I have decided to stop fighting with my old TS trying to get a
straight/square cut. The poor thing is getting old, it was second hand
when I got it. Anyways i was at a tool place today and was looking at
a very nice Porter-Cable. About $600 Cdn . I told him about my
troubles with getting a good cut on my old one. He then indicated that
the PC was not for me because it was "direct drive". He said that i
should get a "belt drive" which is inherently a lot more accurate, and
stays more accurate. I'm not sure what direct drive is. This guy was
running the store by himself and was very busy, so didn't get much
time to query him. Am i correct in thinking that "direct drive" is
when the blade is on the motor shaft itself? I'm quite sure that I
have never seen a belt driven TS and i wonder who/what models of
reasonable priced belt driven are out there right now? Should i expect
to pay a lot more for a belt driven? I've come to accept the fact that
i may have to pay more, but am quite willing to do that as i expect a
new one now will last me for the rest of my woodworking days.
Ken in NS
There are three basic types of table saws, bench top, contractor and
The bench top model is very limited for general use. Generally, these
are the limitations:
- direct drive motor
- small (underpowered) motor
- small table top
- poor quality fence
A good contractor saw, and a skilled operator will handle most jobs,
especially if you add a good fence and extention tables. Compared to a
cabinet saw, the contractor saw usually has a much smaller motor.
A good cabinet saw is the saw that I would always recommend, if you have
the budget and the space. A cabinet saw usually has a 3hp 220 volt motor
which will cut all day long without complaining. Grizzly has a very nice
saw for about $900.
Why not visit a few web sites before deciding on a particular saw. You
might look at the forum on http://www.woodworking.com/ww101et-table.cfm
for some basic answers.
Before spending money on a new saw, you might consider tuning up the saw
that you alread have. After I'd already ordered my Delta Unisaw, I
tuned up the old Craftsman so that I could sell it. It was amazing how
well the old saw cut when the blade was parallel to the miter slot and
the original fence was replaced with something better. Don't get me
wrong, I wouldn't want to go back to the Craftsman, but I learned that
tuning a saw was absolutly necessary to get straight/square cuts.
Regardless which saw you buy, consider buying an alignment guage (I
prefer the TS-Aligner Jr.) and a good saw blade (I prefer the Systimatic
Budke blade, which I have resharpened (1200 grit), to make it better
As a fellow Canadian, I'll give you my $0.02 worth. I was recently in your
situation, but I didn't have any table saw. I was doing my cuts using
either my bandsaw, or my circular saw (aka SkilSaw). But I was able to
recently pick up a new tablesaw. I looked around for used ones, with not
much luck. Either the people still wanted like-new prices for them, or they
were old pieces of machinery that would be difficult to get blades for (like
8" Beaver saws). So I narrowed my choices down to the Delta 650C (with 30"
fence), the King 10GC (with 50" fence), or the General International 50-185
(also with 50" fence).
The Delta would have been a good choice for me because of the price (around
$750, I think), and the power requirements (known to run good on 15amp 120V
circuits). The King looked almost identical to the GI saw, and they have
the advantage of the larger fence capacity, and more powerful motor
(upgradable to /capable of 220V). If they were paint the same color, I
don't think I could have been able to tell them apart. The King was about
$150 less than the GI, and the dealer for the King gave me much
warmer/fuzzier feelings than the dealer for the GI. But I went with the GI,
partially because it's a Canadian company (although the GI saws are made
overseas) and partially because of the product reputation. When I went out
with cash in my pocket (ok, credit available on my credit card, if you must
know), I went to the GI dealer first, with the thought that if they had them
in stock, and would cut me a deal of any sort, I'd walk out of there with
the saw. Turns out they had them in stock (which they didn't the week
before), and I got $50 off the saw, and about $150 off the blades.
So far, I'm pretty happy. The manuals for setting up the saw are awful, and
plain incorrect in places. The manual for the fence is even worse, and it's
a made-in-Canada product. But I got it together, and everything lined up
out of the box. I was concerned about blowing the circuit breaker in my
basement shop, but so far, nothing. I've only been slicing up plywood and
MDF so far, no 8/4 maple. My saw cost me about $900 CDN, and came with no
blades. I've heard that out East, you can get a package deal for $1000CDN
that includes the tenoning jig, the saw, a ripping blade, and the mobile
base. I ended up putting my saw on a home-built mobile base, but the
tenoning jig is over $100 anyways. I've sometimes wished I got the 30"
fence rather than the 50", as space is pretty tight in my basement shop.
but the saw itself is pretty much everything I was looking for. I don't
know if I'll be looking to upgrade it anytime soon. I guess if the right
Uni-saw dropped in my lap at the right price, I might.
Anyways, I hope this helps. If you have any specific questions, let me
know. BTW, all three of those saws are belt driven, AFAIK. Almost all of
the "contractor" style saws are going to be belt-driven. Kelly Mehler wrote
a book about tablesaws
spage=1&ccurrency=1&SID=); you might want to see if you can find a copy of
it or something like it. You can also check out the forums for two of the
Canadian wood-working magazines. I know there's people there from your neck
of the woods, and they might have some more input for you as to where you
might go to find a saw. They are:
Sorry for babbling on so long! :)
Clint (in Alberta)
I'm another fellow Canadian and I agree with Clint's advice. I have the
Delta 36-650C but also looked at the General but $$$ were the deciding
factor. I got it for a show special of $700 CDN. The General probably has
a better fence though. I just want to add that General is supposed to be
working on their lousy manuals and maybe they have already improved them.
