On Sat, 13 Dec 2003 06:42:59 +0000, Zeke Redner wrote:
I'm not so sure "cheap" and "cutting straight" can be used in the same
Buy cheap tools and they soon become miserable objects taking up space in
one's workshop. Not only do they break down, low end tools are rarely a
delight to use.
Of course, a cheap tablesaw could be made into a boat anchor. I have yet
to see one turned into a table lamp, however.
A lot of people here are betraying thier more experienced prejudices. If
all you've got is a relatively small budget or are not sure how far you
want to get into it than a less expensive saw is a good way to go.
This is unquestionably a daunting task filled with terms you may never have
heard before. Features are many and varied and the exact match for you is
not the same for everyone. Small craft projects do not necessarily have the
same requirements as furniture making.
I am of the opinion, and it has yet to fail me, is to spend less money up
front because you don't know if you are going to like actually doing crafts
or are good at it. You are unlikely to tackle large projects at first
simply because you haven't the experience. And frankly I'd rather have the
guys at Lowes or Home Depot use thier panel saw to cut down plywood sheets
for me, at least for a start. So a more expensive, feature packed model is
not necessarily the best starting item.
Decide what your budget is. Then think about people you may know who use
tools. What do they use or like. My dad and grandads were Craftsman people.
I have a comfort level with thier products. But I also own other brands
becuase the feature mix/price/quality also appealed. There is junk out
there but it is relative. A $149 table saw would be ineffective for a more
heavy schedule of building with heavier material. It would quickly burn up.
But for small stuff it could last a lifetime.
Many of the guys here are very experienced and I think they forget what it
was like to start off. I have an inexpensive Craftsman. The fence is fine
as is the mitre gauge. I've already used it to make a balcony railing,
along with a Tradesman drill press (to drill the holes for the spindles)
and a Ryobi router/table combo to finish the baseplate. And several other
projects. I had problems at first with all of them becasue of my lack of
experience, not becuase they were flawed. I expect I may upgrade later but
only when I have more experience and "feel" and have a much better idea
what I want. I also haven't bought more expensive and specialized tools
like planers or jointers yet. Those I will probably buy a better, more
expensive item first, but only because I will have more experience and
understanding by then.
In the meantime put +tool +reviews in your favorite browser and READ! READ!
READ! Go to Sears, Home Depot, Lowes, etc and put your hands on the tools.
Visulally look them over and see if they look and feel like junk or
quality. Does it "fit" you in terms of your size and reach? Do the features
seem easy to use or especially intuitive. I actually rejected some more
expensive units because I thought the the features and settings were
awkward, unweidly or prone to breakage. Talk to the store reps, but take it
with a grain of salt as many of them are really no more than sales
associates and could be selling toasters or underwear for all they know.
Look for sales - sometimes you can get a better item cheaper if the model
is being closed out.
I have some other interests besides woodworking - firearms, history and
model building among them. A common theme of them all is the experts are
always the same. What they have/do is superior to what you have/do. You
should emulate them at any cost and irrespective of your level of interest
or current ability. Bullshit! What you do is supposed to be fun. Always try
to do better but learn the basics first.
Examples - when I strted reloading I strted with a single stage press. I
stayed with the same brand and moved up to a turret press and noe a
progressive. Some people said I should have just bought a more expensive
brand 'x' model first. Well, no they were expnsive and I wasn't sure at
first how I'd like it. Same with airbruhes. I started very cheap and gave
now graduated to a double action that I haven't used yet. I got a steal on
the double action that I wouldn't have if I'd bought it first. I also
wouldn't have had the ability to use it well and have become discouraged,
it takes some "feel" to use them right and simpler airbrushes let me
concentrate on technique not bells, whistles and gizmos.
Check this site for reviews.
I have to agree with the dig on the 'experts'.
If I took these 'experts' seriously I would have to toss my damned near
40 year old Craftsman radial arm saw inherited from my Pa, I would have
to stop being impressed with the cheapest 3/8 drill Craftsman was
selling 11 years ago that still turns a bit or screw today, I should
hang my head in shame for being happy with my $20 dollar Craftsman table
saw, I should be unhappy with my new router because it's a single speed
and not high powered, and so on.
Worse yet, according to some 'experts' I'm a pox because I buy used
machinery whenever I can thus keeping money from Corporate America and
not keeping the economy going, keeping money from the taxman, and
because I don't need the biggest, shiniest, newest tools.
According to some of these 'experts' if your not like them your not with
These people are everywhere.
Table saws come in about 5 varieties:
Cheap POS Junk -- characterized by:
small table dimensions,
don't hold set-up -- i.e. you'll have to do 'tune up' *frequently*
lack of precision in settings
*hard* to 'repeat' a set-up, to cut a 2nd piece like the 1st one.
require _lots_ of user effort to get 'marginally acceptable' output.
