Author: Mike Della Polla

Vertical Panel Saw purchase; 13 things to look for before pulling the trigger.

Panel Saw 2052Since all panel saws “look the same”, how do you know which one to purchase? As the old saying goes, the Devil is in the Details. So we decided to help people understand what makes one better than the other.

1. Does the saw use a standard saw with a standard saw blade or is it a proprietary saw with odd dimensioned saw blades. A replacement of an “off the shelf saw” will be cheaper and faster than ordering a proprietary saw from the Manufacturer. Brand A uses a standard Makita 5007F saw that uses 7.25″ saw blades. Brand B uses a proprietary saw that uses 8″ saw blades. (At Home Depot, we found 23 different kinds of 7.25″ blades and Zero 8″ saw blades.)

2. What is the Bearing mechanism that the carriage uses to travel on the guide tubes? Brand A uses 12 Sealed Steel Bearings while Brand B uses a U bolt with black rings on it and a button glide on the carriage. The bearing makes the carriage move smoothly with no play. With the friction U-bolt ring arrangement, when you take the play out, the carriage becomes harder to move.

3. Material support is an important issue when cutting full size sheets. On the full size machine, Brand A uses 18 material rollers and a center step for support. Brand B uses 14 rollers where 12 of the center rollers need to be kept in alignment because they can move up and down and no center support.

4. Guide Tube alignment with the material rollers is critical for square cuts. All panel saw companies set this at the factory. Brand A but has a patented alignment system that keeps it from going out of square in the future. Brand B has a 3 page alignment process that has you building an alignment tool to begin it and whacking the guide tubes with a dead blow mallet.

5 . Component based system is being able to replace key components should they get damaged. If you look at a Home Depot store, you will see big Bollards near the panel saw. These are here because if the material fence or guide tube is damaged, they will need to replace the entire saw since these components are welded. Brand A has these two key components bolted onto the frame so they can be replaced easily if they become damaged. Brand B has these components welded on so they can’t be replaced and a new machine needs to be ordered.

6. Flexibility of cutting can also be an issue. Brand A uses a quick release carriage that allows for different saw inserts to be used saving time changing blades or different cutting tools to be used like a router, pivoting knife (foam material), glass cutter or a rolling shear for 3 mm ACM. Brand B does not offer this capability in their standard machines.

7. Factory attached components saves you time in set up. Brand A attaches their components like their folding stand, frame wheels and their mid-fence. Brand B has you try to bolt these components on and then align them.

8. Flexibility of feed. For some operations, it is faster to be able to have your measuring system on both sides of the cut when cutting pieces from a full sheet. Brand A offers tapes on both sides while Brand B doesn’t.

9. Will you get a damaged panel saw upon delivery? Nothing is worse than getting your machine and have it damaged so you can’t use it for the big job you purchased it for. Brand A fully crates their machine, even adding a strap so it can be strapped to the sidewall of a truck. Brand B shrink wraps their machine and hopes for the best.

10. Dust collection is more than just a convenience today. With the many different material like cement board and the chemicals in some substrates, particulate in the air becomes an important concern. Brand A has a dust brush surrounding the saw blade under the insert with a 2.5″ hose attached to the dust bonnet for extraction of the suspended particulate. Brand B uses a vinyl tube that has to be constantly adjusted up or down to rest on the different thicknesses of material cut. If you forget to adjust it one time, the material pushes the tube into the saw blade and you no longer have dust collection.

11. Spinning insert and a locking carriage to rip cut is important for fast use. Brand A has two indexing pins and two carriage locks to ensure precision use. Brand B does not.

12. Powder coated components. Powder coating is a baked on enamel that ensures long-term metal protection. Brand A powder-coats their metal parts. Brand B does not.

