Good Choice of Table Saw for very casual home use ??

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I am not a carpenter or even a handyman. The only kind of saw I have owned for 25 years is a skill saw. Even with very casual use, I am still not good at using a skill saw to cut a straight edge on a piece of plywood or a 2 x 4 !!
Perhaps several times a year, I will have a need to cut 2 x 4's , some trim pieces , and perhaps some plywood. Because I am not really skilled at using a skill saw, I have thought of getting a bare bones, but quality table saw. Again, I just need something that will allow me to cut boards and trim pieces and end up with a straight cut. It doesn't have to be very high powered, or have a lot of fancy adjustments. I guess just an adjustable fence (isn't that what they call it........ the piece you move left and right, and put your stock up against for cutting?) and I guess something that adjusts the depth of a cut. I don't think I would need any angle cutting, such as a miter saw is used for.
So, what is a recommended brand, and/or a particular saw not exceeding $150 ? Can I get a quality one for that price ??
I am thinking of looking at Sears and Home Depot, but wanted to get comments here first.
Thanks for any advice !!
James
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James wrote:

I think your price range is low for a decent unit. A Ryobi *might* be passable as some of their other products are. For my occasional table saw needs I have a Bosch (branded) TS4000? contractors saw that has been very good. I recall it being closer to $400 though.
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Not sure of the price but have always ahd good luck with Craftsmen
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jim wrote:

Going through a similar mental exercise (Plus some hands-on experimenting, visiting my father's place where all needed tools are available), and came to the following conclusions: 1. The low end table saws with the tiny tables are useless for ripping plywood and panels more than a couple feet on a side, unless you rig all sorts of tall sawhorses, and/or have a helper available. And unless you have a walkout basement, barn, or extra bay in the garage, they are pain in the ass to store and set up. Surprisingly easy to get them out of adjustment if they get moved around a lot.
2. A cheap power miter saw beats the heck out of a table saw for trim miters and cutting 2x4s square for framing projects. (I can't freehand square cuts any more either.) And they are easy to move around, especially if you spring for a fold-up stand.
3. For once-in-a-blue-moon panel ripping, several solid sawhorses, and 4 carefully placed 2x4s, plus a metal rip guide (a long straight piece of metal channel) and some clamps, will let you rip panels with a skilsaw about as well as a tiny table saw will. Just slide the saw up the rip guide, and the cut is straight. I wouldn't use something like that for production work, because it takes too long to set up each cut, but if you are only cutting a few boards a year, it works. Once you learn the right offset for your skilsaw/blade combination, setting the fence to the right offset on the raw material doesn't take long. One strong clamp at each end, and a stiff enough fence, and the cut is straight enough for anything short of fine cabinetry. Laying out the loose 2x4s properly under the work piece keeps the cut from binding up, or the wood from splintering at the end. (and keeps you from cutting into the sawhorses.)
Anyway, once weather warms up, and I get off my ass and actually start on my long-postponed projects here, that is the approach I plan to take. Already have the miter saw, and a half-ass skilsaw (which may need replacing, since bearings are a tad sloppy.) So all I need is some better sawhorses, and some2x4s and a piece of metal channel. I think I have enough clamps laying around....
-- aem sends...
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aemeijers wrote:

You can build a bigger table around it and build extensions.

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Van Chocstraw
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Van Chocstraw wrote:

(snip)
And >> unless you have a walkout basement, barn, or extra bay in the garage, >> they are pain in the ass to store and set up. Surprisingly easy to >> get them out of adjustment if they get moved around a lot.
Yes, I know all that. And if I had a good space to build all that and leave it set up, I would. Idiot previous owner, when he added a two-car garage and abandoned the original one-car in the basement, filled in the wall where the old door was, and filled in front yard. If he had put in a 3-0 steel door and left a walkway, it would make a great place for a walkout woodshop. But the way it is now, I can't even get 4x8 plywood down there (tight turns in kitchen and down narrow stairs, etc.) For the few things I will ever do around here, just not worth it- wait for warm weather, park the cars in driveway, and set up camp in the garage. With the amount of snow around here, leaving the cars outside all winter is not an option.
-- aem sends...
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You may wish to consider a 10 or 12" miter saw. They take up far less space and handle most of the home cutting needs I've come across. The 12" ones will do most framing lumber. I have this one and it works fine:
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber194
If you plan to rip any wood, you'd still need a table saw. That was the only advantage a good radial arm saw with a head that turns a full 90 degrees has...
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Robert Neville wrote: ...

Au contraire, good buddy... :)
The RAS is also the perfect tool for cross-cutting long material that is otherwise a pita for the tablesaw...fitted w/ a long table and rollers, it is the cat's meow for the sizing of large stock prior to next step...
It does, of course, imply one has the resources in both money and space to dedicate to it... :)
If I had to eliminate one or the other, it would be a hard choice at this point. It would help in that decision if one had a specific dedication to a type of work as, say, a cabinet shop or specialty furniture of some variety that would favor a given size/type of material. As a general-purpose do everything and anything as it comes up, having the flexibility is something I'd hate to do without.
So, in the end, "different strokes..." :)
ymmv, $0.02, etc., etc., etc., ...
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My stroke, if I have the choice available, is to use table saw for rips. I like the better full length visibility of the lumber piece while ripping while usng a table saw. My opinion, the lumber piece tends to more likely "walk" vertically with a radial arm saw when ripping. Many table saws already provide vertical stops, anti-reversal fingers, for rips. More control of the material with a table saw for ripping purposes. The depth of blade exposed for table saw is minimal vs full exposure for a radial arm saw. Rather than a "stroke", seems like a more logical choice for rips.
--
Dave



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Dioclese wrote: ...