I've never seen any table saw in the under US$200 range that didn't
fall in this category.
Expensive POS -- these are often "bad design/engineering", luckily, they're
comparatively rare. Then there is the "OK design / sloppy manufacturing"
bunch. "No name" brands constitute most of this category. Most of the
saws in the circa US$250-600 range fall in this category.
Ryobi BT3000/BT3100 -- *UNIQUE* combination of affordable price (circa $300)
and good quality construction. *NOT* designed for 'all day, every day'
use, nor is it intended to be moved from job-site to job-site. But, for
the casual (or even semi-casual) user it's hard to find anything that
competes with it, even at _twice_ it's selling price.
Quality contractor saws -- "semi-portable", designed to be transported
from place to place and stand up to day-in/day-out use. Primarily used
for hardwoods 1" or less, and up to 2" softwoods.
Usually US$800+, with a quality fence and blade. A few models are some-
Quality Cabinet Saws -- for in-shop use only. heaviest and sturdiest of
the breed. Designed for "all-day/every-day" use. Usually equipped with
bigger motors than typical on contractor saws; designed to 'routinely'
cut hardwoods as thick as the saw can handle.
Usually US$1500+, with a quality fence and blade. A few models are some-
*EVERYTHING* you're looking at falls in the 1st category. "Marginally" O.K. if
you're only doing bird-house/dog-house scale/quality stuff. Seriously 'under-
powered" for cutting construction/framing materials (i.e., 2x4 and bigger).
*POORLY*SUITED* for detail and/or 'precision' cutting, for quality cabinet-
maker type tasks. One _can_ accomplish that kind of work with such a saw,
_sometimes_, and only with excessive and painstaking effort.
*Strongly* recommend you look at the Ryobi BT3100, as an 'affordable' tool
that you _won't_ spend most of your time 'fighting with', but rather, doing
Does this saw have an arbor that will handle a stacked dado?
Howard Lee Harkness
Texas Certified Concealed Handgun Instructor
Low-cost Domain Registration and Hosting! www.Texas-Domains.com
I run an 8" dado blade on mine all the time, works great. I would
prefer a 6", which will still cut as deeply as I'll ever want to w/ a
dado blade, but I got the 8" set for $5 so I can't complain. The 6" is
better, BTW, because it's lighter and needs less torque to spin it
(that's a universal motor, don't forget). The Ryobi techie I spoke w/
recommended the Oldham 6.5".
Actually, carpenters can make do with a lot less accuracy than woodworkers.
What do you want to do?
I have a Skil 3400 benchtop saw on a stand. I got mine new for $50 on
clearance, but they ordinary sell for $200, so even this piece of crap is
out of your prospective price range, and you're looking at machines even
worse than this.
The only good things about my saw are:
* it was CHEAP
* it's very portable
* it's better than nothing
Everything about this saw sucks. The fence is terrible, the miter gauge is
terrible, the motor is underpowered and loud as hell, the table vibrates
like crazy, it's almost impossible to get the blade lined up parallel to
the miter slots, and almost impossible to get the blade set at 90 degrees
to the table.
After using my junker for about five years, and knowing what I know now, I
would definitely have spent more. I'd probably have gotten the Ryobi
BT3000/3100 for $300. It's the only small, cheap saw that anyone on the
Wreck likes at all.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
I would suggest stepping up another $100 from those and looking at the Ryobi
BTS20 instead ($199). Mind you, it's not, by far, the world's best saw, but
I've heard that it's actually pretty decent -- especially for the price.
Certainly, it has the best rip fence you can find at $200 or less. And it
probably won't try to jump off your table like the BTS10 will. It also has
it's own set of wheels and folds up to roll out of the way.
I've got the BT3100, which is definitely better, but also more expensive.
I've never used the BTS20, however. I used to have the BTS10 -- you don't
want one! I'm not joking about it trying to jump off the table when you
turn it on.
First off, the 2 Delta models are the exact same saw (Delta TS200), but the
second one is reconditioned which means that you get the same thing but with
a 6-month warranty instead of a 2-year warranty.
Second, Lowes has that model new (2-year warranty) for only $100 with stand.
Third, for $180 at Lowes, you can at least get the Delta TS220 with stand
which has both a larger table and a 15-amp direct-drive motor (the TS200 has
Fourth, for the price range, check out Craftsman. I know, they get
(deservedly) a bad rep in the WW community, but low-end, home-use,
consumer-grade products are their specialty. You'll at least get more frills
than the Deltas and you'll have somewhere to go in person should things not
work out to your satisfaction.
Fifth, check your local area for used. You'll most likely get more for less
that way. I just bought a used table saw and got a great deal (2HP
contractor saw with Jet Xacta fence, mobile base, cast-iron top and wings,
link belt with machined pulleys, etc for a little over $300).
Anyway, help this helps.
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