Looking for a brief synopsis of how much difference one would notice
between the cast-iron trunnion/arbor assembly and a contractor saw
(std. dual post in cast-iron ends). One guy won't tilt his contractor
saw, because he claims it shifts slightly out of alignment each time.
Another says it doesn't matter, the wood distorts anyway.
For precision work - does it REALLY matter, or is another sacred-cow
issue. Logic would dictate that is some merit to both views.
Experienced input appreciated.
Maybe he just has a low quality saw. I have a contractors saw and never
noticed a measureable difference after doing angled cuts and returning to
straight. Maybe his saw needs a cleaning and something is preventing the
stop from working properly.
How much precision are you looking for? Yes, wood more much more liekely to
deflect, twist, compress, and go under other distorion while it is being
machined. It is not metal and cannot be hel to the same tolerances.
Actually, I am referring to several writers, such as Ian Kirby.
Was trying to keep it brief...
Of course. That wasn't really the question... ;-)
For reliability, accuracy, repeatability, and usability - is there
really a difference to the average woodworker.
The engineer in me says that yes, solid cast-iron assemblies would be
much more ridged and precise. But real-world conditions sometimes
negate the differences.
I know it's like comparing apples and watermelons, 'cause the 'Cabinet
Saw' is made to pump all day, and has beefy components designed to
stand up to the stress. The contractor saw is designed for ease of
portability (!) and to meet a price point. They vary in precision of
design, slop, etc.
I was thinking along the lines of a General 50-185-LM1 vs. a working
Unisaw or General 50-260-M1.
As a lifelong companion, capable of everything from precision
segmented boxes to cabinets and fine furniture.
Nothing long and drawn out - just opinions from people who have used
_both_ for a variety of uses similar to those listed above.
I'm upgrading from a contractor saw to a cabinet saw for many reasons.
# 1 complaint is there is no blade height locking mechanism on
contractor saw. A dado blade causes the blades to drop forcing me to
try and lock it by hanging a clamp from the hand wheel. That's very
hard to be precise. #2 is vibration. Yes, I've heard that a different
belt will help, don't have one. #3 is solid wings. You can get them
on a contractor saw now but I don't have them, a new cabinet saw will.
#4 is power. I'm wired for 220 now but it's still only 1.5 horse.
Cabinet saw is 3 horse.
All of these reasons will add precision individually, all together they
should add a lot. I've got an 8 inch joiner, a 20 inch planer, a 10
inch scms, dust collector, a whole bunch of other high quality,
precision tools, and a CRAPPY tablesaw. Somethings not right here....
Greg G. wrote:
I'm going to try to sell #2 to SWMBO. Hmmmm, let's see.
"Honey, I need to chuck my POS tablesaw and buy that spanky-new Unisaw. You
know, the one with the price tag that almost gave you a heart attack when we
were at the last wooddorking show. Yeah, well , it doesn't vibrate like my
POS saw does. Yes, a belt would stop the vibration, but I don't have one.
How much? Oh, they're *reeeaaaallllly* expensive. The belt, I mean.
Really, they're not cheap. Better if I got the new saw".
I know it wasn't your only point Bryan, but that really gave me a chuckle.
Hey, whatever works... ;-)
In _my_ case, and I forgot to append this point to Byans post (and was
one reason I responded, duh...), is that noise is a major problem.
This thing wakes up the kid next door. Heck, this thing wakes up kids
in China. It wakes the undead. It wakes up dinosaur fossils.
It's like having an F-14 in your gar^h^h^h shop.
I have to wear earplugs - seriously.
I don't like it. All these other, better, tools accumulated since,
and this POS is my main squeeze? (Tool-wise, that is...)
I'm embarrassed to admit it, and it's been a pretty useful saw in many
regards, but it has a universal brush motor and a non standard motor
mount that makes 'upgrading' impossible. It IS cast-iron, and I've
tweaked it up, rebuilt the motor twice, and stiffened the fence, but
that motor... Uggh...
