Table saw question

Before I even ask the question, I've read enough here to guess that many will suggest upgrading to a good contractor model. But the wife won't go for that until she's sure that this is something I'm actually going to stick with (I tend to gravitate interests - golf for a while, tennis, making DVDs, etc).
I have an 5 or 6 year old benchtop Craftsman TS (no comments needed here - I understand what's good and what isn't). My question surrounds the depth of the table. There is only about 6" of table space between the front edge and the beginning of the blade on my benchtop. Looking at better contractor saws and cabinet saws, the distance between the front edge and the saw appears to be at least 12".
I'm a little uneasy getting a piece feeling "solid" on the table before I'm hitting the blade to cut. Is this something that I will feel better with in time - or is this small depth one of the big downsides of a benchtop?
Still learning...
Thanks
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I also have a Craftsman with about the same distance to the blade. I have managed OK and built many things but had trouble with the fence moving on me. I think that was my biggest gripe, although having more space to the blade would steady things up a bit.
RonT
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One inexpensive solution could be to build an in-feed table (like an out-feed table, but on the inlet side of the table). You would have to rout out some slots that align with the miter slots so that your miter guage could slide forward without interference, but it would provide more stability. Sort of loses the portability aspect, unless it could be easily removed.
Key things that make the saws better as they get more expensive:
Good fence - remains parallel to the blade and locks firmly in position front and back Smooth operation - low vibration Accurate alignment - the blade remains accurately aligned to the miter slots and fence throughout it's range of adjustment. Sufficient power - Adequate and flat top - room to use fixtures to hold wood for difficult cuts. Good blade clearance plate - ability to make a good zero-clearance plate (doesn't drift around).
I'm sure there are a lot more, and others can suggest.
-- Tom

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http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
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wrote:

<snip>
Great idea, Ed! I can't believe that I didn't think of that when I was using the bench top saw!!
Mac
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Corey asks:

Big downside. You may get slightly used to it, but with many materials, it's always going to be a PITA.
Charlie Self "The really frightening thing about middle age is that you know you'll grow out of it." Doris Day
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I had one for years... it spent most of it's time surrounded by a home made table that went around all 4 sides of the table... looked like the saw was in a packing crate.. lol it worked very well, since I wasn't doing many depth adjustments with it... you might try building "wings" for it, like folks build for their miter saws... having more room on the sides might make the blade position more manageable..
last option, as I look around my shop, would be to build or buy an adjustable height feed roller stand and put it near the front edge of the table?? (I love the one next to my cut off saw... (opps, CMS)
Mac
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