What Is the Difference Between a Table Saw and a Panel Beam Saw?

In smaller shops, most panel sizing is done with smaller sliding or fixed table saws. However, for shops with a higher volume of pieces required in their operations, panel or ipeaa beam saws are more suitable.

Table Saws

Table saws are categorized as fixed table saws and sliding table saws. Fixed table saws come in a variety of sizes from small 8-inch hobby machines up to heavy-duty 14-inch industrial machines. They also range in power from 3HP to 10HP. Smaller ones run on single-phase for home-based wood shops while the larger machines run on 3-phase electricity for industrial environments. Fixed table saws are typically used to cut solid wood or smaller composite panels. Some utilize a scoring saw for clean cuts when cutting panels. They generally are equipped with a tilting arbour to perform angle cutting between 45 and 90 degrees.

Sliding table saws are used in small industrial production shops. They are also used for special custom cutting in a large industrial shop that also has a beam panel saw to do most of their panel cutting. They tend to be very versatile having a tilting arbour as well as a mitre fence for angle and mitre cutting, respectively. These sawing machines usually are equipped with a scoring saw. The sliding table allows 5-foot or 10-foot (more common) sheets to travel while supported on the sliding table. The sliding table allows the operator to more smoothly advance the sheet through the cutting saw. Sliding table saws range in power from about 5HP to 12HP. Although some have electronic setup assistance, most of them do not.

Popular brands of table saws include: Altendorf, Antec by Joway, Bauerle, Boss, Casadei, Casolin, Concord, Delta, EMA, Griggio, Holz-Her, Italcava, Lazzari, Magic, Martin, Ortza, Paoloni, Poitras, RGA Italtalcava, Robland, SCMI, Sicar, Stema, and Wadkin.

Panel / Beam Saws

A panel saw or beam saw is an industrial machine the makes linear cuts in pre-manufactured sheets or boards. These saws encompass a wide variety of horizontal saws from manually operated to automatically controlled. These machines are used to cut wood-based materials such as plywood, particle board, medium density fiber (MDF), oriented strand board (OSB) and high density fiber (HDF) sheets.

Cabinet shops, furniture makers, fixture manufacturers, and many other companies use panel saws as one of the first steps in their production process to cut full-sized sheets of material into the smaller rectangular sizes needed to produce their products. Some beam saws are specially configured to cut plastic, phenolic and non-ferrous metal sheets as well. Beam saws can be loaded manually from the out feed side of the machine or automatically from a lift table at the rear of the machine. They can have a single cutting line (single saw) or can have multiple cutting lines known as angular sizing systems or plants. Panel saws are able to cut single sheets as thin as 3mm or up to stacks of sheets as high as 8 inches depending on the configuration of the machine.