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How to build a vertical panel saw

A panel saw consists of a circular saw that has been mounted to a pair of tracks that provides accurate cuts when used to cut down sheet goods to rough dimensions. The panel saw has the ability to rotate the saw 90-degrees allowing the woodworker to rip plywood into narrow stock. Additionally, the panel saw has a replaceable plate that a router can be mounted to cut the dado joint. You can build a vertical panel saw with one of the panel saw kits available.

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  1. Cut five straight pieces of lumber to 240 cm (7 feet 10 1/2 inches) long. Cut five more boards to 200 cm (6 feet 6 1/2 inches). Use a mitre saw for straight and accurate cuts. Using a tape measure and a pencil, mark one of the boards at 37 cm (1 foot 2 1/2 inches) and at 37 mm (1 1/2 inches) from the last mark. Repeat four more times along the length of the board. Transfer the marks across all five boards using a framing square. These are the locations for the half-life joints.

  2. Adjust the blade on the table saw to 43 mm (1 3/4 inches) high. Remove the fence from the table saw and install the mitre gauge, set at 90 degrees to the blade. Notch out on each of the boards between the 37 mm (1 1/2 inch) marks. This creates the notches for the half-lap joints.

  3. Layout the boards in a 405 mm (16 inch) grid pattern, applying glue to each of the joints. Picture frame the grid pattern with four additional pieces of lumber, using glue and screws to attach to the grid.

  4. Checked the specifications that came with the panel saw kit for any additional blocking required to secure the kit to the frame. Attach the frame to the centre of the grid specified in the instructions.

  5. Glue and screwed a board to two 60 by 240 by 240 cm (2 by 8 by 8 foot) boards using 62 mm (2 1/2 inch) wood screws and a power screwdriver. Place these on a level surface on their narrow edge so that the bottoms are even with each other before screwing them together. Place the boards that you just screwed together with the 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inch) on top against the bottom of the panel frame. Glue and screw the boards together. This leaves the 50 by 100 mm (2 by 4 inch) edge to rest the plywood on when cutting.

  6. Set up a pair of sawhorses to support a sheet of 18 mm (3/4 inch) plywood. Using a tape measure along one of the 240 cm (8 feet) sides of the plywood mark the wood at 44 cm (1 foot 5 1/2 inch), then at 150 mm (6 inches) from the last mark. Place a third mark at 105 cm (3 feet 5 inches) to the right of the last mark. On the opposite side, measure over 105 cm (3 feet 5 inches) and place the first mark. Measure 150 mm (6 inches) to the right and make the second mark. Use a straightedge to connect the marks across the width of the plywood. This will make two triangle shapes used to support the panel saw. Use a circular saw to cut the triangler shapes.

  7. Attach two 75 mm (3 inch) hinges along one side of each of the triangle pieces. Attach one of the triangles to each end of the panel frame. This will make two folding supports to hold the panel saw frame at 20 degrees.

  8. Tip

    Use a paste wax applied to the frame to reduce friction.


    Wear hearing protection and safety glasses when operating power tools.

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Things You'll Need

  • Panel saw kit
  • 14 pieces of 50 by 100 by 200 mm (2 by 4 by 8 inch) lumber
  • Mitre saw
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Framing square
  • Table saw
  • Fence
  • Mitre gauge
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • Power screwdriver
  • Saw horses
  • 18 mm (3/4 inch) plywood
  • Circular saw
  • Straight edge
  • 75 mm (3 inch) hinges

About the Author

Jim Wildman

Jim Wildman served in the United States Marine Corps as a Communication Chief for 10 years. After his tour of duty in Desert Storm he attended Oklahoma State University receiving his Bachelor of Architecture. He worked as an architect for 10 years before starting his own design/build company. He began writing in 2009 for Demand Studios and published on eHow.

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