I'm a beginning woodworker and need to buy a table saw.
Everything I've read makes it clear that a cabinet saw will be best
for me. Because of thier higher price, I'd like to find a good used
or refurbished one. Can someone please tell me where to look for
used unisaws, powermatics or generals? I's like to buy from a dealer
who also sells new saws and can ship to me. Gregg
You won't find one at a dealer. Look in the local papers and you may get
lucky. Or not. I mostly see cheap Craftsman advertised. Only once did I see
a Unisaw, the week after I bought my new contractors saw.
The dealer that I bought from has on rare occasion used equipment.
Since it is rare you just don't know what he might have; Jet, Delta,
Powermatic. And, it's a sure bet he will not ship it to you. He ships
new equipment but that is because he is having it drop shipped from the
Anyway he is located in Anahiem, California if that is any help. Good
luck in your search.
If you are starting out, find a cast iron Craftsman or Delta contractor saw,
usually $75-200, and learn to use it. If the blade is straight and the
table flat, you can make it work. Yes, the cab saw is nice, but you won't
be making big cuts in tough wood for a while and you certainly don't want to
learn how to adjust the guts in a cab saw. I suggest getting a good
combination blade, like Freud, and crosscut with more teeth when you see the
need for tighter joints. If you get into ripping very tough or large wood,
maybe get a rip blade. I have a 12 tooth 10" blade, but there are lots
around 20-24, I think.
The big differentiator of saws is the fence. A fence that locks down
accurately parallel to the blade and has a calibrated scale for setting
width is a great asset but mwy cost more than your saw! I use the old
Craftsman fence, which I have to push against the table before locking, and
I measure from the fence to blade when I need accurate width. So far, after
building a house and all my cabinets I haven't felt compelled to change. I
actually have two saws, probably 70s vintage. One is left for crosscutting,
no fence ever, and one for ripping. It's nice to never change blades when
working on something. I also have a Craftsman radial arm saw (RAS), which
does most all of the roughing out and a lot of finish cuts. There's nothing
like it for handling large boards, like the rough 2X10s I sometimes rip!
You'll hear from the cabinet saw peoople, most all of whom are better WWers
than I, I'm sure. For the price of a good used cabinet saw, if such a thing
can be found and carted home, you can set up most of a perfectly functional
beginner's shop, if you are careful.
12" planers are $100 up, C'man jointers (very solid iron machine, but fairly
short bed) ususlly on a stand are $100-200, etc.
Give it some thought. Start small and your needs will show themselves.
Look at the archives, the pictures on ABPW, and read Fine WWing to see what
rings your chimes and makes you want to start building.
Now, if you want to collect fancy gear, none of us can help. We are not
attracted to glossy paint, or shiny metal, or good looking women!
You should visit local woodworking groups and/or their web sites.
Occasionally, people will be upgrading, but there is often news of
pieces for sale. That's where I found out about a PM 66 (29 years old
and 3ph) and made a deal for $240. It is working great. That's where a
friend recently found out about a fire sale and got a 3hp 1ph Jet 10"
cabinet saw with 50" fence for less than $200. It is in excellent
condition. Then you could also check some of the equipment resellers
like exfactory.com (no affiliation at all, never bought from them).
They do have lots of bigger stuff, often 3ph, but you could swap the
motor or get a phase converter.
One option is to watch for local auctions. My favorite are public
school district surplus auctions. Most vocational training is being
phased out these days, and schools usually buy good equipment. I have
seen several Delta Unisaws go for $500 - $700. You have to check them
thoroughly, and they usually have 3-phase motors, but if you are
patient you can find a servicable machine at a good price. It has
taken me a few years, but I finally got a Powermatic 66 last Saturday.
I only paid $175 for it.
As someone else said, you may want to buy a contractor saw or a hybrid
first, and work your way up from there. I didn't, but I had access to
other saws (work and friend with cabinet shop), and already knew what I
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