muddlermike

Could you live without a table saw?

Could you live without a table saw?  

151 members have voted

  1. 1. could you live without a table saw?

    • Absolutely
    • I like the idea, but having separation anxiety
    • Only if it was a last resort
    • no way, you can have my TS when you pry it from my cold, dead hands


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I was waxing philosophical in a blog post yesterday and thought I would carry the conversation into the forum. I was looking into table saw options to replace my aging BT3100 this coming year and noticed that the prices have been going up lately. I was planning on a contractors saw, maybe with a 2hp motor and cat iron wings upgrade. A cabinet saw is a bit much for my little shop and my little hobby. But it seems that all the saws have gone up about $200 over the last year, and even finding a reasonable priced contractor's saw is getting difficult. I'm avoiding getting another cheaper, direct drive model but I really didn't want to spend over $800 or so.

So, it got me thinking, could I live without a table saw? The argument being they take up the most room in your shop, probably one of the more unsafe tools you can own, and also one of the most expensive. Could I get away with my band saw, router, and a track/circ saw? I remember David Marks's masters episode where he visited Krenov's shop, and Krenov's only power tools at that time were a bench top band saw and bench top jointer. Since I don't plan on doing this for a living, it get's me a-thinkin'...

I'm posting this in here because I'd like to hear from both sides of the spectrum - everyone from hand tool purists through hybrid woodworkers to power junkies. I realize for many of us that the one who dies with the most and the best tools wins, but really, do you NEED a table saw with all the other options out there.

I know - it's a silly post meant to ruffle feathers a little, but you all know I like to stir the pot now and then...

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One problem I see with a table saw is the space it takes and also the space it requires to operate. If you are ripping an 8' long piece you will need at least clearance for 18'.

I have a little Bosch portable saw because my model of business is to be flexible and being able to move. The problem with the little saw is the fact that if you are ripping heavy stock the base rocks. I am considering building a heavier duty base. That is the only problem I see so far.

My approach is using the Festool TS75 (most people invest in the TS75) and a bunch of tracks so I use the right track for the right trim/cut. I use my Kapex for crosscutting 12" approx. Of course with the Festool you can rip anything.

My contractor saw I use it mostly as a trip saw and a joinery tool rather than dimensioning lumber.

So that is my approach. Would I like to have a big Softstop? Absolutely! I just don't have the money and space right now.

I was waxing philosophical in a blog post yesterday and thought I would carry the conversation into the forum. I was looking into table saw options to replace my aging BT3100 this coming year and noticed that the prices have been going up lately. I was planning on a contractors saw, maybe with a 2hp motor and cat iron wings upgrade. A cabinet saw is a bit much for my little shop and my little hobby. But it seems that all the saws have gone up about $200 over the last year, and even finding a reasonable priced contractor's saw is getting difficult. I'm avoiding getting another cheaper, direct drive model but I really didn't want to spend over $800 or so.

So, it got me thinking, could I live without a table saw? The argument being they take up the most room in your shop, probably one of the more unsafe tools you can own, and also one of the most expensive. Could I get away with my band saw, router, and a track/circ saw? I remember David Marks's masters episode where he visited Krenov's shop, and Krenov's only power tools at that time were a bench top band saw and bench top jointer. Since I don't plan on doing this for a living, it get's me a-thinkin'...

I'm posting this in here because I'd like to hear from both sides of the spectrum - everyone from hand tool purists through hybrid woodworkers to power junkies. I realize for many of us that the one who dies with the most and the best tools wins, but really, do you NEED a table saw with all the other options out there.

I know - it's a silly post meant to ruffle feathers a little, but you all know I like to stir the pot now and then...

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Well there's no doubt in my mind that a woodworker can survive without a tablesaw. The real question is, would you WANT to? For me personally, the tablesaw is an essential part of my workflow. Now perhaps when I am in my golden years and I decide to "retire", I can slow the pace down, cut back on the noise makers, and simply work wood at a relaxing pace. But now is not that time. So of course it can be done. But it depends on my goals and how I want to spend my time in the shop.

