May 12, 2021

Panel Saw vs Table Saw | Features, Uses and How They Compare

A lot of people are perplexed about what the difference between panel saw vs table saw is. The truth is that both are heavy-duty wood saws, and both are suitable for making cuts on lumber. The biggest difference between the two is how they mount to the floor and in the size of the lumber, they can cut. When you start with woodworking, you may be wondering what type of saw to get first. The answer depends on many things. You need to consider a few main factors: How big is the bulk of the material you are going to be working with? What makes a panel saw different from a table saw? Are you looking for a hobby saw or something more? Let’s compare them.

Panel Saw

A panel saw is a machine tool meant for large panels of wood, MDF, and plywood into small pieces. You are allowed to cut your panels into your desired size. It comes with a rotating circular saw blade moved across the wooden panel. The horizontal and vertical saws are two types of panel saws. 

The horizontal panel saw is similar to a table saw. It has a single spinning blade that you feed the material into. If you are familiar with a table saw, you will find the horizontal panel saw easy to use. The workpiece remains fixed to the table as the rotating blade keeps moving. It is a large-sized unit that takes care of large wood pieces. 

A vertical panel saw is ideal for professionals since it is tricky to use. It does not take more space compared to the horizontal panel saw. The vertical panel saw makes crosscuts and strip cuts. Strip cuts are also known as horizontal cuts, and crosscuts are vertical cuts. The different cuts are run by repositioning the saw blade. 

The vertical panel saw does not make angled cuts. The difference between a panel and a table saw is that a table saw is not as big as a panel saw. That is why it does not handle large pieces of wood. A panel saw has a large surface area. You easily fit the whole sheet of plywood regardless of its size. 

That is how the panel saw machine remains accurate in its cuts. The saw cuts multiple sizes of wood. The pieces have to be smaller and manageable. You are allowed to use the saw combined with other saw machines. 

Parts, features, and functions of a panel saw

Rotating saw blade

The rotating saw blade is sharp and powerful enough to rip through thick material. There are chances of experiencing kickbacks. You have to exercise extra caution. Chances are high when running horizontal cuts. The riving knife has to stay in place, and the upper cut-off workpiece needs support so that it does not come back to the user.  

Dust collection system

When operating the machine, there is an amount of dust generated. The volume depends on the type of material you are cutting. The dust extraction system gets rid of the dust formed. I advise you to put on a dust mask for health reasons.

Rip cutting

You have to confirm the ripping direction and position on the right side of the saw. Lower the saw and rotate it into the crosscut position. Lock at the correct ripping height using a measuring tape. Plug the saw into a power source, turn it on and accelerate to full speed. The Safety Speed Cut H5 vertical panel saw has unlimited maximum rip cut (Source). 

Frame

The frame is the backbone of the panel saw. It supports the stock and determines the accuracy and safety of the saw machine. A one-piece frame should have a welded construction to last long. The Powermatic 511 Vertical panel saw (1510007) has a heavy-duty one-piece steel frame. 

Guide system

The guide system is the heart of the saw machine. Guides with steel tubing last longer and ensure precision in straightness and smoothness. They weld it to the top and bottom brackets for perfect alignment. The tubing system has to be resistant to vibration. The Powermatic 511 Vertical panel saw (1510007) has a smooth carriage glide due to the polished stainless steel guide tubes. 

Uses of a panel saw

  • To cut large wood panels, profiles, and plastic sheets into smaller sizes 
  • Cut sheets of aluminum
  • Size plywood, particle boards
  • Cabinet making and joinery
  • Build tables and furniture
  • Build cabins

Advantages of a panel saw

  • It cuts large panels into smaller sizes
  • Large working area
  • Accurate
  • Reduce back strain
  • Fast
  • Efficient

Disadvantages of a panel saw

  • It moves in one direction. You cannot make angular cuts.
  • It takes more space

Expert tips

  • I advise you to put on safety wear
  • I urge you to follow the instructions given in the manual
  • Orient the workpiece so that you run the appropriate cut
  • Safety has to be maintained
  • Proper clamping and support is needed

Table saw

A table saw withstands longer and wider materials. It is bigger and ideal for materials that require longer cuts. There are table saws that come with additional shelf space. It has onboard accessory storage that keeps extra blades, the miter gauge, and the rip fence. 

