I plan to buy my husband a new table saw for his birthday in a couple of
weeks. I'll let him pick it out himself (that's half the fun), but I
want to do a little research ahead of time. His current saw was one of
his first shop purchases 21 years ago. Over the years his shop has
grown in quantity and quality, but he still has the Craftsman Table Saw
he bought when we were newly married. The thing he complains about most
is the unsturdy table and crappy fence.
What would be a good step up for him? He likes to build things for us
around the house. Construction projects, closet storage, cabinets, and
occasionally furniture. He doesn't require top of the line professional
.... but wants something sturdy with a good accurate fence.
Looking through recent posts I see talk about a Delta cabinet saw ....
that looks more expensive than I was expecting. Can I get something
good for $1000 or less?
I'm going to upgrade to a good contractor's saw, soon. I'm preparing
to sell my Delta direct drive benchsaw. It makes a lot of noise. The
instruction manual doesn't have a single word about how/when to
maintain it, therefore, it received no maintenance for about four
years. Is the Delta worth selling? Is it safe to sell? (There's only
one place, locally, that services Delta products. The guy who runs it
said he'd look at the saw but wouldn't quote me on maintenance or
repairs.) Can it be better used in some other way, i.e., using the
motor to run a small compressor???
It's worth selling, and safe unless something's broken. AFAIK, all you
regularly do to these little saws is keep the sawdust out of the various large
parts. The motor and gearbox should be self-contained like a circular saw. By
that same token, the motor can't be used for much else.
go with a nice jet or delta contractor's saw with a 2 HP motor, belt-drive
and probably a 30" fence and your husband will never stop thanking you :-)
the Delta Unisaw or similar are the next step up, and you'll pay for it -
they are heavier and have higher rated motors. Grizzly does make a cabinet
saw that is liked by many, and I believe you can get for less than $1000 if
you want to go that way.
Cabinet saw vs. Contractor saw? What is the difference/preference.
Portability? Our shop area is not large. My husband often moves his
equipment around for better access. Would he be better off with the
Either saw can work with a mobile base.
Cabinet saw is regarded as the "top of the line", most powerful, usually 3
hp. motors, three belt drive system. Called a cabinet saw as the base is
enclosed in a cabinet. Think Cadillac
Contractor's saw is a bit lighter. has a 1.5 to 2 hp motor with a 1 belt
drive. This is good service for 90% of us doing woodwork as a hobby. Think
Medium sized Buick
Benchtop saws, low end direct drive saws. Think Yugo.
Most every brand name has a series of these in their lineup. At $1000 or so,
you are going to get a good saw.
You do want to get a really good fence. If it comes with a Biesemeyer or
Unifence, it is top quality.
I live in San Diego. That means no basement. I also only have a single car
garage, that I used top be able to actually put a car in. Portability was a
prime consideration for me. If I want to woodwork, I have to drag my stuff
into the driveway. So my powermatic contractors saw was perfect.
Your choice really, but if you go with the cabinet saw then for under $50
you can also get a mobile base for it that will allow him to move it around
as needed. Go ahead and get him the best saw you can for your money and
since the mobility solution is so cheap, address it afterwards.
I have a Delta Unisaw. No complaints. At times I've thought that a sliding
table saw would be a vastly superior idea (certainly from the safety
standpoint) but the space they take-up is prohibitive for most garage shops.
The one nice thing I like about Unisaws is that most accesories out there
are designed to work with this machine first. Keep that in mind. At the
same time, lots of other saw clone the Unisaw.
In terms of space, there are neat things you can do. For example, you can
integrate your router table right into the saw table. Two machines in one
With regards to mobility. I have the rolling base sold by delta. It it a
very simple matter to move the say anywhere within the garage or outside,
onto the driveway. No problems there. It all depends on frequency of use.
Some of us also develop a workplan in the shop, for example, if you are
working with 4x8 sheets frequently enough you may have a prefered layout so
that feed and output are ideal. You need to know a little more about his
typical utilization, but, in general, wheels are good. Everything in my
shop is on wheels, even the work tables.