Adam Cherubini recently made a bunch of posts over on his blog about tablesaw safety and how the tablesaw is not an essential tool. In fact, he called for an all out war on the tablesaw, haha. It actually spurred quite a bit of quality discussion. Here's one of the posts.

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Isn't there one of the magazine editors that suggests replacing the table saw with a band saw because a band saw is just as powerful, but more flexible since it can do complex curves.

I don't know about that. But it seems like table saws are deeply ingrained into our culture.

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Mike,

I've had this discussion with Paul-Marcel and a few others. If I was to start shopping from scratch, knowing what I do now, I would go the Track Saw route. Have an excellent couple of bandsaws. One set to rip/resaw and the other set up for curves. The foot print needed would be much smaller and safety would be increased dramatically. And, as you're research is showing, you could spend quite a bit less for the entire set up. But, I already have the TS with a sliding table, so it is integral to my workflow, but it doesn't have to be. Also, I don't think a person would be sacrificing time, unless they plan on making a lot of cabinets.

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I've often thought about getting rid of the space hog in the middle of my shop. I have other tools that can perform all the tasks that I usually do on the table saw. But few of those other tools are as efficient as the table saw, so the beast stays.

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For me its not so much about ripping and cross-cutting, as I frequently use the alternatives for those tasks. I am thinking more about all the joinery possibilities. Tenons, dados, rabbets, etc.... Of course I can make these joints with other tools, but I really prefer the tablesaw for its speed, accuracy, and ease of setup.

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I never considered the bandsaw as an alternative to the table saw. Yesterday I had to make some "forks" which will hold a desktop flat against the plywood substrate. I cut as far as I could with the table saw and trimmed the rest with my Festool jig saw. If I would used a bandsaw, this would only take one operation.

My shop is flexible ... cabinets ... man doors ... cabinet doors ... anything goes.

May be instead of investing on a better table saw I will consider a better band saw, interesting perspective, plus I can do curves.

I think the answer is not all or nothing but all ... we should use the right tool for the right job, depending on space, BUDGET and work right.

I would love to have a sliding table saw, Felder makes a nice combination machine one.

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I never considered the bandsaw as an alternative to the table saw. Yesterday I had to make some "forks" which will hold a desktop flat against the plywood substrate. I cut as far as I could with the table saw and trimmed the rest with my Festool jig saw. If I would used a bandsaw, this would only take one operation.

My shop is flexible ... cabinets ... man doors ... cabinet doors ... anything goes.

May be instead of investing on a better table saw I will consider a better band saw, interesting perspective, plus I can do curves.

I think the answer is not all or nothing but all ... we should use the right tool for the right job, depending on space, BUDGET and work right.

I would love to have a sliding table saw, Felder makes a nice combination machine one.

Bobby, my slider is the Excalibur fastened to my Unisaw. Just FYI.

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I certainly have friends with no table saw or bandsaw. They rely on a tracksaw and jigsaw exclusively for those functions due to space; they make very nice stuff. Doesn't mean I want to live without mine.

Space-wise, mine has a 30" fence instead of the 50+" simply because I'll never heave a sheet of ply onto the saw for initial breakdown; that's in the domain of the tracksaw, hands down. The extension wing is a router table so in a way I have two tools in a reasonably compact space. But if I parked in my garage, it would be comparably huge (which then asks the question "Could you live without a car?" :))

Maybe a variant of your question, Muddler, is if you could live without a commercial table saw. A commercial table saw takes a buttload of space in most shops vis-à-vis other tools. If I had no room for a table saw, I guarantee I'd make a knockdown table saw with a circular saw mounted underneath it.

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Space-wise, mine has a 30" fence instead of the 50+" simply because I'll never heave a sheet of ply onto the saw for initial breakdown

Every time I look at my 50" saw I think to myself, "why do I have that?!?!". I suppose I could always remove one of the wings and cut down the fence but dang that hurts just thinking about it. :)

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I did not you could turn a regular table saw into a slider. I guess it works like a sled. Hmmm. Thanks.

Bobby, my slider is the Excalibur fastened to my Unisaw. Just FYI.

