I bought the same saw at Home Depot. Similarly, it is my first
table saw, and I've been learning a lot with it. After having used
it for about six months or so, I'm happy with it and have made a
number of things with it. In a few years, I'll likely want something
bigger, better, beefier and with more power, and that'll probably
cost 3 to 4 times as much. :)
You can live without the stand. It should be easy enough to make
one for it. My suggestion would be to get the accessory kit (model
BT3KIT). I seem to recall this was about $100, but the kit includes
some very useful stuff:
o) Dust bag.
o) Dado throat plate
o) Zero clearance throat plates
o) Miter table clamping kit
o) Miter slot insert
o) Router table kit
o) Wheels for the stand
Obviously the wheels the for the stand aren't going to do you any
good, but the rest is pretty handy. You'll espeically want that
dado throat plate and the miter slot insert are very useful.
Hopefully one of the local Home Depot stores will have one of these
kits still in stock.
Regarding the miter slot insert, in the kit. The BT3100 comes with
a "sliding miter table" which you can use to make miter cuts and
it does work pretty well. But when you get ready to try some things
like making a simple box joint jig, having a standard miter gauge
comes in very handy. And for a miter gauge (which you don't get
in the accessory kit), I just recently picked up the Incra V27 on
sale at Woodcraft.
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