Best Vertical Panel Saws 2020 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
Vertical panel saws are designed to make your life easier by making cutting boards down to size a fast and straightforward process. In theory, shopping online is supposed to be the same way.
In practice, it can be hard to shop online. There are a ton of vertical panel saws out there, and the different product descriptions don’t always include the information you need to make good comparisons between them.
We think it’s important that you’re able to shop online with confidence. Our reviews of the best vertical panel saws of 2020 are written with you in mind. We cover the best and worst attributes of each model so you can find one that best meets your needs. Also included is a buyer’s guide that walks you through everything you need to know about panel saws before you buy, so you get one you love at a price you love just as much.
A Breakdown of our Favorite Choices in 2020
|Best Overall||Powermatic 511||
|Best Value||Milwaukee 6480 50-Inch Crosscut||
|Saw Trax 1064 Varsity||
|SSCC4 CRL Safety Speed||
|Safety Speed Cut H5||
The 5 Best Vertical Panel Saws
1. Powermatic 511 Vertical Panel Saw – Best Overall
If you’re looking for the best vertical panel saw on the market, you can’t go wrong with the Powermatic 1510007 511 Vertical Panel Saw. This monster panel saw pays close attention to the details to deliver a smooth, satisfying cutting experience. Its stainless steel guide rods and roller bearings mean that repositioning the saw is quick and easy. It has a ten-foot-long frame, giving you plenty of support that will unlock even the largest projects. The saw motor rotates to make different kinds of cuts more accessible.
It pays a lot of attention to dust management. The dual four-inch dust ports go a long way towards minimizing the sawdust that escapes this machine, reducing cleanup. There’s also a nylon brush around the blade that helps keep dust confined and improves the dust ports’ efficiency. Ultimately, you’ll pay far more for this model than you would for other choices on our list, but in return, you’re getting a worry-free experience out of this vertical panel saw. This is the saw to get if you want as few headaches as possible from your equipment and have the budget to match.
2. Milwaukee Complete Panel Saw System – Best Value
The Milwaukee 6480-20 Complete Panel Saw System is another machine that will make your cutting far easier. It has a very powerful 15-amp motor, which is more than enough power to cut through softer and harder woods with ease. Even particle struggles to hold up against a motor that powerful. It boasts accuracy to within 1/32-inch in both its crosscutting and ripping directions, which is tight enough tolerance for most projects. It quickly becomes clear that the designers paid a ton of attention to detail with this model. The frame is largely built from electrically welded square tubing, which is more resistant to warping or twisting than its rounded counterparts.
This panel saw has a five-year warranty. It can be hard to find tools with a significant warranty, so we always like to point it out when you can, since it shows that the manufacturer is willing to stand behind the product. We could improve this model’s ranking if it came with the extensions required to cut 4x8s. Still, if you’re looking for a good saw that will cost far less than our top choice, this one fits the bill.
3. Saw Trax 1064 Full-Size Varsity Vertical Panel Saw
The Saw Trax 1064 Full-Size Varsity Package Panel Saw is a full-size panel saw, so you won’t need any expansion kits or other adapters to unlock its full capabilities. Its frame is ten feet long, and it can make crosscuts that are up to 64 inches long. It also includes a sealed bearing system. That has the dual benefit of ensuring that it runs more smoothly than other systems, improving accuracy, and keeping it that way for longer, since dust can’t get in and gum up the works. This saw, while heavy, is technically portable. It comes with wheels and folds up for transportation, so you can move it around if you want.
One of the things we really love about this machine is its huge emphasis on accuracy. While phrases like “accu-square alignment system,” sound like marketing fluff, this model lives up to those claims. Most users report that they’re always cutting square with this saw, which saves a ton of time and frustration. While the high price keeps it out of the top two, it’s not a bad choice if you have the money to spend.
4. SSCC4 CRL Safety Speed Cut Panel Saw
The SSCC4 – CRL Compact and Portable Safety Speed Cut Panel Saw may be the king of portable vertical panel saws. It has a small frame and comes with wheels, so you’ll be able to get it from place to place without any issues. It also has a very powerful 15-amp motor. With the right blade, you won’t have any problems cutting even the toughest materials with this panel saw. It features a quick-change in orientation, so you can go from crosscutting to ripping in seconds flat.
Unfortunately, it also has a very high price. It’s strange, given that this isn’t a full-size panel saw, and it doesn’t have the possibility of expansion to make it act like one. Nor does it include a robust dust-collection system like other machines at the same price point. Adding insult to injury, it doesn’t come with a blade included, which is something every other saw on our list has. For the price, it’s fair for you to expect more. While it will ultimately work well, it’s relatively poor value for the money, given that you can get the same value for far less with other models.
