I'm in the market for a 10" table saw for 'occasional' use - so don't want
to spend a fortune, but don't want rubbish.
I'm currently looking at an Erbauer saw for £150 in the Screwfix catalogue,
or a Clarke jobby for about £120 (including stand) from Machine Mart.
Has anyone got any experience of, or comments on, either of these? Or
alternative recommendations in the same price range?
I have a Charnwood which I'm happy with. http://www.charnwood.net/index.jsp
but havig just looked at thier site that range is now much smaller & mine
I did upgrade the rip fence with one of these
As Andy said it makes a huge difference having a decent fence.
Complete agreement with Andy Hall's very thorough advice. After much
daliance with cheaper options, I finally bought what I needed, a Jet
Supersaw. I realise that is much more than your budget, but the small
table saws are of very limited usage - so look at the various
contractor saws about (Jet, Scheppach etc.)
What are you planning to do with your TS? Presumably you want to rip
long timbers? How long? What's the max depth of cut you need? Will you
want angled cuts? Will you want trench cuts? If it's all sheet material
work consider a handheld circular saw used with guide battens/baords.
If you're only looking at small pieces of board/timber/trims (no long
rips) look at using a mitre saw.
I'll mainly use it for ripping long pieces of smallish section timber. For
example, I have just been repairing a shed for which I needed some 45x33
timber, but could only get 45x45, so had to reduce it (2.4 metre lengths). I
then needed to rebate some of it for use as a window frame.
As mentioned in my replay to Andy, it was a right pain doing this with my 7
1/4" B&D hand-held saw clamped to the underside of a universal bench saw
stand. I envisage needing most of the 75mm depth of cut which 10" saws
provide - but I don't think I need more than this.
If I need to cut large sheets, the hand-held with guide battens is perfectly
For 45*45mm, 2.4m rips I think you really need a contractor saw. That
is after all exactly the kind of work they're used for.
I've seen one of these in use and was impressed (my experience of the
scheppach brand and this supplier is also excellent):
Mainly because of the work you want to do. Contractor saws are designed
precisley for the tasks you described. The Axminster product is
probably aimed more at the home furniture maker (short, light rips and
I've only seen the scheppach product used, never used it myself, and
only seen the Axminster one on show stands. However there's a scheppach
spec here http://diytools.com/store/detail.asp?productid=64897 thats
says this saw weighs more than twice the axminster (stability), larger
blade and larger motor (momentum and speed of cut is important for good
clean/no-burn cuts on long rips). However specs alone are not a good
basis for choosing, nothing like seeing/trying for yourself.
Incidentally, this product seems very similar to the scheppach:
You could ask Axminster's opinion for the suitability of their 2
products to your needs.
I think that that would be a good idea. Their categorisations of
hobby, light trade, trade,... sem to be very even handed - i.e. they
don't try to pretend that something is heavier duty than it is or to
sell up the customer to something beyond his needs.
I guess that the contractor saws are heavier because of the motor.
I am slightly concerned about the galvanised steel plate as the table
surface on these. It saves weight, obviously, but I worry about
The aluminium cast/extruded tops should at least be stiff which is the
Going the next step really involves cast iron tables. There's no
question about rigidity, but there is a definite step of price and
weight (says he wheeling a tonne of combination machine across the
table area is one factor.
This is probably why it makes sense to go and look at some saws and see
what you think.
Of course the problem is creeping incrementalism. There is always
something a bit better for a bit more. One could easily (well
perhaps not that easily) go in steps like this all the way to an
You have to drill the edge of the table and bolt two brackets to it. This
has to be done fairly accurately although there is a little adjustment. One
reason I chose the Charnwood was the cast ally table.
BTW Charnwoods after sales service really is good. I wouldn't hesitate to
buy other stuff from them.
The fence rail is fitted to the brackets. Once on, the fence is then
adjsutable to get it perfectly square.
The clamp is very good indeed, no wander at the back end at all.
Transformed my table saw.
On 2006-08-06 17:08:03 +0100, "The Medway Handyman"
That makes a lot of sense.
They've been around for a while. What's good is that they have
figured out that there is a market for taking products which have the
potential for after market upgrade and adding this as a service for a
That's interesting. It means that you can take the £120 saw, add this
and make a difference for reasonable cost.
It's a shame that the saw manufacturers are doing mimsy mitre channels
in Europe. If they did 3/4 x 1/2" it would open up a huge number of
Portable table saws are a conundrum.
I looked at a lot of these recently for a friend.
It's understandable to start from the perspective that it's for
occasional use and because of that choose at a certain price point.
However, there's a few important points to appreciate when deciding what to do.
- Safety. The very low end machines (~£50) have very flimsy guards
and generally poor construction. It isn't worth risking fingers.
- Fences. Principally the rip fence is the thing that makes the
difference between a saw that is almost totally worthless to one that
can do small work reasonably to one that will tackle larger projects.
Among portable saws, this is one of the largest factors vs. price.
Having a solid and easily adjustable rip fence makes a large difference
to whether square cuts can be achieved in the size and type of material
that the user wants to cut.
This is determined by the construction, fixing, adjustment and clamping
arrangements for the fence.
The fence is normally clamped at the front with either a push down
lever or a screw handle. Generally levers are better. However, the
stiffness of the fence itself is an important factor. On large fixed
table saws, the fence is a very substantial and heavy item - for
portable saws weight is a factor, so other ways have to be found (or
At the very low end, nothing is done - there's a simple clamp at the
front. If the fence extends all the way to the back of the table, it
can at least be clamped there once square with a G clamp or equivalent.
This is necessary to avoid the fence being pushed to an angle as work
is passed through.
