what have you done with contractor saw?

Page 1 of 2  
Im just curious to see people's projects (on their websites) who have a contractor style saw. I keep seeing pictures of these Norm like sites and get discouraged to even try to get a new tool. Seems like everyone I see has one of these stationary cabinet saws. I'm going to be in the basement for a while with a small shop and would like to verify that one can 'get by' at worst with a nice contractor style saw. Or do I have to step up to one of the 'woodworkers' saws like the dewalt DW746?
Post a link to your site if you have one with pics of projects done with your contractor saw... and tell me what kind of saw it is if its not posted.
Thanks a ton.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mike W. wrote:

Hmm... I think you might want to clarify what you mean by "contractors" saw. By convention, it means a saw with arbor attached to the top and the motor hanging out the back. Now there can be some quite hefty (300 lb+) contractor saws with some serious power. And their accuracy is excellent. I get the feeling you are referring to the small, "portable" saws typically used on jobsites as a contractors saw.
In either case, you have to mention what kind of projects you are doing; for example, handling a lot of sheet goods for larger carcasses is a heck of a lot different then building chairs.
And on too of that, there are a whole bunch of people who do beautiful work with *no* table saw.
PK
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sorry... showing my WW ignorance...
Im thinking of the somewhat portable models like the grizzly G0444Z or the Ridgid TS3650 or any others like that. Not the wheeled jobsite saws. In the price range of $450-$700 unless the answer is a must to go up to the DeWalt hybrid style DW746.
Im interested in the disadvantages of the stamped wings vs cast iron, 110 vs 220 voltage (1.5hp-2hp), ability to use add-ons like mitre sleds, dado blades, etc. I just want to hear from some folks with saws like these tell me that you can or can't do what all the lucky fellas with the big machines do. Even if its bad news or news that says "Well you can do it, but its tough", I Want to hear that so I know to go another year and save up for a big boy... which leads to saving for another 5 years to build a shop to put it in, etc... and surely SWMBO will come up with a 'better' use for the funds by then.
I will be building small furniture and stuff... I dont plan to have a business, but cabinet carcasses and the like are surely on the list.
Thanks.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mike W asks:

Standard contractor's saws you list will do what you want just fine. Hybrid saws MIGHT do a little better, and cabinet saws MAY make it easier, but I think you'll find that most woodworkers here use contractor's saws.
I've built projects on Unisaws and other cabinet saws and on contractor's saws, including the Ridgid TS3650 that is still in my shop, and find that the difference is only evident when you're sawing a lot of 2X maple or oak or beech. With the contractor's saw, you have to feed more slowly.
110 vs. 220: convert to 220 if you don't like the results with 110, but there's no difference in power.
Most table saws today will work with standard miter sled guides.
Dado blades are fine with contractor's saws.
Go for cast iron wings whenever possible, because the extra mass helps dampen vibration. Too, they hold their shape better under heavy use.
Good luck and enjoy.
Charlie Self "A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground." H. L. Mencken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Between stamped wings and cast extensions stamped is better than nothing, cast are better than stamped. The cast will support more weight without flexing and give you a true flat surface.
A 110v motor can do the same work as a 220V motor but it does so at a cost. The higher the voltage, the thinner the wires needed to do the same work. Also higher voltage wire runs will suffer less loss just getting the power to the motor.
As an example, did you ever try to jump start a car with a set of cheap jumper cables? The same thing is true for your electric circuits. Assume you have a 110V 20 amp circuit in your garage. It takes a 12 guage wire to deliver the 20 amps to the outlet. This means that circuit could deliver 2200 watts of power. If however you ran 220V down the same wire, that would deliver 4400 watts of power.
The same is true for an electric motor. The windings inside are made of copper wire and at lower voltages they can do less work.
If you bring your saw to job sites however, 220V is not often available so having a 110V machine is more convinent. But in a stationary setting, 220V is better and 3 phase power is better yet, but since you are going to be working from home you should probably stick with single phase.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, I have the new Griz G0444Z. Works like a champ. As a newbie myself, I can not believe the difference the added weight from the cast Fe wings make. The thing is quiet. It's smooth. Vibration is WAY less. If I would put on the new link belt that I just bought, I'm sure it will improve too. My electrician explained that the 220 will make a more efficient machine, regardless of what it is. Like the poster said about the jumper cables... I plan on wiring all of my tools for 220 as I acquire them. As I am working in my garage, I only need one outlet ('cause you can only use one tool at a time, right?) $600 very well spent. I noticed the difference on my first cut, and my first project was way better than anything I ever did on my ultra low-end CS.
Dave
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Stop. Think about that plan. Wire is cheap, conduit and boxes are relativly cheap, but dragging cords around is a PITA. Run lots of circuits and never be without a place to plug something in or never have to stop working and swap plugs just because you only can only use one machine at a time. Also consider twist plugs. These do not get loose like push plugs do.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
...

