Whether you call it a Wall Saw, Sheet Saw or Vertical Panel Saw, these machines are inherently safer than table saws. The blade is shielded away from the user so hand to blade contact is very difficult. The needed floor space to break down a sheet is reduced since the sheets are cut on their sides vs. flat. Cutting is faster and handling easier since the sheets are on their side.
There are a number of things to consider before buying a vertical panel saw. Which panel saw is the most accurate, easy to use, at the best price? The first two determine what saw to buy, the last one determines who to buy it from. We will discuss the first two now.
Accuracy is basically determined by two factors: Squareness of the travel of the saw to the material rollers, and the play in the carriage during this travel. This assumes that the material rollers are in alignment (which is not always the case with saws that individually align their material rollers). These issues are addressed by the Accu-Square, Accu-Fence and Accu-Glide features of the Saw Trax panel saw.
Our squaring system is called Accu-Square. It is an indexed alignment system that is patented. It is used to easily square the panel saw guide tubes to the frame for a set and forget alignment system. On the center of the lower guide tube bracket you will see a series of 9 holes. These holes are spaced 9/32″ apart with the 5th hole being centered. In the frame behind it are 9 holes, spaced 8/32″ apart with the 5th hole being centered. Squaring is done by shifting the bracket in relationship to the frame in 1/32″ increments until the carriage tracks exactly 90-degrees to the material rollers. By design, only one hole in the guide tube bracket will line up with one hole in the frame. Once lined up and square, a sheet metal screw acts as an alignment pin locking the bracket to the frame. In order to shift out of factory alignment, the sheet metal screw would need to be sheared. Sounds complicated but you don’t have to worry about it. All that you need to know is your panel saw will always cut square.
Other saws have their adjustment at the top of the machine. When a sheet is not held against the frame when fed under the guide tubes, it hits the guide tube near the top of the frame moving the machine out of square. They provide a 3 page alignment process that includes whacking your guide tubes with a dead blow mallet and repeatedly running the saw up and down to see if you whacked it the right amount or too much. (Not very precise). There is no way to lock their bracket in place once you whacked it right so keep that dead blow mallet handy. By the way, you will also need to make an alignment tool to square their machine according to their instructions.
The Accu-Fence system is used on our full-size machines to ensure the rollers of the left fence line up with the rollers on the right fence. Both fences are machined and formed at the same time. The material roller placement is what determines if they are a right or left fence. This way the fences are identical. The right fence uses a similar indexed alignment system to the Accu-Square to incrementally line up the outside of the right fence with the rollers of the left fence. It is done at the factory and is set and forget so you don’t have to worry about it.
Other saws weld their fences to the frame and have to make up for the alignment issues when the welds cool. To do this, they use the outside rollers as guides and all the interior rollers are on cams so they need to be adjusted up or down to correspond with the outside rollers. According to their instructions, to align the rollers you should first remove the stand. Then, lay the machine on a table. Using a 10 ft. straight edge on their 10 ft. wide models, align all of the middle rollers up or down to align with the two outside rollers. The problem is no one makes a 10 ft. straight edge so you need to make one yourself.
The Accu-Glide system uses 12 steel sealed bearings, 3 on each corner of the carriage. They are arranged 2 on top and 1 on the bottom to gently squeeze the steel guide tube ensuring a smooth and precise draw down of the saw.
Other saws use a U-bolt with nylon washers as their bearing system. The problem with that system is the tighter you get them to take the play out of the carriage, the harder it is to move the carriage.
Now we can talk about ease of use and the not so apparent details that make the Saw Trax panel saws more user friendly.
Our dust collection uses a blade shroud brush similar to CNC routers to contain saw dust. Our vacuum hose is a larger 2.5″ diameter to allow for greater air flow combining to give exceptional dust evacuation. We provide a 12 ft. dust hose and even a hose coupler for easy attachment to your shop vacuum. Notice also that the saw’s blade guard still guards the blade when on and off the machine. They use a vinyl tube that has to be adjusted up or down to the thickness of the material being cut. When you forget to adjust it up, it gets pushed into the saw blade rendering it useless. This usually happens in the first week. They have no blade guard on their saw. If the saw is partially down when a sheet is fed from the side and contacts the blade, tooth damage could occur requiring a blade change.
Our stop can be used on either side of the panel saw frame or on the optional mid fence. It even comes with a strip bar that allows it to be used on the right side when cutting strips of material that are less than 6″ wide. With our packages, left and right tapes are included. Their stop can only be used on the left side of their machine.
Our stand uses two steel legs hinged to the frame. They are cross braced and use ladder hinges to make folding easy, like a ladder. Ten lock nuts ensure parts don’t rattle loose. The legs are attached in a way that even if the ladder hinges were to come off, the leg would not allow the machine to tilt any further back. The stand is attached at the factory. Their stand is 2 pieces of angle iron attached with U bolts for their full size model. You have to attach it yourself. It has no lock nuts so the U-bolts can vibrate loose. On their compact, it seems you need 3 hands to fold their stand. One hand to hold the machine vertical, one hand to raise the telescoping arm and a third hand to pin up the telescoping arm.
Our quick release carriage allows you to use other cutting tools like a router, pivoting razor knife, rolling ACM shear or glass cutter. You just pull up on two knobs on the top of the carriage and turn them 1/4 turn to lock them open. Then just rotate the cutting tool out. To lock in the new cutting tool, turn the knobs a 1/4 turn again and pins will seat into the insert locking it in place. Our philosophy is this machine is just a big jig to allow for the straight cutting of materials. By varying the cutting tool, you can get double duty out of your machine saving you money and floor space. Their comparable machines don’t allow for tool changes.
The wheels for our frame are factory attached and pivot off the floor when on the stand to make the machine stable. Their frame wheels are always on the floor.
Our saws dust covers have a viewing port so you can see the saw blade for cut alignment; theirs doesn’t.
We use standard off-the- shelf saws with standard 7.25″saw blades. They use proprietary saws with 8″ hard to find blades.
We have incorporated a “center step” for better material support of material, especially strips. Without this support, strips will fall to the floor and can bounce into the saw blade damaging them. Theirs does not have this feature.