Why a Sliding Table Saw with Scoring Blade?

Most hobbyist woodworkers are impressed when they see my saw.  It’s a big piece of machinery, especially with the 5′ sliding table and outrigger.  And for many of them, it’s something they’ve never seen, or even imagined before.

When I tell someone who has seen this type of machine before, they nod in approval and assume that I work with a lot of sheet goods.  That’s a fair guess, as the saw does excel at cutting up plywood.

If you’ve ever tried to break down a sheet of plywood on a table saw, you’ll fully understand the benefits of a sliding table saw.  When ripping, instead of fighting the plywood across the saw, trying to maintain an even feed rate while keeping the edge against the fence and struggling to support it throughout the cut, it’s a simple matter of loading the plywood on the sliding table, setting it against the fence, and pushing the plywood and sliding table past the blade.  It’s almost effortless.  Need a 4′ wide sheet cross-cut?  No problem.  Set the plywood against the cross-cut fence and push it through.  Here’s a short demonstration of breaking down a sheet of plywood.

The sliding table is half of why this type of saw excels at working with sheet goods.  The scoring blade is the other half.  A scoring blade is a small blade located in front of the main blade.  It cuts a kerf slightly wider than the main blade and is installed so the teeth point backwards and it counter-rotates, or turns the opposite way.  It is set very low, just low enough to nick, or score, the bottom surface of the material being cut.  It counter-rotates to ensure a clean cut on the bottom edge of the plywood – the face of the plywood is supported by the core so there is no tearout.  Of course, having a blade rotating in the wrong direction, trying to pull the stock forward could be very dangerous in theory.  However, because the blade is taking such a light cut, the weight of the material it is cutting is enough to keep the scoring blade from pulling it forward.  Here is a very short clip of the scoring blade in use.

Yes, sliding table saws with scoring blades are great for plywood.

But that’s not why I bought mine.  Plywood is great for some things, but my designs don’t have much use for plywood.  Besides, my workshop is not large enough to easily manage a full sheet of plywood.  Most of my work uses solid wood, and I feel my saw is equally advantageous.  The sliding table is great for straight line ripping.  That’s when I have a rough piece of lumber with no straight edges.  Without this saw, I would joint one face and one edge, then rip the other edge.  But now, I just clamp the piece of lumber to the sliding table and push it past the blade for a straight cut.  Then I turn it around and use the fence to get the other edge straight and parallel.  I’ve rarely used my jointer to edge-joint since I got this saw.  It’s a big time saver – especially when the edge isn’t close to being straight.

Straight line ripping is half of the reason I bought this saw.  The other half is to do wide crosscuts.  With my old contractor’s saw, small cuts were easy with the miter gauge.  Crosscuts up to about a foot or so were manageable with a sled, but wider cuts required a circular saw.

A few advantages that I hadn’t thought about when choosing a saw include cutting tapers and small parts.  Tapers are a simple matter of clamping the stock to the sliding table at the intended angle and making the cut.  With a conventional table saw, small parts can be a challenge to cut safely, but with the hold-down clamp I just position the part, clamp it down, and can safely cut the part while standing at the end out of the outrigger, a full 3′ away from the blade.  I am very glad that I ordered the hold-down.  Another advantage is that all the clutter that sometimes ends up on the table doesn’t get in your way… as long as it’s on the sliding table.  Instead, it just moves with you.

A couple other niceties that this saw has, but aren’t exclusive to a sliding table saw include the european-style fence (similar to the Unifence) which can be used in the short configuration where the fence is slid forwards so that it at the leading edge of the blade.  This virtually eliminates any chance of stock getting trapped between the fence and blade.  I use the short fence a lot for ripping cuts and repetitive cross-cuts.  The 5 HP motor is certainly nice too.  Blade changes are made easy thanks to an arbor lock and a single wrench after moving the sliding table to the forward-most position.  This video was taken soon after I got the saw; I am now more efficient at changing blades but the procedure remains the same.

18 thoughts on “Why a Sliding Table Saw with Scoring Blade?

  1. Not big on unplugging the tool before a blade change? If I am in my shop alone, I don’t either, but if someone else is there I do. Sweet tool, but it would fit in my shop better. Do you use it for dado work, or are routers your preferred method?

    Best Morgan

  2. As I watched the vid, I found another advantage of using the sliding table: since the left piece (on the waste side) is pushed through the sawblade, it’ll leave a straight clean out on the edge. On a traditional saw table, even if we use both hands to push a large sheet, the piece on the left/waste side may not come apart from the right piece with a clean or straight edge corner.

    One question: Since the good piece (on the right side) is not pushed through the spinning blade until you finish with the sliding table and come back to work on it, the tablesaw must produce very little vibration or the edge may drift against the blade. Did you notice any burn mark on the end corner of the good piece if the piece was left for long before you had time to deal with it?

  3. Chuck,

    Depending one the size of the workpiece I am cutting, the piece I cut to size may be to the left or right of the blade. When not using the rip fence and the waste piece is to the right of the blade, it can come apart without a clean or straight edge corner as you describe. When using the rip fence, I usually pull the right piece past the blade along with the left piece on the sliding table. The saw does run very smoothly and have very little vibration. I have never had an issue with burning.

    Chris

  4. Pingback: Why Not a SawStop? | Flair Woodworks

  5. Hi Chris
    I am the lucky owner of a sliding table saw that is a pleasure to use. Where di you find the hold down you use with your saw? After watching your video I can see many more possibilities when using one. Great blog

    Al Bacon

  6. which saw is it? I’m looking at the grizzly G0623x. Can you cut 1″ off a 8′ sheet? can you cut the sheet at 48″? I’m working with a old unisaw, which I love but want to move up to a slider. thx, JT

  7. Chris,
    In researching a Sawstop table saw purchase, I found your review. I was wrongly under the impression that a sliding table saw was out of my price range.
    Now that you have used it for a while, is there anything that you find lhat a table saw can do better? What is the total foot print of the saw?

    Thanks,
    John

    • Hi John,

      I’m really happy with my sliding table saw and don’t think that I’d want to be without one. I don’t miss doing crosscuts with a mitre gauge one bit.

      There are a few minor shortcomings.

      The sliding table should be set slightly higher than the cast iron table to the right of the blade, so they are not perfectly level. This means that narrow rip cuts (for example, ripping a 1″ strip in half) balance between the higher aluminum table and lower cast iron table so they would be a little less than square.

      Also, the aluminum table doesn’t work with magnetic accessories and the T-slots are not the standard size.

      I’m not sure how to measure the total footprint because the fixed table with extensions are L-shaped and the aluminum table slides. Then there’s the outrigger.

      Chris

    • Hi Jim,

      I looked at the Hammer K3 line as well as the Felder 700 series, Lagunas and General sliding table saw.

      The Grizzly seemed well-made, well-sized, and was an affordable way to try a sliding table saw (I’d never used one before buying mine).

      Chris

  8. Chris
    I am going to order the G0623X from Grizzly and need your help. Looking through their cat. I see only one hold-down that looks anything like yours. It is on the G0699 model. Is this the one you ordered from replacement parts? If not, do you have the part number for your hold-down clamp.
    Thanx’
    Clyde
    With a new “empty” 24 X 30 garage all for shop

    • Hi Clyde,

      The hold-down that I have looks the same as the one on the G0451. There is no part number for the entire hold-down, so I had to order the individual parts and assemble it myself. Make sure that you order two of the gyratory locking handles. The T-nut that fits the sliding table extrusions of my saw is P0623X1033.

      Chris

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