Fence replacement for a Sears Contractor Table Saw

I have a older Sears Table saw with the stock fence. To no surprise I'm not happy with the fence and would like to replace it with a Biesemeyer fence. My delima is that the saw was only $100. I'd also like to get one a set of machined pulleys and the link style belts installed. Is it worth spending this kind of money on a older contractor saw or should I just save the money and put it elsewhere in the shop and/or save up for a real cabinet saw. I figure I'd spend at least $200 on the fence and another $50 on the pulleys, so I'm out close to $300 with shipping. I'm just getting my shop started so there is plenty of other tools I still need to buy. I've not ran into any limitations with the saw yet, but I have not really put it thru the paces yet. Still just building storage, etc for the shop.
Thanks
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What motor is on the saw? Cast iron top and extensions? While it is not good to waste a good saw, it is probably worse to put good money onto a saw that will never perform well. Are the trunions in good shape/ Bearings good, no play in the arbor?
I don't know your wallet so I can't make a good decision, but IMO, if you can come up with $700 to $900 you can get a much better saw with a Biesemeyer fence and a warranty to boot. If you invest $300 for improvements, will you be happy forever or will you be looking for a new saw in a year?
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On 16 Nov 2004 08:31:55 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@citrix.com (slindars) wrote:

sears has sold a lot of different saws over the years, some worth a decent fence, some not. if you can find a model number, post it.
and look here for some deals: http://www.biesemeyer.com/specials/index.htm
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I think you can find a used Rockwell or Delta contactors saw or better with a premium fence used for $300 or less. It is a better saw and you get all of the accessories the previous owner has purchased. max

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If I were you I would take a look at the Grizzly G0444Z for $525. It has a Bies clone on it with cast iron wings and is 2hp. I just got one and love it.
(slindars)

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I am with Ed on this. When you say "....older Sears table saw with stock fence." it reminds me of one I bought in about 1974 and used until 2-3 years ago. It had sheet metal table wings, a sheet metal fence that locked at both ends, the 1HP motor hung out the back and the belt was enclosed in a plastic guard that would eat itself if bumped askew. I paid about $240 new for this saw. It got a lot of use but I, like you, became less satisfied as time went on and most dissatisfaction was focused on fence and power.
So, what do you have to do to turn it into a better (as opposed to 'good') saw?
$200 sounds a bit low for a new Beismeier fence. In any case you are in the $200 to $300 dollar range to put a fence on what would be an underpowered saw (if like mine).
A 2hp motor will run from $140 to $160 new. Maybe half or less used. (mine chucked the motor about 1 week before I sold it).
The old Craftsman miter guage wasn't great but wasn't terrible either. If the trunnions are worn you could spend money rebuilding them, but probably not a lot. But, you could end up with a $300 to $400 old craftsman table saw. Also, if you are thinking extended rails, the sheet-metal legs on my old craftsman would groan under the weight of the Beismeier and rail.
The fence and motor will make a better saw but never great. Not enough cast iron under the table. When you become dissatisfied, you will probably have to part it out to recoup investment. I went through the same stomach-turning decision process as you and I ended up upgrading. I never regretted it.
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snipping sad story of sorry saw, and numbers you can read in the original
I'm gonna weigh in with a different approach. I, too, have an older Craftsman saw. It came with one cast-iron extension, and I built two from some salvaged formica-covered 1 1/2" ply countertops and angle iron I found. I bought a new Craftsman fence system ("Align-a-Rip" or something like that) for under $150, and I'm quite pleased with it. It locks tight and straight, is easy to adjust, with ablility to mount t-track style jigs, etc. It's a damn good fence for the $.
I did a tune-up on the trunions (blade-miter slot parallel), replaced the bearings on the shaft, and added a link belt and machined pulleys, all for less than $50. I'm toying with getting a bigger motor (will be used, most likely) and building a better stand. I don't cut a lot of 8/4 oak or maple; if I did I might consider a more serious upgrade, but for +/- $300 (including the saw, but not the better blades I run--these would be the same regardless of saw make) I've got a pretty decent TS. Should I ever want to sell it I figure I could get better than half my investment back.
I have a couple of questions which might help you make the right chioce: 1) What does the saw have now (cast iron extensions, motor size, etc.)? 2) What do you want to do with it (frequently cut a lot of thick furniture grade hardwood, or mostly softwoods with an occasional piece of oak, maple, etc.)? If your saw is like Ron's old one above and you plan to turn lots of oak into end tables, then it's probably not worth much "improvement". On the other hand, if it's more like mine, and you only plan to cut occasional hardwoods, it could be a good investment to "fix it up". BTW-a good blade and tune-up will do wonders for your quality of cut.
Just my .02--Dan
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Right now the saw is not getting to much hard use, but I'd like the change that in the near furture. I've been slowly getting my shop assembled so that I can start building real furniture, which would mean cutting hardwood. Before that I'm focusing on building things for the shop like a router table, storage, miter saw station. I figure my current saw can handle this fine. None the less I have many other tools left to buy, which I'd rather get before re-invensting in a new saw. My major purchases outstanding would be a bandsaw, jointer, and planer (I guess so?) So no clear answer, but it sounds like maybe I should spend a little on tunning up the saw, and keep my eye out for a better fence, and continue outfitting the rest of the shop.

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I put a Vega on mine. Easy installation, works nicely.
Henry
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slindars wrote:

I had a similar Craftsman saw for a long time...I was able to find a Delta Jet Lock fence for about $40, which was a perfect addition to the saw. Look around for people who have upgraded to a Unifence or Beisemeyer & buy their old one.
Good luck,
Stan
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