Table Saw Recommendation -

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Old 10-07-12, 06:03 AM
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Table Saw Recommendation -

I'm looking to buy a solid quality long lasting table saw. I'd like to spend around $400-$600 but would be willing to spend a little more if necessary. I'm in my 40s and only do hobbyist work, so I want to buy something that I'll have for the rest of my life.

I'm still looking at reviews and making some comparisons but I wanted to check in here and see what the "street smarts" are on this issue. Are there any "go to" favorite models?

Naturally, I want accuracy in addition to durability. I don't work with really large stock. Maybe build a dresser or something would be the largest item.

In particular, I'm seeing more of these "portable" models which are sometimes rated better than the stationary models for accuracy. I suppose I could build a more solid table to make the "portable" a stationary model if the price and accuracy make it worth it.

Finally, what about used table saws? I've been checking craigslist and want ads. Is it okay to buy a used table saw if I know the model/brand is a good one or is it too risky? Generally, do fences and other alignments stay true on a good saw or is there too much of a chance it will have been beaten up?
 
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Old 10-07-12, 09:07 AM
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I would definitely look at craigslist and get a good used saw. Be sure to take it for a test drive and check the fence.

A couple things you need to look at:

What available power do you have? Do you have 240 volts available in your shop, or only 120v? I have found that "contractor" type stationary saws run better on 240 volts then 120. (you can change the voltage for the motor) Portables will all be 120 volts while cabinet saws are mainly 240 volt or higher.

I have used cabinet saws, contractor saws, and portable saws. The contractor saw is my shop saw and it works well with a nice aluminum fence. As mentioned above, it runs better on 240 volts then 120. 120v it struggled through items like 2x lumber. I also have a cheep portable saw that I use on job sites just to do minor framing work and some trim work. The better portable saws out there are a good crossover between the contractor saw and a portable with better motors and fences, and as you found, are better rated.

Hands down you can't beat a cabinet saw for power and accuracy, however you will pay for it in money and lack of portability.

Also, don't discount cutting sheet goods. Most cabinets and furniture uses sheet goods for cost and stability.

Of course I suggest staying with a good brand (Delta, Grizzly, Powermatic, Jet, Rigid, etc) but even then make sure to look at all the features and controls to see if they are easy to make changes.
 
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Old 10-07-12, 11:09 AM
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What Tolyn said, in it's entirety. I have a portable saw, but most of them are direct drive and are ok for jobsites, but not in a shop environment, IMO. I have a Delta 5hp cabinet saw with a 6' run off table and a Jessem router embedded in the free end of the table. Like Charlton Heston......from my cold dead hands. I love that saw. My Craftsman, circa 1973 is in the barn waiting to be adopted.

With that said, you will be coming off the hip at about $1400 for a decent cabinet saw, but you can stand in line to thank us later.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 02:33 PM
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Tolyn/chandler

Thanks for the advice.

Well, as I said, I was looking to spend 500-600, so cabinet saws are way out of my price range. Contractor or portable.

I guess I'd do portable if they are actually more accurate. I could always sort of make a more permanent home with wings and everything for it.

I'm a little leerly of buying used table saws because I really don't know the brands. Seems there are a few craftsman saws available in my area, but I'm not keen on craftsman, especially newer stuff. I find it hard to judge the reputations of older tools.

Is there a special way to check the fence other than locking it in and checking it with a square?

The 240 suggestion is good advice if available. Even 2x gives you trouble with 120? But I can still do it with 120 if I go slower, right? By "sheet goods" you mean anything that comes in a sheet?

I didn't see Dewalt in your quick list of brands. Are they considered a good brand for table saws?

Any particular portable or contractor saws jump out as a good brand?

And finally, I wouldn't buy a saw just for this, but it would be nice if the saw could host a router table as well.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 03:10 PM
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I don't think you will find what you are looking for in the $500-$600 range. I have used a few of the portable saws and I find them to be substandard. As a hobbyist, one of the hybrid saws may be the most appropriate. I haven't looked them over too much, but they seem to be in the 1 1/2 hp range. I think you need to double your budget and maybe add a tad more to it. I think that will get you what you want. Top of my list for brand would be Saw Stop for their safety feature. Other than that, Jet, Powermatic, Delta, and even Grizzly may serve you well. Now that I took a peak, Grizzly has a hybrid saw for Just under $900 shipped with a 2hp motor. That will be way better than a portable saw.

You might be able to find a used cabinet saw for your budget. Check around online as to what is available. You will probably find Delta/Rockwell and Powermatic used saws the most common brands being offered in that category.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 03:21 PM
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I've got both the Dewalt 744X and the Bosch 4000. Both are nice saws when they are brand new. But use them every day for 10 years and they are really no longer "finish quality" saws, and it's time to replace them. (what I mean by that is that if you put on a finish blade you will get a bit of wobble- which produces some roughness in the cut... not like glass... but that's because once you use the saw a LOT, the motor just isn't as tight and square as it was when it was new.)

