Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 50

Thread: Cost effectiveness of a slider vs. tracksaw & tablesaw

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Whidbey Island, WA
    Posts
    158

    Cost effectiveness of a slider vs. tracksaw & tablesaw

    I thought about posting this to the business section, because I'd really like input from professionals who use their shop as a business. For those of you who make $ or even a living making furniture or cabinets, how long does it take for a sliding table saw to pay for itself compared to a track saw and tablesaw?

    Currently I build 3-5 kitchens worth of high-end cabinets a year plus furniture, and that's growing. I have a 4x8 bench setup with a sacrificial top right near my Sawstop, a TS55 with a sharp fine blade, 5 different length tracks to hand, and a TSO square left attached to a 75" track. My process is like this:

    Lay the sheetgood on the table
    straightline one edge with a 9' track
    look at cutlist and determine best first crosscut using 75" rail and TSO
    take the 2 pieces to the table saw, referencing the fence off the perfect 90deg cut from the tracksaw
    cutout remaining panels by bouncing between cutting lengths and widths, always using the fence

    Doing it this way, there's only 2-3 cuts with the tracksaw, the rest is on the tablesaw, and this has been working very well for me, I always get square cuts, even after bouncing back and forth between original straightline and crosscut. Obviously when a panel becomes too narrow to safely cut off the fench, I have to take to the sliding miter saw, and we all know the quality of those cuts. So, I am curious how much faster a sliding tablesaw will be.

    The only significant timesavings I see are in

    + batch crosscuts with a crosscut stop
    + narrow pieces
    + occasional folding mitre casework

    From a business perspective, it seems there's nothing a sliding tablesaw can do that my tracksaws and tablesaw can't, so how long would it take to save significant coin in timespent? Just being faster isn't enough of a reason to spend thousands. I think I'm wanting quantitative input on labour savings.
    Timberlight Designs

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Jung View Post
    ...Just being faster isn't enough of a reason to spend thousands...
    You've just answered your own question.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Elmodel, Ga.
    Posts
    733
    I'm with Andy on this. My decision would be to buy or make an MFT style table with a fence and track system for the shorter/narrower cuts. Get a flip up track adapter for the track and you have a great setup. You are happy with the track saw performance, so that would enhance it to the next level and would save quite a bit of money.
    My Dad always told me "Can't Never Could".

    SWE

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    3,024
    There will be at least three components to this calculation. 1) ability to complete the work with fewer hours expended, 2) improved quality, including both precision and material lost due to error, with the attendant lost time for re-work, 3) ergonomics and ease of material handling that may translate to getting more done in a day, fewer days lost to injury, or in having a longer career. There may be other more important aspects I'm overlooking.

    I don't know how the methods compare. My observation is that most pro/production shops opt for the slider, suggesting, but certainly not proving, that it offers advantages that outweigh the added cost. It would take a detailed time and motion study to get a definitive answer. Someone may well have already done the research, I only found anecdotal reports in a quick look.

  5. #5
    For me the advantage of a slider is as much about ergonomics and saving my back as about saving time. You appear relatively young - if you stick with it by the time you are my age you will have processed thousands more sheets and board feet of lumber, all of which will seem heavier than they do now.

    Once I get a sheet (might be 1" mdf at 100 # or so) up on the saw with the help of a Crazy Horse dolly I can dice it up with less effort than on a tablesaw because the pieces are supported and guided by the carriage. I don't have to support the overhang or force the guiding edge against the rip fence. I don't have to strain to make a 48" crosscut with a hand-held saw or move half-sheets from a table to the saw. I can easily back up the cut to eliminate tearout at the sheet's edge. There's just less wear and tear on the only non-replaceable piece of gear in the shop, my body.

    Sliders aren't the all-in-all. If you just want to cut square-edged rectangles a vertical saw is more efficient, and if you are doing casework in volume you should invest in a cnc router. What they are is versatile and accurate if used properly. They can save considerable time over a jointer when straightlining lumber and will give a superior cut to a sliding miter saw for those narrow pieces and odd angle cuts. The cost savings are not simply in labor time but in quality of cut and minimizing re-work and sanding.

    If you have access to another shop with a slider, do a comparative time-motion study. Watch someone experienced process a few sheets on a slider and compare it to your present method. That should answer your question. It's a good question but not the only one you should be asking.
    Last edited by Kevin Jenness; 05-18-2022 at 11:05 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Millstone, NJ
    Posts
    690
    A slider may be nice. But I think you have a better system as is. The slider will take a lot of room and you still have to handle your sheet. I dont think I would do it. Unless you just want it, i'm not the person to hold anyone back from tools.