Depends on the size of the material and the setup available.
I have the RAS in a 20-ft+ table that exceeds the size of the TS outfeed table so for large pieces (and specifically full-size ply sheets that was the starting point for this thread) it is much more stable and easier to control on the RAS than the TS.
As for the blade, the guard is rotated to meet the surface of the stock in front which completely covers it from the feed side and the movable guards drop in the rear which protect from the inadvertent side although there's no reason to ever be there during the cut anyway. I keep a permanent pusher where it's convenient to hand for the finish of the cut to pass it by the blade if the width is narrow enough to be a problem.
Again, it's more to do w/ the arrangement of the facilities than the tool itself...
--
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If I were wondering like the original poster, at this point, you reverse sold me. There is no "depends on the setup" for rips for common plywood. There is no limitation on table length in RAS vs table saw. The guard on a RAS, like a hand-held circular saw meets the lumber after its been sawn, not before. Most remove that guard for obvious reasons regarding a rip cut.
--
Dave



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Dioclese wrote: ...

This subthread has absolutely nothing really to do w/ the original thread. I told the OP to go w/ the circular saw and a straight edge for the initial cut-to-size and then a small TS _might_ be of some use.
The limitation is the setup for any individual shop. I have 20+ ft for the RAS, but _by_choice_ not nearly as long an outfeed table on the TS. Hence, the setup is much better.
As for the guard, you're simply wrong. The guard on the RAS for ripping is rotated down until it touches the fed material on the infeed side--it is a complete blockage against getting into the blade from the feed direction as it functions to hold the material down as well as the blade guard. Meanwhile, in the rear, the movable portions of the guard on either side drop down and also ride on the material. This is not the same orientation as in crosscutting.
You can protest or disagree or whatever else you care to do; I'm done.
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aemeijers wrote:

Andy writes:
The above is the best advice I have read on the subject.....
If you buy more than you need, you waste money.....
... AND you can use a couple 2 X 4s and a sheet of OSB to accommodate damn near anything you need to rip, tear, or cut off....
A portable, inexpensive, SKILL saw is all you seem to need for your widely spaced applications.... and a little effort to figure out how to use it for your task....
ON THE OTHER HAND, I picked up a radial arm saw at a garage sale 15 years ago for about $130..... I love it.... I DON'T need it.... ... but it is damn handy....... and I ain't givin' it back !!!!!
Sometimes you buy more than you need just because you WANT IT !!!!
Andy in Eureka, Texas
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AndyS wrote:

The same argument applies to guns. I often hear or read the comment "No one needs 259 guns..." I try to respond: "NEED is not the operative word - WANT is all that should count."
I recall talking to a customer in Massachusetts who was appalled that someone in her town was discovered with over 2,000 guns stored in his house! The newspaper article said his newest gun was manufactured in the 1880s.
"Oh, a collector," said I. "Yeah, but nobody, not even a collector, needs 2,000 guns!" responded my customer. "I agree. A stamp collector should be content with one large stamp, one small stamp, a red stamp, and a blue stamp." "IT'S NOT THE SAME THING!" she almost screamed. "Carol," I said, "it's exactly the same thing."
But, of course, this was Massachusetts.
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On Sun, 8 Feb 2009 12:35:13 -0600, HeyBub wrote:

And home of Ted Kennedy, a murderer in congress, who takes his phone off the hook so people can't call in to complain about his stupidity and still gets reelected.
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aemeijers wrote:

If your project needs smaller parts, this is where the big boxes are good in they all have panel saws so you can have them rough cut your material into sizes that are much more manageable for finish cuts on a small contractor type saw. Often a simple cut in half to 4x4 pieces is enough to do the job.

Yes, though you can do them on the table saw, while you can't do TS tasks on a miter saw, so if you are space / budge limits the TS should come first.

For the jobs where measurements are tight and I don't trust the big box to get close enough with their panel saw I will put the sheet of material on my 4x6 work table and do the rip guide thing myself, supporting the overhang as appropriate.

Building a panel saw is a good project :)
With an upright panel saw you can actually sandwich a vertical stock rack between the panel saw and the wall if you leave clearance to one side to get stuff in and out.
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wrote:

I second that if you can find a good used one that was the old Craftsman Who knows what is under that label now. I have a 40 year old Craftsman that just won't die. I have cut all sorts of stuff on it over the years. If you tune it up it will still do cabinet quality work.
I bet you can get one for under $100 used.
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I have older Craftsman tools such as a router, circle saw, belt sander, and air compressor. All (over 30 years old) still work fine except I had to replace all the plastic parts (pressure release valve etc) on the compressor using standard pipe fittings..
I have a Makita table saw and I have been using it regularly for over 30 years. The only problem I've had is the height adjustment gets stuck and needs to be lubricated. As an option you can get extensions for the sides that are simply bars that attach underneath the table. I made one into a 48" extension using plywood. It's also very handy to have a couple of sawhorses that are built to the correct height for holding full 4' x 8' sheets. You can also get adjustable height rollers but I've never used them. I don't know how much the Makita sells for these days but no doubt it's over $150. Harbor Freight sells some pretty decent carbide saw blades for very little money. They are cheaper than the cost of getting a good blade sharpened. I have some blades that cost more than what you are planning on spending on the saw.
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Around here (Portland, Oregon), used Craftsman table saws are always available for around $60. Not necessarily the old cast iron table extensions, but they do come up often.
Ivan Vegvary
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Ditto on the Ryobi...I bought a 10" miter saw ($75) and a tablesaw with a stand ($99) at Homedepot...Can't beat it for occasional use...But I ain't into the , mine is bigger and better than yours crap....Just needed to gitter done on a budget...LOL...Also have a duffel bag full of Ryobi cordless tools ($150) that work good as well....
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