From what I've seen at the Depot, and at Sears recently, they are both
being made by the same company, probably Emerson Electric. That was one
of the vendors Sears used when I worked there, and they made all of the
better and "best" versions at that time.
A friend of mine lost his job last year. He bought a $150 portable Ryobi
table saw plus he already had the other tools of the trade. He does light
remodeling with it. Is making great money. No boss. Can work as often as
he wants. Or as little as he wants. The table saw is still going strong,
but of course, he's pretty easy on tools. Some people are rough with tools
and they thus break more often.
But a more pricier table saw is easier to use. I'd spend the $500 on the
better unit, if I were you, and if you can afford it. You'll be more apt
to want to build larger, more complicated pieces with it.
Consider a radial arm saw instead. You can't cut a 4x8 sheet of plywood in
half with a radial, but most other table-saw stuff can be done on a radial
with far more accuracy and ease of use (such as changing blades).
You'd be hard-pressed to get the precision necessary on a table saw, for
things like shutters or molding, that is trivial on a radial.
Of course, maybe I'm just partial.
Oh, radials take up, operationally, less room, too.
When a guy who is handy with tools buys a BIG tool, he will usually learn a
lot of things quickly with it. I say BIG tool to differentiate them from
the likes of screwdrivers and such. By big tools, I refer to table saws,
lathes, welders, routers, jointers, planers, hydraulic bending equipment,
etc, etc. Tools that once you buy them, you learn, and therefore want to
expand the amount and type of work you do, even if you are only doing jobs
You can make all sorts of things that you only thought about making
previously. AND, you can make them easily by yourself, and have them come
out pretty close to right, or dead on perfect. Once you get to making
things, the small differences between a GOOD tool and an average one become
obvious. Then there's the wearout factor. Cheap stuff usually doesn't
last, and if you get to using it a lot, you will end up buying a good one
anyway eventually when you wear out the cheap one. Your skills and
experience grow, so you can do more with the tool. And all you have left
for the worn out tool to do is be a boat anchor.
I bought a cheap Ryobi table saw to do some very simple work I was doing at
my cabin. It was $99. For the work I've done already with it making
shelves and book cases and the things I bought it to do, I figure it has
paid for itself. BUT, I think I wasted $100, because now I want a bigger
better one that will handle bigger pieces of wood easier than the small one,
and now I have to go spend $500, and I have this one that I probably can't
sell for more than $40. I don't know what I was thinking.
I usually seriously overbuy on tools, and I have seldom been wrong. I buy
things I think I will grow into, not what is just marginal to do the job at
the time. That's what I did with the Ryobi. Then I saw, HEY, I can make
all kinds of stuff, but this little saw has serious limitations. Small top,
light motor, inaccurate cut gauge..................
If you think you will do much woodwork at all, you can't go wrong with a
good used saw. I passed on an old Craftsman once for $100 that was about
ten years old, weighed a ton, had a huge top, had a mongo base. If I had
gotten that one, I would have started woodworking earlier, and had a much
better saw. I'd probably still have it today.
If you don't need it right away, I'd shop around for a good used one. That
way, if you don't continue in woodworking, you can break even on it or not
take as serious a beating as you would on a new saw.
Remember--You get what you pay for. If all you have is $500 I suggest
looking for a quality used saw. Look for a large flat cast iron
surface, precision fence, dust control, easy adjustments. If
portability is what you need I suggest a good circular saw.
If you have a project which required a tablesaw then that is a reason
to buy one. Tablesaws are the most versatile tool in the shop but
there is only one task they excel at, ripping long boards. Is this a
task your project requires? I have a lightwieght contractor style saw
that i use for rips and dados. I often find myself, however, doing
long rips with my circular saw and a chalk line. This is often more
convenient than lugging the board to the saw or the saw to the board.
A circular saw and router will to all the same work as a table saw and
are a lot more convenient. If you don't already have these then i
would say buy them first. If you do have them then just try a few
rips and dados with them before buyin a table say. A high quality
skilsaw is without question, indespensible and worthe the money. I
make rips with a worm drive saw and I highly reccomend you buy one
before you get a table saw. Amazon has them marked way down. Skil
HD77M MAG 77 7-1/4" Wormdrive Circular Saw
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
I, for one, would spend the money, if I had it. For now, I have bought a
used Ryobi mid-grade saw, and will upgrade later when I can afford it.
The problems with all cheap saws, and most mid-grade, are cast aluminum
tables and the use of universal motors, which makes them loud and gives
them less torque. AFAIK, there are no direct drive saws equiped with
induction motors. My Ryobi is nice, with a cast iron table, but steel
extensions, and it is direct drive, and loud as hell. My grandfather's
Craftsman (my brother-in-law gave it away, don't ask!) was 45 years old,
table and one extension cast iron, the other sliding steel, belt drive,
induction motor, and the only noise it made was the ringing sing of the
blade itself. Damn I miss that saw.
An in-between saw that got a good review in Wood magazine ( I think) was a
Ridgid 2420 or something close to that. It came with a collapsable stand
too. It received surpringly good reviews for its size. They really liked
Ridgids 3650, which I own and really like a lot. The 3650 come with a built
in caster system for moving the saw about your shop - great for those of us
working in a confined space.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.