Good table saw worth it?

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Since I'm not a carpenter, but will need to make things out of wood from time to time (workbench, small repairs to the house, small stuff) is it worth my money and while to buy a GOOD tablesaw or make due with the cheapies?
I was looking at the Sears selection, I still find Craftsman to be good tools, and I noticed they had a nice tablesaw for $500 - cast iron construction and solid as a rock. But they also had the inexpensive $116 dollar one that is portable and much less sturdy. There are of course models in between as well.
For someone who isn't going to be using it every day and whose career won't depend on it, is it still worth my while to spend the dough on a GOOD one? Obviously I'm not only looking at Craftsman, but I'm just using them as an example.
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Eigenvector wrote:

Yes.
I started out buying the cheap benchtop saw from sears and it was OK but I had to return it when the gears gave out. Get the biggest, heaviest saw you can afford/store. When I got rid of the little one I got a decent deal on a new contractors saw. If I had it to do over again I would have shopped around for a good used one. As you said they are cast iron and built to last.

Be careful with Craftsman tools some of their stuff is still proprietary and may not accept a miter guage that is not sears. Stay away from the saws that have the webbed extension wings, designed to pinch fingers and cause other problems.
Try: craigslist for used tools and rec.woodworking for advice on what to look for in a used or new saw.
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Hmmm, I've always felt that the best tools you can buy are always worth it. But in this case I wonder if I might be going overboard. As aem down a bit in the thread states the top end stuff require maintenance to keep in top condition. I actually do have the room for a shop, but at the same time I'm sitting here thinking that I'm gonna spend 400 bucks on a saw and only use it once a couple months or so. Or who knows, I might find that now that I can do quality work I really enjoy doing carpentry and will use it all the time.
Time to shop around.

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Eigenvector wrote:

all the answers you've gotten have been good ones
I've had a Makita bench top / portable table saw for about 20 years.....
Do I make furnitture with it, no....... but it comes in very handly quite often
I even used it to make a window sash tenon member to replace a badly warped one
I'd really lke an old Uni-Saw with a Biesemeyer fence & infeed / out feed tables (like I had at work in a model shop) but got no room for such a beast
here's an table saw comparsion article
http://www.toolsofthetrade.net/articles/showarticle.asp?articleID 80&position=2&type=article&partID=1
I go with a used unit....may be you can find someone whose upgrading to a big one & take smaller one off his hands
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About five years ago I decided to try may hand at woodworking. Not knowing how my talent would be, I bought a cheap saw as you describe. I managed to build some small projects, mostly doll furniture and the like for my wife and granddaughters. It was OK, but I soon knew I needed/wanted more.
I bought a Delta contractor saw with the Beisemeyer fence. It was orgasmic by comparison. Accurate, easy to set up for various cuts, safer for larger pieces with the 27" table depth. For me, it was money well spent and I gave the little saw away. One big factor was the inability of the small saw to safely cross cut a board wider than a 1 x 6.
If you have dreams of doing bigger projects, more frequently, look for a better saw. Look at the local papers as there are saws listed every week. Some good, some crappy, some over priced, some a great deal. It may be possible to find that $900 saw for about $300 in the used section.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome /




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Eigenvector wrote:

That is what happened to me but of course YMMV.
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big, and heavy, especially if they have the wings to do accurate panel rips. Iron tables also don't like damp garages- you have to be very careful about keeping them cleaned and waxed, or they rust. Are you doing cabinetry, where the joints have to be perfect? Or are these things where a 'toy' table saw (or chop saw or compound miter saw) will do the small boards okay, and the occasional panel cuts can be done 'good enough' with a clamped straightedge and a good skilsaw? I have seen amazingly good work done with the cheap portable stuff, and crap done with fancy tools. I once, many years ago, got to use a industrial table saw where the cast table was 48" square, and the blade was 12 or 14 inches. That was sweet.
Having said all that- if anvil-solid durability like a working carpenter needs isn't an issue (as you noted), and you don't have a garage bay or walkout basement to leave it all set up all the time, I'd go with one of the small portable saws, but stick with a brand name. Make or buy a good base to set it on. It should do anything typically needed around the house, maybe not as easy as a 'real' one, but since you aren't getting paid by the hour, you can take your time. As you shop, grab an aluminum level and a square off the rack, carry it over to the power tools, and check the tables for flatness, and that the plane of the blade is parallel to the slide grooves. On a real saw, all that is adjustable, on a entry-level portable, maybe not so much.
aem sends...
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I agree with all the comments about getting the best tool within one's budget, etc. There is one more issue that if I were to do it all over again I would go the air tools way for the rest of the hand tools that a handyman will eventually acquire.
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The Ryobi has received very good reviews, including Best Value, and I know at least one carpenter who swears by his. It's cheap, but you'll probably be very happy with it.
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On Sat, 23 Sep 2006 21:08:32 -0400, "TakenEvent"