Muck of what is on my site was done with a cheap Craftsman direct drive saw. I now have a Delta contractor's saw with Biesemeyer fence.
Don't ever think you need the most expensive saw made. The more you spend, the more power, the larger the right side tableboard, heavier, etc. If you have the money, go for it.. If you don't, buy what you can afford.
With my old cheap saw, I had to set the fence and measure in two spots to be sure it was lined up properly. With a better fence, I move it to the cursor and lock it. I KNOW it will be that dimension.
My opinion? If you buy a $200 to $400 saw, you are going to want to upgrade in a year or two if your skills are decent. For $401 to maybe $600 or so, you may be happy for years. If you spend $800 and up, you will be happy with the saw and fence for the rest of your life, even if you are young.
One day I'll even update my web page to reflect new and bigger projects. All with a contractor saw.
--
Ed
http://pages.cthome.net/edhome/



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

time I was riding my motorcycle from New Orleans back to N. Illinois. Stopped at an old plantation in LA and had lunch in the old cabin/restaurant out back. Now, I had (being a Northerner) always read about the Southern colonel sipping a Mint Julep on the front porch of the old plantation house so I decided to try one. I had always assumed it would be something like iced tea. Had to find a tree to sit under for awhile until I was sober enough to get back on the motorcycle and head North. There certainly isn't any tea in those things.
Tom.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Tom wrote:

LOL! Well, duhhhhh. :)
--
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There's probably dozens of guys here who can give you criteria for a "good" contractors saw vs a poor one, and as far as how useful these tools are... well, I hate to say it but its not always about the tools. I inherited one of my dad's two table saws and its a really old craftsman... maybe circa 1970? Anyway, my dad had used this saw to everything from job site work to cabinetry, and people were paying him good money for his work. My first criteria would be that it's a 10" saw, then it's got to have a cast iron table, and a reasonably powerful motor. Plus you should be able, with a little care... to make good, clean, straight cuts. Whatever.
I happened to be in Sears a couple of days ago and saw their 3/4 cabinet model OR35505/OR35506 and I liked it. Don't get me wrong... I've used a Unisaw plenty of times and they are beautiful machines. But I wouldn't want to lug a Unisaw into my 15 X 20 basement shop and deal with it coexisting with my two benches, jointer, SCMS, and all the other "stuff". Did I mention a lolly column? I have a mobile base on my saw, and I can easily move it, or rotate it, or lock it up. The one drawback is the dust, and I hope to remedy that with a compact DC setup this year.
If I were looking to spend $500 on a replacement saw, I think I could be very happy with either of those Sears saws. And of course there are other comparable/better brands that might be in the same price range, but I'll go back to the comment that it's not always the brand that makes the finished product but the person using the tool.
On Fri, 07 Jan 2005 03:31:02 GMT, "Mike W."

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
captmikey notes:

The lugging around I can understand, as the Unisaw weighs upwards of 400 pounds (tilt and walk works, though). But I cannot for the life of me understand why people who have used a cabinet saw keep saying the footprint is larger than, say, a contractor's saw with similar accouterments. It isn't. And the basic saw, with a similar fence, is actually a wee bit less deep because the motor ain't hanging out the back.
Charlie Self "A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground." H. L. Mencken
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Probably the weight and the mass of a cabinet saw makes the owner feel that it has a larger footprint.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Charlie Self wrote:

