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

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At that price you won't get much. Look for used. There are saws in the $250 range that will probably do what you want. Serious saws start at $800 and go to $3500 or so. Local shopping papers often have five or ten saws listed for sale. If you find one that has not been abused you may get a very good deal. Belt driven saws are quieter and smoother running that direct drive saws. The Ridgid saws at Home Depot are decent but more than your budget.
No matter what you end up with, take some time to learn how to use the saw, how to use a push stick, learn to use the fence and miter properly and never use them together or you can get kickback that is very serious.
The blade that come with the saw is OK for hacking a 2 x 4, but not so good for serious trim cutting or plywood. Good blades start at $50, very good blades are $100 and up.Freud is a good brand for the modest priced ones.
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James wrote:

steve
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Steve, I don't think one can cut plywood with a miter saw ~!
James
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wrote:

Sure one can. But first one needs to get it down to size with one's skil saw.<g>
Jim
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I hope you were talking to Steve Barker. I didn't say that. But having said that, having a big miter saw is sure nice to get accurate cuts on boards, and they will cut fairly wide boards.
SteveB
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James wrote:

I bought a Ryobi at HD for $99 to cut laminate flooring. I figured if it would streamline and simplify the job, it would be well worth it. It did.
Now, I put the saw to use quite frequently. Frankly, it's one of those things that, once you get it, you wonder how you ever lived without it. If I need a 2x2, I grab a 2x4 and rip it. If I need a 1x1, I grab a 2x4 and rip it twice. If I need a 1/2 x 1...
The saw comes with a stand, but you'll probably want to fashion a shelf. Also, Harbor Freight has a sawdust-catching canvas bag (I think it's $8) that you can attach to the underside with snaps for easy removal.
While you're at HF, get a stock support gizmo. It's an adjustable tripod with a roller top. The table on the Ryobi was not designed for cutting 4x8 sheets of plywood.
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I have a small table saw. The first thing I learned is that the supporting table is more important than the saw. You can take a cheap $150 table saw, and if you build supports around it, it will do a lot of things a good one will. When you run into trouble is trying to do big sheets of plywood, etc. I built a metal frame around mine that is 4' square and flat with the table saw top. It closely fits around the table top so that the saw cannot shift or tilt. It does most of all I have asked it to do. If you notice, with table saws, the bigger the table, the more the saw costs. Yes, the fences and other accessories are more accurate, and you get a better motor, but essentially the difference is table size. If you don't feed it more than it can chew, you won't kill it.
Steve
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In the past two months, I saw a big Craftsman for $100, and a Rockwell for $50. Shop around, and you can get a good used one. Just test it and make sure you hear it run.
Steve
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http://sfbay.craigslist.org/scz/tls/1024271674.html
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James wrote:

For what you want (rip ply, cross cut 2x4)...
1. Buy/make a couple of wood saw horses
2. Buy a sheet of 1/2" or 3/4" and have the store rip you off a piece about 10" wide. Mark the factory edge,
3. Buy a couple of clamps
4. Buy a Speed Square (alternately, a chop saw)
Use the speed square or chop saw for cross cutting. For ply, lay the sheet you want to rip on the horses, clamp your 10" piece of ply on top, use the factory edge you marked as a fence for your hand saw. Set the saw's depth of cut so that it is only a bit more than the thickness of the ply so you don't mess up the top of the horses too badly.
You could improve the fence by having the 1/2" thick strip cut narrower - around 6", say - and gluing a piece of masonite to the bottom. The masonite should be wide enough so that you can run your saw along the fence and trim off a bit of masonite along the full length. You now have a rip guide that shows you exactly where you will be cutting and you don't have to include the saw's shoe width as an offset when you are measuring. You could also make a 4' rip guide for cross cutting sheets of ply. With either - if you want to be fancy - you could add a "T" at one end to help square the guide to what you are cutting.
Believe me, rip guides like these are easier to use than trying to manhandle full sheets of ply through a table saw. Especially through a small, inexpensive one.
--

dadiOH
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wrote:

