Tablesaw comparison/buying guide

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Greetings all,
I would like to start getting a good grasp on what I would be looking for in a first-time tablesaw purchase. And by "tablesaw" I mean anything from a traditional saw in a table with four legs setup to a cabinet saw. Left-right tilt doesn't seem to be an issue. What I'm wondering about is the durability and performance of the saw and related mechanisms. What are the better manufacturers to look at? What names to stay away from? For some reason I had been interested in the Jet saws which feature four sturdy legs similar to 4x4 posts. These appeal to me just for the fact I could get a broom under them for cleaning. Fence systems seem to be very high quality these days as compared to many years ago in high school shop class. The saw would most likely be used for serious hobby applications with occasional light production work.
The names I'm familiar with are Grizzly, General, Powermatic, Jet and Delta.
Any help or guidance is greatly appreciated.
John
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John Wood wrote:

What kind of performance (you can buy as much HP as you need)?
Lew Hodgett, a very knowledgeable woodworker, says (tongue in cheek, I think), that "you don't buy a TS, you buy a fence".
Are you willing to spend $60-$100 on a blade?
Grizzly is the only company from which you can buy directly, I think.
I'm basically in the same boat as you are.
If price is no object, you may wish to consider SawStop.
I hope I wrote something useful! :) -Bill

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Bill wrote:

Bill,
It was useful, thanks.
I'm looking for what i would suppose all good craftsmen are looking for: A solid workhorse which will run through the day with little or no trouble. Not continuous but when you need it, it should be there. As an example, when I put together an electronics project the first thing I do is turn on my Weller WP35. It is not fancy by any means. But when I need it, its there. That type of thing. I understand the "buying a fence" concept. However, after years of using tabletop saws in the past I need to know there's something under the table also. :-)
Thanks.
John
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Started off in the same position as you about eight years ago, looking for my retirement machine, with two differences:
- Wanted a cabinet saw - Was pretty much predisposed to Unisaw because of experience with some of them in the 70's and 80's.
Looked at a new Unisaw and kept looking. Looked at Jet. Ended up with a Grizzly 1023s. Very pleased.
RonB
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Interesting. I did just the same (looked for a retirement saw) earlier this year and went the opposite direction. I started with the Griz (G0690) and settled on the Unisaw. By the time I included shipping the difference in price wasn't significant, so went with the Delta.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I just had look at the Unisaw video. Does the saw live up to expectations as presented in the video?
John
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wrote:

Haven't seen the video. I have no complaints about the saw. It's certainly powerful enough to cut anything I'm likely to throw at it. The table is a bit on the cheesy side so I'm planning (unless someone has good reasons otherwise) to replace the table with an IKEA beech countertop (with a bit of rework). I have better uses the space my router table takes so I was planning on putting the lift in the saw table. The table is too thin to take the lift and T-Tracks.
The IKEA top is about 1/4 the price of any oak butcher block I can find. There is an IKEA store in Atlanta, so it's no problem fetching it. Shipping for these things is significant.
http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/60057852
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It took me a few moments to realize that the cheesy table that you are talking about is the right extension table, right?

With a nice capable saw like that,,,,, why not build your own? If you think it is cheesy because of the melemine top on MDF? The one on my cabinet saw has held up pretty well for the last 10 years. While the Ikea beech top may be nice, you do want the top to be as slick as possible to help prevent drag. And a surface that resists stuff like glue soaking in.
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wrote:

Yes.
Melemine on thin MDF. It's not that the thing is going to fall apart, rather the MDF is too thin to dado in T-Track. I could probably beef up the bottom enough for the router lift. I figured that the 1-1/4 thickness would have plenty of material left after the T-Track slot was hogged out.

I figured poly and wax would resist glue pretty well. It seems to work well on the Ash (it's what I have on hand) cauls I made recently.
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RonB wrote:

I'm curious. What did you feel were the weak points of the Unisaw?
John
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This was around 2001 and my biggest problem was disappointment. I had used an older Unisaw in a college cabinet class during the late 1970's and was impressed. Also, a neighbor had one in the same time period. When I looked at the new ones the instant impression was cheaper build + high price. The hand-wheel locks were cheaper looking (and I believe eventually picked up some plastic). The motor cover was cheap. The top finish was not what I remembered. Another problem was I was having trouble even finding one without the side table and extensions. At that time I didn't have the space and the price was in the $1,500 - $1.600 range. The JET was actually a better looking machine and in a very similar price range. (Of course the Powermatic was a desirable saw too; but I couldn't justify $2K for a machine (Did, however, eventually buy a PM jointer)).
A friend steered me toward Grizzly. I took advantage of their customer referral service and was able to speak to a local owner who was very pleased with his machine. About that time I was able to travel to Springfield and got a very good demonstration from a Grizzly salesman . Actually, other than color, the 1023s reminded me very much of the Unisaw of old. I ended up buying a 1023s for about $875+ $75 shipping (again 2001 prices). Never been sorry.
At the time I purchased my 1023, the 1023SL had just been introduced. I was tempted, but I am also hesitant to buy from the front-end of a production run. But, from what I have heard the SL is a good machine. One strong point of the 1023 line is the Shop Fox Classic fence. It has been compared with the Biesmeyer in several reviews and always favorably. It seldom needs to be readjusted and is HEAVY DUTY.
BTW, our son bought the Grizzly G0444Z about three years ago, and I got to use it during the finish of his home. It is lower powered but shares several attributes with the bigger Grizzly (cast table extensions, Aluminum Version of the Shop Fox Classic - also a good fence.) It is a contractor type saw but the stand is very sturdy compared to some other machines.
Good Luck. I shared you decision nervousness but I am pleased.
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wrote:

