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A major cause of headache among cabinet installers is figuring out how to cut large sheet goods to size accurately and safely. While miter saws and table saws make precision cuts, they are not the safest when dealing with large panels. These incredible electric saws work best with small and averagely sized workpieces. Very large sheets without a specific grain direction such as plywood often the chances of occupational injuries. For example, a table saw presents the risk of kickbacks using to cut a workpiece that gives you limited control. Large workpieces are difficult to control on bench saws. Luckily, we now have a panel saw that cuts large sheet materials into smaller sections safely and extremely accurately. This article is a review of the 5 best panel saws.
What is a panel saw?
A panel saw is a large high capacity electric saw principally designed to cut large panels into smaller sections. It has three major parts, namely, the carriage assembly, frame assembly, and the track. The carriage assembly includes an industrial motor that drives the circular saw blade. The panel saw frame is where sheet goods slide through for cutting, whereas the track allows the saw head to travel vertically when making crosscuts. There are many other parts and accessories of a wall saw but these three sums it up.
Most woodworkers call this tool as plywood saw or wall saw. Plywood saw because of the frequent use to cut plywood panels and wall saw because you can mount your panel saw on a wall if it does not have a stand. However, that does not mean that a panel saw only cuts plywood. You can use it as well to cut wood and composite panels such as particle boards and medium density fiberboards (MDF). Moreover, with the right type of saw blade, this electric saw can also cut laminate, plastic sheets, melamine sheets, and aluminum sheets.
Quick Panel Saws Comparison Table
|Saw Trax Vertical Panel Saw 1064||511 Powermatic Vertical Panel Saw||Safety Speed Cut H5 Vertical Panel Saw||Milwaukee 6480 Panel Saw System||Safety Speed Manufacturing Panel Saw/Router Combined|
| Editor's |
|Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
|Features|| || || || || |
|Max. Rip cut length||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||8 ft without extension||Unlimited|
|Max. Crosscut length||64 inches||62 inches||64 inches||50 inches||62 inches|
|Max. Cut depth||1.75 inches||1.5 inches||1.75 inches||1.75 inches||1.75 inches|
|Saw blade diameter||7.25 inches||8 inches||8 inches||8 inches||8 inches|
|Waranty||5 Years||Limited lifetime||1 Year parts warranty & lifetime frame warranty||5 Year Warranty||Yes|
|Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon||Check Price via Amazon|
Best Panel Saws Reviews & Buying Guide
1. 1064 Full Size Saw Trax Panel Saw Review
Saw Trax 1064 circular saw
The Saw Trax 1064 vertical panel saw is a powerful and highly accurate power saw for cutting panels. It features a circular saw insert assembly with a heavy-duty Makita 5007F circular saw.
The saw delivers an incredible amount of power and speed (up to 5800 RPM) to slice through materials. The saw insert mounts on the carriage assembly and can turn 90 degrees to make rip cuts and crosscuts. The Makita 5007F uses the readily available standard 7-1/4 inch circular blade to cut. You can use a variety of blade to cut different sheet materials. There is also an Allen wrench onboard the Makita saw assembly that makes removing the saw blade possible at any time.
The carriage assembly on the saw Trax 1064 varsity package mounts firmly onto the circular zinc guide tubes using 4 sealed roller bearings. The bearings offer a very smooth vertical movement of the carriage. There is also a retraction system that slowly pulls back the carriage to its default position after a vertical cut.
The Saw Trax’s carriage system contributes to the machine’s versatility because it allows you to install a floating router plate or knife plate. You can use a floating router to perform joinery on large panels and knife plate to cut softer material such as foam boards and corrugated PVC.
Saw Trax dust collection system
The Saw Trax vertical panel saw is designed with the user in mind. Its design employs different techniques to ensure saw dust does not reach you during operation. On the saw assembly, there is a dust hood with a dust port for attaching to your shop vacuum. At the back of the bottom frame, there is a secondary dust port for vacuuming dust collected by the dust pan. When you attach your vacuum hose to this port, you will keep dust from reaching the floor.