The better portable saws may have a secondary clamp built in at the
back that can be screwed down or otherwise locked after the front
clamp. At least then the fence won't move as work is pushed against
it. However, this (or the DIY clamp approach) mean that there is a
set up to do for each cut, and that takes time.
The higher end saws have a mechanism that ensures that the fence
always tracks parallel to the blade. For example, I have a DeWalt 744
which I occasionally use for work remote from the workshop. This one
has a rack and pinion arrangement and lever and the fence is very solid
for the type of saw.
The other thing to look at with fences is the mitre fence and slots.
On the low end saws, there is a slot of size decided by the
manufacturer. The mitre fence is more a tick in the box item than
anything worth using. The problem here is that it fits into the slot
by having a small bar of aluminium underneath. Neither this, nor the
slot are very deep and moreover there is usually quite a bit of
sideways play, meaning that the angle achieved for the cut will not be
consistent or reliable. In the U.S. the mid range portable saws and
above all have a standard slot size of 3/4 x 3/8 inch and there is a
host of after market accessories that will get round the limitiations.
Unfortunately, this is not so common here in Europe and some of them
will cost as much as the saw itself. For some applications, you can
make a suitable jig to run in the slots - e.g. a crosscut sled.
Looking at the Clark CTS10D, this is a generic that you can see with
several different brand labels. Most of the DIY stores carry this one.
For all but the very lightest work (piece of material not exceeding
table size) it is going to be fairly poor because the fence is very
small and flimsy. Moreover, it doesn't extend to the back of the table
so there is no easy way to clamp it.
The Axminster Perform CCTS10 is essentially the same saw.
If you look at the rest of Axminster's range, they have the JTS 10
which is more substantial - the fence goes to the back and could be
clamped (£159) - and then the BTS10PP which has a more substantial
lever operated fence as well as a secondary clamp at the back (£199).
If you compare these with the Makita 2704 (£482) or Bosch GTS10 (£516),
you can see that the fence arrangements are far more substantial than
the others. Of course there are a bunch more features and generally
better construction by far, but the price more than doubles. I
suspect that you wouldn't want to invest in one of these.
Unfortunately, there is a gap between the £200 price point and the £500
one in portable saws.
- Size/Weight. All of the portable saws have a limitation that
results from their size and portability - that is that they are light
and can become unstable. Therefore, I think it is important to think
about what you expect to want to do before buying. It is not going to
be safe with the saw just on its stand to attempt to rip 150mm from the
side of a 2440x1220mm sheet of chipboard single handed for example.
With care, and some assistance and carefully located infeed and outfeed
rollers it might be marginally possible.
The table sizes are again a limitation of portable saws. For some,
extensions are available. Otherwise you can make them or even make a
workstation into which to locate the saw. There are a few plans
around for doing that which are not particularly difficult to implement.
Alternatively, there are some contractor type saws aroun that have a
larger work area (e.g. Screwfix has one by Ferm for £140). I believe
Grunff bought one of these and was happy with it. It would be
appropriate if space is not too big a problem for example.
So in summary, I would suggest forgetting bout the very lowest end
(e.g. the £50 jobs) - they are just not worth having, and in my view
If you want to go for the £120 - 150 range, then look for one with at
least a fence that runs to the back that can be clamped. Without that,
I think that you would be disappointed and frustrated with the results,
even for very basic DIY tasks.
If you can stretch to £200, I think you would find a noticable
difference in the quality of work that can be achieved - the entry
level ones really can't cut reliably square without the fence clamped
in some way. An alternative to the Axminster one at this price is the
Ryobi ETS-1525SC - this one has an extendable work area as well,
although on rods so only suitable for light materials.
I think it's important to understand the limitations. Realistically,
these are not going to do large or heavy work and one has to appreciate
that that will be the case regardless of how much it's used.
Therefore I would start with thinking about what work you want to do
rather than how often. If it really is occasional and you want to
have large cut pieces, then it is more realistic to use the cutting
service of the supplier.. Alternatively, for large sheet cutting, a
guide clamp and circular saw are a better option than a portable table
saw anyway - regardless of quality.
Many, many thanks for your very thorough analysis of table saws.
I certainly take on board your comments about fences. I currently have a 7
1/4" B&D saw, designed to be hand-held, which clamps onto the underside of a
universal 'bench' contraption on the occasions when I need a table saw. It's
a right pain to use - difficult to get the blade parallel with the fence,
extremely difficult to adjust the cutting depth, and a flimsy fence which
gets deflected by the material being cut. Oh, and I also have to use a cable
tie to hold its switch in the ON position, and actually start and stop it at
the power-point - so not ultra safe!
I currently don't have space for any new machinery, but am about to have a
new double garage/workshop built, in which I can accommodate a decent saw.
Of the saws you mention, I am rather taken by the Axminster BTS10PP. I think
the budget can be extended to £200 if I ask nicely!
Presumably the fence can be removed when cutting wide material? It's not too
clear from the picture exactly how the depth and angle adjustments work -
they're both on the front, whereas some machines seem to have one on the
front and one on the side. Presumably the handwheel winds the blade up and
down? How is the angle adjusted?
Is there much difference in the quality of motors and blades used in saws in
this price bracket?
Oooh, don't like the sound of that. A table saw needs the fence in place
always. If the workpiece (i.e. the bit you want to end up with) is wider
than the blade>fence distance you need an extension table to lock the
Freehand cutting is a big no no
Well, I agree freehand isn't good, but it needn't always be a fence. I
have a pair of nice sliding squares I made up which fit in the
protractor groove. One carries bits at right angles, the other at 45°.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.
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