Buying a table saw, have questions, new to woodworking

I am just getting into this hobby, so please bear with me if I ask stupid questions.
After getting married and buying a house, I find that I have a desire to do some of my own woodworking in addition to the myriad home improvement projects I have going. I'd like to be able to make some furniture (baby's room, maybe), maybe some cabinets, etc. Trouble is, the house isn't huge and I have some severe space limitations.
I'd like to have a table saw, but no matter how hard I try I can't find a place where I could put a good woodworker's table saw or even a contractor's saw permanently. I really need to be able to fold the saw up and put it away, which is a severe limitation.
I have been looking at the so-called "jobsite" saws from DeWalt, Bosch, and Ridgid. Are these saws even remotely useful for general woodworking, or is their practical use limited to homebuilding? Assuming they are in fact useful, I need some advice on which features will truly be important to me and which ones I don;t really need to worry about. I have been unable to see a Bosch in person - stores in Maryland tend to favor tools that are yellow - so I am having to rely on internet info for that one (unless someone out there knows where I can go look at one):
(1) The Bosch and the DeWalt don't have a T-grooved miter slot for supporting the miter off the table or a groove in the fence for jigs. How important is this?
(2) I like the cool rack-and-pinion fence on the DeWalt as it seems very solid, but the table seems a good deal smaller (particularly in front of the blade) than the other two, and the miter slot doesn't have a t-groove, so I was beginning to rule it out. Any comments on this saw?
(3) By all accounts the Bosch has a superior motor, which seems important since these things are direct drive and the quality of cut is in question. I like the fact that it comes with outfeed and side support rails. The lack of a decent stand, a grooved fence, or T-groove miter slot make me question it's value beyond homebuilding. Am I right? I am willing to buy a better, more portable stand for this saw if it really is superior, although there is a fair amount of pain associated with the fact that this drives the price up close to what I would spend on a decent contractor's table saw or a DeWalt woodworkers table saw. I don't have the space for them, but if I'm paying the money and not getting one it hurts.
(4) The Ridgid has a nice, solid fence and a fairly large table for this category of saw, but possibly not as nice a motor and there seems to be no way to attach outfeed or side support to the saw. How serious is this? It also comes with a really nice stand (available separately, so it would fit the Bosch or DeWalt for extra $$$). I am worried that this seems to no longer be an Emerson product but is now a Ryobi product, and I haven't had much luck with Ryobi in the past. Also the complete lack of information on the internet or available accessories makes me question how easy it is going to be to improve my setup in the future. The last thing I tried to order from RidgidParts.com is still pending after months because their website somehow managed to let me order a power tool from the vaccum cleaner division, and they can't figure out how to either fill it or cancel it. This saw seems like the best value, if it is capable of doing the job. Any thoughts?
(5) Assuming I bought the Bosch or DeWalt saw, I could get another stand for it to increase portability. Are the Rouseau stands which make larger table surfaces sufficiently easy to set up and store again later? How portable are they? Can they make it up and down stairs? How good is the fence?
I have read the recent jobsite saw review in Workbench Magazine, but it is fairly sparse on details. They say things like "It's a great saw, but lacks a few features" without saying *which* features. Or they say controls are "average" or "above average" without saying *why*. And they seem to focus a lot on the quality of the stand when I'd rather they had focused on the saw. So I am finding it less useful than I had hoped.
Any help and/or opinions on these subjects would be GREATLY appreciated.
Thanks, Bill Cook _/)_
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snip
Have you considered a mobile base under a contractors saw, the money you would spend on a bench top would probably get you a good used saw, a new blade and a mobile base, then find a spot against a wall to run it into when you are not using it.
Are you aware that a lot of accessories will not fit in the T-slots on bench top models, the miter gauge is really sloppy on most of them, and the arbor is often too short for stacking dado heads? FrankC
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Frank, ...