The extra space consumed by the motor hanging out the back is the only reason (for now) that I plan to eventually move up to a cabinet saw. My Ridgid 2400 (stamped wings and all) performs fine for the time being but I sure wish I could push it all the way against a wall. For that reason (and the stamped wings), I'll keep my eye on the used tool market for a good bargain.
Cheers, Mike
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I guess I could email you a few photos of what I have done. I don't keep a web page anymore.
I can address this intelligently. I use a contractors saw, I have used my USA made Delta for about 6 or 7 years. I also am lucky to use Unisaws at American Sycamore Woodworkers Retreat. I have also used the Dewalt once or twice. So I have a pretty good basis for comparison.
(BTW, this topic has about been beat to death, you might look at archives.)
Your primary question seems to be, what kind (quality) of work can be done on a contractors saw. I can get just as smooth a cut on my contractors saw as I get on the Unisaws, other things being equal. It would be hard to get a direct comparision, I'd have to take my Freud blade out to ASWR to see any differences. But I think that would be a waste of time. I get silky smooth cuts on my saw now. It would be hard to quantify any differences in these saws.
And smooth cuts translate to good work.
A cabinet saw has less vibration, in theory, because of the incresed mass of the trunnion and base. So there may be some small improvement in quality of cut. But I've never noticed it.
I do not feel limited when it comes to power. A cabinet saw has twice the HP of my saw, I'm sure you know this if you have been doing your homework. But for the few times when I have had to rip tough woods thicker than 2 inches, it doesn't bother me to slow down. I can still get the job done on my less powerful saw. Just takes a few seconds longer.
I use a Unifence, many Unisaws use a unifence. I could just as well have a Beismeyer, as do many Unisaws. Not much to compare there. My projects are not limited by my fence. If you want my opinion, go with the Beis. I wish I had, but I don't lose sleep over it.
I can assure you, my quality of work, as regards the saw used, would not improve a bit with a Unisaw or PM66. My quality of life might improve slightly! My wallet might be worse off! My marriage might be worse off (wife bought my Contractors saw for me, I have to keep it forever now, I think.)
To address some other unstated questions you kinda raise-
A cabinet saw takes up less room than a contractors saw. Also true of the Dewalt and the new Jet. You said you have a small shop at this time. The Unisaw is physically smaller. Easy choice there, I guess.
A cabinet saw provides for dust collection. Almost requires it, in fact. I don't give a rats a** about a pile of sawdust behind my saw. But I am in the minority. And I am in a garage. It was different when I was in the basement. I think the Dewalt and Jet also have limited dust collection ability, compared to a cabinet saw.
It is easier to dial in, or adjust, a cabinet saw. You won't have to do this often, maybe never, but it may matter to you.
The contractors saw will be a hell of a lot easier to get down a stair way. Take it down in pieces, assemble when you are down the steps. Than, don't move. A cabinet saw- I don't know how many people I would have needed to get a heavy saw down the steps at my old house. There would have been ropes involved. Maybe a dolly, I dunno.
Flip side of that coin- a cabinet saw weighs more, which contributes to that smooth thing I refered to earlier.
A Contrators saw will run on 120V if you have to, most cabinet saws need 220V.
If you grow bored with woodworking (hey, it happens) you will get a larger percentage of your purchase price back when you sell a cabinet saw. As long as it isn't green. Contraotors saws hold value better than a bench top saw, but not as well as cabinet saws. Too soon to know what will happen with the new generation saws, in that respect.
I'd love a PM66 someday, but given my economic situation (I am Mr. Mom, I do not earn money, and won't for 3 more years) it will be a very long time coming. (Than there is that 'wife present' thing) I am not missing out on much with my contractors saw. I have done some very nice work with it. I am proud of much of the work I have done on it, I am proud to own the saw, and happy with it.
Hope that helps. Man, am I wordy tonight.
-Dan V.
On Fri, 07 Jan 2005 03:31:02 GMT, "Mike W."

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have this saw and have found it to be very accurate. The fence is the same as used on certain models of Delta's Unisaw. You probably will not rip 4" thick oak with it, but other than that it is a fine saw. http://www.deltawoodworking.com/index.asp?e 6&px5 Greg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Well, let's see. I have one of those $400 Delta contractors saw. First project was this:
http://www.bunchobikes.com/cabinet2.jpg
then a blanket chest I don't have photos of. Then this:
http://www.bunchobikes.com/cabinet.JPG
Lately, it's been raining so no work on the backyard project. So into the shop, to do this last week:
http://www.bunchobikes.com/kitchen1.jpg
Yea, I know. Bad pic. Still need to do the drawer and door. The bakers rack next to it I made before I had the saw. 'Bout 10 years ago or so. I wish I had a better fence but nothin' an accurate ruler doesn't fix. That and an outfeed roller / support help with the one man handling of long / sheet stock.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Mike W. wrote:

I know this isn't what you asked for, but this is what I do WITHOUT a table saur at all. Though I do have a bandsaur:
Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
http://home.comcast.net/~saville/backstaffhome.html
Restoration of my 82 year old Herreshoff S-Boat sailboat:
http://home.comcast.net/~saville/SBOATrestore.htm
Gregg
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hey, I'd love to have a cabinet saw instead of my lowly Delta contractor II, but really, most of the stuff that Norm makes is copied from things that were made by hand.
--

Larry Wasserman Baltimore, Maryland
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
What you need to do good work with any table saw are 1) a strong, flat table, 2) a straight, accurate fence, and 3) a good blade. The rest of the bits and pieces attached to the saw don't matter very much but you need the ability to raise and lower the blade and the ability to accurately tilt it to any angle up to 45 degrees.
In addition, you need 4) an accurate miter gauge for crosscutting small work, 5) an accurate crosscut sled for larger panels, .6) infeed and outfeed support (tables, roller stands, etc.) for long and/or wide goods, 7) a dado set, and 8-n) various other jigs for tenoning, finger jointing, dovetailing, etc.
The less expensive the saw, the fewer of the first three items you will get with it and will need to supply the tools and/or techniques to fill the gaps.
The last group, 4 thru n, doesn't come with any saw - tabletop, contractor, hybrid or cabinet - and will have to be supplied by you. Most you can make in your shop or you can buy all of them.
I deliberately included a miter gauge in the last group. The devices that come bundled with most saws are junk.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.