13. Welded components; When you weld metal, the heating often distorts the material and can have unseen faults that will affect the structural integrity of the metal. That is why buildings and bridges are riveted. Brand B welds these parts because it is cheaper and easier to manufacture that way. Brand A does not because they make a component design so you can replace parts like a fence or a guide tube. (These are the two most replaced parts. At a home center store you will see big bollards in front of the panel saw because they have to replace it for every bump it gets.) With Brand A, component design you can replace a guide tube in 2 minutes and a fence in 4. With Brand B, you are replacing the entire panel saw not just the part. Besides the ease of replacement, you don’t damage or deform the parts by welding them. On their fence of Brand B, each material roller needs to aligned individually to make sure you are getting a square cut because the fence plate is welded to the frame. Brand B has 13 adjusting points to square their panel saw. That is why the home center stores will not guarantee an accurate cut.

By the way, Brand A is from Saw Trax Mfg. Inc.

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Innovative blade design allows flute cutting of 10 mil Coro

Most everyone in the sign industry dealing with Coro, owns or has seen a flute knife or flute “cutter”.

These handy little additions make cutting in the flute direction of coro, such as Coroplast™ , idiot proof. They also give one the opportunity to score cut the coro to make bends or wrap around prints.

The way these cutters work is simple. They have two prongs connected to a blade which is connected to a handle. The prongs are slid into the flute of the coro and are used as a guide for the blade. The outside prong is used for scoring. The inside prong is used for cutting.

The most popular brand of these flute knives is called the Coro-Claw™ from Saw Trax Mfg. Inc.

In the US, the most popular sizes of coro are 4 mil and 10 mil. The 4 mil was pretty simple to cut because of the thin side walls. The 10 mil was close to impossible to cut with a hand held cutter because the thicker side walls would close on the blade creating tremendous resistance.

What was needed was a simple hand held cutter like the Coro-Claw™ but for 10 mil material.

Enter the Coro-Claw™ X. As you know, X is the Roman symbol for 10.

What is innovative about the Coro-Claw™ X is that it solved the problem of the thicker flute wall closing on the blade. It does this by beveling the cutting blade on either side of the guide prong. This way, the blade separates the side walls allowing them to move up or down away from the blade and not squeeze the blade. By doing opposite bevels on either side of the blade, the cut is made in the center of the flute.

A second innovations with the Coro-Claw™ X is that the blade is angled instead of being at a 90 degree to the material. This angle, like a guillotine blade, makes it easier to slice the material.

The third innovation with the blade is that the cutting edges are offset so the top side wall and bottom side wall are not being cut at the same time as you start your cut. This makes for easier blade entry.

The final innovation with this flute cutter is that it has replaceable cutting heads. This way you reuse the handle saving the user money.

This blade is a patented Saw Trax product.

Price on the Coro-Claw™ X is $31.95. A two pack of replacement heads are $39.95.

For a streaming video link view


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New Wheeled Posts for yel-Low Safety Dolly and MovePro Moving Dolly.

In refining the MovePro wheeled post system, we have made a number of improvements that also apply to the yel-Low Safety Dolly.

First we are using the 3″ heavy duty casters used on the  Rack & Roll Safety Dolly.  These have a foot operated locking stem and wheel brake.  Their weight capacity is over 400 lbs. for each caster.

The second innovation  is the pin system used to hold the caster on the post and lock the post to the dolly.  In the past, we used a steel quick release pin.  These pins would be inserted either through the post or through the bracket holding the wheel to hold the wheel onto the post.

Now we have moved to a quick release button connector that is internal to the posts.  The advantage of the new quick release button is that it is faster to use and you don’t need to keep track of the pins used previously.

  This is the button through the post that would lock the post to the dolly.

The posts used horizontally can more than double the horizontal holding capacity of the dollies.  See the pictures below.

This is the old version with pins and different wheels.



To see how the posts attach, click here.

At at a trade show, instead of waiting hours for a pallet or crates, we can pack our entire booth onto one of these Safety Dollies.  It is easy to store in the booth and takes no time to set it up.  It gives us the option of rolling it out ourselves or putting a sticker on it and having the freight truck take it home.

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