the original questioner:
I'll probably start with a SLR first, then move up to a gang rip if needed. I've never seen one in operation so I'm not quite sure of its capabilities.

From contributor L:
Depends on what you are making and how much of it. For feeding a molder all day a multiple rip with moving blades would work. A fixed blade multiple rip would seem to have a disadvantage in yield, but I've never used one. We have a SL rip that works well for what we do. Itís very much dependent on the operator for yield. Itís mainly used for short run custom molding work and a small amount of panel glue-up. Glue line quality is excellent.

From the original questioner:
I guess another way of asking the question would be if you had an SLR and a gang rip saw which one would you give up first? Which one could you live without?

From contributor M:
You should also look at the newer gang-rip saws, with quick-change blade(s), and glue edge capability. These can be used as SLR or Gang according to production requirement.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
I have worked with companies that glue millions of pieces using a SLR without further edge preparation. The keys are to glue soon after edge preparation and to use the proper saw blade. There are a lot of saw sharpening folks that do not have good blade sharpening. Remember that it the edge of the saw blade that prepares the glue surface and not the tops of the teeth, so edge prep of the blade (side dressing) that is so critical.