Better saws have larger table tops, cast iron instead of aluminum.
Larger means you can handle larger pieces and make wider cross cuts.
Heavier means less vibration. Usually more power. Saws run from $99 to
$2000. They can be classified at driving a 10 year old Yugo, or a brand new
More expensive means a better fence and that is a big deal for accuracy and
ease of use. Cast iron wings instead of stamped steel. (or none at all on a
Blades are subjective, but you can usually get away with two good ones.
Keep the one that comes with the saw for cutting pressure treated and
construction type stuff. A good combination blade will do 90% of what you
need. It will cost from $50 to $130 or so. Forrest WWII, Ridge Carbide,
Freud are a few good ones. A fine crosscut blade usually give very good
results for plywood.
Only you can determine "best" for your use. If you want to narrow the
search, let us know the intended use and you budget.
I've been reading advice such as this and trying to apply it to buying a
ts. I'm overwhelmed by the choices. I am a beginner at this and
would like to spend between $300 to $750, $500 or so would be best.
My intention is to use it for home woodworking projects. I would like a
nice quaility that will last and doesn't need an upgrade in three or
four years. Part availability would be nice as well which tempts me to
go to Lowe's which has Delta, Porter-Cable, DeWalt and a couple others.
I've been eyeing a 10" Delta TS300 ($400) and a 10" Jet 708300K ($749).
The Jet's price makes me more than a bit nervous and I'm not sure it
would be worth the difference in price. Then someone mentioned the
Ridgid TS3650 at about $730. Still on the expensive side.
Should I go for the upper price limit or would the Delta work for my
purposes. TOO MANY CHOICES!
Your budge puts you into one category, but the mention of not upgrading in a
few years takes you back out of it. What would I buy? Well, I had a cheap
saw and upgraded to the equivalent of a Delta 36-507. But that is $1000.
Mine is a few years old and I'm still very happy with it and it should last
my lifetime. If you think this is a hobby for life, that is what you want.
If this is an occasional thing, the saws you mentioned will be OK.
Lowes has limited selection. You may want to check out some stores that
specialize in tools. Woodcraft, Coastal Tools and a few others. Get the
best you can afford. Check the ease of setting the fence and you may want
to spend on the high end of your budget.
For a beginner, who isn't sure if he'll continue at it, and for doing
'small' to 'medium size' projects, the Ryobi BT-3100 deserves _serious_
consideration. It is an *incredible* value for the money (under $US300).
Nothing else in the price range is close.
The next major 'step up' is to a full-size 'contractor' saw. Something like
the Delta 34-4xx series, Grizzly, General, the Jet 808300K, or maybe the
above that, you're into the 'cabinet' saws. Delta 'Unisaw', Powermatic '66',
high-end General (650?), high-end Grizzly, etc.
the inexpensive 'benchtop' saws are OK for 'rough work' like cutting 2x4s,
building simple bird-houses and/or dog-houses, etc. They _can_ be used for
more 'serious' woodworking, but they are very 'frustrating' to use -- finicky,
*slow* in set-up, requiring constant re-checking, etc.
There's a whole slew of stuff priced between the BT3100 and the 'serious'
contractor saws. Most of them _do_ have a feature or two that is better
than the BT3100. And are *not* as good as the BT3100 in most other respects.
If a _specific_ feature is "critical" for you (and, as a beginner, you
_won't_ have specific critical needs :) then it makes sense to go with the one
of those consumer-grade saws that is better on that specific feature.
Yes, If you discover you're "really serious" about woodworking, you _will_
want to replace the BT3100 with 'something better', and much more expensive.
But, at that point, you will know what you want, and be able to justify
spending the money. *AND* you can probably sell the BT3100 for 1/2 - 2/3
of what you paid for it. Net cost for the 'education', circa $125.
Not to mention the economics of the situation if you decide woodworking is
"not for me". A loss of circa $125-150 on the BT3100 beats the heck out
of taking a circa $300-400 loss on a $700 purchase.
