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Easy to Make Panel Cutter for Festool Tracksaw

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Project by Wolfdrool posted 07-25-2017 05:43 PM 738 views 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Previously, I posted a panel saw I made from a kit that does a nice job of crosscutting plywood. I don’t like it for ripping, though, as it’s not convenient to push a full size sheet through the unit as you need 16 feet of room to do that. Plus, thinner panels want to dive down into the gap in the center. A crosscut is simpler and effective on that saw because the panel just sits there.

I’m working on a complete office suite and needed a way to rip down at least 15 sheets of cabinet plywood to uniform widths. I wanted the ability to do repeat rip cuts accurately in case I need extra parts of similar dimensions later.

This Panel Cutter did the trick and takes only about 30 minutes to make once you have the wood on hand. This makes repeat wood cuts with a Festool track saw and guide very easy and repeatable. I use spacers of identical length to support the track at each end. My track to blade width is 7 1/8 inch wide with the blade I’m using, so I take that into account when making my spacer pairs. The spacers sit on the unistrut ledge along with the panel and get clamped to the panel so the spacers don’t move. The rubber grippers on the bottom of the track grip the panel very well without the track having to be clamped. The grip is particularly good because of the shallow angle of the grid. I made spacers for all the width panels that I would need to cut.

This all means that the narrowest strip I can make referencing from the unistrut ledge is 7 1/8 inches. I could cut narrower strips referencing from the top of the panel, but I have not done that yet.

After making my first test cut and finding out the cut was right on, I kept going and sliced up 15 sheets in no time. Being able to work outside in the summer is pretty nice.

The jig is a wood grid including a a length of unistrut on the lower end to support the panel being cut. The grid need not be square, as all cuts reference from the unistrut ledge. You have to get a straight length of unistrut, and not all these pieces are straight off the shelf at Home Depot, Lowes, Menards, etc. Particularly the ends can be bent, sides can be crushed in a little, etc.

To make this very rigid, each joint on the grid is connected with a pair of 1.5 inch Kreg pocket screws from the back. Note how the vertical wood of the grid is on edges on the horizontal wood, which keeps the cut well away from those screws in back. The grid is ten feet wide by 5 feet wide. I used 5/4 select fir boards, which gives a wide edge to aim those screws.

Note from the pictures that I have the jig sitting at a shallow angle on saw horses. With a steeper angle, the festool saw wants to tip off the track. At this shallow angle, the saw is very stable on the track. The toes of the grid are held in the grass without slipping. This might slip on a smooth garage floor without doing something to stop that, such as rubber feet on the bottom of the grid.

When the panel is full size or still large because a lot has not been cut off yet, I clamp the upper part of the panel to the grid so the weight does not bear down so much on the blade during a cut. The Festool saw has a riving knife, but keeping the weight off is still helpful.

A key is to make sure the spacer supports at each end are clamped in place straight and square. Supports with a wider base are preferred for more stability and easier squaring.





2 comments so far

View Desert_Woodworker's profile

Desert_Woodworker

1179 posts in 994 days


#1 posted 07-26-2017 12:04 AM

Excellant project.

-- Desert_Woodworker

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

28195 posts in 2646 days


#2 posted 07-26-2017 12:40 PM

This is a very nice and practical project. It’s a great addition to your shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

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