Sliding Tablesaws: Is One Right for You?
These premium machines are loaded with features that add precision and versatility
Synopsis: Long a fixture in professional cabinet shops where their accuracy, efficiency, and ability to handle large sheet goods is crucial, sliding tablesaws are becoming more and more accessible to smaller shops. With more manufacturers offering entry-level models, it may be time to take a look at these machines and see if one is right for you. Dan Chaffin has been using sliding tablesaws for years, and here he offers a rundown of their advantages and disadvantages, as seen from a pro’s perspective.
Sliding tablesaws have long been a fixture in production cabinet shops, where they’re invaluable because they handle sheet goods so exceedingly well. But sliders aren’t just for sheet goods; they handle solid wood excellently too. On a slider, the workpiece rests on the sliding table and cutting the stock is simply a matter of pushing the sliding table through the cut. There’s no wrestling with the workpiece during the cut regardless of its size or the condition of its edges, and accuracy is not influenced by technique; rather, accuracy is a product of the precision built into the saw. You can also lock the sliding table in place and push boards by hand, if you prefer.
In spite of their versatility, efficiency, precision, and safety, sliding tablesaws have often been considered out of the question for smaller shops because of their high price and large footprint. But with more manufacturers offering them, there are now several entry-level models that can be had for around the cost of a high-end cabinet saw, and sliders are increasingly finding their way into smaller pro shops and some home shops as well.