Curious: I must be missing something. Isn't a "T-slot" simply a normal setup for a miter fence, but the bar has a sort of a washer on the end-bottom that rides in a slot on each side? The slot shape for the fence is like an upside down T. I love it, and if you have to pull the fence a little out beyond the table front, the fence won't flop up at the other end and come out of the slot! In my experience there is little to no difference in the slot dimenstions except for the washer clearance inside the slot. The width of the slot is idential to other saws, which if I recall right, is 3/4" or thereabouts; it's an industry standard size though. I've mixed & matched at least two Delta's and a Rockwell and even loaned one of my fixtures to a guy with a Craftsman once. Two had a T slot and the other two didn't. To use a T feince in a non-T slot, just remove the washer thingy. It'll fit perfectly. As for accuracy and stability, I find it superior to the non-T types. Mine in particular, the little washer thingy can be loosened and turned to size it perfectly to the T in the slot. I can see an aluminum table top maybe wearing quickly, but ... that's prob ably why they are adjustable? Dunno. Mine's steel and as good as the day I bought it.
So, what am I missing? If that's not a T slot, what is it? The TS parts manual calls it a T slot, that I know.
Regards, Pop
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Not all bench top saws have a standard size slot, some do, so if yours did you are fortunate, many of the cheaper models are narrower. FrankC
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do
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contractor's
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<snip>
Though not my first choice, given the circumstances, have you considered a Radial Arm Saw? I bought one of these as my first workshop saw as I had exactly the same problems you face. With a TS you have to have free space on all 4 sides, with a RAS you only need space on 2 sides.
I would definitly prefer the RAS over the jobsite offerings.
Bernard R
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The two things that have sent me a different direction are that (a) I already own a Bosch sliding compound miter saw, and (b) even the radial arm saw is a little harder to fit into my house than a contractor's table saw.
However, it is a good suggestion, and I will give it some thought.
Thanks again for your help and suggestions, Bill _/)_

stupid
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IMHO...
I'm going to give you my opinion from the low end of the spectrum. Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT buy a bench top model! It is all I owned when I decided to get into woodworking and it truly is a POS. Worked great for rough cutting 2x4 and some framing needs but doesn't even come close to the precision and ease of use you will find yourself wanting as you get deeper into woodworking. It has taken a lot of work to make mine somewhat usable with new blades and making a tight sled which leads to other limitations (I'm saving to get a bigger saw now, the current one might serve as a boat anchor but with my luck, it will probably float!). The only dado blade I could find to fit the arbor is a wobble blade and I hold my breath and stand to the side everytime I use it! None of the other jigs will fit it. Making my own jigs has also presented problems as the slot is to loose.
If you DAGS on TS, many will tell you to get the best you can afford. That is my intent, I may even reach beyond what I can afford if I truly decide I have the talent and desire to pursue getting deeper and deeper into working with wood. Many have said that you get what you pay for. After not heeding this advice in the beginning, I learned my lessons. Seems like most of us have space constraints so I as I look at future saws, I am also looking at various mobile base options and keeping them in mind as I continue to change the shop layout.
Dave

do
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contractor's
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going
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GigaNews wrote:

Hi Gig,
I think there's some advice that's at least food for thought already but thought I'd add my nickel's worth since we're in similar circumstances. Think I might have a little more room than you do but if I want to slip a plywood sheet thru the saw I either have to precut it down to size or open the door to the car area: My shop's a garage bay but it's pretty narrow. ANYway, in my opinion and experience:
-- Don't think you'll find a foldup type of TS. That would be more along the lines of a circular saw, which is OK if it'd do what you needed. If you want to do any accurate work though you'll want the table saw. One thing I can say is the $99 Craftsman isn't what you want unless you only want to "test" yourself to see if your interest in legitimate and you only plan to make things like birdhouses, etc. For furniture though, you'll want a better saw, I sure agree there. In the affordable price range for normal guys like me, and I think you, the saws are pretty much all the same with only a few differences. How YOU feel about the saw's features and specs is probalby more important than anything else. Will you be ripping plywood sheets? Then you probably want the fence to be able to support over 24 inches (half of 4'). Mine's got a 29" max cut with the rip fence. Not gonna do that? OK, most standard saws go 22 or 24 inches on one side of the blade.
As for space, I mounted my TS on casters. You can either buy the saw with casters, or put your own on, but it's easier to buy them with the saw by a long shot. That lets you swing it around when you have to and slide it against the wall out of the way. For sawdust control, I just fastened my shop vac to the TS with a couple of bungee cords. I put a piece of wood on the end of one extension, and holders, for the fences, push-sticks, and a scrap-holder. Dado, shapers, extra blades, etc. store on the bottom shelf of the saw stand.
Then, the TS doubles as a spare workbench too. I added extensions to it, made of wood, so I have have 24" and 29" to the left & right of the blade if I want it. So, an old blanket over the TS and it becomes a makeshift bench. When I made my workbench, I made sure it was the same height as the TS so they could be slid together and make a bigger surface to work with.
No matter how big a shop is, you'll never have enough room ;-). With a bandsaw, drill press, wood lathe, battery charger, etc., it got small in there in a hurry! Oh, and if you have the ceiling height, I put in 8' flourescent lighting, too. Got ten foot ceilings in my garage, plus it's insulated. Nice and bright, even lighting with those flourescents, and a couple incandescents for accent, makes visibility a pleasure. Benchtops, etc. are all painted white, and the garage door became a huge peg board for hanging up pipe clamps, other tools, etc. Then I discovered, too late, that cheap panelling and a drill makes cheaper and easier to manage pegboard, so anything available became places for peg hooks, nails, etc. to hang stuff on. I kept as much as possible in the open, long's dust & dirt woujldn't bother it. Hung a fan and accent lights from the old living room stuff up on the garage door tracks; moves around from one end to the other real easy that way.
Dunno if any of this is helpful, but that's about my take on it.
Regards,
Pop
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I think my main goal would be to buy the saw with the best resale value. If you get in the position to have more shop space, sell it and get something more substantial (you will probably want a cabinet saw by then.)
Montyhp

do
and
contractor's
and
see
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the
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up
going
This
for
are
lacks
a
saw.
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snipped-for-privacy@nowhere.com says...

