Okay, I'm brand new to the scene and what I'm hearing is that the first
big tool to get is the table saw. Thankfully, this month's WOOD has a
rundown. Ridgid's TS3650 won the prize for contractor-grade, and their
TS2400 for portables.
Now, the price difference is tiny: 570 versus 500. I can't think of any
good reason to buy the smaller one. But I have read that a beginner
should test the water, so to speak, with mid-grade equipment until heshe
gets committed to the shop.
If you aren't sure you want to stick with this hobby, you might be
tempted to (and rightfully so) buy second class equipment. If you stick
with it, you'll be replacing all that equipment as you realize it's
shortcomings. You'll end up buying everything twice! It's a difficult
decision, because if you go expensive on the first round and then don't
keep woodworking, you've wasted your money because second hand equipment
sells for pennies on the dollar. If you go "cheap", it's more expensive
in the long run. There's no right answer to your question. YOU have to
assess the likelihood that you'll stick with it. IF you think you will,
I'd urge you to buy the best that you can possibly afford. Conversely,
if you buy cheap, you may not get a whole lot of satisfaction from your
new hobby. My enjoyment increased by an order of magnitude once I
bought a Unisaw and sold my Craftsman TS. After that, I went on a
buying spree because woodworking had become truly pleasurable. I got a
6" jointer, a nice router table, a big router, a drill press, a band
saw, etc. I'd already owned a thickness planer for some time, but it
had seen little duty until I'd gotten the tools that complement it.
I hope you enjoy your new venture as much as I've enjoyed mine!
oh, one refrain that gets mentioned often on the 'Wreck is "you can cry
once, or cry twice", which is a reference to the money spent on tools.
Meaning if you buy a tool that lasts, but is relatively expensive, it's
cheaper than buying a poor substitute and then turning around later and
replacing it with what you REALLY wanted/needed in the first place.
I agree completely with your assessment, David. I would like to add
another, important, point. Will Matt be building large items like 8/4
solid oak trestle tables or wee balsa wood jewellery boxes.
Tool selection varies greatly if you keep in mind the types of projects
you plan on building. My uncle made his living as a cabinetmaker for a
boat-builder for 40 years with nothing more than a box of hand tools, a
bandsaw, and a jointer. I have a TS2400 and I'm happy with what it does
for my needs. I modified it, of course, but so what? I WAS used to a
10-foot sliding table Altendorf and an 4-foot SCM, both with scoring
blades and 5 HP 3-phase motors. But I knew I was never going to do that
kind of work again. I like the TS2400, because when I'm not using it, I
fold it up and slap it against the wall....router panel installed and
all. That feature was important enough for me to buy it, even though I
knew the TS3600 would be a better saw....(although the motor mount is
There are many ways to skin a cat, and with my TS2400 and a Milwaukee
5616 router mounted as an extension I can do a LOT of projects..... and
to 'tollerize' a workshop this early in the game would be irresponsible.
There are no definitive answers. All replies to Matt's request have
merit in some way..except of course...never mind.
I can recommend the Delta 36-649 contractor saw that some Home Depot
stores have on sale for $317. It is worth looking for. I have a Ridgid
and if you need a portable it is a decent saw but I wouldn't buy it again.
Delta I just bought is a much better saw and cheaper to boot. The Ridgid
contractor saw looks good but is over $200 more than the Delta and you
can use the $200 for a better blade and other accessories that you will
No one has ever complained that a tool was too good.
I don't know your ideas about the hobby or how fat your wallet is. I
started out with a $199 Craftsman saw. I made some nice stuff but soon
realized what I was lacking. I later bought a Delta Contractor's saw with
Beisemeyer fence and I'm very happy with it. It will last me the rest of my
life. (estimated to be from 1month to 30 years.) For a $70 difference, get
what you really want.
That advice is for the people that can't afford it. If you can afford it,
top quality tools are worth the money. They work better and will not be a
source of frustration. They also will last longer if you get more serious
about it and have higher resale value if you don't.
Buy the best you can afford.
The better you are at a skill, the more easily you can accomodate less than
perfect tooling. As you learn, you learn how to compensate, jig, or design
around a tool's shortcomings, and they are all somehow less than perfect.
Regarding the tablesaw question: If you don't absolutely NEED the
portability, then go for the other saw. Stability and mass count.
And budget for the purchase of a couple of better sawblades, too.
Ridgid is a fine brand but in my opinion it is more targeted at the
construction industry (ie contractor) than the shop type applications.
Some other considerations are the hybrid saws. In short, a cabinet or
furniture shop uses a cabinet saw. It's a different design offering
more stability, less vibration, thus better cutting performance. Some
companies are now creating hybrid contractor and hybrid saws. Dewalt
and Jet have them for about $800 (I much prefer the fence on the
Dewalt) and Craftsman now has a hybrid for $500. Maybe someone here can
comment on the Sears hybrid but I've seen some good reviews.