In addition, there is a magnetic nylon brush surrounding the saw blade. This brush prevents dust from escaping through the sides when cutting. The dust brush also sweeps the cut clean as the carriage retracts.
To sum it all, Saw Trax’s dust collection and suppression system ensures that the machine is OSHA compliant hence keeping your worksite safe and clean.
Saw Trax Vertical panel saw frame system
The saw trax frame system also features vertical and horizontal rulers that ensure you make accurate cuts. In addition, there are stop bars that allow you to make repetitive cuts quickly and more accurately. Instead of cutting small workpieces on the bottom frame rollers, the saw trax panel saw offers a mid fence on which to place the small workpieces. This keeps you upright hence improving work ergonomics.
The 1064 Saw Trax panel saw kit comes with a full-size steel frame and a folding stand. The powder-coated frame accepts sheet goods as wide as 8 feet and unlimited length. At the bottom of the frame, is a system of material rollers that never goes out of alignment. This unique roller system allows you to feed sheet goods smoothly into the blade while keeping them square always.
The panel saw folding stand, on the other hand, opens like a ladder to support the frame. The stand is easy to open and close and eliminates the need to mount the panel saw onto the wall. This collapsible design of the stands reduces the machine’s footprint in the workshop.
With a crosscut capacity of 64 inches, unlimited rip capacity, a versatile carriage, and a folding frame with wheels, the Saw Trax vertical panel saw is our favorite plywood saw. You can use it to cut sheets and wood of up to 1.75 inches thick and unlimited length. The machine is also fairly affordable and has all the necessary features you would want in a standard panel saw kit.
The circular saw in this wall saw accepts different types of blades for cutting a range of materials including MDFs, plywood, woods, laminate, and thin aluminum sheets. You can also a floating router plate or a knife plate with this tool.
2. Powermatic 511 Vertical Panel Saw Review
Powermatic 511 Carriage and Saw Assembly
The 511 Powermatic panel saw is also versatile and powerful plywood saw. It boasts a powerful worm drive motor that produces up to 3 horsepower. Though not as fast as the Saw Trax’s Makita 5007F motor, the powermatic panel saw single-phase motor delivers high torque to meet your cutting needs. It connects to a 120V main and draws 13 Amp.
The tool’s circular saw uses an 8-inch diameter blade to cut. Together with the motor, the saw spins in the carriage to allow you to make both horizontal and vertical cuts. The sliding carriage attaches to the steel guide tubes using 4 pairs of rollers. This robust carriage roller system allows the carriage to glide on the guides very smoothly.
Powermatic plywood saw dust collection system
The powermatic vertical panel saw’s dust collection system comprises three components just like the Saw Trax. It has two 4″ dust ports and a nylon brush. One of the dust port is on the circular saw assembly and the other one on the front of the bottom frame. The nylon brush surrounds the saw blade to prevent debris from escaping when cutting. These three components ensure your workshop remains clean and compliant with OSHA standards on wood dust exposure.
Frame system of 511 powermatic saw
The heavy-duty welded frame system of powermatic 511 panel saw has a material roller system at the bottom. The roller system comprises of 10 aluminum rollers aligned to give you square cuts. The rollers rotate smoothly allowing you to smoothly feed sheet goods for cutting. However, you must be careful when placing the panels because dropping them might pound the rollers out of alignment.
The frame allows you to slide panels as tall as 5 feet and as long as your workspace allows. However, unlike the saw trax which allows you to feed material from both directions, powermatic panel saw only allows you to feed material from right to left. This saw has wheels for easy mobility and accepts multiple types of blade for cutting different material.
Although the powermatic 511 vertical panel saw offers incredible performance and abilities such as 1/64 ” cut accuracy, 1.5 inches maximum cut thickness, and 62 inches crosscut capacity, it has some limitations that make it our second choice.
