What is a Sliding Table Saw?

Most woodworking enthusiasts, the home craftsman, know of compound sliding miter saws.  The blade not only moves down through the workpiece, but it also slides out through it as well.  It’s not uncommon to see a sliding miter saw in a home workshop.

But, what about a sliding table saw? Have you ever heard of a sliding table saw? They do exist, but you’re not likely to see one in a home workshop.

What Is The Purpose Of A Sliding Table Saw?

Sliding table saws make cutting tasks easier and safer.

Unlike a sliding miter saw, where you draw the blade both down and out, the blade in a sliding table saw does not move.

It is very similar to a cabinet saw, which is a stationary, large table saw.  We discussed cabinet saws in a previous piece here on Obsessed Woodworking.  The difference is that a sliding table saw has, well, a sliding table.  The blade remains stationary in place while the table slides.

With a regular table saw, the craftsman is standing directly in line with the blade; with a sliding table saw, the craftsman is standing beside it, not in line with it.  Feeding a workpiece through the blade simply by moving the table the workpiece sits on makes the task both easy and safe.  Clamps hold the workpiece in place, and the craftsman is not in the line of danger.

Standing in line with the blade, trying to maintain a steady and even pace to allow the blade to do the work, can be problematic.  If the workpiece were to kick back, it kicks back on you; if the saw blade binds and you push a bit too hard to move it through the blade, you run the risk of your hand sliding into the blade.  Either way, you’re at risk of serious injury.

Standing beside the blade, though, eliminates those risks and enhances the safety of operating a sliding table saw.  Breaking down or ripping a piece of plywood becomes a much more simple task when using the sliding table.

How Does a Sliding Table Saw Work?

How Does a Sliding Table Saw Work

As we noted earlier, the blade in a sliding table saw does not move. The table does.

A sliding table saw includes both the main cutting blade and a scoring blade.  The scoring blade sits in front of the primary blade and cuts a kerf slightly wider than the main blade.  Kerf refers to the width of the material that is removed by the cut. 

It is set very low on the table, with just enough height to mark, or score, the bottom of the workpiece.  The teeth on a scoring blade are set backwards to the set of the main blade, counter-rotating to ensure a clean cut.  Since the kerf of the scoring blade is slightly wider than the main blade, the main blade cut will maintain that cleanness.

Clamps will secure the workpiece to the sliding table, and you’re beside the blade, not in line with it.  Moving or sliding the table moves the workpiece through the saw blades, and the result is a safe, clean, and accurate cut.

How To Use A Sliding Table Saw

Rather than use a lot of words to explain how to use a sliding table saw, a video is probably a more effective way to answer this question. 

Here is a video that presents basic views of a sliding table saw in use:

As you can see from the video, it’s not likely that the home woodworker will have a sliding table saw in his workshop.  They are expensive and can be pretty large, especially those with more elaborate sliding tables with multiple clamps, guards, and guides. 

They are quite suitable for larger woodworking shops, though, and the ripping and breaking down of full sheets of plywood or long dimensional pieces.  Industrial woodworking shops are very likely to include at least one sliding table saw.