If your husband does not mind getting a used machine I'd look into getting a
second hand Unisaw. You'd be amazed how many people barely touch their
table saws. I don't know if you could find one in a couple of weeks though.
In three years, I've found one. It was advertised three days after I bought
my contractor's saw, and it was close to list price. I see plenty of
Craftsman and Shopsmilth for sale though. I guess people in CT keep things
======================Honestly I do NOT see ANY Tablesaws being advertized in The
Classifieds... Ed saw one in 3 years,...lol Boy Those Damn Yankees
(not meant seriously) must buy and sell a lot more then the rest of
BUT ...I would advise the OP to look at top of the line Contractors
saws... My main TS is a Jet Cabinet saw...now close to 15 years
old...but I still have, and still use, my Rockwell/Delta Contractors
saw that is now.pushing 35-40 years old... It can do 99.95 percent
of the things I do my my Cabinet Saw...
Major difference is the Delta still has its stock Fence..and I ordered
the Jet direct from the factory with a real Biesmeyer....AND the fence
is most likely what I like about the Cabinet saw...
A Good contractors saw with a good fence will make any ex-craftsman TS
owner/user smile so much his jaws will hurt for days...
I have a Delta contractor saw. As far as I am concerned I will never need to
replace it. Sure a Delta Unisaw would be nice, but for the limited use I
give it, it does all I need, and you can buy one for under $1000.
Make sue it has a Unifence or a Biesemeyer fence.
: Cabinet saw vs. Contractor saw? What is the difference/preference.
: Portability? Our shop area is not large. My husband often moves his
: equipment around for better access. Would he be better off with the
: "contractor saw"?
A contractor's saw is lighter than a cabinet saw, but they're both too
heavy to lift, and neither is too heavy to mover around on a mobile base.
A cabinet saw takes up less floorspace than a contractor's saw (with an
equivalent length fence rail). (This is because the
contractor's saw has the motor hanging out the back).
A cabinet saw can be hooked up to a dust collector easily.
A contractor's is open at the back (because the motor hangs out there), so
some rigging is needed to make dust collection effective.
A cabinet saw has the motor mounted independently of the table, so it's
easier to align the top and the blade.
All that said, fine work can be done on a contractor's saw, but if you can
afford it, the cabinet saw is an intrinsically better design.
-- Andy Barss
If you're going to pay for it too, how about dumping him and marrying
one of us?<g>
At the risk of being stoned for uttering the word "Craftsman" I would
suggest that you take a look at their "professional" 10" table saw
offered with the Beisenmeyer fence.
I saw one up close and personal in the store a couple of weeks ago and
1) it seemed to suggest that Craftsman is bringing back some quality
offerings in power tools, 2) was quite solid and, while, not a Unisaw,
did a passable imitation thereof, and, 3) if a quality fence is what he
wants, he'll be hard pressed to find better than the Beisenmeyer.
All this for around $950.00 NEW. Look hard, get lucky and you might
find a used Delta around for around $1000 or less.
While I thought the build on the new Craftsman saw was better, there are
plenty here who would commend the Jet table saw to you.
Nice of you to think of him in this way, though. Good luck on your
quest. I'm sure you'll get lots of advice and opinions here. All
you'll have to do is sort them out<g>
You will get a lot of negative opinions of Craftsman for sure. For years
their quality has suffered, but as stated in the other posts, it seems as
though they are trying to make a comeback... at least in the table saw
market. I recently purchased the step down from the "professional" which is
a hybrid of the cabinet and normal contractor's saw. I absolutely love it
and can't imagine getting a much better saw. The fence that came with mine
is definitely one of it's weaker points, but the beisemeyer that comes with
the "professional" is widely regared as one of the best money can buy. I
won't pretend to say it IS absolutely better than the Delta since I dont own
either of them, but in my research up to buying one last month I found no
advice pointing to the Delta over the beisemeyer, but plenty pointing to
both as great fences.
Good luck in your search.