November 02 2017

Zapkut ZM from Sagetech – The Saw You Can’t Afford NOT to Use!

By Peter Brett

We have all heard stories of how investment in expensive tools is so great that you can’t afford to have any downtime on them. Well, how about a British designed and made vertical panel saw that is accurate, easy to use and is reasonably priced – so reasonably priced in fact, that small workshops can afford to buy one and find a place for it in the premises.

The saw I am talking about is the Zapkut ZM series from British company, Sagetech Machinery, a company with many years’ experience making vertical panel saws for many types of users.

The ZM series comes in two sizes – the ZM12 and the ZM16. The difference is that the ZM 12 will take sheets of material of 2500x1250mm while the ZM 16 will take a full 3100x1600mm sheet. Both saws have a 32mm depth of cut so will easily handle the standard 18-20mm thick sheet of manmade material.

What I liked about the ZM12 when I tried it was the absolute simplicity of use. On the cleverly designed, rotatable sawhead (needed for vertical and horizontal cutting) is mounted a standard Festool plunge saw, which is included with the machine. This can be connected to Sagetech’s optional excellent dust collection vacuum, so this ticks the important H&S dust safety box. Since the saws can also be tilted for mitre cuts, accurate bevel cuts come as standard with the Zapkut ZM.

So how – when we are told that British manufacturing industry can’t compete – does Sagetech Machinery produce a saw that retails at under £5,000 that has almost pinpoint accuracy every time? The answer seems to lie in clever design, maximum use of standard components and precision laser cutting and welding.

Each saw starts its life in a modern factory near Worcester where precision laser cut components are cut and shaped. Again by using lasers to produce the components, the all important top and bottom beams of the saw are accurately placed and then the rest of the framework holds them into a well-braced whole that does not move – I tried it – it is rigid!

The all important bearings and runners are off the shelf components – obviously cheaper to obtain and replace if necessary. You might also notice that the things like the sacrificial bearers are made from strips of MDF and the stops are made of steel strips with MDF sections that are simply screwed into place. This arrangement makes it easy for end users to replace worn out pieces themselves, adding to the cost effectiveness of the whole package.

With barely five minutes of explanation and a limited experience of using vertical panel saws, I was able to get a perfect right angle cut on a piece of 18mm thick MDF board safely and easily. Because operating the saw is a two handed operation, fingers are kept well away from any dangerous bits and there was no discernible dust in the air. As usual, it took longer to load and align the sheet than it did to do the cut.

The target market? I think that any “small user” cutting between 10 to 30 sheets a week would soon recoup their investment with the greater accuracy and speed that it would bring to production. Since wall saws take up very little space and are actually much safer and more accurate than using a table saw to cut sheet materials, it seems to me a bit of a no brainer to give the Zapkut range a look. It could be a very wise decision indeed.