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One challenge of working with sheet goods is doing a really wide cut, for example cutting a 4 x 8 sheet into two 4x4 sheets.

The problem I run into is that I can't reach across a 48" board or panel, so if I am using a rail saw, it is difficult and requires awkward things like climbing on top of the table. Of course, it is easy with a panel saw and frame that holds the board upright, but I do not have a panel saw system.

  • I have always start my cut across the panel using a guide rail or board and stop the saw at the extent of my reach (more than half way) letting the saw come to a complete stop before releasing. I then move to the other side, stand to the side of the saw and grab the saw firmly and start it up again moving it against the guide to complete the cut. If I don't twist the saw in the cut track, this works well. You also need adequate support boards on a platform below to keep the two panels from falling. Saw horses and a couple of 2x4s should be enough. – Ashlar Oct 13 '19 at 1:43
  • There is a you tube video here youtu.be/D6B4peRQgL0 and youtu.be/TMsixrXSFVQ can be easily adapted to using a standard saw and some kind of guide rail (5 minutes in to the 2ed video shows vertical) – Monte Glover Oct 13 '19 at 3:37
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I lay the sheet on top of a 4x8 piece of 2in pink foam insulation board and then just walk/crawl on top of it while pushing the saw along the track. Unless it's a really delicate material, I've never had any trouble. You could also lay a moving blanket and/or a thicker plank on top of where you crawl to spread out the load and avoid any scratches or damage.

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For this purpose a clamped guide batten and a handsaw (I first read the post thinking panel saw in the handtool sense, with slight confusion!) are probably the most flexible and frugal solution. For support, this would be best paired with a few saw horses and 2x4s as commented above.

Of course this depends on how often you'll need to do it, and how precise you need the cut. With a sharp saw and a bit of repetition you might end up with similar results to more expensive options without needing another powerpoint.

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When I was in the trades we use various guides and rails and such to break down sheet goods. When you run out of arm when pushing the saw you just have to reposition yourself safely. What safely means is dependent on how many people are doing the cut and how comfortable you are with the saw.

In practice, what this amounted to is:

  • You stop the saw mid-cut and reposition yourself and then restart the saw (back it up a bit so it is free to spin up) and continue with the cut.
  • Have a second person take over from a safe position, restarting the saw in the same cut again.
  • I don't recommend this, but in some cases I observed people leave the saw free-running so they could reposition their reach and continue the cut. This was very common, actually. But a stopped and restarted cut with most sheet goods is fine.
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A circular saw and a sawboard make this straightforward.

A sawboard is a home-made guide consisting of a straight-edge fastened permanently to a wooden base plate. As original build the base plate is too wide. The final step in building the sawboard is to run the circular saw along the straight-edge to cut the base plate to exactly the correct width. In use the edge of the base plate can be lined up exactly with where the cut is required.

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  • I have a rail saw which is superior to a saw board. The problem is that because I can't reach across the panel, I essentially have to make two cuts and this leaves a jog in the work piece. – Treow Wyrhta Oct 14 '19 at 16:20

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