Mid range Tablesaw choices

I'm deciding between the following on a limited budget (<= $600). I'm a weekend wooddorker with little talent so I cant afford to have to 'work' the equipment in addition to the wood. Things Im most concerned with... Mitre slots being easy to build jigs for (ie standard size)... Inserts being easily replaced with my own.... fence quality/alignment.
Any advice? Am I missing any brands to consider?
Local - preferred for warranty/replacement reasons, but would disregard those in favor of significantly better saw for equal or less $$ (Shipping charges must be considered).
Craftsman http://www.sears.com/sr/javasr/product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&vertical=TOOL&pid922114000&tabs&bidsite=CRAFT#tablink
Ridgid http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@0984686468.1104632589@@@@&BV_EngineIDfdadddhikgdghcgelceffdfgidglm.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=Super%20Categories/Tools%20%26%20Hardware&MID76&pos=p06
Mail Order
Grizzly http://www.grizzly.com/products/item.cfm?itemnumber=G0444Z
General International http://www.general.ca/product/inter/50175an.html
Thanks in advance.
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The craftsman website wont allow a direct link apparently... the model of the one Im looking at is:
OR35505
Thanks.

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Mike -
General. Hands Down!! I have "something" of all of the "colored" brands, and that's my take - the second choice would be the Grizz. If you can be patient, you *might* be able to get a used cab saw in that range. I have a 1990s General TS and a new GI mortiser, and it's plenty beefy. I think that General manufactured Unisaws for Delta back in the 50s/60s... (Dave??)and I don't think I've ever read a bad review of a General machine... You'll get plenty of hits w/ Google, so read up.
Most Miter slots are standard, but some "T" slots are different. The "T" in my table saw does take a "T" track, but I have to sand the base of the track down a good margin for the track to slide. You really shouldn't have a problem.... How far away are you from some of the earlier posts about Unisaurs needing a home? I'd *love* to have an old Unisaw...
My 2c
John Moorhead

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<<The craftsman website wont allow a direct link apparently... the model of the one Im looking at is:
OR35505>>
From the way you described your level of proficiency and committment, I would say we are in roughly the same ballpark in terms of skill and experience. I have the model just below the one you mentioned (mine has stamped steel wings vs cast iron as well as a slightly less fancy fence and miter gauge) and I am quite satisfied with it. You will need to make your own inserts because last time I looked, Sears does not make a zero clearance insert for these models. I made a half dozen for mine using some scrap solid surface material I scrounged from a local kitchen/bath countertop fabricator. I needed to use my bandsaw, stationary belt/disk sander, drill press with a forstner bit, and a tap and die set and a bag of set screws to make them with all the necessary adjustability as the original insert. I also had to glue a shelf pin into the front of the insert to replicate the stud that hooks under the table to prevent the insert from flippiing out of the opening due to the rotation of the saw blade. It was actually fairly easy to do. I also made a panel cutting jig (a la Norm) and used standard 3/4 x 3/8 material to fit into the miter slot with no problem.
Lee
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Mike W. wrote:

I haven't checked out the new ones thoroughly, so it's worth kicking the tires in a store. I bought one in Januaryish, which was last year's model. The inserts on these are a real bastard to make from scratch. Otherwise I'm quite happy with the saw. Though I'd be less happy with it if I had paid more than $400 for it.
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I would suggest research, research, research! I recently purchased the General International 50-185L M1. I decided on the GI for many reasons. 2H.P. motor compared to 1 1/2 on most others. Biesemeyer style fence which locks down solid. 2 cast iron wings insteas of grated or stamped steel. Price compared to the others I was looking at (Delta,Powermatic,Jet). The reviews are exceptional on the saw itself. The only drawback is the manual which is not the best. From the research I have done, and someone corect me if i'm wrong, most all the contractor saws are built in the same factory overseas. Some of the differences then are the fence system, quality control, tech and/or dealer support among other things. The most important thing is to get the best you can afford and get on to making dust! As I said, iv'e had my GI for about a month now and am extremely pleased with all aspects of it except the manual( nothing a little common sense wont cure). I'm sure you will get very useful information from the "wreck", much more than I am able to provide for you. Good luck in your decision.
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 03:36:09 GMT, "Mike W."
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Are you sure you want a table saw? I ask _because_ you are a weekender. How much woowork have you done.
There are many other ways to do this. TSs have limits. Thye _will_ need extra work to get them going, no matter what you buy.

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I definitely want a new table saw. I have a 4 yr old Craftsman lowest level tablesaw ($150-ish) that I have managed to use to make a few decent piles of woodchips. But now the blade isn't parallel with the fence or mitre slots so evertyhing I cut is out of square. I've tried to adjust it and there is no 'real' way to do it. So rather than rig it up, I've decided if the tax man is nice to me I'll be nice to myself and spend $600 on a new one. Hopefully it'll take me to the next level and allow me to build some nice pieces.
I kinda thought a lot of folks on the list are weekenders... do most people here do it for a living?
Thanks.
vaguely proposed a theory

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====================I do not think very many of the regulars in this NG make a living from woodworking.... Most of us are hobbiests...
I am retired now but honestly when I was working I rarely spend many hours in the shop on weekends... (Kids sports etc...) So I was never a weekender...
BUT it was not unusual for me to be out in the shop 10 minutes after I ate dinner during the week ...and I sometimes was still out there at midnight.....
Bob
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Mike W. wrote:

No, most of us are hobbiests. Don't let the "$600 is a bit low for the most important machine in your workshop" crowd get you down either. You'll go broke keeping up with these Joneses.
It's a continuous process of balancing needs against wants against means. Although I generally agree with the underlying principle they're trying to put forward. I'm on my second table saw, my second drill press, my first router was a piece of crap. I'm doing without a bandsaw entirely because I don't see any point in getting anything less than a 14", and I can't afford one. So I see where they're coming from on trying to avoid wasting money on a machine that isn't going to do the job.
I'm in the "$600 gets you plenty of saw" camp now, but where will I be after I outgrow this one and get a Unisaw or something?
You pays your money and you takes your chances, as Steven King likes to quote somebody or other as saying.
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On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 14:17:37 GMT, "Mike W."
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OK. Thank you for explaining. I try to make people think about their _first_ TS. Counters the "big arrn" mentality. <G>
I strongly feel that many people will benefit much more from their money if they spend it on _good_ Circ saws, drill, routers, jigsaws.
I would also (and did) buy a BS before I bought a TS

No. But there are alot of posts here about how to get rust off TS tops! The essence of this was captured by some wise person who suggested frequent applications of wood. <G>
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General is a quality brand, and my first choice. ($600 is not much for the most important power tool in a wood shop.)
On Sun, 02 Jan 2005 03:36:09 GMT, "Mike W."

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