Vertical panel saw manufacturers share advice on keeping blades from binding during rip cuts, as well as keeping cuts from burning or chipping.

Q: How can I keep the blade from binding during rip cuts?

Tom Houska, Marketing Professional, Safety Speed Cut Mfg.: There are a few things an operator can do to eliminate the blade from binding. First, make sure that your saw blade is sharp and clean. Dull blades and dirty blades tend to bind and stall more often, increasing the risk of kickback. The use of a riving knife is the easiest and safest way to prevent binding. This device, which is standard on all of our models, is a hook-shaped piece of metal that is mounted directly behind the blade. This device helps prevent the upper and lower pieces of wood from binding together after the cut is performed.

Adam Lopuk, National Machinery Sales Manager, Adwood Corp.: Keep a sharp blade on the machine. When making a rip cut on our Elcon vertical panel saw, the panel is clamped from the bottom with pneumatic clamps. The operator pushes the saw unit from left to right and as he approaches the last 6 inches of the rip, he can safely grab the offcut with his left hand as he pushes the saw unit through the last 6 inches. Since the blade is totally covered by the blade guard and panel, this is safe to do.

Some people recommend placing shims behind the blade as it cuts through the panel. I only recommend this if the operator is making rip cuts with multiple sheets on the saw. Most of the time shops are cutting one sheet at a time, and the shims are not used in that case.

Our higher level Advanced saw has an option that clamps the panel from the top and lifts and suspends the panel above the bottom transport rollers approximately 50mm. After the reference or dust cut is made from the bottom, the saw gently lays the panel back down on the transport rollers. The main concept of this option is that you never have to flip the panel over, and all horizontal cuts are supported by the clamping system.

Dave Rakauskas, Vice President, Colonial Saw: Keeping a blade from binding during rip cuts on a vertical saw, like our Striebig models, is easy, because the operator only needs one hand to push the motor through the panel. The operator can use the other hand to apply upward pressure on the top part of the cut. Our saws also come with rip support wedges that we recommend placing every 3 feet as you make a rip cut to keep the board split. Also, most saws these days have a riving knife that provides additional assurance.

Q: How can I keep my cuts from burning or chipping?

Tom Houska, Marketing Professional, Safety Speed Cut Mfg.: Once again, make sure that your blade is sharp and clean. Be careful not to force the work piece through the saw. Also, make sure that you select the appropriate saw blade for the substrate that you are cutting. For instance, if you are cutting melamine, then you should use a blade with a negative hook/rake and at least 60 teeth to get a nice chip-free cut. For best results, the use of a scoring blade or knife is recommended to eliminate chipping. This option is available on many larger panel saws.

Adam Lopuk, National Machinery Sales Manager, Adwood Corp.: Burning and/or chipping are caused by three things:

1) The saw is not properly aligned or adjusted, creating a heeling condition.

2) The tooling is incorrect for the application, is not sharp or has been re-sharpened past its useful life.

3) The board is of poor quality.

I have seen inexpensive board being used that actually sparked when being cut because there were stones and metal pieces pressed inside the board when it was made at the factory. This immediately dulls and damages the saw blade and poor quality of cut results. High-quality tooling, high-quality panel stock and proper tuning and maintenance of the saw will ensure the best possible end product.

Jeff Grant, Vice President, Hendrick/RWH Industries Inc.: To help eliminate chipping, I suggest using good quality blades that are regularly sharpened, proper blade/spindle alignment and correct feed rates (not too fast, not too slow). To help reduce burning I suggest making pre-cuts when possible. If that is not an option, using an anti-friction spray on the blade will help minimize the heat buildup and reduce the potential for burning.

Dave Rakauskas, Vice President, Colonial Saw: Keeping cuts from burning or chipping involves a lot of variables. The most common cause of burning is a dull blade. If the blades are not dull, you have to look at blade alignment (commonly called heeling) next. All Striebig saws have the ability to adjust the blade alignment to correct heeling problems. If the blade is sharp and aligned correctly, you need to look at side clearance on the blade’s teeth. The teeth need to stick out a certain distance from the sawplate. After many sharpenings, this clearance shrinks and may cause burning.

The most common cause of chipping is blade quality and sharpness. If you are using a cheap blade or the wrong blade for the application and you don’t have a scoring unit, you are sure to get chipping. If the blade is correct but it is still chipping, you may have a loose drive belt or arbor and motor bearings going bad and causing vibration. On a Striebig saw, you also should check the tension on the pressure shroud to ensure that it is snug on the material and that your saw blade is penetrating the correct depth out the back of the material (we recommend about 10mm) since it is adjustable. Lastly, if you have just changed board suppliers, that could be the cause. Lower quality boards will chip a lot easier.

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