It's what started this whole WW mess.
Worst fracken money I ever spent... ;-)
I have both. The contractor is "able" to make beveled cuts
but the cabinet saw is able to repeat the process a lot
Contractor saws are capable of just about anything
a cabinet saw can do, but repeatability and ease of use of
the major differences.
The contractor saw is also much more "twitchy" when it
comes to "staying" in alignment, while the cabinet saw requires
a greater effort to knock it out.
Both saws can do it "all", while one one can do it easier.
If you have a choice and the money..get a cabinet saw for the
By buying a contractor saw to begin with, this just
creates that famous, "I'm saving up for my cabinet saw" theme
that is quite prevelant.
It is a "fairly" rare for my saw blade to ever be moved from the
upright 90 degree position. Your methods might be a LOT different.
Greg G. wrote:
Well done synopsis. Thank You.
I suppose in the back of my mind, I *knew* the answer but was grasping
for that miracle panacea that would allow me to get out cheap - again.
I know... Cry Once.
Tell me about it. It was my entry into this field, and in subsequent
purchases I made better decisions. It was to be a Honey Do List kind
of thing at first - but then the addiction took hold... <bg>
The experience of doing something well for the first time, completing
projects that actually work and look decent, that DIY pride. The
challenges that await around the next bend...
Many benefits to be garnered. Not the least of which is the exposure
to some pretty bright and funny people here on the wREC.
I don't have both, but I've used both. I never really saw where there was
any repeatability differences between my contractor's saw and a cabinet saw.
Nicer action on the cabinet saw, but not really more precise or anything
else that would contribute to repeatability. Curious to know what you feel
contributes to the repeatability.
That should be quite true, but I have to say that I've never knocked my
contractor's saw out of alignment. I'm sure it can be done, but I've never
Nicer - I'll agree. There is a certain absolute pleasure in a good hefty
Or the "well, I've already got this and I can't really come up with a good
reason to replace it. Sure wish I'd..."
For me, resawing 6" wide Ipe was the test. Try to resaw 6" wide Ipe to a
prescribed thickness over and over on a contractors saw through out the year
and see if you get the same results. ;~) Actually I am not sure that a
contractors saw could even resaw 6" wide Ipe much less to the same
Very little if any.
Both designs are set to "0-0" at 90 degrees. That is they are fixture
set to a specific dimension from the slot to the face of the arbor
parallel within a 10" tolerance zone. Both designs then depend on the
quality of the parts to get to what you will have at 45 degrees. If
the manufacture has good processes and holds parts to close tolerance
range, then the degradation will be minimal. If not the degradation
will be noticeable. It is a matter of the stack up of the tolerances
and a manufacture will set their acceptable 45 degree tolerance based
on what they can statistically achieve.
The contractor has a slight design advantage in that one of the parts
is taken out of the picture. The plane of the the top plate of the
cabinet. The contractor mechanism is bolted directly to the bottom of
the table whereas the cabinet design has the table and trunion
carriage assembly independently bolted to the cabinet. OTOH the parts
are less robust and more easily subject to deflection. And the
mechanisim is more inclined to slip (trunion bracket(s) slide on the
table boss) with a good knock.
A tip about that, if you have to realign a contractor, throw away the
washers (or washer faced screws) and replace. they will have become
conical and have a memory and will go right back to where they came
from when torqued.
If 45 degree precision is extremely important then you can reset your
saw to be as close to perfect as possible at 45 and let the
degradation occur going back to 90. But you can't have it both ways
(unless you can justify two saws). You can tweak slightly by shimming
a cabinet design between the bosses of the table and the top plate of
the cabinet. Be prepared to give up a lot of time. I guess in theory
you could do this with shims between the table and the trunion
brackets on the contractor design.
The above talks about Unisaw design (most cabinet saws) and
traditional contractor designs.
Hmm, not very brief but there seemed to be interest.
No opinion, I'm able to do mediocre work on either.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.