5. Safety Speed Cut H5 Vertical Panel Saw
If you’re looking for a bare-bones vertical panel saw, the Safety Speed Cut H5 Vertical Panel Saw could be right for you. It comes with a 15-amp motor, which will make short work of just about anything you put in front of it. This also has a full-size frame. It’s not quite as long as those found on other saws, but it’s long enough to give you great stability while cutting 4×8 panels. It features a quick-change between ripping and crosscutting, so you don’t have to waste a lot of time resetting your equipment.
However, it doesn’t come with a stand or wheels. Some users have traditionally leaned their vertical panel saws up against the wall, so if that’s your expectation, you’ll be happy with this model. But if you’re expecting something more portable or more secure, this saw doesn’t have what you need. It also doesn’t have any dust-collection equipment, so you’ll be stuck with a big cleanup project when you’re done. Overall, it’ll get the job done, but it’s not as satisfying as other choices on our list.
While it may seem inconsequential, frame size is very important when it comes to how satisfied people are with their vertical panel saws. If a panel saw isn’t wide enough, larger panels like 4x8s will start to warp, and that warping can lead to inaccuracy in your cuts. Inaccuracy can lead to bad fits or having to start over with a fresh piece of lumber, which wastes time and money.
To ensure that your wood isn’t warping, get a frame that’s at least 100 inches wide. That gives plenty of support for most common plywood sizes. If you want to save some money, you can get away with saws that are 80 inches wide in some circumstances.
However, be wary of compact types that are far narrower. Manufacturers often sell expansion kits for these models, knowing many users will like how they cut, but will find that the lack of support leads to inaccuracy. After spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on these expansion kits, you’re sometimes out more money than if you’d just started with a wide model, which makes for a bad deal.
If you’re going to be moving your panel saw from job site to job site, invest in a portable model. These machines often weigh hundreds of pounds, and their size can make them hard to carry.
The most useful feature for portability is wheels. If you know you’re going to be moving your panel saw, wheels will pay for themselves many times over. Investing in a model that folds down can save you a lot of time and make transportation far easier.
Keep in mind that not all saws that fold down do an excellent job of keeping things in alignment. If you’re looking for one that folds down, make sure it has a good reputation for accuracy as well.
Of course, panel saws are designed to work with large, and sometimes thick, pieces of lumber. You don’t want to spend all day cutting it, so you need a saw with plenty of power.
As a general rule, most vertical panel saws come with a 15-amp motor. It’s probably not a good idea to get one with a less powerful motor. That’s a sure sign that the manufacturer is trying to cut costs, and there’s a good chance you’ll find a lot of other problems in the rest of the machine given that attitude.
Of course, more power is always a good thing, but machines with more powerful motors are rare, and you may end up paying a premium in excess of the extra value added for that extra power.
Dust collection is another overlooked area when it comes to panel saws. If you’re going to be working primarily outside, it may not matter if you make a massive mess. However, if you’re planning to use your panel saw primarily indoors, get one with a robust dust collection system.
The best system on our list comes with dual four-inch dust collection ports, and that means you can get incredible dust collection efficiency with it. Some models have brushes around the blade, which keep your visibility high, but help funnel rogue dust back into the collection system. This minimizes the amount of cleanup you have to do. In the long run, that can save you lots of time and greatly increase your satisfaction with the panel saw.
Here are some other types of saws we have reviewed:
The Powermatic 1510007 511 Vertical Panel Saw is our favorite due to its stainless steel guide rods, dual four-inch dust ports, and nylon brush around the blade. The Milwaukee 6480-20 Complete Panel Saw System earns second place due to its good accuracy, electrically welded square tubing, and a five-year warranty, though it needs extensions to cut larger plywood. Still, its low price means that it’s the best value for the money here. The Saw Trax 1064 Full Size Varsity Package Panel Saw is a full-size panel saw with a sealed bearing system and great portability, but its high price hurts its value. The SSCC4 – CRL Compact and Portable Safety Speed Cut Panel Saw is compact and portable and has a powerful motor, but its high price and lack of an included blade cost it a few spots. The last place is taken by the Safety Speed Cut H5 Vertical Panel Saw. It has a powerful motor and a full-size frame, but it doesn’t have wheels or a stand, and lacks a dust collection system.
Vertical panel saws can be a big investment, but we hope that our reviews have given you the information you need to buy with confidence.
- A Breakdown of our Favorite Choices in 2020
- The 5 Best Vertical Panel Saws
- Buyer’s Guide