Two significant limitations, however, are ripping in only one direction and the potential to easily knock material rollers out of alignment. The saw is also quite expensive. Nevertheless, the powermatic panel saw is a durable workhorse and great addition to your cabinet making or box making shop.
3. Safety Speed Cut Panel Saw H5 Review
Safety Speed H5 circular saw and carriage assembly
The H5 safety speed cut panel saw kit is one of the three H-series vertical panel saws by Safety Speed Manufacturing. It features a Milwaukee circular saw with 3.25 HP motor. The circular saw uses a cutting blade of 8 inch diameter and the motor is powered by a 120V, 15 Amperes. The saw has a maximum no-load speed of 5800 RPM, which ensures you go through cuts quickly and neatly.
The Milwaukee circular saw assembly is attached to a saw insert that fits perfectly onto the carriage assembly. By default, the saw is in crosscutting position but the carriage allows the entire saw insert to rotate 90 degrees anticlockwise for rip cutting. The saw carrier moves very smoothly along the zinc plated circular tracks when making crosscuts. This is made possible by the uniquely designed graphite-nylon carriage bearings. These bearings repel wood dust and do not require lubrication.
Safety Speed Cut H5 dust collection system
A dust collection system is one of the most important features in a panel saw kit. It helps in keeping your work area clean and OSHA compliant. The Safety Speed H-series plywood saw features a dust port on the upper blade guard that allows you to attach a shop vacuum hose for dust collection. The machine’s design is also built to prevent dust build-up. However, unlike the Saw Trax and powermatic panel saws, the safety speed cut does not have a second vacuum port on the frame. So, you will need to clean the tool and the work area more often.
Safety Speed Panel Saw H5 Frame System
The safety speed wall saw has a versatile 10 ft welded frame. The frame offers 3 different crosscutting capacities, allowing you to work ergonomically with different panel sizes. At the bottom of the frame is a series of injection-molded plastic material rollers (14 of them) that allow sheet goods to slide through smoothly for cutting. You just need to push the workpiece slightly and it will glide smoothly. This 10 feet frame of the Safety Speed H5 panel cutting machine allows you to feed sheet materials as wide as 8 feet and unlimited length. However, the only limitation is that you can only feed materials from right to left. You can customize the frame by adding frame extensions and other accessories to maximize productivity.
The Safety Speed vertical panel saw H5 has everything you would need for a shop panel saw. It just has a few limitations such as lack of a second dust collection port, single direction rip cutting, and a rigid frame. With this saw, you will enjoy making square cuts into panels as thick as 1.75 inches with a 1/32 inch accuracy. You can also add a range of accessories to improve productivity when sizing panels in your lumber yard or cabinets shop. The pricing is also fair for the full system.
4. Milwaukee Vertical Panel Saw 6480 Review
Milwaukee is a household name in woodworking. The company makes a wide range of top-notch of woodworking tools including the 6480 Milwaukee panel saw. This is a vertical wall saw that features an 8 -1/4 inch circular saw powered by a 15Amp, 3.25 HP Milwaukee motor. The circular saw attaches to the carriage that mounts onto the guide tubes using a set of four rollers. These rollers allow the saw carriage to travel up and down with minimal effort when making vertical cuts. The saw insert also rotates 90 degrees to a horizontal position for rip cutting.
Milwaukee vertical panel saw dust collection system
The Milwaukee 6480 panel saw does not include a dust collecting kit. However, you can buy one separately, which is quite disappointing. Nevertheless, you can still use the Milwaukee 6480 saw as it is but be ready to deal with heaps of sawdust on the floor and a cloud of debris when cutting. The lack of a dust collection system is actually one of the main reasons this saw ranks fourth in our list of best panel saws.
