Panel Saw Vs Table Saw, Which Is Better?

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When choosing the best saw that can cut sheet goods with precision and accuracy, it can be difficult to decide between a table saw and a panel saw. In this article, we compare these two types of sawing machines to help you decide which one is more suitable for your project.

What Is A Table Saw?

table saw
Dewalt jobsite table saw

 A table saw is one of the topmost critical tools for just about any level or type of woodwork. It is versatile and cuts materials with accuracy and precision. You can use it to cut not only lumber but also sheet goods such as plywood, MDF, and plexiglass among other materials.

Table saws are available in different styles and designs to fit specific purposes and work environments. Some of the most common types include the job site table saw, contractor table saw, and hybrid table saw. Read this article to learn more about various types of table saws.

What Is A Panel Saw?

wall saw
SawTrax Panel saw

A panel saw is among the most popular woodworking tools for cutting wood-based sheet goods such as plywood, MDFs, and particle boards. Its primary use is to cut sheet goods into smaller, more manageable sizes for further processing. However, it is important to note that a panel saw does not function the same way as a table saw.

There are two types of panel saws: horizontal panel saws and verticle panel saws. However, vertical panel saws are the most common.

Table Saw vs Panel Saw

While you can use a panel saw or table saw to cut the same materials, these two types of woodworking saws are inherently distinct from each other. In this section, we will provide a thorough comparison between them focusing on the following key elements.

1. Design

A table saw, as the name implies, is a horizontal table with a saw mechanism in the center. It cuts by pushing the stock across the spinning blade.

On the other hand, a vertical panel saw stands upright, preferably against the wall. This is why vertical panel saws are also called wall saws.

A panel saw cuts stock by moving the saw carriage up and down. It is basically a circular saw system traveling on vertical rails.

The stock in a panel saw stays stationary as the blade moves from top to bottom to make a cut. In contrast, the spinning saw blade system on a table saw remains in the same place as you push the stock across it.

2. Workspace

When working with a table saw, there should be sufficient room to move the stock across. Preferably, you need to place the table saw at the center of your workshop so that there is free space all around for handling large workpieces.

In contrast, a vertical panel saw does not require a large workspace. You only need sufficient space between the floor and the roof for the panel saw to stand upright and at least 4 feet from the wall. The fact that verticle panel saws dont have a big footprint is the reason they fit so well in isles.

3. Size

Vertical panel saws, while not requiring a significant horizontal footprint, are generally larger in size compared to table saws. Table saws are available in various sizes, with some being highly portable, such as job site saws that can be easily transported in a van or truck. In contrast, panel saws are typically bulky and not designed to be easily portable.

4. Types of Cuts

You can only make straight cuts on a panel saw because the saw carriage system only travels on the rail guides. However, you can slant the blade to make straight beveled cuts. The saw system can also turn 90 degrees to make vertical or horizontal cuts.

On the other hand, you can use a table saw to make a wide range of cuts including rip cuts, cross cuts, and bevel cuts. And with various jigs, you can cut various shapes on a table saw including coves, circles, hexagons, parallelograms, and so on. A table saw allows you to be creative with cuts.

5. Cutting Capacity

Table saws and panel saws have different cutting capacities. Most panel saws are designed to cut full sheets of at least 4 ft by 8 ft but they can also cut smaller workpieces. Typically, the cutting depth of most panel saws is between 1-¾” – 2-⅛”.

On the other hand, table saws are meant for cutting smaller workpieces because they are easier to handle. However, you can still cut 4 x 8 panels with a table saw but you need an outfeed table to support the material. You also need an additional pair of hands because you might not get accurate cuts when you try to manhandle large workpieces on a table saw. Furthermore, you need enough working space in the shop to turn large workpieces.

6. Price

Panel saws are generally more expensive than table saws. While you can get a table saw for as low as $100, the cheapest panel saw goes for a few hundred dollars. And top-quality commercial-grade vertical panel saw workhorse goes for not less than $1000.

7. Safety

Panel saws are inherently safer than table saws. They are less prone to kickbacks partly because it is the blade mechanism that moves and not the stock. Furthermore, the frame of a panel saw locks the stock in place, preventing it from moving during the cutting process. Another safety feature is that you operate a panel saw from a position that is away from the line of sight of a potential kickback, further reducing the risk of injury.

In addition to these safety features, panel saws feature a covered blade system that keeps fingers away from the blade. This system is fitted with an effective dust collection mechanism that collects nearly all the dust generated during cutting.

Overall, the combination of these safety features make panel saws a reliable choice for reducing the risk of injury when working with large panels of wood.

Conversely, a table saw is arguably the most dangerous woodworking saw. It can cause bad injuries if you dont you it properly. These are the most common table saw injuries:

Common table saw injuries

  • Finger and Hand Injuries: Severe cuts and amputations to fingers and hands can occur when your hand accidentally comes into contact with the blade while it is spinning. You should use a push stick to push the stock to the blade because even a momentary lapse of concentration can cause serious injury.
  • Eye Injuries: Table saws generate a lot of sawdust and wood chips when cutting. This flying debris can fly into your eyes, causing injury or blindness. This can happen when you are not wearing appropriate safety gear, such as safety glasses or goggles.
  • Kickback Injuries: Table saw kickback happens when the saw blade suddenly and forcefully moves due to improper material support or when the blade jams. This can result in the material being flung back toward you, leading to serious harm. Kickback injuries can occur to any part of the body that is in the path of the material being thrown but they are most common in the chest and stomach area.


Overall, a table saw is more versatile than a panel saw. You can use it to cut a variety of materials including lumber and different sizes of sheet goods. Compared with a panel saw, a table saw is more suitable for:

  • Ripping lumber to width
  • Resawing lumber to thickness
  • Crosscutting smaller pieces to length
  • Cutting large sheet goods to size seldomly
  • Making joinery cuts and dado cuts
  • Cutting curves including circular and cove shapes

But if you make cabinets or need to cut big sheet goods to size repeatedly and accurately, a panel saw is the best choice. It is also the ultimate commercial saw for breaking down sheet goods accurately and safely in a permanent shop. It makes dealing with whole sheets of plywood a breeze, especially if you work alone in the shop.

But if you need to make quick, precise and repeated cuts on large sheet materials for cabinet making or similar tasks, then a panel saw is the most suitable tool for the job. It is particularly useful in a permanent workshop setting as it ensures safe and accurate breakdown of sheet goods. Generally, panel saws make dealing with whole sheets of plywood a breeze, especially if you work alone in the shop.

However, when you cannot afford a panel saw, you can opt for a reliable track saw system. Track saws serve as the best alternatives to panel saws. They cut long workpieces and sheet goods accurately while offering great versatility and mobility. They provide the precision and accuracy of a table saw, the safety of a panel saw, and the mobility of a circular saw. These are some of the best track saws on the market that you can consider.


Hey there! I am an field electrical engineer by day, a blogger by night, and DIYer on weekends. Throughout my career, I have used many tools and learned that getting the right tool for the job is the first step to getting the job done right. This is why I write about tools and tests/reviews them on this blog.

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