I think you would be happy with either of those saws, though. The Bosch gravity rise stand is awesome and worth every penny. Dewalt has a rolling stand too but I have never used it. No way it can be as sweet as Bosch's.

Makita 2703 is a nice saw that is lighter and a bit smaller than either of the 2 above. It's one of the saws that will fit in the Rousseau stand / outfeed extension wing which basically turns it into a portable cabinet saw. The Rousseau stand folds up nice and compact. A finish carpenter buddy of mine has one and loves it. But it, along with the saw would put you way over budget.

Can't speak for the Hitachi C10RA, but I assume it's comparable in size to the Makita, and that the saw itself is inferior to all the above.

All the above have direct drive motors (a glorified skilsaw mounted upside down inside a table)... and as such, they are all subject to wear on the motor mounts and the bearings. Because of that they will eventually wear with HEAVY use. And by "wear" I mean they eventually develop a little wobble and/or get out of parallel with the table/fence. Cutting with a dull blade will only accelerate their demise.

Delta makes a decent contractor saw but I would question the quality of their portable saws.

You could also check out Ridgid's contractor saw the next time ur in Home Depot... I think they are reasonably priced if you are looking for a saw that will be shop based ONLY. And Craftsman's contractor saws are just about as nice as Delta's IMO.

After using a 220V 3 HP SawStop professional cabinet saw at the shop at work, with a 8 ft x 16' laminated outfeed table it's hard to compare that to anything else... LOL

At your price range, ur looking at either a high quality portable saw or a low quality contractor saw. I'd also be leery of getting a used one.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 05:28 PM
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The biggest issue I have when running my saw on 120 volts is even if I go slow, the wood will twist and pinch the blade which will stall the motor. I have the Delta contractor saw with a T2 fence that I got from Lowe's for about the price range you mention, however, they do not carry that one anymore since it appears that Delta only makes cabinet saws now.

I did not intentionally leave out Dewalt (or Bosch, Makita) which seams to have some nice portables, but I think for your use, you will be better off with a contractor saw. I do not care for Craftsman power tools (or anything else they make with a motor). Back in the day they made good stuff, but now, it is all made by the lowest bidder. :thumbsdown: Grizzly is a lot of bang for the buck and Drooplug pointed out.

One I didn't mention is Porter Cable. I see Big Blue has one for about your price range that might be worth checking out. Appears to have good reviews, if you can trust them.

I think you best option is picking up a good used saw or saving a few more bucks. I bought a cheaper used Craftsman and that got replaced after about 6 years. I am happy with my saw now.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 05:44 PM
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My brother in law has an older 110V Delta with a Biesemeier fence, and its a real dog. I'm sure the saw would work great if it had any power. Can't beat 220V with a big motor saw.

That's one nice thing about the Bosch 4000/4100 that I didn't mention... according to their specs, "he tool features soft-start and Constant Response electronics for exceptional power management and constant speed under load."

For a portable saw, the Bosch gets my vote for 5 stars, while I'd give the Dewalt 744X 4 stars. The soft start and electronic load control is a big reason for that.
 
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Old 10-08-12, 05:49 PM
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I have converted nearly all my stationary tools to 240 volts. They don't run faster, they don't consume less wattage, they just spool up faster and stay that way throughout the cut. That's a feature Tolyn mentioned in his post, not dragging.
 
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Old 10-09-12, 05:20 PM
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One I didn't mention is Porter Cable. I see Big Blue has one for about your price range that might be worth checking out. Appears to have good reviews, if you can trust them.
Seems like that ever since Black and Decker sold Delta. they have been selling types of tools under the Porter-Cable name that have never been Porter-Cables. I was looking to buy a drill press a few months back. I couldn't quite make up my mind is to what I wanted. Plus I would have to order it and have it shipped freight. That made it difficult to receive because I needed to work. I came across a Porter Cable drill press at Lowes. I think it ran for $300 which is a low price for a floor standing version. I checked it out a few times and eventually took it home. I'm really happy with it so far. Seems to run true enough for the things I do. And it even has a laser!
 
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Old 10-10-12, 08:41 AM
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I've read all your posts, more than once and I really appreciate the advice.

Is it fair to say that "cabinet" saws hold true even after years of use? Or are they just as susceptible as contractor saws to motor wear causing imperfect cuts? The reason I ask is I'm looking at used (craigslist) saws.

That said, what older brand names should I consider when looking at USED cabinet saws?

Here's an Enlon, but I know nothing about the brand.
Contractor 10" Table Saw

Also what really qualifies as a cabinet saw over a contractor saw? I see the cabinet saws are larger with stock support, but for my purposes what defines them in terms of quality build? I mean, if I buy used, how do I judge?

Also, here's a contractor saw that might hold me over:
Rockwell 10" Contractor Saw

Still nervous about buying used, but for the price of this one I might be able to save for another time.