6480 Milwaukee panel saw frame system
The Milwaukee 6480 vertical wall saw has a strong, rigid, square tubing steel frame electrically welded to withstand shop abuse. The frame accepts different types of sheet goods of a maximum height of 50 inches and 6 feet long. Longer panels require installation of extensions that are sold separately. The frame has material rollers at the bottom that are not very easy to adjust when they go out of alignment. Moving the panel saw from place to place is not easy because it does not have wheels. You have to buy the wheel kit separately as well to make plywood saw portable.
Although there is a couple of limitations with the Milwaukee plywood saw such the lack of a wheel kit and dust management system, the saw offers a great cutting ability, it is versatile and occupies a fairly small floor space. It is also the cheapest panel saw of the five best and accepts a range of accessories to improve productivity. The saw assembly has the most ergonomic handle and with a proper blade, you can cut a variety of material including plastic, wood, deck planks, PVC, and foam. This machine is a great tool for resizing large panels in a small shop.
5. Safety Speed SR5U Panel Saw and Router Combo Review
Circular saw assembly, router assembly, and carriage
The SR5U vertical panel saw/router combination is a big brother to the safety speed H5. It features both a circular saw assembly and a router assembly, which fit onto the carriage. At the heart of the saw assembly is a heavy duty 3 hp worm drive motor that drives an 8 inch circular saw. The router head, on the other hand, is driven by a 3.25 hp motor. The saw motor requires 120V and draws 13 Amps while the router motor draws 2 Amps more. 220V motors are also available, though at an extra upgrade cost.
The sliding carriage is very sturdy and fits the saw insert and router insert like a jigsaw. It binds onto the chrome-plated guiding tubes with four pairs of nylatron bearing systems. Nylatron is nylon with fine particles of molybdenum disulphide to improve strength and load-bearing capabilities. This roller bearing system allows the carriage system to glide smoothly on the guide tracks without any resistance. The carriage allows you to swap the router and saw inserts easily to transform your machine from a cutting tool to a joinery tool. Rotating the saw insert from crosscut position to rip cut position also happens in a snap.
SR5U panel saw dust collection system
The safety speed panel saw and router combined has a very effective dust collecting system. The system uses a 1.75 inch duct to connect one end to the dust port and the other to the shop vacuum. The router plate has a dust port behind the router.
SR5U router and panel saw combo frame system
The safety speed manufacturing panel saw router combo has a tough 10 feet steel frame. The frame handles crosscutting of panels as tall as 62 inches and as your workspace allows. At the bottom of the frame is a system of solid aluminum rollers to ensure that material feeds smoothly and accurately. The frame has material clamps for clamping down your panels when making crosscuts, a MID-Way fence with a stop for smaller workpieces and for repeated cuts, and 2 blind dado stops for joinery. There are also two wheels to make the panel saw machine portable.
The SR5U is a great quality vertical panel saw with a router. You can use it to perform a range of tasks from cutting panels to size to doing joinery with the router head. You can also use the router to make easy and quick dados and rabbets for cabinet sides and drawer bottoms. The circular saw head, on the other hand, is perfect for cutting a wide range of materials with the right type of saw blade.
The major downside of the SR5U combo panel saw machine is its cost. It costs at least twice the cost of each of the four other plywood saw. Nevertheless, the tool is a great addition to a lumberyard or home center where production is very high.
Panels saws are good for cutting large sheets of wood, composite material such as MDF and plywood, and thin metal. The vertical type is safer and more useful. You can also use it alone without an assistant. Vertical panel saws also require less floor space than the horizontal type. Even a track saw, circular saw, and table saw require more floor space than vertical panel saws.
However, due to the prohibitive prices of panel saw kits, I would not recommend any to you unless your work involves regular cutting of large sheet goods. Otherwise, a table saw or track saw can do the job perfectly and does not cost as much. Nevertheless, if you still want one, the Saw Trax is our favorite, especially for industrial use, and the Milwaukee panel saw is the cheapest and suitable for small scale use.