When you’re the curriculum coordinator for a school district with more than 100,000 students, and are in charge of a very active technical education program covering more than 10 high schools, you’ve got a lot to consider when you’re preparing young people for a career in the trade. One challenge David Reynolds faced recently was how to make sure the wood tech programs he oversees in the Cypruss Fairbanks Independent School District are as safe as possible, while at the same time maximizing space in sometimes cramped wood tech labs.
“We wanted to find a saw for our wood tech teachers and students that was both extremely safe and would take up less space than a table saw,” says Reynolds, whose official title is Curriculum Coordinator/Agricultural Science and Industrial Technology in the Houston area school district. What Reynolds and his staff chose for a saw was the Safety Speed Cut SR5U vertical panel saw. The SR5U is an upgrade from the SR5. It features a heavier worm gear saw and a 3-1/2 horsepower router that can be interchanged in less than a minute. The SR5U includes machined aluminum material rollers, and an enclosed counterweight. It’s also equipped with a MID- WAY FENCE™ system which makes the processing of small panels more efficient. Standard equipment includes a 10-foot welded frame and a quick-change feature from vertical to horizontal cutting. Maximum crosscut is 62 inches (1575mm). Maximum rip cut is unlimited. Maximum cut thickness is 1-3/4 inches (44mm). Shipping weight is 550 lbs.
“The router feature is great,” says Reynolds. “And because it’s a vertical saw that takes up less space and is easy to set up, it’s more hands-on, because more students get to use it during the class period. The saw gets used a lot.”
Safety Is Important
Another advantage of the SR5U, Reynolds says, is the safety aspect because the vertical saw does not require an out-feed table, as is the case with most horizontal saws. “Anything we can do to make the shop as safe as possible is our main goal,” says Reynolds, who has 15 years experience as a vocational education teacher. “We have two Safety Speed Cut saws in each of our 10 high schools with cabinet and millwork programs, and we’re always looking for ways to maximize space and optimize safety.
“We cut a lot of plywood in the wood tech labs and we needed a saw that was efficient in terms of saving material,” Reynolds says. “We have an average of 150 students enrolled in each wood tech program, so that translates to 1,500 students who have contact each day with the saws. Our teachers and our students are excited about having this saw to use on a daily basis. Plus, the school district is saving money on material, which is critical in a school district our size. Glen Tice, a Technology Systems
“This Safety Speed Cut saw is very easy to use and is reliable,” says Tice. “I’m not worried about students using this saw to cut their wood and make true cuts.” Another district wood tech instructor, David Berry, who teaches wood tech at Cypruss Wood High School, echoes Tice. “The Safety Speed Cut panel saw has saved so much time ripping plywood,” says Berry. “It is also easier to use because I can cut plywood without the aid of several students. It is great.” And, Richard Hight, who teaches at Jersey Village HighSchool in the district, says: “My Safety Speed Cut panel saw and router has met all my expectations for safety and accuracy. Students, no matter what size and skill level, can make accurate rip and crosscuts very safely. This has also expanded our ability to incorporate dado and rabbit joints into their cabinet making.
Reynolds also says he is encouraged that vocational education is “coming back” in his area. “We’re working to make sure the state does not take ‘wood’ out of our curricula,” he says. “It’s very important that we do the best we can to make sure industry has the resources, in terms of entry level people, to fill critical jobs.” And, he says, having the best equipment to teach with is critical.
“We feel the Safety Speed Cut saws that we’ve placed in our schools provide a technically advanced and safe piece of equipment to prepare our students for life beyond their school experience.”
As published at Woodworkingnetwork.com