  7. #7
    Jonathan,
    You just described my methodology 15 years ago. Oddly, I just bought a slider a few months ago. What happened in between? A CNC. For about twice the investment of a new 10' slider, you can buy a CNC, in my case, a 60x96 Shopbot, and realize about a ten fold increase in capabilities. This includes all the drudgery of plywood processing, not just cutting clean, straight lines. Absolutely revolutionary, and as I remain 100% sole operator, it is essential. Chair/ furniture making with no template work and pre-cut mortises is outrageously time-saving. Being able to craft one-off arched/curved moldings, carved chair seats, corbels, and with the Shopbot, I jigged up and can run half-blind dovetail joinery at the far end. Sets up like a Porter cable jig.

    Always knew I'd get a sawstop some day. Then I went to an advanced shaper joinery class, and saw for the first time a slider in action. Had nothing to do with sheet goods at all. Since receiving that 10' slider in January, I have never missed the conventional table saw. In fact, activity at the sliding compound miter saw has almost ceased entirely, so I'd say, a slider is absolutely wonderful, but nothing compares to the CNC if you're asking for speed, accuracy and ROI. From my experience, I'd second the suggestion that you incorporate some serious thought / research into this direction.

    BTW, if your neighbor's sliding saw is respectable and reasonably priced, that may indeed be a smart buy at this point.

    Again, you seem to be an awful lot like myself in the early days, and that CNC will save wear and tear on you like nothing else. Cannot imagine being without one, for all the ability it gives you to say "yes, I can" to whatever adventurous new concepts are thrown at you as you grow into this business. I really enjoy the heck out of doing this for a living. Choosing the right tools at the right time is key to keeping you smiling all the way!

    jeff

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Northern Virginia
    Posts
    1,156
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Jung View Post
    I thought about posting this to the business section, because I'd really like input from professionals who use their shop as a business. For those of you who make $ or even a living making furniture or cabinets, how long does it take for a sliding table saw to pay for itself compared to a track saw and tablesaw?

    Currently I build 3-5 kitchens worth of high-end cabinets a year plus furniture, and that's growing. I have a 4x8 bench setup with a sacrificial top right near my Sawstop, a TS55 with a sharp fine blade, 5 different length tracks to hand, and a TSO square left attached to a 75" track. My process is like this:

    Lay the sheetgood on the table
    straightline one edge with a 9' track
    look at cutlist and determine best first crosscut using 75" rail and TSO
    take the 2 pieces to the table saw, referencing the fence off the perfect 90deg cut from the tracksaw
    cutout remaining panels by bouncing between cutting lengths and widths, always using the fence

    Doing it this way, there's only 2-3 cuts with the tracksaw, the rest is on the tablesaw, and this has been working very well for me, I always get square cuts, even after bouncing back and forth between original straightline and crosscut. Obviously when a panel becomes too narrow to safely cut off the fench, I have to take to the sliding miter saw, and we all know the quality of those cuts. So, I am curious how much faster a sliding tablesaw will be.

    The only significant timesavings I see are in

    + batch crosscuts with a crosscut stop
    + narrow pieces
    + occasional folding mitre casework

    From a business perspective, it seems there's nothing a sliding tablesaw can do that my tracksaws and tablesaw can't, so how long would it take to save significant coin in timespent? Just being faster isn't enough of a reason to spend thousands. I think I'm wanting quantitative input on labour savings.
    Just curious here but if I read your description you are not using a crosscut sled for plywood panels? All crosscuts are the tso & track?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    60,937
    There are certainly times when a tracksaw shines for a particular option. But in the shop, especially for some kind of production, a slider is going to be both time effective as you note as well as provide repeatable precision cut after cut. Combined with good material handling, one can sling sheets pretty quickly. The slider is also ideal for crosscutting...the primary reason why it's my table saw preference. I do limited work with sheet goods, but the slider has been "the best thing since sliced veneer" for precision cutting of solid stock. I'm missing it GREATLY right now and being frustrated enough with what are limitations to a cabinet saw in my temporary shop.

    A slider hasn't taken away my enjoyment and need for the tracksaw. I frankly find them complimentary for a one person situation, although I'm not any kind of production oriented user. Sometimes it's about lifting, honestly, and I don't do that so well anymore.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  10. #10
    Are you building face frame cabinets? Frameless? Doing your doors in house? (sorry if I missed it above). How much space do you have?