Ryobi BT3100
I have one. It's pretty stable and accurate if you set it up and do the alignments properly. I recommend the "accessory kit" as being very useful. It even includes the pieces to create a router table on one of the wings.
It is clearly no match for a big multi-thousand dollar saw, but who would expect that for $400? (add $100 for accessory kit)
CWM
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I suggest buying a older Craftsman (can be found for under $100) and soup it up with some goodies like a Mule fence ($200) and steel pulleys and link belt ($50) and a good blade ($40) . THEN... you will have a Real "Mans" Table saw, for less than $400 that will kick ass and be VERY accurate. This is just the beggining since there are tons of after market add ons for this type of saw.
Charlie Morgan wrote:

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Ha Ha! That's a good one!
--
Every complicated problem has a simple solution that doesn\'t work.

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
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Bwahahahahahaha!
Let me know when you locate the legendary "Craftsman Tool Factory"
CWM

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I have a cheap Ryobi, and my biggest issue is the small top. That limits cutting sheets of plywood and big pieces of wood by yourself. Oh, I could make some wings, but more cost to make it into a saw that comes with a bigger table or wings. It cuts light years ahead of a circular saw, but I imagine a quality table saw with a big top would be about two light years ahead of this one. It's done what I asked, but it has limits that I am already finding. And I'm a newbie.
Steve
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I'll be buying the Bosch before too much longer, so that's really the recommendation I would make. But if the OP wants a decent cheap saw to use for occasional home repairs or projects, the Ryobi should work fine. If the plan is to cut a lot of sheathing, yes, a bigger saw would be nice.
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I should skip the tablesaw and head straight for the compound mitre saw. I'll be cutting far for 2x4's, 2x2's, and other such stuff before I rip long panels or boards.
besides, the action on the mitre saw is just soooo cool.

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What's wrong with getting them BOTH? I bet you lunch you will end up with both within a year anyway. That one-two combination is sweet.
Steve
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If that is the primary use, yes. go for it. Cutting a few inches off the end of a 2 x 4 is not easy on a table saw, piece of cake on the miter saw. If it is mainly framing type of work, the low end ones will work fine. If you want one of the best, get a DeWalt and it will last a lifetime.
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My father was one of the authors responsible for the whole "do it yourself " movement after WWII. He write a ton of those "do your own concrete and masonry" and "1001 projects for outdoor living" books. Dewalt gave him a radial arm saw, figuring it was a good promotion. As the years went by, and my father continued to publish books and articles, Dewalt tried in vain to give him a newer model for his old one.so newer mode;s would appear in photos. He declined. They had switched to a much less stable sheet metal design from the older cast iron saw, and my father wanted no part of it. The original cast iron radial saw (1952?) is still operational in his basement workshop. He is now 94 years old.
CWM
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buy". I started out with a JET contractor's saw and haven't regretted it for a minute. I've upgraded to an all out cabinet saw now and don't regret that either. Would I have upgraded if all I was doing was cutting a few boards every now and again? Probably not. I'm building furniture and such so the extra weight, size etc... really makes a difference. If I'm trimming out a window, it's probably a waste. Most say to buy the best you can the first time and avoid having to "upgrade" later. If you have any inkling of doing fine woodworking, you may very well want to stick with a contractor's saw up front but it's certainly not a requirement. Craftsman has lost a lot of it's reputation over the past few years although some of their newer saws are getting decent reviews. Another place I'd look is www.grizzly.com Pretty inexpensive yet they seem to get very good reviews. You might also check out the Ridgid saws at Home Depot. They get pretty good reviews as well. Cheers, cc
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