That brings convenience to the user when you need to replace your blade. There are also industrial table saws that come with large surfaces and workbench table saws that are ideal for DIY enthusiasts. The solid base makes the tool sturdy as it stays in place. 

You connect your tool to a dust management system that keeps you healthy from diseases caused by inhaling dust saws. The blade on a table saw is fixed. The height is adjustable as you raise it lower or higher, depending on the thickness of the wood you are working on. 

The blade is stationary. For accuracy, the blade guard and rails guide the material. There are four types of table saws. These are the bench, contractor, cabinet, and hybrid table saw. The contractor and the cabinet table saws are portable and meant for household activities. 

The cabinet table saw is a combination of the two, and the hybrid table saw is a heavy-duty table saw.

Parts, features, and functions of a Table saw

Motor

The size of the horsepower determines the cutting power. Light bench saws work with the 3/4hp up to 1.5hp. They cut up to 5/8 inch thick material. Large table saws come with 2hp to 5hp motors. The cabinet table saw is compatible with the 5hp motor. The Dewalt 10inch table saw has a 15A high torque motor powerful enough to cut through treated hardwoods. 

Blade size

When manufacturers are naming a table saw, they are after the blade size. Table saws come with circular blades, and the 10inch is the standard blade. The blade is adjustable depending on the material you are working on. The Dewalt 10inch table saw uses a 10inch tooth carbide blade that makes fast and smooth cuts.

Cutting depth

The type of cut depends on the width of the blade. Shallow cuts attract wider blades. A 10inch blade can make a deep cut of up to 3.5inches. A 12inch table saw makes a deep cut of up to 4inches.

Fence options

The fence is the adjustable guide of the saw. It makes your material stay in place. The T-square is the standard fence that is ideal for standard cuts. Specialty fences have a micro-adjust feature. The Vega U26 Table saw has the micro-adjustment table support. You are allowed to fine-tune the measurements of the cut. 

Rip capacity

The rip capacity ranges from 18iches for the entry-level saws up to 60inches for high-end saws. I recommend a table saw that rips materials with accuracy. However, it also depends on the ideal materials you will be working on.

Uses of a table saw

  • Crosscuts
  • Ripping cuts
  • Dado cuts
  • Bevel cuts
  • Fine rabbets and Grooves cuts
  • Kerf cutting

Advantages of a table saw

  • Table saws are available on a variety of price tags. They range from 250 to 5,000 depending on your budget and working conditions.
  • Onboard accessory storage 
  • Adjustable blades
  • Accurate
  • Effective dust management system
  • Specific table saws for different locations

Disadvantages of a table saw

  • High noise level
  • A bit unstable

Expert tips

  • Use the right blade
  • Keep the saw clean and the environment
  • A dado set is for rabbets and groves cuts
  • A miter gauge and fence are for precise cuts
  • Every cut requires a supplementary tool

Panel Saw vs Table Saw Cost

Table saws have different price tags. They range from 250 to 5,000 depending on your budget and working conditions. Panel saws range up to 6,000. They both have the same price range. However, the table saw is more affordable than the panel saw.

Verdict

You may be wondering the difference between a panel saw and a tale saw. Both cut through sheets of wood. But, large sheets of wood using a table saw are difficult. That is when you need a panel saw. For a commercial woodworker and metalworker, I recommend a panel saw. Table saws are for DIY users. That does not mean a table saw is not for a workshop, but it is inconvenient when it comes to large pieces of material. 

David D. Hughes
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