Panel Saw

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Panel saw.

The panel saw is a circular saw affixed to rails that is used to easily cut down large (as large as 4'x8') sheets of material. The size of the stock normally requires two people to load the material safely into the machine.

The Idea Shop panel saw is a vertical unit that cab be used to make both vertical and horizontal cuts to material, though horizontal cuts require that the saw remain stationary and the material moved through the saw. Wood, wood products, acrylic, foam, and other soft materials can all be cut on the panel saw.

Because the saw operates on a gantry, the panel saw is a much safer alternative to the table saw for making large straight cuts, especially on large stock materials.

Machine Details

The panel saw is typically used to cut large sheets of foam, wood, or acrylic into smaller sheets for use on the laser cutter and CNC. Due to its imprecision, it main purpose is to cut large pieces of material into more workable sizes. The panel saw is not used to cut metal.

Safety Instructions


  • Wear safety glasses at all times. Ear protection is recommended for extended sessions.
  • Always turn off and unplug saw when adjusting material to be cut.
  • Cut flat stock only - do not cut round stock or any other stock that cannot rest securely on the support rollers.

Active Use

  • Allow blade to come up to full speed before beginning cut.
  • Cut thorough material in a steady consistent motion. Allow blade to come to a full stop before allowing saw to retract.
  • If blade is retracted while still spinning, material may shift and you run the risk of marring the recently cut edge. Move cut panels away from blade on the upstroke.
  • Ensure power cord is free from blade path on the upstroke to avoid damaging the cord.
  • If flat stock has a warp, cut with concave bow facing towards outside - this will minimize any pinching or kickback.
  • For horizontal/longitudinal cuts, always have a partner to assist feeding material.
  • Be aware of the power cord so that it does not fall into path of the blade

Clean Up

  • Slowly return saw to the top resting place and tighten it down. Never let go until it is secure.
  • Vacuum up all debris after cutting.

Best Practices

  • Always turn off and unplug saw when it is necessary to switch out blade or inspect for potential damage from embedded nails.
  • Circular saw blades can only be installed in one direction, refer to owner's manual for correct direction of teeth.
  • Remove magnetic insert/guide when it is necessary to rotate blade 90 degrees for longitudinal cuts.
  • Do not cut material that is too narrow for the machine: i.e. less than a foot or foot and a half wide - as it will pinch blade. Opt instead for the table saw or the miter saw.

Machine Proficiency

In order for an individual to advance in machine proficiency they must demonstrate ability to perform certain actions or tasks. All levels include abilities and concepts from lower levels.

This section is primarily for student workers.

Level 0

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Basic Cross cut of standard 4’x8’ plywood or MDF
  • Safe separation of material after cut has been performed
  • Letting saw blade spin up and spin down

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Max panel material size and thickness
  • Useable material
  • Never letting go of the gantry and allowing it to spring back into starting position

Level 1

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Aligning the blade to cut along a line
  • Using the measurement guides
  • Demonstrating proper cut speed

Individual understands the concepts:

  • How to lock the gantry
  • Making sure the material is pushed to the back of the saw frame

Level 2

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Performing rip-cut
  • Turning saw blade direction
  • Cutting thin strips of material

Individual understands the concepts:

  • Knowing when to use the panel saw instead of the table saw
  • Demonstrating knowledge of 1/8th inch kerf

Level 3

Individual has demonstrated they are capable of:

  • Replacing the blade
  • Clamping material properly to saw frame
  • Checking the blade angle is 90 deg to support rollers

Individual understands the concepts:

  • What types of blades can be used on our panel saw