My shop is located in my basement with exterior access through a bulkhead stairway. Getting sheet stock down those steps is do-able but difficult.
Many a project I work on from cabinets to bookcases end up with me having to rip plywood sheet stock into 12″ or 24″ strips. On many of these projects instead of wrestling with a 3/4″ 4’x8′ sheet of plywood I used my lumberyards panel saw to rip the plywood sheet to a rough width.
What is a panel saw?
A panel saw is basically a circular saw mounted on a carriage that moves vertically on graphite-impregnated nylon roller bearings. The saw can also be turned 90 degrees and fixed to make horizontal cuts.
Panels can be loaded from either the left or right side and rolls through the saw carriage on a roller mechanism.
When properly calibrated a panel saw can have a cutting accuracy to within 1/32″ in either crosscutting or ripping directions. I still recommend you cut your sheet to a rough length and then trim it on your table saw.
Besides making the plywood lighter and easier to carry, cutting or ripping a sheet in half is a lot easier to transport. The next time your working on a project involving sheet stock consider cutting your plywood to more manageable sizes before leaving the lumberyard.
Track saws take up even less space than a panel saw and cost less too. To use one you simply line up the track with where you want to cut, and as long as the track is on the finish side of the work piece, the saw l runs along the edge of the track, resulting in a straight, clean cut.
Track saws are an excellent way for solo carpenters to break down 4×8 sheets of ply onto a table saw.