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I am thinking of making a table to inset my Bosh into, sort of a torsion box. This will be one of the considerations for my shop re-organization. I guess part of taking time to make these decisions allows one to read these kind of posts and have better results.

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Every time I look at my 50" saw I think to myself, "why do I have that?!?!". I suppose I could always remove one of the wings and cut down the fence but dang that hurts just thinking about it. :)

Haha. Me too. I still couldn't live without a ts, but I could live without the 50" beast. It just eats up so much space. After getting a track saw, my greatest need for a table saw is ripping narrow stock - narrow stock! I just don't need 50" of rip/cross cut capacity anymore. If I ever have the opportunity to buy a small, high quality saw, such as an that small Inca, I'd replace my Unisaw with it.

Marc,

If you do go berserk and cut down your rip fence, please capture it in a podcast! :)

Joe

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I've got a long, narrow shop, and a 50" table saw. I was having trouble figuring out where to put everything, and a friend suggested putting the table saw sticking out from the wall.

I started to explain that you always want the table saw in the middle of the room, so that if you are cutting a larger piece it can hang over the end. Then I realized that with 52" rails I'd probably never cut anything that would hang over the end.

I was frustrated with the small table on my Bosch 4100, so I bought the biggest table available on my Sawstop. I think I overdid it.

Skip the table saw entirely, though? I guess I could cut all my dadoes and rabbets with a router (table or edge guide), and do everything else with a track saw. But, with a table saw you can set up for a cut and run lots of pieces through and get nice consistent dimensions. With a track saw you have to set up the track for each piece you cut.

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Every time I look at my 50" saw I think to myself, "why do I have that?!?!". I suppose I could always remove one of the wings and cut down the fence but dang that hurts just thinking about it. :)

I was thinking the same thing as I was trying to create more room in my garage. I mainly use it as an assembly table for drawers and other small pieces. Since I bought the Festool, I don't use the extension for the main reason I got it, safely cutting sheet goods.

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I was thinking the same thing as I was trying to create more room in my garage. I mainly use it as an assembly table for drawers and other small pieces. Since I bought the Festool, I don't use the extension for the main reason I got it, safely cutting sheet goods.

Yupper, Tuesday of this week was "Sheet Goods Tuesday" and I broke down 5 sheets for a closet organizer. Couldn't imagine tossing that up on a table saw. All cut in no time on the driveway on a sacrificial table otherwise known as a spare interior door.

Have I lamented about hating plywood banding? So tedious.

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I'm lovin' this - great responses :)

I've always been one to question the establishment. However, one thing that I thought about was what beechwood mentioned. I think the table saw excels at being able to cut multiple pieces at the same dimension accurately. even if you set the fence a little off, at least all the pieces will be consistent. If you were ripping twelve, 3 inch strips with a track saw, it is probably doubtful you'll be able to get each strip identical - certainly not like you would with a table saw.

getting a new table saw is probably a no-brainer, but it's annoying that you can't find an accurate, well powered TS that will last more that a few years for what I would consider a reasonable price. Oh well, I guess I'll have to stay off of ebay a little longer to get a decent table saw...

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My dad, the handiest guy I know, as a shop that's only 8 feet wide but about 35 feet long (yeah, odd). On one of the long sides is a particle board benchtop going the whole length of the shop, and right in the center is a 40+ year old Delta radial arm saw that is as true now as the day he bought it. The fact that it's in the middle of this long wall means he can take a full sheet of ply and rip up to 15" wide boards safely and easily, far safer that on a table saw. So he's gotten by a very ,very long time without a table saw.

Of course, they don't make em like they used to...

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IMO, the table saw isn't for cutting down sheet goods from 4'x 8' stock. I use my circular saw and a strait edge to get to rough dimension then do the final trimming on the TS where needed. Mostly though, I'm using it for ripping. One day I'll make a cross cut sled for it ... that time may come sooner than later as my mitre saw can only x-cut 6" widths <_<

I could live without the TS though if I had that monster of a bandsaw like the one in Marc's shop! :D

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