My Unisaw does have both extensions (a requirement), and the 50" Biesemeyer fence. Space wasn't an issue for the saw. ;-) I paid $1600 for it, in March this year, including shipping (Amazon).
The wheels and locks are all metal and the motor cover fiberglass. I suppose fiberglass could be called "cheap" but it's pretty solid.

The equivalent Jet was quite a bit more than what I paid for the Unisaw. PM was out of the question. If I were going that much I'd have bought either the new Unisaw or SawStop. SWMBO would have had a fit (likely not) if I'd spent that much though.
<snipped good information about the Griz>
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Whereabouts are you? Most big cities have at least one shop that deals in used tools. That, along with scanning craigs, is a great way to find some pretty great machinery at great prices.
Whether you go new or used, read up (lots of great sources online) on aligning and setup of tablesaws. Many 1st time buyers fail to understand the importance of a proper setup. Setup includes the floor under the saw.
I understand the advice on cabinet saws vs. contractor saws... I've used both and have no real preference. I've always owned a contractor (Rockwell (Delta) for years and now a Powermatic). They have always done a fine job (see advice on setup).
I really shouldn't say this... I'll probably cut my hand off tomorrow. The Stop Saw (or whatever it's called) is nice but it's no substitute for good (and unwavering) safety practices. Know where the blade is and where your body parts are. Don't let the two try to occupy the same space. Don't rush. Don't make a single cut without thinking it through first. Maintain a healthy fear of the machine.
When you get the saw, spend time making stuff. That is to say, get to know the tool. Don't expect your first project to be perfect because you got a good tool. You are still doing the work. (Actually as I think about this one, if I owned a cabinet saw and got to know it and felt as comfortable as I do on my own saw, I might well come to change my mind about not having a preference. (grin))
Ed
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I purchased the Jet you are talking about years ago. At the time it was called the Jet SuperSaw, I looks like they have changed it to the ProShop line. I'm not sure if they still offer the sliding table with it, but for the most part I find that feature useless and has prevented me from purchasing a tennoning jig as there is no miter slot left of the blade. At 1 3/4 HP, it is good for home use. It comes wired for 110, but it is a simple matter of just moving a couple wires around to wire it for 220. I never used it on 110 and cannot comment on the power there, but wired for 220 it has never given me a bit of grief. I added the router into the extension table, but it looks like you can order it that way now.
One beef I have with it is the fence. It attaches to the front and the rear of the table making it hard to fabricate an outfeed table. I cannot tell from the picture of the ProShop, but it looks like they changed the design and no longer requires the attachment at the back of the saw.
Another complaint I have is the dust collection is pretty poor. Before using it, I usually have to open up the back and vacuum it out because most if the dust tends to collect in the saw itself instead of moving off into the dust collector. There is a large plate inside with holes to allow dust through and I believe the intent was to collect the larger stuff that might damage a dust collector. For the most part it just collects almost everything in the saw. Prehaps they have adresses that issue also.
Hope this helps. Mark
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Along with the other advice, myself and that SteveA guy would recommend keeping your eyes on whatever sources you have for used gear.
Our recent gloats can attest to the success that can be found.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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-MIKE- wrote:

I saw that recent gloat.
Jeezaloo. Nice.
:-)
Good used is always a consideration.
Thanks.
John
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John Wood wrote:

Major powertool are like cars. I prefer to let someone else take the big hit in value, then get it from them.
--

-MIKE-

"Playing is not something I do at night, it's my function in life"
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I totally agree with Mike, the used market via Craig's list, classsified etc. are a great source for top notch used equipment that you might otherwise never be able to afford.
In fact, eBay is also a great source for surplus and overstocked equipment as they tend to give greater discounting. If I did not pick up the 12" Rockwell saw, the Powermatic PM3000 TS (14"Blade) w/ 50"Accufence extension table and ci extensions for 1995.00 is a STEAL....:)
SteveA

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There's an outfit called IRS Auctions (irsauctions.com) that handles a lot of surplus industrial equipment. Lots of TS every week. The rub is that unless you can inspect the item, you're relying on pix. Also, you need to arrange your own shipping and for a TS that will be a pain. They've got a Unisaw at the Howard Miller Clock Co. with a current bid of $75 closing on 9/16.
SteveA wrote:

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Given our times this is pretty good advice. It is unfortunate, but I suspect even the classified's and pawn shops might be a source to check out. With the condition of the economy there might be a lot of folks selling equipment.
RonB
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