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Consider a minimalistic sliding panel saw in the picture.

It seems to me that anything you can do with a rip fence you can do better and safer using the sliding panel.

enter image description here

  1. Crosscuts: you wouldn't use the rip fence at all even in a standard table saw. You can however use the rip fence as a 'quick measuring' tool when you are cutting many pieces of the same width (in this case you would pull it back enough as not to overlap with the saw disc).

  2. Rip cuts: with a sliding panel you can clamp down your piece to the sliding panel and calmly push the panel with one finger from far away. Using the rip fence, on the other hand, you would be fighting a lot of friction + the anxiety of keeping your piece snug against the fence + the anxiety of kickback due to poor pushing technique.

Yet again and again I see in many videos that guys with even more sophisticated sliding table saws inexplicably use the rip fence to make rip cuts. Why would they do it? To me, it looks awkward at best.

Videos (1) and (2).

https://youtu.be/9AHMTuw_Ghg?t=125

https://youtu.be/1mnb2HuH9Rw?t=403

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  • 2
    Consider the variety of sizes and stock features of the saws in home shops, smaller workshops and high-end pro workshops and that'll go a long way towards suggesting why there are different favoured approaches to doing various cuts by their individual users. And sometimes people just continue to do stuff the way they first learned to, even when their situation changes later they don't adapt or change their chosen methods.
    – Graphus
    Jan 28 at 14:26
  • 1
    Wow. A saw not from the 60s like almost everyone I know has.
    – jdv
    Jan 28 at 17:37
  • @jdv I just got a brand new saw a year ago. Does that count? ;)
    – FreeMan
    Jan 28 at 18:54
  • I just upgraded to a saw from the 60s....
    – gnicko
    Jan 28 at 19:29

2 Answers 2

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Yet again and again I see in many videos that guys with even more sophisticated sliding table saws inexplicably use the rip fence to make rip cuts. Why would they do it?

Usually when you're ripping a board (i.e. cutting in the the same direction that the grain runs), you're cutting along the length of the board, and you're trying to cut it to a certain width. That's exactly what the rip fence is for: it's a reference surface that you can set any distance (within its range) from the blade. If you want the final workpiece to be 150 mm wide, you set the fence to 150 mm and use it as the reference.

The sliding table has no such lengthwise reference surface, and if you try to clamp the board to the table and rip it to 150 mm, you're bound to be off by a bit, and the two edges of the board may not end up parallel. Also, the rip fence makes it easy to rip boards of any reasonable length, while even a large sliding table is limited to around 1600 mm (about 5 feet).

Using the rip fence, on the other hand, you would be fighting a lot of friction + the anxiety of keeping your piece snug against the fence + the anxiety of kickback due to poor pushing technique.

If it's that difficult and/or stressful to rip a board with the rip fence, it's time to get your blade sharpened. Using a splitter or riving knife is an effective way to avoid kickback, and adding a featherboard can help further. If your saw has a riving knife, the only reason not to use it is that you've got a guard with splitter installed instead. Keeping the stock snug against the fence requires only gentle pressure -- there should be no forces pulling the workpiece away from the fence.

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It is much quicker to just use the fence.

The sliding panel is big and kind of awkward to set up by myself.

The fence can handle material of any size, while the sled has a fixed dimension.

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