Otherwise, it seems most people are happy with there products.
On Sat, 08 Nov 2003 00:10:26 GMT, email@example.com wrote:
If you just really want a new toy...and feel the need to just go out
and buy yourself a treat...then buying a new saw will be the only
solution for you.
But if your goal is just to get a good cutting saw, you might consider
what has already been suggested by someone....tune up what you have.
I've got a $79 table saw...$99 with the stand!...and it gives me
excellent cuts. But I had to go out and buy a hollow ground planer
blade for it. Its like night and day compared to a regular blade.
And I check all the settings on the saw every now and then...and just
before any major, precision project.
And, in general, many of the older saws are much better quality than
the current run of medium-priced saws. You might be disappointed with
the new saw you buy. But I think the folks here can steer you to some
of the better ones.
I've heard that, too...but I haven't seen it in actual practice. My
saw is a direct drive...and most times the cuts are of glue-up
Don't forget...no matter what type you buy, the blade will be running
on an arbor of SOME kind. Get a sloppy arbor...you'll still get a
One note...my personal opinion...
For the most part, they're louder and whinier than a belt-driven saw.
Besides all the excellent advice you'll get here, Ken, you might do a
Google search for table saws. I'm sure you'll find many different
brands where you can read up on the specs.
The only belt-driven table saw I've ever owned is one I built myself.
I had it for MANY years. I think some divorce attorney owns it now!
So I went out and got a new saw...and a new life!!
Have a nice week...
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity!
He gave you good advice.
And, yes, you are correct in your understanding of 'direct drive' vs
_All_ the 'serious' "table saws" are belt-drive. Direct drive is used
only for the "little" -- generally 'low precision' -- "benchtop" table
Belt drive saws _are_, in general, *considerably* more expensive than
direct drive saws. Only a comparatively small part of the price differential
is attributable to the actual 'drive' design. The rest of the price
difference comes from the belt-drive saws being "built better" -- heavier
construction, heavier-duty parts, more precise engineering, etc.
Some manufacturers of belt drive table saws:
General / General International ("Made in Canada" / "imported" from Pac Rim)
Emerson (sold by Sears)
Several of those manufacturers _also_ make direct-drive saws.
I don't know Canadian markets -- I _think_ prices tend to run somewhat
higher than US (over and above the exchange-rate differential, that is).
In the U.S. market, in U.S. dollars, the 'standard of reference'
cabinet saws -- the Delta UniSaw and the PowerMatic 66 -- list for
circa US$1600. Quality 'Contractor' saws list for around half that.
At the other extreme, you can find undersize, underpowered, direct-drive
saws for as little as US$100.
You _can_ do 'quality work' on a very low-end saw. You just have to
work *really*hard* at it. Know how to tune/adjust the saw (and be prepared
to *do* it frequently), double-check (at least!) your settings for every cut,
For 'more money', you get machinery that you can tune/adjust once, and then
pretty much forget about having to re-adjust, ease of 'repeatability',
less need for 'babysitting' settings, etc. This translates to better
productivity, and improved "ease of use".
For a "serious" woodworking, the -minimum- you want to consider is a good
'contractor' table saw -- something like the Delta 34-444, or equivalent.
And, if you can 'nearly' afford it, and have the dedicated shop space for
it, give serious consideration to stepping up to one of the good 'cabinet'
saws. These are lifetime investments.
If the budget is seriously constrained, you've got to look at the Ryobi
BT3100. It lists for about US$300, and is in a class by itself. You've
got to spend (at least) _double_ the money to get something appreciably
Let's not send the guy looking for Milwaukee table saws of any kind. Milwaukee
makes hand-held power tools for the most part.
I'm no longer sure what kind of table saw Ryobi makes, but their parent company
appears to be making tools for Sears now, and the only things Emerson is making
for Sears at this point are shop vacuums.
Ridgid woodworking tools started out being made by Emerson, but are now made by
Ryobi's parent company, still for Home Depot distribution only.
Powermatic is an obvious candidate, too, even if Jet now owns the company.
Tradesman might be, as they offer a contractor's saw, though I have never used
one of their tools.
Bridgewood can be added to the above list. They have some excellent tools,
across a really broad line of woodworking machinery. (Wilke Machinery.)
Shopfox is Grizzly's "other store" line and is usually quite good.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."
Thomas J. Watson
Correct, for "the most part". However, a local "custom precision millwork"
shop _has_ a Milwaukee branded cabinet saw. Logo lettering is a 'nearly exact'
match for my Sawzall. I wouldn't want to guess on the vintage, definitely
"older", but it was an impressive tool. Size-wise it was like any other
normal cabinet saw, but _damn_ it made nice cuts. Only time I've seen
mahogany come off the saw with the ripped edge _shiny_. So smooth it was
_hard_to_hold_onto_. Like trying to hold a piece of glass, literally.
There is nothing inherently wrong with direct drive. It has gotten a bad
reputation as most all low cost and low precision tablesaws use it. It is a
fault with the manufacture, not the drive setup. That being the case, a belt
drive saw would be a better choice.
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