Thanks for the responses everyone. I'm going to check out the Ridgid
and BT3100 now. Both sound promising. I really think I'll be in this
for the long run but I guess it's too early to say for sure. I like
your 'education' cost logic for the BT3100, kinda hard to argue with.
And I could get started all the sooner. We have a Woodcraft here in
Tulsa, OK so I'll check out them as well.
Thanks again, I feel like I have a little more direction now.
While you are at it you might go by the 21st and Yale Sears and ask to look
at the 24830 that they have on close out. The last time I was in there they
still had one left. They were closing them out at $349 and if you belonged
to the Craftsman Club you can get another 10%.
The only thing I saw that I didn't like was the plastic hand wheels which I
replaced with cast metal ones, other than that it seems to be as good as the
30 year old one that I have used since it was new. The only reason I
purchased a new saw was that it was bargain priced (I'm a Sears retiree so
got additional 10%) and had what appears to be a pretty good cast iron
extension/router table and a nice set of wheels to move it around on. I
think the saw and included accessories originally sold for over $700.00.
Sorry but I made a mistake on the price (one of those senior things) the
close out is $449 and with the Craftsman Club discount it is $404 (I was
thinking my retiree discount at $350) which is a lot of saw/iron (330 lbs)
for that kind of money and it was made by Ryobi. RM~
I would echo the comments of others that a key item is the fence. It
should move smoothly and remain accurately parallel to the blade.
Depending on your intended usage, a large table id definitely desirable.
I recently purchased a Rigid saw from Home Depot. I am impressed with
its performance. It has a good fence, a large iron table, and sits on a
movable base. The assembly instructions were excellent but assembly is
easier if you have somebody help for the first hour. Beware, it comes
in two boxes, one about 15 pounds and the other about 300 pounds.
The blue one is much better than the striped one. <grin>
First, quantify what kind of work you'll be doing. and how much of it.
then you can determine 'how much' tool is appropriate for the job.
In general, price of the tool correlates fairly well with 'quality'.
There are exceptions, notable exceptions, both ways.
What the higher price gets you, in general, is:
greater durability -- stands up better under heavier use
better 'repeatability' -- ease in making another piece exactly the same size
larger work surfaces -- better support for larger pieces of material
improved 'ease of use' -- you just 'do it', rather than having to fight
with the equipment, to get it to do what you want. Less frustration,
higher productivity, etc.
email@example.com (Robert Bonomi) wrote in
So the original poster, by name and email address, would seem to be in
Italy. I'm guessing that the BORG we know hasn't assimilated all of Europe
yet, and that there may be a few differences in what tools are on the
market there. Safety features are certainly different (better) in the EU,
at least on more recently designed machines.
I also note that the Euro tools we see here are more expensive than I can
justify to my wife, or to myself, for my hobbyist purposes, even though
they are REALLY NICE tools. Some of the best in the world come from the
Milan area, IIRC.
So the general answers would apply, regarding budgets for space, money and
complexity. Those have been already offered. What would be needed is the
'local expert', the person(s) in the area who do this for fun, and know
what is offered, and what works there. Find one or more of those people,
and you'll save more than a few Euros, and weeks of unproductive time, and
probably learn a lot in the process.
A professional woodworker I met last month told me that woodworking can be
a fairly solitary pursuit, which is both good and bad. Most woodworkers,
however, are more than happy to show you their latest creations, and
explain how they did it, and what they learned in the process. As long as
the timing is right, and you don't take up too much of their time.
I've read some magazines from the UK and Europe, and only the really
good stuff gets exported to the US. They seem to get just as much
crap imported to them from Chiwan as the US does.
I seem to remember full page ads in one of the British mags displaying
all 'el cheapo, Chiwanese quality machinery. Euros seem to prefer
blue over green, though. <G>
I also recall some really good stuff from Milan, Italy, which BTW, is
also the home of Ferrari, Colnago bicycles, Campagnolo, and maybe even
Ducati motorcycles. Other good stuff I read about was German, Swiss
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