    I do very little sheet goods work, but when I do get the occasional order for a kitchen or built-in, my process is the same as what you're doing now. That said, if you're going to invest in your production line, I'd think a good CNC would put you miles ahead of a slider as it can cut your joinery, shelf pin holes, etc. and the footprint is smaller if your shop space is tight. Storing (and subsequently working around) a kitchen's worth of cabinets is a pain in a cramped space.

    Biggest thing to me would be how much material handling you could reduce. If you can pull sheets off your truck/van onto a tilting lift cart and then shove them right off onto the CNC, you then only have to pick up MUCH smaller parts at the end of the process and assemble them while the CNC cuts the next sheet. It's a big investment, but if you're already doing 5 kitchens a year and looking to ramp up from there, the productivity gain would be huge.

  11. #11
    I am an amateur so I will try to be brief. Peter Millard - 10 minute workshop - has several good videos about 3 different track saw hinging systems for crosscuts. If you haven't seen them I would review them. The Festool hinge is the cheapest of the 3 he reviews - it is not cheap junk.

    I think upgrading your track saw setup may give you the repeatability, accuracy, and speed at far lower cost than replacing your table saw with a slider. If I am doing a lot of crosscuts I use a stop on my track saw cutting station. Not hard at all to incorporate.

    I've only used a sliding table saw a little but it obviously has advantages too.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    2,964
    Reducing labor costs is the fastest way to make money in a business. Moving pieces from the track saw station to the table saw takes time and possible damage sliding pieces around. Then there is a big tax savings when you deprecate the machine. Next as mentioned is accuracy. Unless you have a fence system on that track station, you have to pull your tape measure way too many times. Cabinet parts make for a lot of repetitive cutting. You also can get a scoring blade on the slider and have perfect veneer cuts, both sides. Finally I'd suggest you forget the slider and invest in a CNC. With that you get an optimization software, and a machine cutting parts while you stage more material. It also gives you a machine to cut round or oval tables, curved chair parts, and a dead precise template making machine for the occasional odd project. I read a great story years ago where the cabinet shop invested in machinery instead of employees. A guy and his wife did 2-3 kitchens a month with a CNC, edgebander, and doweling machine. The last benefit is to your body. You'll have a much healthier back by not reaching over the sheets using the track saw. Take that advice from a 70 year old ex business owner.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2021
    Location
    Austin, TX
    Posts
    224
    Jonathan,

    I think the right question is "How much more revenue could I do if I upgraded to a slider?" If the answer is none, then stick with your current setup. If you had two or three kitchen projects last year that you weren't able to get to because of time limitations, then buying a slider is a no brainer. Cabinet shops use them because they are faster and can leave a nicer surface finish on some materials (scoring blade).

    On the other hand, if you don't have additional projects you want to take that require processing sheet goods, then perhaps your current setup works well enough and the capital would be better invested in a different area of your business. (or saved to get you though a recession, injury, etc.)

    If you are looking to grow your business, I would assess where your current bottlenecks are and come up with solutions for that. Sounds like that a slider might help, but what about a part-time or full-time employee?

  14. #14
    A good operator can break down 40 sheets of plywood into cabinet parts before lunch on a slider. All with very little attention to settings and accuracy. I don't even want to think about doing that with a track saw.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Whidbey Island, WA
    Posts
    158
    This has been very helpful! It is easy, at 31 years old, to not calculate properly the bodily wear and tear. Even a half sheet of walnut ply with the MDF "armour" layer, those are heavy on the back! I think I'll update the OP to include some of the Qs raised and suggestions made.

    johnny means, that is the type of info I'm looking for. Did you work in a cabinet shop breaking down ply? I can easily do 20 sheets in that time using my method. 40 is a lot.

    The point raised about straightlining lumber is good. Rather than 1-3 passes on the jointer, 1 pass on the saw is good. I'm jointing material several hours a week currently. So that's maybe an hour of savings each week?

    CNC, yes, that's a good point. It would do wonders, but seems niche to cabinet making and templating. Other tasks I do which would ask for a slider include sizing and trimming doors, drawer fronts, furniture panels, and folded mitres.

    So much of my work is one-off, I'm still thinking the slider is the better choice before the CNC, because even if I had the CNC I'd still be wishing I had a slider. Does that seem fair?

    Keegan, what you're saying is spot on. At the end of the day, what I need from a slider is an increase in sales, with the same labour output. A good deal on a slider, say $4000 all said with setup, depreciated over 3 years, would need an increase of $111 in sales a month. Not much, 1-1.5 hrs labour. But if that slider cost $15,000, sales need go up $417 a month.

    Jeff, what percentage of your builds are cabinetry? Do you find yourself using the slider where the CNC can't?
    Timberlight Designs

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •