This is part 1 of my review. Why part one? Because when you order this saw, they order it from the factory in Bulgaria, it gets built, shipped in a container in a ship, through customs, to Southern California, to the buyer... 2-3 month lead-time. They usually will take a deposit on the order, with the balance before delivery. I opt'ed to save and put away the amount- and paid all upfront.
There are exceptions on that lead-time. Sometimes they order in some extra saws for the Show season... To demo at the shows. To sell from the shows. Those show demo saw's, I guess get discounted... Or what happened to me- Someone had ordered a saw and they told me, "He wasn't ready for delivery."
...So I was called for early delivery of the saw, with the balance of my order arriving here and there between 3 weeks to (now) 2 months... Was 3, but now a month since the original order. ...still in that container on it's journey.
So there is a unique thing going on because of this staggered delivery of what I ordered as a package. I don't think it is fair to say that is a bad thing, as I do have the saw here right? It is usable. There was a few things that were shipping related, but at no fault of Laguna and the people at Laguna have been working with me to make those things right.
This saw is my new favorite. I needed a saw that I could retire on. A saw that had all the features I wanted, the accuracy and capabilities that I outgrew in my other saws, but not the price tag of a Felder or Altendorf.
I am American. I've used European Panel Saw's, American Cabinet Saws, Shop Saws... Before, personally, I tried to tune and modify my shop saws to be accurate and try to give me the capabilities of much more expensive saws. I dreamed of owning a European sliding table panel saw... but they are expensive, require special blades, and require a lot of space (10' tables). Then I saw the Laguna TSS...
It exceeds my expectations in what it is. It is not a Felder or Altendorf. It would not be fair to compare it to them, as they are 2-4 times more expensive. In the same light, it's not fair to compare a Delta, Powermatic or Grizzly Cabinet Saw to the TSS.
This saw is highly accurate for rip or crosscuts. It is stable, quiet and and is easy to make accurate repeatable cuts. The 4.5 hp motor I ordered is well suited for what I do... I fact, the 3.0 HP might have been just fine. Then again. it does weight around 1100 pounds. It's not going anywhere on it's own. I'm thinking I can use my 10" dado's with no drag at all.
This saw was made to use both 10" and 12" blades. I've been using it with 12" blades. The arbor size for the main blade is 5/8". When using a 12" blade, you just use a 1" to 5/8" or 30mm to 5/8" bushing/reducer. In fact, you can use 250mm to 305mm panel blades... Only consideration for that is, if your change blade diameter, reset the settings on the riving knife.
The split scoring blade size for it is fairly popular. It is the same as for a SCM-- 120mm x 20mm arbor, 2x12T. Split scoring blades themselves are spendee as blades go, but that size is average for them. Not going to find budget or economy lines of these. I am looking into a dial-in type adjustable width scoring blade set. Laguna tech's for some reason told me that the largest main blade you can use with the scoring blade is 10"... I don't know if things have changed with my serial numbered saw, but I can tell you that 12" blades and the 120mm scoring blade set mount and work fine together. Plenty of run between them.
The sliding table is a dream. It slides like silk. I did change where the front and rear slide stops were. It gave it a bit more capacity and more access to the blades. The right side of the table goes to the blade. Not like sliding table add-on's where the edge of the table is still 15" from the blade.
I'm not saying "everything" is good about this saw... But I am blatantly honest, tempered through being a bit spoiled by using higher dollar saws that I could never afford personally, but still personally driven to be able to do want I want to do, etc. I have outgrown cabinet saws.
During my research on this saw, I was lead to believe that the TSS was a TS with a sliding table. Meaning that the left-side table was removed and the sliding table put in it's place. Then a cutout throat plate installed. That is how one of their videos showed it, right? Well, that must have changed since that video. The right-side table is now "different" than the TS. The TSS right side table is smooth without a miter slot. You know, I asked my rep about that way back when... Had even asked him about how much a TS left side table half was... This was a surprise to me now, but I am resigned now to be over that.
The sliding table has 2 slots on the top of it, but I don't know if you can really consider them as miter slots. I'm figuring I can use 1-1/4"x1/4" flat bar stock for t-nuts in these slots. The top of those slots are 15.5mm. That's smaller than 5/8"... What do I do with those expensive highly accurate miter gauges with their 3/4" miter bars? Then again, a sliding table with a miter fence replaces that right?
The miter fence... Some where along the way, ZMM "Stomana" JSC replaced the miter fence extrusion with a thicker/bigger extrusion. This might have been a good thing. When they did, they changed the provided stop to a flip-stop and changed the way work sit's against the fence. The old way, there was a t-nut in the face of the extrusion, with a sacrificial piece of wood screwed to. This wood was the same thickness as the face of the fence stop. The sacrificial piece then extended right, even with the blade. Line the cut mark with the end of the sacrificial piece, that is where is would be cut... That also provided zero clearance backing to prevent tear-out. I ordered parts so I can do that old style method and have zero clearance support. That just makes sense to me-- my personal bias.
The miter gauge of the miter fence is only graduated every 5 degrees. The pivot and miter locking mechanism is only inches away from each other for a 48" fence. I knew this going in. I talked with other TSS owners beforehand. They all recommended buying buying an accessory called a "positive stop miter table" that made that all more usable and more accurate... I ordered it. That is one of the items in the shipping container.
The rip fence and rails- It is accurate. It does have a fine-adjust for bringing the fence in. If the fence is off, it's not an easy adjustment to tune in. There is not adjustment on the arm, it's done all by the fence guide bar. They do have a kit for around $1000 for a Rip Fence Digital Display (ouch)... A Wixey digital fence system is not going to work on it without being highly modified. Everything is solid and heavy. The fence guide rail probably weighs in around 80 pounds, solid round steel bar. The fence fits on it by sliding on or off an end of the rail. The main part of the fence weights in more than the rail, solid cast iron. With the weight alone, this rip fence does not slide easily. I'm thinking I really need to do something about that... by either polishing all the parts (rial and fence where it contacts the rail) or by adding uvhp bushings under the fence. The fence extrusion is European styled, like the Felder, Altendorf, Delta Unifence.
Once you get used to it, it is handy. I'm used to a fence where I can put a sacrificial face or be able to hang jigs on... This is not one of those kinds of extrusions.
Use of accessory aluminum extrusions as a fence-- Well, that may be a problem there. The mechanism for the slot is centered about 1-1/2 inches up. I think that Charles told me his Unifence was these measurements. I need to confirm that with him now that I have this here. I'm thinking for the rip fence, since it is "like" the Unifence, that the extrusion part of this might work: Uni-T-Fence - Delta
For the sliding table miter fence, time will tell. I have to wait until the "positive stop miter table" gets here to see. The pivot and lock changes with that table attachment. Also by that time, the 24" miter fence I ordered is also in that container.
They did send out the 24" fence extension. It does extend the fence out, but it is sort of curious. You'd have to know something about sliding tables and their fences. You can mount the fence at any part of the sliding table. If I am handling sheets, I mount the fence to the rear of the table. Just better support for something heavy and big. When I'm doing crosscuts and making a lot of changes, I mount the fence in front. When I'm doing miters and crosscuts on something that it medium with, I generally mount the fence somewhere in the middle. If I'm edging or glue edging, I'll use the rip support at the rear with the rip fence.
So here we go... I understand that this saw is not an Altendorf. It's not fair to try to compare it to that, but I am trying to use the same methods and techniques on the TSS that I would on similar types of European sliding saws... Those other saws come standard with all the bells and whistles... but you also pay for all that up front.
Out of the box, standard options... It comes with a 48" crosscut fence, one fence flip-stop, on a 14" wide sliding table. The miter gauge part of this I already described. The manual has assembly instructions that will get the saw together... but not how to zero it in. It says to mount the fence in the front, but the instructions were meant for an earlier model of the saw. The manual on the site, is not current. Laguna directed me (previous to buying the saw) to what was the latest version... The saw that arrived had some minor differences from that latest version... oen of those minor differences was that the fence zero stop now is not static and does not move down the table... Where it the fence now does not mount where the manual says it should.
Next, the saw needs more than that to perform as other sliding table saws. It needs more of those options that those other saws have, to do those same jobs. The major issues are work support, fence support, miter accuracy. I did a lot of homework on this before I bought the saw, so I wasn't surprised by this. I ordered those extra options. Each one has it's price, but going the way I did is still much cheaper then the alternates.
One of those options was that 24" fence extension. Like me explain what that should do. It should extend the support of work beyond the length of a fence. It should also support that work out as far as you have that extension, by little material support wings. I was surprised to find that the material support wings on this extension only on one side of the extension. This means that it will only work if you have the fence to the front, with the work behind the fence. I guess I can remove the wings and fabricate my own plate to replace it... So that it can support work in front of or to the rear of the fence.
Other work support comes from the accessory tables. The clip on table add material support out the side of the table. It's easy to install and easy to move anywhere along the length of the sliding table, as it mounts in a slot that is along the side of the sliding table.
Since the table has 2 slots on top, you can put the miter gauge of the fence in either slot.
I don't like the design of the overhead crown. (personal preference) I don't know what they were thinking. The mounting bolt that holds it to the riving knife is on the same side as the miter fence. That means either putting the blade all the way up or pulling the fence away from the blade-- for the fence to clear that mounting bolt. I think I'll replace it with an overhead suspended crown.
The riving knife... Well, I already have drawings made for a few new ones. It was made to mount the Italian made overhead crown... So when you adjust it to the contour of the blade, back where the crown mount is is higher than the blade. So it I do an undercut, then I besides just taking off the crown, I also would need to re-adjust the riving knife. One design I came up with is below the top of the blade and still allows mounting the overhead crown. The other design is more like the Altendorf and other European saws, but would require a suspended overhead crown.
The blades from Laguna, precision and quality. Lots of carbide there, which since I do re-sharpening, I see that there is plenty of meat to do a lot of resharpenings. They are well balanced and true. Heavy plates. Reliefs plugged with copper. Very nice quality cuts (understatement). Price on these are well over $100, but well worth it. Like I said, I really like these blades. Next week I have to do 3' compound miter cuts in hardwood... we'll see.
Great value for the dollar. I still think it is well worth every penny I spent on this. By all means, it's by no means inexpensive. Some say you get what you pay for... In this case you get more. Although I feel it is a value for it's quality, this was a lifetime investment for me, that I had to scrimp, save and do without other things, to be able to afford. I researched it for a long and hard to make "sure." It's reality did not let me down. The base price for this saw was under $6000. With all the bells and whistles I ordered with this saw, tax and shipping... just under $8000.
Compared to traditional Cabinet Saws... The TSS would prevail in all categories. But that is an unfair comparison. Although the TSS can do anything other European saws can do, that would make this an economy version of those(?) But the story is not complete yet until that container hits our shores and my other accessories make it here. But as far as the saw itself- It is a treat and true pleasure working with this saw. I've found something that truly saves me work. I don't have to do anything extra to get something to look like quality. I don't have to anticipate having to rework my cuts. The quality tooling is there, it is easy to use and it is dependably accurate.
Part 2 will be after all the accessories get here:
- Positive stop table.
- 24 inch extendable fence
- 48 inch extendable fence
- Fence stops and thrust bushings.
- Large table and swing arm.
- Mobility kit.