If your space limitations are really that severe, I'd look into a combination machine like the Shopsmith. It's not the worlds best tablesaw, mainly because the table tilts instead of the blade which makes angle cuts on large pieces difficult, but I made do with one for years.
Keep an eye on the local classifieds. There's usually one shows up pretty frequently. And if you buy one used, you can probably recover most of the cost when you get more space and upgrade to separate machines.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

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My advice as a beginner - If space is at a premium, get a decent ($400+ if new) TS. You'll probably have to get an aftermarket miter gauge also which will run you $100-$200 easily. Check the TS bevel adjustment also, make sure it's really fine-tunable if you'll be making a lot of these cuts. This should eliminate the need for a dedicated miter saw.
As far as the other features, play with the demo model if possible, and try to imagine how each feature is really going to make your life easier, if applicable. Try to think about what cuts you'll make the most. If it seems worth the cash, get it.
I made the mistake of buying a TS before I really learned about them, on impulse because it was marked down to $199 at HD. It's the makita 2703 (benchtop). Most people here say it's a junker questionable for even contactors, and yes, it has a crappy, non-standard, non-T miter slot, crappy miter guage and fence. But, after building a base out of 2x4's, hard rubber wheels on 2 legs and rubber feet on the other 2 legs, it's mobile as heck and I just roll it somewhere where I have more room and go to work. It's about 2' deep by 3.5' wide, and 32" tall - which includes the rousseau extension. I also have a 2'x5' bench that rolls similarly, and a fold up workbench - all the same height. I "reengineered" my miter guage so that now I can at least get 'consistent' miter cuts, though sometimes it takes a practice cut or two. I'd love to be able to buy a good aftermarket miter gauge, but since I don't cut them often, I don't mind spending an extra minute or so for setup. The TS, extension, and table cost me $350 total so far. Since I'm a weekend warrior at best, it's all I really need. Others will smoke my setup in miter and bevel productivity, but given extra time for setup, I can do just about anything the better TSs can do - just slower.
All in all, you'll be able to make whatever you get work for you. I wouldn't necessarily recommend going the route I did, but don't blow a huge wad (just yet) either. A good used one may be right for you also. Forget about "folding up" if at all possible, think about "rolling" - either storebought or homebuilt. Not much else you can do if you have space problems, imho
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GigaNews wrote:

My $0.02... Make room for the thing by hook or by crook. My contractor's saw eats most of my tiny shop. I've already ripped two pairs of jeans snagging them on the protruding rails, and I'm constrained in the upper limit of the size of work I can feed through it, but it's all worth it. It's so, so, so much better than my benchtop.
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OK, here's a can of worms. I am indeed experiencing pain trying to justify $500+ for a benchtop saw, so what if I *did* manage to squeeze a bigger saw in there? What saws would you recommend? I know the names Jet, Grizzly, Delta, and Powermatic. Any others I should be looking at?
Any reviews of saws in the next-size-up category I should look at?
Bill _/)_

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Hi, I've just ordered a new General Builders Saw, should look at it. http://www.redmond-machinery.com/general%2050-185.htm That's the link to it. It's on back order, suppose to be in first week in May.
Tony
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Have you considered a 3hp cabinet saw? You could put it in the living room on a mobile base. With a nice tablecloth on it can serve as television stand or a place for the wifes knicknaks.Seriously though, maybe you could put the saw in a large shed for now, with heavy duty electric cords to the house. A decent contractors saw like Grizzly,Jet or Delta makes wouldn't cost much more than the better bench type saws like Bosch or Dewalt.
Mike
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Have you considered a bandsaw? I don't have room for a table saw and that's what I use. You can't "fold" it up, but if you shove it in the corner, it doesn't take up that much room. I don't own a table saw. I use a bandsaw exclusively. Do a Google search and you'll find a lot of comments about the trade-offs between the two.
You could also go this route: http://www.taunton.com/finewoodworking/pages/w00035.asp That folds up to practically nothing.
Mark

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yellow -

the
I
I
of
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This
for
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a
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