May 12, 2021

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

Many people are confused about the difference between a panel saw and a table saw. The truth is that both are heavy-duty wood saws and are suitable for cutting wood. The biggest difference between the two is how they attach to the floor and how much wood they can cut. When you start woodworking, you may wonder which type of saw you should buy first. The answer depends on a lot of things. You need to consider a few important factors: What material size will you be working with? How is a panel saw different from a table saw? Are you looking for a hobby saw or something more? Let us compare them.

Panel Saw

A panel saw is a machine tool for large panels of wood, MDF, and plywood into small pieces. It comes with a rotating circular saw blade moved across the wooden panel. You are allowed to cut your panels into your desired size. 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. The workpiece remains fixed to the table as the rotating blade keeps moving. If you are familiar with a table saw, you will find the horizontal panel saw easy to use. 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 up 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

There are chances of experiencing kickbacks. You have to exercise extra caution. The rotating saw blade is sharp and powerful enough to rip through thick material. Chances are high when running horizontal cuts. The riving knife has to stay in place, and the upper cut-off workpiece needs support, so 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 must 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 Powermatic 511 Vertical panel saw (1510007) has a heavy-duty one-piece steel 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. 

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. 

Panel saw uses

  • 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 are needed

Table saw

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

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

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 for household activities. 

The cabinet table saw combines 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 engine. 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 common cuts. Specialty fences have a micro-adjust feature. The Vega U26 Table saw has micro-adjustment table support. You are allowed to fine-tune the measurements of the cut. 

Rip capacity

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

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 wonder what the difference is between a panel saw and a table saw. Both saw through sheets of wood. But large sheets of wood are difficult to work with a table saw. That’s when you need a panel saw. For commercial woodworkers and metalworkers, I recommend a panel saw. Table saws are for do-it-yourselfers. That does not mean a table saw is not suitable for a workshop, but it is impractical for large pieces of material. Do you know How to Use Ryobi Table Saw?

David D. Hughes
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