Thanks. You guys have given me a lot to look over and consider.
 
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Old 10-10-12, 02:26 PM
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Basically a cabinet saw will take 3 people to move it. They are quite heavy, and depending on the length of your run off table, unwieldy. They are stationary so they don't come with wheels. The motors seem to be a little more heavy duty than the standard Contractor's saw. For your price range, I would go with a good quality Contractor's saw, but not a direct drive saw. Stay away from them for shop use. Honestly, the prices you have seen, IMO, are a little high. If looking for used saws, they should be in the $200 max range. I am dropping pennies in a jar in order to replace a jobsite saw, and the one my eyes are on is the Ridgid on a gurney ($500). I can cut sheet goods on my Delta, since I have a wide table, and a run off table, but NEVER on a jobsite saw.
 
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Old 10-10-12, 05:01 PM
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You can get mobile bases for cabinet saws. Some are specific to the brand, most or universal fit. So if you need to move your saw around, you don't have to worry about that should you get a cabinet saw. Generally, cabinet saws are going to have a minimum of 3 hp. The bearings and machining should be a lot better than the little portables and better than a contractor saw. As far as holding true, that is all up to you. If you abuse your saw, then it will not hold true. But I wouldn't rule out that you will have to make adjustments from time to time to true things up again after regular use.
 
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Old 10-10-12, 05:17 PM
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By the way, you don't want a fence that looks like the ones in your link. They do not automatically make themselves parallel to the blade. You want one that is this style: Image Search Results for biesemeyer fence
 
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Old 10-11-12, 10:46 AM
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Hmm.. Well, I've read all the posts again and am feeling a little overwhelmed. Let me try this another way.

How about this Rigid?
10 in. 13-Amp Professional Table Saw-R4512 at The Home Depot

10" saw, seems to have the Biesemeyer fence with 13 amp for $499.

I believe this is a contractor saw. How long will a saw like this remain accurate or is it even all that accurate to begin with? 120 hours of use with a good blade? I'm just trying to wrap my head around the concepts here.

Thanks again for the help.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 03:43 PM
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Here's a cheap old delta I might just want to play with and get a feel for (looks like he lost the fence). Anyone know how old this is or the reputation of Delta's at that time?
Delta 10" Contractor's Saw Series 2000

Also, Lowes sells (new) a Steel City Table saw for about $925 (1.5hp).
Shop STEEL CITY 1.5-HP 10" Table Saw at Lowes.com

What makes this saw twice as expensive as Home Depots 10" Rigid saw for $499?
10 in. 13-Amp Professional Table Saw-R4512 at The Home Depot
 
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Old 10-11-12, 03:47 PM
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The Ridgid saw is an excellent one. It has a lifetime service warranty. Be sure to register it and keep your paperwork in a safe.

You are worrying about things that may or may not happen in 5 years of use. You can adjust the accuracy at any given point. 120 hours on a blade, maybe. You change blades when they get dull and don't cut well. I keep about ten 10" and ten 12" blades in rotation between my shop and the sharpener guy. He has 10 and I keep 10 of each at last count. But mine are in constant daily use.

So don't fret the small stuff. I make blade to fence checks every day. Takes only a minute.
 
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Old 10-11-12, 10:49 PM
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chandler/everyone,

I'm trying to gauge what you and the others are calling normal use. I might only do 2 or 3 projects a year. Build a club house or shed. Make some nice but not overly crafty furniture. Small wood working projects. Birdhouse. Utilitarian cabinets. Bookshelves. Interior walls. Fix it jobs around the house. Etc.

Guys like you are working on a whole other level. You're the real deal, I'm just playin around.

So when I hear the advice about these saws eventually losing their true edge because of motor wear I appreciate the advice. But considering a contractor saw like the Rigid, I'm asking how long before the SAW ceases from making true cuts. A few years? Or does a saw of this category never really make true cuts in the first place?

I'm sorry, I don't mean to drag out this thread so long. I appreciate your patience with me.
 
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Old 10-12-12, 03:31 AM
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I'm just playin around
You're not Playin around. You are serious with your work, just like we are. It's just we do it all day long. Don't downplay it. Believe me, I don't know what you have heard about the saw losing it's trueness in cut, but for what you will be doing, you will wear out before the saw will. Every machine can need adjusting, but it is built in, so you won't have a worry there. By having offset belt driven blades, the motor is not part of the "trueness" equation, as it would be on a direct drive unit.
 
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Old 10-12-12, 06:51 AM
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I agree with Larry, and if I needed a larger shop based saw and only had a $500 budget, the Ridgid saw you linked to would definitely be my first choice. I've had my eye on it for years. The fence on it slides and locks down nicely.
 
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Old 10-12-12, 04:59 PM
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Well, I'm still thinking about it, but I appreciate all the advice and will refer back to this thread as a resource.

Thanks everyone for the advice and time. Truly appreciate it!

 
 

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