Introduction: Pier 9 Guide: How to Use the Panel Saw

Picture of Pier 9 Guide: How to Use the Panel Saw

This Instructable is for Workshop Users at Pier 9.

Requirements for using the panel saw at Pier 9:

  • Read through this Instructable
  • Take General Workshop Safety
  • Ask Shop Staff for help getting material
  • Clean up after yourself

I'm sure everyone has sauntered into a local hardware store or big box lumber yard and seen the awesome efficiency machine that is the panel saw. I'm going to try and give you all the info you need to safely and efficiently use this machine.

What is a panel saw?

Here at Pier 9 we offer a range of sheet goods to our users and, well, sometimes it's a pain to rip it down on the table saw so, BLAMO! Enter the panel saw. The panel saw is an awesome hybrid between a table saw, track saw, and a rubber band (because it snaps back!). Its ability to make quick work of sheet goods is a wonder most people will never truly appreciate until they use one. There are a number of different types of panel saws. Some have a circular saw attached and others have a router. In this Instructable we'll be going over the ins and outs of the circular saw version.

Our saw here at the Pier does have a couple of limitations. For your viewing, and remembering pleasure they're located below:

  • 8" blade with an 1/8" kerf
  • Maximum cutting height is 64 inches
  • Maximum material thickness is 1.75 inches

Panel saws are awesome and these are the materials you can use on our machine. If it's not on this list you MUST speak with a shop staff member to get cleared to cut your material.

APPROVED

  • Chipboard
  • Plywood
  • MDF
  • Acrylic
  • Masonite
  • Melamine
  • Solid Wood
  • Veneer

NOT APPROVED

  • Birthday Cake
  • Steel
  • Adamantium
  • Aluminum
  • Metal in general

Step 1: Loading Your Material

Picture of Loading Your Material

Loading the material is quite easy but you'll still want to make sure to have a buddy. The panels can be arduous to maneuver and it never hurts to have some extra muscle, plus, IRL conversations are awesome! Panel saws often have guide rulers attached to them for easy dimensioning of your material. Using this option is highly suggested as it conserves material and is a good workflow to get in the habit of practicing. Now on to the actions!

Steps to loading your material.

  • Load your material with a buddy
  • Make sure the leading edge of the material falls on the width in which you wish to cut. I.e 32"x48" would mean your leading edge falls on the 32" mark
  • Ensure that your material is crossing the "throat" or the space between the two upright tubes of the saw and that it rests evenly on at least two opposing red rollers

Once you've got it all loaded up you're about ready to start cutting.

Step 2: Getting Ready to Cut

Picture of Getting Ready to Cut

Once you've gotten everything set up and you think you're ready to cut, check the following.

  • The saw is at its most vertical/highest point it can go
  • The lock nut is loose and the gantry is free to move
  • The material has been pushed back against the frame of the saw

Ensuring that the above points are true is incredibly important for your safety, the machine's life, and the quality of the cut that you're about to make!

Step 3: Cutting

Picture of Cutting

Here's where you get to "let it rip tater' chip".

Operating the panel saw is quite easy, and you'll quickly understand which technique works best for you body. I personally squat with the saw as I cut so that I am in constant view of what the saw and my material are doing. It also lets me comfortably execute the steps at the end of the operation.

Take a hold of the handle and flip the "on" switch. You'll hear the motor spin up. It's important to let the saw come up to full speed before you start your cut. Cutting too soon will result in a poor cut and possible kick back which are both things you don't want!

Once the saw has come up to speed make a slow and smooth pass downwards.

Now you've gotten to the bottom of the panel you're ready to tighten the slide locker. Its crucial you don't miss this step. NEVER let go of the saw without locking the slide. Doing this will result in the saw shooting to the top of the machine which could cause serious injury and damage to your material.

Once you locked the slide and the saw has come to a complete stop you're then ready to separate your material.

Step 4: Finishing Up!

Picture of Finishing Up!

Alright, you've done all this not-so-hard work and preparation. Now it's time to finish up and enjoy the fruits of your labor; while you clean up after yourself. Although finishing up is a couple of steps it's important not just jump to the end as doing so can result in some heavy damage.

Once you've cut your piece and separated the two pieces, you need to loosen the slide lock. Doing this requires you to hold onto the saw while you loosen the slide. Again, this will keep it from rocketing upwards like a fighter jet on an air craft carrier. Simply loosen it and walk the saw to the top.

Alright the saws at the top, now lock the slide back down and enjoy your sweet new resized panel.

The last and most important step - Look at your mess and clean it up!

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