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DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

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  • DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

    Design goals:
    -50 inch cross cuts
    -Top surface long enough to catch 8 foot "rip" cuts (term only loosely applies to MDF/plywood)
    -Should provide a LARGE work surface with bottom shelf for storage
    -Dust extraction system
    -Robust construction (the only way I like to build things)

    Photos:
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    As a replacement for an aging radial arm saw, I undertook this project. I wanted something that could do everything that a table saw + radial arm saw combination can do, but would also double as a large work surface. This meant building a horizontal beam saw (panel saw).

    This project took several months to complete. The bench is constructed from standard fir studs and assembly went pretty quickly. I assembled the studs with nails, face down, then used a block and tackle to hoist the structure up and flip it over. Two oak 2x4's with steel strips affixed to the top (a dumpster find) act as side rails though which 3/4" steel pipes penetrate. The pipes are terminated on either end with floor flanges, which can be easily seen in the pictures. Altogether, five steel pipes create a base for 1/2" MDF. On top of this is 3/4" MDF, effectively creating a 1.25" x 49" x 97" top work surface. Contacting the underside of each steel pipe are 3 or 4 machine screws, installed through 2x4's with t-nuts to allow for precise leveling of the entire work surface.

    The telescoping uprights on either side came from two old Craftsman radial arm saws. One of these saws was also the source for the motor and trolley. All used parts (including the motor) were completely disassembled, cleaned, lubricated and painted where necessary, and reassembled. The cleaning process was somewhat laborious as old grease had hardened in many places from decades of shop duty. A kerosene bath and wire brush were effective.

    The beam is structural steel channel and thus super sturdy. Bolted to the underside of the channel is 6061 aluminum plate. Two V-grooves were routed out from the edges of the plate (not an easy job) and 3/8" aluminum rods inserted to create the track. Total cross cut travel is 50". If I were to do it over again I would take the aluminum to a machinist. A standard hole saw (from Harbor Freight no less) made it through the steel channel by way of slow, water-lubricated cutting. This was amazing as I used a drill press with limited power (also from Harbor Freight).

    The dust extraction system utilizes a refurbished Craftsman leaf blower, and it creates a very powerful vacuum (stronger than my shop vac). The alternate port in the ducting will be used for a soldering fume hood. The leaf blower is a universal motor than can run off of AC or DC and transforms from "jet engine" to something much quieter when a 30v transformer is used.

    The saw cuts very straight and has made working with panels and other large items quite enjoyable. When not in use, it provides a nice large work surface to spread out projects.
    Last edited by wolfgang; 10-07-2015, 05:00 PM.

  • #2
    Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

    Wow. That's pretty cool. I love to see tools DIY'd. That's a major undertaking, though.
    Can you reach to make the cut in one motion?

    TomZ
    *Veneering curves, seams, using heat-lock iron on method *Trimming veneer & tips *Curved Sides glue-up video
    *Part 2 *Gluing multiple curved laminations of HDF *Cello's Speaker Project Page

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    • #3
      Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

      That's awesome. I want to go to there.

      Dan
      _____________________________
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      • #4
        Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

        Wow. Beautiful. I love it! :applause:
        Don't worry, if your parachute fails, you have the rest of your life to fix it.

        If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally ASTOUND ourselves - Thomas A. Edison

        Some people collect stamps, Imelda Marcos collected shoes. I collect speakers.:D

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        • #5
          Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

          Dan,

          With that newly acquired "wall", you need to go there!

          Originally posted by DanP View Post
          That's awesome. I want to go to there.

          Dan
          Some people are addicted to Vicodin. I'm addicted to speaker building.

          The Chorales - Usher 8945A/Vifa XT25TG Build
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          • #6
            Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

            Originally posted by wolfgang
            More photos:

            [ATTACH=CONFIG]60908[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60909[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60910[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60911[/ATTACH]
            Links to attachments don't work!
            Don't worry, if your parachute fails, you have the rest of your life to fix it.

            If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally ASTOUND ourselves - Thomas A. Edison

            Some people collect stamps, Imelda Marcos collected shoes. I collect speakers.:D

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            • #7
              Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

              More photos...

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              Can you reach to make the cut in one motion?
              I am tall, so yes. But I have thought about having a removable guard in the middle of the table to make it more like a radial arm saw for routine cutting. But honestly its not that hard to reach.

              There are also times when it is convenient not to have the piece against a guard at all in which I've used one or more 25 lb plates to keep it stationary. With this much weight holding it down, a sharp blade and a careful rate of feed there is no danger of kickback.

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              • #8
                Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

                Can you show us the leaf blower dust collection system?

                Thanks Mark

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                • #9
                  Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

                  Can you show us the leaf blower dust collection system?
                  More information about the leaf blower system can be found here.

                  I just followed that pictorial when opening up the leaf blower and gutting it of unnecessary parts. If you look at panelsaw5.jpg, you will see the leaf blower installed upside down in the cement wall. The black tube extending upwards comes with the leaf blower. The ducting is PVC -- the thin and light kind. The vacuum hose is from Home Depot.

                  I will post some better pictures of the leaf blower this evening.

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                  • #10
                    Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

                    Nice job of giving new life to 2 old radial arm saws!

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                    • #11
                      Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

                      Very nice!
                      I see a laptop there. Does this mean you going to add rack and pinion and a stepper motor with mach3 to it?
                      http://www.diy-ny.com/

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                      • #12
                        Re: DIY Panel Saw (finished project with photos)

                        The thought had crossed my mind

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                        • #13
                          Hi, I'm new here. And I have a question. I noob at wood working, I tried to read useful tips about save saw use. I found this article, what do u think about it? is ti useful, do u know some more tips?

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                          • #14
                            Beautiful job on the DIY panel saw.
                            Years ago I saw a modified 10" radial arm modification with longer rails (only), not sure how that worked for them without the support on the opposing end.

                            Recently was drinking my coffee early and for the heck of it checked Craigs for a panel saw, and POOF there is it was 45 minutes away. A Powermatic 511 in new like condition, I offered 1/2 the cost of a new one - they accepted and I had it in my garage the next day.

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