I am a new homeowner and aspiring woodworker ready to purchase my
first woodworking power tool. I am guessing that should be a table
saw. I think I'd like to start by making simple things I could use
like bird feeders/window boxes/basic tables in the hopes that it'll
lead to being able to build things I really need like maybe a desk or
entertainment center down the road. First question is am I correct in
buying a table saw first? Second is what is the least I can expect to
spend on a reasonably good table saw? I have seen a 10" "Tradesman"
brand table saw @ Lowe's for $99 and have actually found good reviews
for it online but something inside tells me it may not be the one.
Anyway thanks in advance.
The $99 saw is OK for bird houses, but it is not what you want for that
entertainment center. Like others I started out with a cheap direct drive
Craftsman saw. After a coupleof years I graduated to a Delta contractor's
saw and gave away the old saw.
I don't know your skills or the thickness of your wallet. If I had it do do
over again, I'd start out with a good quality contractor's saw. It will
last my lifetime.
Aluminum table, very small
limited rip size
very limited cross cut on the miter, maybe 6 or 7 inches
fench hard to adjust accurately
noisy universal motor
Good saw ($600 and up)
Cast iron table to dampen vibration
Cast iron left extension
rip at least 30", optional 52"
crosscut a 1 x 10 with ease
Good fence like a Beisemeyer or Unifence. Easy to set and lock.
Powerful capacitor start motor
Repeatable results when set up for a given cut
No matter what saw you buy, the blade is crap. Figure $50 to $100 for a
good blade. Look for a used saw to start out with if you are not sure.
Before you venture out, stop at a good store with a variety of saws so you
can tell what is good and desireable. For about $600 the Ridgid looks OK,
bur a little more, Jet or Delta has a nice line. The cast wings are
preferred over the stamped sheet metal ones.
Other brands to consider are Grizzley, Bridgewood, General.
If you have the opportunity to try the various models, it will be very
apparant you don't get much for $99. But for $99, it will cut a 1 x 6 for
If you want a saw that is a pleasure to use and will fill your needs for
years to come. Get a Jet or Delta or equivilant contractors grade saw for
around $500.00 to $600.00. I have the Jet in my shop for 5 years and am very
I have a $200.00 Ryobi job site saw and it is fine for that, but I don't do
any precision cutting with it and I know it won't last near as long as the
If you have the space and the budget to add tools as you need them then a
good contractor's saw would be a good starting point. Don't go with a
If, however, this is going to be the only stationary tool in your shop for a
long time to come, then I'm going to take a contrarian view and suggest a
radial arm saw. The ones from Sears work as well as any others currently
on the market but if you can find an old deWalt on ebay or at auction
you'll find that it works considerably better for the same money or less.
It will require some adjusting and tuning--there are a couple of good books
on that, the Jon Eakes book
which is a for-pay downloadable (it's not available in paper anymore unless
you find a used one) and the Mr. Sawdust book <http://www.mrsawdust.com/ .
You'll find that for crosscuts it has no equal, while for ripping it works
well enough if not as conveniently as a good table saw, and in addition it
can serve as a usable planer, shaper, disk sander, drum sander, boring
machine, and do other things. Not as well as purpose-made machines for
sure but well enough to get the job done until you can afford the
Reply to jclarke at ae tee tee global dot net
If you really think you'll be making bigger things later, go for a
contractor's saw. Grizzly has one that I think has the best
price/performance ratio. I think it's the G0444. With a saw like
that, later you can upgrade to a better fence and replace the stamped
steel wings with cast iron. Or, you could sell it to offset the cost
of a cabinet saw. A contractor's saw will hold it's value. The bench
top models won't. I had a delta bench top saw and made exactly one
project with it before upgrading.
If you're going to be starting with small projects, you may want to
get a good bandsaw instead. It will cost slightly less and do most of
what you want to do. The grizzly G0555 is a good example. It seems
to have a good reputation here. Later, when you move on to bigger
projects and want a real tablesaw, the bandsaw will still be a tool
you can use.
I'd consider a router also. Get one with a 1/2" collet, like the
porter cable 690. And buy carbide bits one at a time as you need
them. Avoid the router bit sets. Also get a set of chisels and start
practising cutting mortises. :-)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Jetman5467) wrote in message
On 27 Nov 2004 19:04:58 -0800, email@example.com (Jetman5467) wrote:
You're a new homeowner? I'm going to go a little outside the
question, and suggest the first saw you get is a nice skil-type saw
and couple of sawhorses. Having a table saw sure is nice, but if you
don't have any power tools, the skil saw is going to be the one that's
probably going to be the most useful for any kind of home improvement.
You can rip and crosscut most things with a good handheld saw, and
they're real handy for cutting down plywood even after you get your
table saw (unless you get one of the monster cabinet saws or a panel
As far as table saws go, just keep an eye out for the sales- you're
looking at the $99 range, so there's no reason to assume that you're
planning to get a Unisaw right off the bat. What I found when looking
for an inexpensive saw was that Delta seemed to have the most saw for
the money, but go for the nicer benchtop model- They have two of them
that I've seen, one with a table with a bunch of holes in it for about
$80 which is not worth the gas money needed to get it home, and a
"deluxe" model with a stand, solid top and wing extension. Nothing in
the price range is going to be awe-inspiring, but I've done some nice
work with the little Delta. I haven't seen the "Tradesman" brand
around here, but judging from the name alone, I'd guess it's one of
those cheap store-specific knockoffs they have all over (Sears has
Craftsman & "Companion" Farm & Fleet has Delta & "Duracraft" and
Menards has Jet and "Tool Shop") Usually, those knock-off brands
aren't worth a damn- and it's a good practice to avoid them.
There are a few things of note regarding the little benchtop saws that
you should consider before you buy anything-
1) You can't get a better aftermarket fence for them in most cases.
2) Many, if not all of them do not accept dado sets.
3) They are very light, and eventually will slide when you're cutting
something on them unless you beef up the base.
4) It is difficult to find zero-clerance inserts and aftermarket
splitters or riving knives, and equally difficult to make your own in
Bearing all that in mind, I'd say go for it. You indicated above that
you're just starting out, and while most of the folks here already
know that they enjoy woodworking and intend to continue with it well
into the future, you may find that for one reason or another, it's
just not for you- and it'd be a real shame to have a nice expensive
saw just sitting in the garage being used as a shelf for old paint
cans! You can always upgrade later, and you'll learn plenty of things
on a small saw, including what features mean the most to you when you
decide to upgrade.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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