|Project by Wolfdrool||posted 03-22-2016 02:42 PM||2385 views||14 times favorited||9 comments|
I bought the SwapSaw™ panel saw kit from A2 Equipment about three weeks ago and built this panel saw from the kit over the past two weekends. I’m not affiliated with the seller, but I like the kit and the resultant saw. Who knew cutting up full size sheets of plywood could be easy and fun? In addition to buying the kit, I spent another $170 or so on extra stuff, some of which I didn’t use. Some stuff I added through design modifications mentioned below. These modifications were about $35 of the $170. The saw is extra on top of that. I used a very high quality, pre-finshed Tiger Ply plywood for back panels, as the surface is very slippery to facilitate sliding panels on the saw.
I used the two cut method to square up the saw (more efficient use of material than the highly touted 5 cut method, but still plenty accurate with a digital caliper), and the resultant accuracy is beyond my expectations as a result. Practicing on mdf panels, multiple parts are cut to the same dimensions with excellent precision. I’m very happy with both its crosscutting and ripping performance. I expected the crosscutting to be good, but did not know what to expect from the ripping function and was pleasantly surprised.
I had to read the instructions in advance a few times to fully appreciate the steps involved, but once I understood how to make each sub-assembly, the build was pretty easy.
The design is clever in several respects. First, the fence is easy to square to the rails using jack screws on each end of the fence. The instructions in the manual allow you to get the saw somewhat square very quickly, but then the two cut method and digital caliper allow you to tune to very square in a few iterations after that. Second, the saw is easy to assemble and take apart into sub-assemblies, and so is easy to transport and store and then use. I have enough room, where I will keep it assembled. But, I’ve taken it apart and put it back together more than a few times during the build. Third, the rails and connecting plates for the rails assemble with high precision so that the polycarbonate saw plate fits very nicely in ripping or cross cutting modes. The saw plate is very square, so it fits the rails nicely in either ripping or crosscut mode. Fourth, the plate is beveled and eased on the perimeter, so no sharp edges. Fifth, the plate is very easy to slide up to the top and remove for storage or shifting between cutting modes. The saw is very easy to mount to the saw plate, and because of the plate design, the saw mounts square.
Instead of the Dewalt saw, in hindsight I would get the 15 amp Makita saw with LED light. The light would allow one to easily line up the saw with a vertical tape measure (extra item not included with kit) on one guide rail. As it stands, I’m working out how to extend a site gauge from the saw to the rail to line up with a vertical tape to be placed there. The Dewalt has a lot of power, though, and cuts sheet goods effortlessly. I added a 60T DeWalt blade for better cuts than the 24T blade that came with the saw.
I made a few modifications not endorsed by the designer. I made the fence 10 feet long instead of 8 for extra infeed and outfeed support. To get 10 feet of slippery support surface on the fence, I used j-channel brick molding made from PVC. This stuff is pretty inexpensive and available from home improvement centers. The kit comes with slippery material for 8 feet of fence.
I used the same brick molding as feet to protect the back panels. So, I can slide the saw around my shop without worrying about damaging the bottom of the back panels.
I also added a saw guard cover (nearly 6 feet long) in back (not shown) to cover the well where the saw blade does its job. The cover is easy on and off, held with pins on one end and bungees on the other.
I used folding table legs on the back instead of the plywood supports shown in the plans because I had a pair of legs on an old work table. These work good, on initial impression, but it’s critical to drill the mounting holes with precision so that the back panels lean back at the same angle. I used a jig referenced off the bottom edge of the back panels to make sure I placed the holes in the same pattern on each back panel.
I added vertical struts to the back for stiffness. The two on the inside are black, heavy duty shelf brackets that I use for mounting the saw guard.
I added flip stops using the design on one of my earlier Lumberjock posts.
I’m still working out how I will attach the electrical connection and dust control.