For $150 you can get a decent circular saw. You need $90 for a quality 10" tablesaw blade. High quality table saw brands include Powermatic (USA) and General (Canada). Avoid Made in China, save up more $.
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For 20 yrs I had a radial arm saw as my 'shop saw'. When it died I got a table saw. After missing the ease of making angle cuts for about 10 yrs I got a 12"chop saw last summer.
I'd say spend your money on a decent 12" miter saw- make sure it swings left and right and has some good solid locking. buy a foldable stand for it. The first time you cut 1/2" off a 4x4 with one clean swipe you'll have to sit down and smoke a cigarette.
Make a fence like a couple people have described here for ripping and cutting plywood.
Craigslist is worth watching- but after watching for several months I got a better deal right from Bosch on a reconditioned saw- 1 yr warranty.
http://bosch.cpotools.com/reconditioned_tools/saws/miter_saws / BTW- the saw I bought after shopping for months for the best bang for my buck was the 3912. I paid $317 for it--- now it is $229. Still a bit over your budget [and you'll want a stand for it at some point] but in the long run you'll be glad you splurged. Make the Mrs. a nice octagon shadowbox frame & she'll love the saw, too.
Jim
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Very, very good comments and responses here. I will look at the Ryobi and Craftsmen, and will also look at Craig's List.
Thanks a lot to all !! Very good comments ~ !!!
James
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wrote:

Ryobi and Craftsman are not "good choices" but may be okay for your use. Don't expect to get into precison work without a lot of fuss. The fence is a very critical and important part of a table saw. You will want a circular saw to cut 4x8 ply sheets, not a small table saw.
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It's much easier and more accurate to use a properly set up table saw to cut full sheets than to use a circular saw. If you don't care that the cuts are 1/8" off then you can use a circular saw. You still need to support the section that is going to fall off or you can end up in a precarious position.
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Huh? If you don't mind snaky cuts, a circle saw will do. If you want it to match at the joint, you will need to use a table saw, if even a cheap one.
Steve
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SteveB wrote: ...

A decent circular saw w/ a guide will do as well and far easier than a small table saw w/o sizable extension infeed/outfeed tables on ply.
For a casual/occasional user, the space to dedicate to a tablesaw and it's supporting outfeed table in order to be able to make a good, straight cut safely is generally not available and by the time one gets it out and sets it up unless there's a whole lot of work the cut-to-size could have been done already w/ the circular saw.
It's no mean feat to wrestle a full sheet of 3/4" ply over a table saw and definitely not recommended w/o sufficient table to support it.
It's one of the prime reasons I keep the radial saw in the long bench -- it makes ripping 4x8 sheets child's play from whence they can then be taken in reasonably-sized pieces to the next stage.
But, that's not an option for most w/ limited space, resources and, even more importantly, interest to have such resources invested in shop equipment.
imo, ymmv, $0.02, etc., etc., etc., ...
--
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I have a Delta saw, outfeed table, etc. I still have my plywood cut into a couple of pieces at the supplier to make it easier and safer to handle. Some do it free, some charge a buck a cut. Worth it.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

I've the PM Model 66 and the setup, too, but I still use the RAS for ripping ply to width since it has the full-length (20+ ft overall) support both in and out.
The suppliers generally have such rough machines and use so little precision I prefer to do all myself so I can match grain, etc., and all to my satisfaction at leisure rather than just take the random selection of the moment.
Again, ymmv, $0.02, etc., ...
--
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dpb wrote:

But neither addresses the issue of the OP of what to do for the casual/occasional homeowner who doesn't want such an investment or to dedicate the required room.
I survived for quite a number of years through school and early years past w/ the above way of using the hand saw only w/ temporary benches/sawhorses and guides and clamps.
One can do as precise of work that way as one wishes to take the time to learn to use the tools available and get better results (and particularly, more safely) than trying to use a small table saw w/o the ancillary support mechanisms that invariably is attempted by the inexperienced.
Once the material is down to a reasonable size that can be handled, _then_ a small tablesaw can indeed be useful.
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