I have a very old craftsman table saw the the fence system requires
hammering to move it. I am looking at new table saws in the $550
price range vs replacing the fence system.
Mine looks a lot like this one:
The biggest issues for me are not having to keep readjusting the fence
to have it perpendicular to the blade and safety. Newer saws have
more safety features.
I inherited an old Craftsman tablesaw from my Dad when he died. It was a
low end model, and the fence was the worst part of the saw. We were
building our own house so I really needed accurate cuts, but couldn't
afford to upgrade to a better saw at the time. So, I installed a Mule
"Accufence" on my cheap little saw and it made a world of difference:
I used it to rip down framing lumber, and to build all the cabinets for our
house. With my limited budget at the time, it was a wise investment.
However, I later picked up a used cabinet style Craftsman tablesaw ($750)
and have found it to be a much better saw. Of course, there's a big
difference between a $200 fence and a $750 saw.
Basically, if you can afford it, try to buy a better saw (new or used). If
your budget is limited and your saw is in good condition, go for the fence.
A decent fence can make even a little junk saw into a precision cutting
I also bought a Mule fence for my previous old Craftsman. Make a few wall
cabinets and other cabinets for my garage woodworking shop. If I have to do it
again, I will insist on a Mule, Accufence. You can't go wrong and I can
guarantee it is as good as Anthony said. The only thing wrong my Craftsman is
3/4 or 1HP (forgot, underpowered). Sold it cheap when we moved and replace it
with a Unisaw.
I remember once hearing that a good fence on a cheap table saw was better
than a cheap fence on a good table saw.
If everything else is working fine I'd go for a new fence. But check the
blade runout, make sure the blade is parallel to the miter slots, etc..
I just remembered - wasn't Sears infamous for using non-standard miter
slot sizes? If yours is one of those, be sure you can live without a lot
of aftermarket jigs that depend on a 3/4 x 3/8 slot.
Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw
Seems the new fence option is the most recommended.... and I agree,
since a new saw option is not practical, now. If that is your
consideration, buy the best fence for your present table saw AND will
also be the best fence for your future upgraded saw.
Jack up a good fence and drive almost anything that wants to be a
table saw under it and you will be happy.
A crappy fence leads to analitis which gives you a crappy outlook on
Personally I'd tear down the fence and see if I could find out what was
wrong with it before I spent money. But if it's really not fixable
you're not going to get all that much saw for 550 bucks--Ridgid used to
have a _real_ nice one in that price range but it's been discontinued
and the replacement is not nearly so well regarded.
I had a saw very similar to that and built a lot of projects with it.
My Craftsman saw had the typical unreliable fence and the arbor runout was
I knew it wasn't the best but I didn't realize what a difference a Delta
cabinet saw could make.
The pleasure of setting a Unifence with confidence can't be overstated.
And ripping boards to exact width with glue line sufaces is a pleasure.
Have you checked your local paper or Craigs List?
There is a lot of good newer/used equipment out there for sale. My neighbor
just purchased about a 3yr old Delta cabinet saw for $200 off of Craigs
List,(wish it were mine)
In spite of what Craftsman has done during the past 20-30 years, some
of those older machines are pretty good ones. That page you linked
has three saws shown. Is yours the top one? If so, I have never seen
one like it.
If it is, it might be well worth rejuvenating (actually all 3). Have
you tried disassembling the fence, cleaning it and reassembling/
lubricating as required. If not you might be looking at an
aftermarket fence. I have a Grizzly 1023s that uses the ShopFox
Classic fence (a Biesemeyer look alike). The Biesemeyer is pricy.
The ShopFox is around $260. Might find either one on Craigslist at a
much better price. You should see if you can find size and specs on
their web sites to make sure it will fit your saw. I know Grizzly has
some info on their site.
BTW - Grizzly sells the Classic design in iron and aluminum. I have
the Classic and like it very much. Our son has the Aluminum version
on his Grizzly contractor's saw. I have used it quite a bit and it is
also a good fence. I would shy away from their "Z" version of their
fence. Too many moving parts.
The Rockwell Beaver contractor's tablesaw that I use which currently resides
at a friend's place, I bought new in 1972 for $180. For several years I used
it as is with the stock fence and steel saw blade ~ all the while being
unaware of the possible upgrades I could do to it.
In 1987 I upgraded the fence to an Excalibur and bought my first carbide
tipped blade. What a TREMENDOUS difference they made to the quality of my
cutting. It's still the same contractor tablesaw that vibrates and shakes
all over the place, but with the upgrades added to it, I'm prepared to match
the quality of my rips and cross cuts to most any table saw out there. So,
please keep in mind that there's a good chance you don't have to buy a
better table saw, just more exact cutting tools to add to it.
Should I find a suitable (and affordable) location to set up a small
workshop, I'll most likely buy a cabinet saw, but I'll always keep in mind
that buying a better saw is not as necesary as I once thought it was.
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