The philosophy behind our design
The design of our table saw is based on the general characteristics of professional european table saws including their exceptional safety properties. They are designed to be used with the operator standing at the left side of the machine. So much so that most controls are grouped there. Only in exceptional circumstances the operator will stand in front of the blade. Dado blades are not allowed in Europe and only some manufacturers offer special cutters to replace this feature.|
These machines generally show the following traits:
Sliding Table Saws were invented by Wilhem Altendorf in Berlin in 1906. The principle is based on firmly holding the material in a carriage that feeds the material past the blade easily, accurately and safely.
The Sliding Table is generally used for crosscutting. With an Outrigger Table (with Telescoping Arm support) is ideal for sizing sheet panels. They vary a lot in length to suit the user requirements and available space.
But a Sliding Table can be and is also used for ripping and machining a straight edge in rough workpieces as well.
There are special techniques and accessories to use the Sliding Table in many other tasks. Searching YouTube videos will reveal an amazing variety of these.
There are also some shop-made accessories that enhance safety and allow to make hitherto impossible tasks. An excellent example is the Fritz & Franz jig which is described separately in this web page.
Riving Knives must not be confused with Splitters. Riving Knives raise, lower and tilt along with the blade and maintain a very narrow gap (3mm) from the upcoming teeth of the blade at all times. This eliminates the kickback danger during ripping operations. Splitters are static and depending on the height of the blade can sometimes be very far away from the path of the raising teeth. They are useless when the blade is tilted and have to be removed.
European Blade Guards or Covers are friendly items usually kept installed at all times. Their dust pickup is designed to be connected to a Dust Collector on the outside of the saw frame.
Most european Rip Fences are designed to be adjustable lengthwise or short enough so that its far end is in line with the center of the blade. This is logical as once the workpiece reaches this point the actual cut is already finished. Any fence past this point is unnecessary and only adds a possible danger of trapping the workpiece.
Since the blade tilts to the right, european saws have Rip Fences that can be reversed 180° to provide a high or a low height. The latter being used to avoid a tilted blade to hit against the fence. It must be borne in mind that the existence and correct use of the Sliding Table replaces the dangerous cut of narrow workpieces with a tilted blade.
The availability of plywood and diverse materials with laminate covers made Scoring Blades very popular. These blades turn opposite to the main blade direction and are placed ahead making a pre-cut on the underside of the material. This cut avoids the laminate from splitting as it happens when cut without this accessory. However, they require a separate motor and a complete installation to raise and lower the blade.
Sliding Table Saws do not have a miter slot. The long crosscut guide is attached directly to the carriage. This fence has a very precise angle setting arrangement and an integral flip stop.
These, and many other details out of the scope of this article, have prompted notable woodworkers all over the world to choose these saws for their production shops. European manufacturers are now also offering smaller versions to entice home woodworkers to purchase a very fine quality machine with a size equivalent to that of the well known Cabinet Saw.
Of the FMT table saw design that we offer, it has to be said that it evolved over a period of around 20 years. The idea is to offer a machine that can be built by home or amateur woodworkers with essential but fairly common abilities as required for a careful and precise task.
As with all shop-built machines, some compromises are unavoidable. These are usually based on cost, skill and materials availability as well as occupying the space equivalent to that of a commercial cabinet saw. The design is intended to be built mainly out of 18mm first grade plywood, hardwood, some metal and commercial parts. Some of these can be replaced with shop-made equivalents. Metal work has been reduced to a minimum.
Therefore, some features had to be made optional or left out:
Of these, we believe that the Sliding Table could be made longer. Some users have requested this feature and there is a sketch available with preliminary details for a 1.5 meter long one. However, it must be stressed there is no experience with it and any experiment the builder carries out is under his own responsibility.
So this is, in a condensed way, a resume of both the origins and the resulting design we offer in this web page.
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