Panel Saw or Track Saw

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Forum topic by OneReef posted 10-31-2013 05:49 PM 2411 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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8 posts in 2205 days

10-31-2013 05:49 PM

I know it’s been asked before but I have to raise the question again. I have the following machines:

Grizzly 1023SL w/ 24L50R Biesemeyer Rails
Grizzly G0490 8”x72” Jointer
Grizzly G0514XF 19” Bandsaw
Grizzly G0453 15” Planer
Milwaukee 5625 Router

My biggest issue is obviously breaking down sheet goods. I build aquariums and cabinets for them and it’s a RPITA cutting down both ply sheets and acrylic sheets. Really hard as I move up in thickness. Plus i’m basically working on half of my 2-car garage as my ‘56 Bel-Air takes up the other half. I was looking at a few options and would like some input. First, buying a used SSC H5 Panel Saw (for the 60” cut capacity for baltic birch), building the panel saw from ShopNotes #88 using a Worm Drive Saw(power for acrylic cutting), or buying the festool TS75. What are the suggestions? I need something that can cut up to 2” acrylic(rare, but possible) and I want something that is accurate. I also need the ability to cut the full 96”. I saw a festool panel saw, which would be perfect, except would probably be a pain trying to figure out a way to cut the full lengh of the panel.


23 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


6065 posts in 2257 days

#1 posted 10-31-2013 05:57 PM

Given that you will at some point want the ability to cut 2” acrylic, I would go with the panel saw. Can’t remember which one we had a the mill shop I worked in during college, but it was powered by an 8 1/4” worm drive skilsaw and it worked great until someone tipped it over and bent both front guide rails. The 8 1/4” Milwaukee panel saw we also had was ok, but not nearly the machine as the larger one. I think maybe it was a safety speed cut?

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View OneReef's profile


8 posts in 2205 days

#2 posted 10-31-2013 06:17 PM

That’s what I was thinking but the more I look at Festool the more i’m leaning towards that. The TS75 has a deep cut and if it can cut 8/4 hardwoods dont see why it couldnt cut for the most part 1/2”-1.25” acrylic. To build a panel saw including a worm drive saw would cost me at least 600, a used SSC panel saw would run 800-1500 used, the TS75 800 with a good plastic blade.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4184 days

#3 posted 10-31-2013 06:24 PM

Basic SSC designs have a tearout issue. They can be squared, but the
front face is always a mess. In order to reduce tearout with a panel
saw you need a shoe riding on the stock.

I built a rather involved panel saw for cutting plywood sheets, but
I did not design it to cut anything like 2” thick acrylic and I really
have a question as to whether a 110v universal motor can make
that cut.

My panel saw:

View OneReef's profile


8 posts in 2205 days

#4 posted 10-31-2013 06:36 PM

Loren, I saw yours, awesome! What was the total build cost? How bout accuracy? I know that a worm drive can do it, I saw an episode of Tanked where the workers were using one to trim a huge panel of 2” acrylic. Like I said, it would be RARE i’m sure, 1” and under would probably me the norm, possibly even 3/4” and below as that pretty much covers a variety of sizes.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5799 posts in 3029 days

#5 posted 10-31-2013 06:50 PM

The acrylic is an unknown to me, but I’d go with the track saw. My son in law borrowed mine when he was putting up his privacy fence. Some of the vinyl fence panels (1 1/2” thick, but hollow in a lot of spoats) had to be trimmed down, and he used my saw to do that. Even when he hit the occasional solid area, it cut nicely…but I’m not sure how that relates to acrylic. Actually it kind of surprised me that the vinyl showed no signs of melting; anyway, it worked. Mine is the smaller saw as well, the TS55. One about it, you can dial the speed down if you need to with the Fessie.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 4015 days

#6 posted 10-31-2013 07:06 PM

I have the TS 55…invaluable for cutting sheet goods.

No splintering

Cuts much smother plywood then my Powermatic TS and Forrest blade.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2710 days

#7 posted 10-31-2013 07:08 PM

Get yourself a track saw- it’s better for cutting acrylic.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View OneReef's profile


8 posts in 2205 days

#8 posted 10-31-2013 07:12 PM

thanks everyone! I really do think the TS75 might be the best route. I sent an email to Festool to see what they say in regards to the thickest acrylic that can be cut with the 75.

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3169 days

#9 posted 10-31-2013 07:47 PM

Track saw for acrylic? Do they make a suitable blade?

View OneReef's profile


8 posts in 2205 days

#10 posted 10-31-2013 07:49 PM

Not just acrylic, it will be for ply sheets as well, just to get them to size so I can then move to my tablesaw. They do, festool makes one, i read that one guy has his blades bored out to fit the saw so he can use Freud’s, which they do make plexi blades.

View eruby's profile


79 posts in 3311 days

#11 posted 10-31-2013 07:58 PM

+1 for the track saw. Just make sure you use the correct blade and speed setting for what you are cutting.

-- Eric - Baltimore MD

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4184 days

#12 posted 10-31-2013 08:35 PM

The extrusions were a lucky find as surplus. If you bought
them retail the price would give you a heart attack. Steel
2.5” or 3” box section tubing would work well though
and it is pretty cheap.

I reckon with surplus linear bearings and steel tubing, maybe
$600, minimum.

It is more than accurate enough for cabinet work in cross
cutting. In ripping the last time I used it I had some issues –
since then I’ve replaced the linear bearings that control
the saw head float and it has a lot less play. In ripping
another issue is the part on top bearing down with gravity
as the cut progresses, which can force the saw blade
against the stock and perhaps make the cut not
consistent enough for going straight to the edgebander.

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 3143 days

#13 posted 10-31-2013 09:43 PM

I own a ts75 and think it would be the perfect solution for your 2” acrylic. I had to cut a solid slab bar top that was 2.5” thick white oak. I tried to start with the full cut but found that the saw was bogging too much. I needed the 16 tooth blade for such a thick cut and only had a 30 tooth. To solve the problem I set the depth to half of the slab and made the first cut, set for full depth and cut again. I could not see a line where the first cut stopped. I think this could work well for your acrylic you just need to purchase the rail clamps to keep the track on the cut line

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2649 days

#14 posted 10-31-2013 10:48 PM

I have a panel saw just check to make sure you can cut 2” thick. Mine is a full sized model but can only go to about 1 7/8. Plus check the blade size, and make sure you can get one in that size to meet your needs. The panel saw is good for production cutting (speed) if that matters. If your going to rip with it you need in and out-feed space.

Track saw takes up less room and can be used for odd cuts and goofy angles.

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3345 days

#15 posted 11-01-2013 03:04 AM

Whats wrong with using your table saw ?

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

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