Choosing a new tool: Spiral or Table saw?? !!


Old 03-18-03, 12:39 AM
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Question Choosing a new tool: Spiral or Table saw?? !!

I can hardly believe I am asking this, but ... I am trying to determine which is the more appropriate tool to purchase for my home use. Strangely, I am trying to decide between a table saw and a spiral saw! OK. stop laughing now!

I am doing renovations in my home. I am building a cupboard/shelving/drawer unit in my hallway under the stairs to the new attic loft. (A beautiful design of which I am quite proud.) My circular saw has died, and I realize that I must buy a new tool. My budget is severely limited.

Aside from the drastic difference in their sizes, they are actually quite comparable in price (but I expect I can find a much less expensive spiral saw). I realize the spiral saw is a controversial choice and has a slower learning curve, but ...

I am not a big person, and mostly I will be building things like built-in shelving units, etc.. I already have a power stapler/brad nailer, a jigsaw, a drill press, and a reversible drill.

In general, really big cuts can be made at the point-of-purchase (one of the main reasons to want a table saw). Any extended straight cuts I need to do can be done with the jig saw and a jig. I can also cut angles with the jig saw.

The spiral saw has the advantage of being able to do small routing jobs that will assist in the creation of drawers and such (by cutting small dadoes for the bottom or insets for shelves or drawer slides). This tool is small and easily maneuverable. I can create jigs and fences for extended straight cuts (but will use the jig saw). It has a circle cutter, a router attachment with variable depth, a flexible extension, and a light. I think I can set angles, but I may be wrong about this.

The table saw is huge. It can cut large and small things with great precision. I can buy special blades for things like dadoes (although they are quite expensive). I can cut angles and set the depth on the blade. I can only cut straight rips. I cannot router. There is one on sale this week at Canadian Tire, with stand and extension arms for $200 CNDN.

Ok, I guess its really the router that appeals to me -- I figure I will have more luck learning to handle this little router than a big one.

Right now I am feeling a little crazy that I should be comparing these two tools, but my analysis seems reasonable to me. Of course, my reads have also confused me with the dremel, but I don't think this is a tool I need (it seems to be for fine details). In fact, I am leaning toward the spiral saw. (Input on which one to get would be nice!)

Please, am I missing something incredibly obvious here? What do the rest of you think? I'm open to suggestions.

Oh yes, for all of you on the "I hate this thing" side of the discussion -- anyone want to sell me theirs for cheap? Then I can just buy both!

Thanx all,

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Old 03-18-03, 08:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
You can always justify your decision. I don't consider any table saw that costs $200 to be of any consequence.

Where do I ship the roto-zip?
Old 03-18-03, 10:01 PM
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Location: Manitoba
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I agree that you sound as if you have talked yourself into a roto-zip.
The projects that you describe though are not ones that would be done with a spiral tool. It is the wrong tool for the job.
The table saw as you suspect is the tool that is better suited for what you want to do.
Having said that , it is also a dangerous tool and can be very hard on the digits if not used properly.
My suggestion would be to get a tablesaw for maybe a little more than $200.00, acompanied by some instruction.

Also, I wouldn't totally rule out the inexpensive tablesaw.
I own a Skil that I paid $159.00 for. It is one of the lowest quality tools I have seen, but only use it to throw in my truck for a job where I will be cutting the occasional piece of trim. I have owned it for about six years and it's more than paid for itself.
Old 03-19-03, 03:30 AM
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Lightbulb Input appreciated

Hey guys:

Thank you for the input.

Greg, I don't plan on making the big cuts with the zip -- like I said, I think I really like the specialty things: the circle cutter, the router, etc. The budget can't support a higher end table saw.

I am going to go check at the used tool store that was recommended to me and look into circular saws and routers. My primary concern right this minute is getting the drawers built so I can move my clothes into the new closet, the furniture it is now in out of my new office, my bedroom up to the new loft (furniture also in the new office), and my desk and computer into the new (and now empty) office! This means I need to focus on the variable depth cutting.

Did you ever hear the saying that you should never buy a new ashtray?

I am, however, still open to suggestions and donations!

Old 03-20-03, 11:47 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 16,906
My .02 cents: I liked the roto-zip tools until I tried to use one. I have no use for one. They are hard to control, you cannot use it to make your drawers if you care about straigt edges and fit and finish. I think the only thing a roto-zip is good for is drywall. It will not make even a half decent router either.

A cheaper tablesaw is much better than no table saw. If I had to choose just one saw, I would choose a table saw over any other saw.
Old 03-21-03, 09:39 AM
txdiyguy's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 249
A while back, I sold my large contractor's model table saw and replaced it with a compact Ryobi bench model saw. I really like how easy it is to haul around. I got a 10" model because I had a number of high quality 10" blades for various applications. I had gotten to where I never ripped sheet goods (plywood, paneling, OSB, etc.) on the table saw because I found it easier to make a platform (or table) with my sawhorses (by connecting two sawhorses with two scrap 1x4's) and then clamping a straightedge and using a circular saw. I mainly use my Roto-zip for drywall and for routing out for door latches and deadbolts. If I had to choose just one saw, I'm sure I would pick a circular saw. And it would be a sidewinder with as much magnesium components as possible. I have a worm drive that will wear you out from its weight.

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