Newbie Needs Table Saw Recommendation

I am a new homeowner and aspiring woodworker ready to purchase my first woodworking power tool. I am guessing that should be a table saw. I think I'd like to start by making simple things I could use like bird feeders/window boxes/basic tables in the hopes that it'll lead to being able to build things I really need like maybe a desk or entertainment center down the road. First question is am I correct in buying a table saw first? Second is what is the least I can expect to spend on a reasonably good table saw? I have seen a 10" "Tradesman" brand table saw @ Lowe's for $99 and have actually found good reviews for it online but something inside tells me it may not be the one.
Anyway thanks in advance.
-Mark
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The $99 saw is OK for bird houses, but it is not what you want for that entertainment center. Like others I started out with a cheap direct drive Craftsman saw. After a coupleof years I graduated to a Delta contractor's saw and gave away the old saw.
I don't know your skills or the thickness of your wallet. If I had it do do over again, I'd start out with a good quality contractor's saw. It will last my lifetime.
Cheap saw Aluminum table, very small limited rip size very limited cross cut on the miter, maybe 6 or 7 inches fench hard to adjust accurately noisy universal motor
Good saw ($600 and up) Cast iron table to dampen vibration Cast iron left extension rip at least 30", optional 52" crosscut a 1 x 10 with ease Good fence like a Beisemeyer or Unifence. Easy to set and lock. Powerful capacitor start motor Belt drive Repeatable results when set up for a given cut
No matter what saw you buy, the blade is crap. Figure $50 to $100 for a good blade. Look for a used saw to start out with if you are not sure. Before you venture out, stop at a good store with a variety of saws so you can tell what is good and desireable. For about $600 the Ridgid looks OK, bur a little more, Jet or Delta has a nice line. The cast wings are preferred over the stamped sheet metal ones.
Other brands to consider are Grizzley, Bridgewood, General.
If you have the opportunity to try the various models, it will be very apparant you don't get much for $99. But for $99, it will cut a 1 x 6 for a birdhouse. Ed
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Mark,
If you want a saw that is a pleasure to use and will fill your needs for years to come. Get a Jet or Delta or equivilant contractors grade saw for around $500.00 to $600.00. I have the Jet in my shop for 5 years and am very pleased.
I have a $200.00 Ryobi job site saw and it is fine for that, but I don't do any precision cutting with it and I know it won't last near as long as the Jet.
AZCRAIG
www.azcraig.us

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Jetman5467 wrote:

If you have the space and the budget to add tools as you need them then a good contractor's saw would be a good starting point. Don't go with a cheapie.
If, however, this is going to be the only stationary tool in your shop for a long time to come, then I'm going to take a contrarian view and suggest a radial arm saw. The ones from Sears work as well as any others currently on the market but if you can find an old deWalt on ebay or at auction you'll find that it works considerably better for the same money or less. It will require some adjusting and tuning--there are a couple of good books on that, the Jon Eakes book <http://www.wired-2-shop.com/joneakes/ProductDetail.asp?ProdID=3&nPrdImageID=&CatID=1 which is a for-pay downloadable (it's not available in paper anymore unless you find a used one) and the Mr. Sawdust book <http://www.mrsawdust.com/ . You'll find that for crosscuts it has no equal, while for ripping it works well enough if not as conveniently as a good table saw, and in addition it can serve as a usable planer, shaper, disk sander, drum sander, boring machine, and do other things. Not as well as purpose-made machines for sure but well enough to get the job done until you can afford the standalones.

--
--John
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
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If you really think you'll be making bigger things later, go for a contractor's saw. Grizzly has one that I think has the best price/performance ratio. I think it's the G0444. With a saw like that, later you can upgrade to a better fence and replace the stamped steel wings with cast iron. Or, you could sell it to offset the cost of a cabinet saw. A contractor's saw will hold it's value. The bench top models won't. I had a delta bench top saw and made exactly one project with it before upgrading.
If you're going to be starting with small projects, you may want to get a good bandsaw instead. It will cost slightly less and do most of what you want to do. The grizzly G0555 is a good example. It seems to have a good reputation here. Later, when you move on to bigger projects and want a real tablesaw, the bandsaw will still be a tool you can use.
I'd consider a router also. Get one with a 1/2" collet, like the porter cable 690. And buy carbide bits one at a time as you need them. Avoid the router bit sets. Also get a set of chisels and start practising cutting mortises. :-)
brian
snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Jetman5467) wrote in message

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On 27 Nov 2004 19:04:58 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Jetman5467) wrote:

You're a new homeowner? I'm going to go a little outside the question, and suggest the first saw you get is a nice skil-type saw and couple of sawhorses. Having a table saw sure is nice, but if you don't have any power tools, the skil saw is going to be the one that's probably going to be the most useful for any kind of home improvement. You can rip and crosscut most things with a good handheld saw, and they're real handy for cutting down plywood even after you get your table saw (unless you get one of the monster cabinet saws or a panel cutter)
As far as table saws go, just keep an eye out for the sales- you're looking at the $99 range, so there's no reason to assume that you're planning to get a Unisaw right off the bat. What I found when looking for an inexpensive saw was that Delta seemed to have the most saw for the money, but go for the nicer benchtop model- They have two of them that I've seen, one with a table with a bunch of holes in it for about $80 which is not worth the gas money needed to get it home, and a "deluxe" model with a stand, solid top and wing extension. Nothing in the price range is going to be awe-inspiring, but I've done some nice work with the little Delta. I haven't seen the "Tradesman" brand around here, but judging from the name alone, I'd guess it's one of those cheap store-specific knockoffs they have all over (Sears has Craftsman & "Companion" Farm & Fleet has Delta & "Duracraft" and Menards has Jet and "Tool Shop") Usually, those knock-off brands aren't worth a damn- and it's a good practice to avoid them.
There are a few things of note regarding the little benchtop saws that you should consider before you buy anything-
1) You can't get a better aftermarket fence for them in most cases. 2) Many, if not all of them do not accept dado sets. 3) They are very light, and eventually will slide when you're cutting something on them unless you beef up the base. 4) It is difficult to find zero-clerance inserts and aftermarket splitters or riving knives, and equally difficult to make your own in most cases.
Bearing all that in mind, I'd say go for it. You indicated above that you're just starting out, and while most of the folks here already know that they enjoy woodworking and intend to continue with it well into the future, you may find that for one reason or another, it's just not for you- and it'd be a real shame to have a nice expensive saw just sitting in the garage being used as a shelf for old paint cans! You can always upgrade later, and you'll learn plenty of things on a small saw, including what features mean the most to you when you decide to upgrade.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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