chrisb

How much table saw do I really need?

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I currently have a portable saw (aluminum top, plastic body, direct drive) that I received as a gift a couple of years ago.  For minimal tasks, it seems to work ok.  However, the saw limitations became apparent during a recent end grain cutting board project (square smooth cuts proved to be a challenge).  I am now considering an upgrade and all of the options are overwhelming.

 

My shop is a 1 car garage and only has 110 V available.  I do not currently have any dust collection, but I expect to at some point.  On a good week, I get to spend about 6 hours in the shop.  I consider myself a beginning woodworker.  I expect to breakdown plywood with a circular saw and not on the table saw.  I am interested in working of furniture projects and expanding my joint knowledge. 

 

On the low end, my options seem to be:

 

Rigid R4512

Delta 36-725

 

On the high end, my options are:

 

Sawstop Contractor

Powermatic

Laguna Fusion

Jet Proshop

 

Grizzly has some options that seem to fall in the middle. 

 

My question is how much saw do I really need?  I am faced with questions like "As a beginner, will table-mounted vs cabinet mounted trunnions matter?" and I am unsure of the answer.  The standard advice seems to be buy the best you can afford.  Well, I am in the process of saving for the table saw and I could eventually save enough for a Powermatic, but I am unsure whether all of the benefits of a powermatic will be lost on me.

 

Any advice is appreciated.  Other than the Rigid and Delta options, I will most likely have to buy sight unseen since I don't have any nearby showrooms.

 

Chris.

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Unfortunately Chris, most of those questions can only be answered by you.  If you're going to stay in this for the long haul then it makes sense to save and buy your "dream saw" and use it the rest of your life.  

 

I will say that I could have bought the PM or the SS but, went with the Grizzly 0715P and have been super happy with it.  I did take some of the extra money I was going to spend on those more expensive saws and upgraded the fence and a couple really nice blades.  This saw comes prewired for 220 but, it's easily changed to 110 as I did in my shop.

 

On a side note, if you go Griz, they'll be having a sale in December which could save you some extra cash.

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In my opinion, buy the best table saw you can afford.  An electrician most likely will be able to get a 220V outlet out in your garage if need be.  My table saw is an old Craftsman 113 series which is the equivalent to the Delta and Rigid you are looking at, which I bought from craigslist a few years ago, and made some improvements on it.  That said, I can see myself in the next couple years upgrading to a cabinet saw. 

 

The tiered purchase approach has been followed by many of us, but if you buy today the best saw you can afford, you will save money in the long run.

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Ugh, not this again.  Nothing personal, Chris, but the "which saw" question is the deadest horse around.  Scour some old threads, go lay on some hands, take pics of your purchase and start a gloat thread.  I can't do it anymore.

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Lowes has that Delta, looks like a pretty nice saw, especially for the money, thats coming from a guy using a 10" skil table saw that  I bought for 199 as a throw away for a job 2 years ago. I ended up bringing it home and I still using it.

 

Its nice to have nice stuff, but some times one has to ask, just how much can I utilize the additional quality and how much does the cost difference mean to me. If money didn't matter we wouldn't be flooded with all this chinese junk.

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Chris,

 

My first table saw was a Jet contractor with 1.5 HP, 30 inch rip. It is a great saw however it lacked the power I needed after a little over a years usage. I bought it on Craigslist for $320 in great shape and resold it for $600 as it was their most optioned out contractor saw. I found a Jet 3HP cabinet saw which is a 220V saw for $500 that just required some TLC and $100 worth of materials for a new extension table and some rust remover and some elbow grease. 

 

Moral of the story, 1.5HP just didn't cut it for me in the end. Buy once, buy right. 

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Ugh, not this again.  Nothing personal, Chris, but the "which saw" question is the deadest horse around.  Scour some old threads, go lay on some hands, take pics of your purchase and start a gloat thread.  I can't do it anymore.

 

Eric, no offense taken.  I expected a little of this.  I realize that this topic has been discussed a lot, but this will be a significant purchase for me and every little bit of advice helps.

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Well I don't wanna be a prick, so let me at least add this...

 

If you're gonna upgrade, then UPGRADE.  Don't trade in your little, under-powered saw for another little, under-powered saw.

 

Assuming you'll follow that advice, the question becomes, "How much of an upgrade, and where is the point of diminishing returns?"  This recent thread has a ton of information for someone in your exact shoes...

 

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Get the best saw you can afford, but consider:

 

  • What other tools do you need?  If you spend $$ more on a table saw, will you be delaying projects because you can't buy other tools you need?
  • Do you need a new table saw now?  If you wait to save up for a better saw, will that be delaying projects?
  • How much space do you have?   If you don't have the space to put it, a small portable saw may be the best choice, even if you can afford a top line cabinet saw.

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I did what everyone usually suggests buy the best you can afford. So I went high end cabinet saw and it will be/do more than I can for a long time but I look forward to catching up to it. Also if life changes it has a better resale than the smaller saws do.

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I know there are several woodworkers who have the Grizzly 0715P and love it. I saw one up close just last week and I was really impressed with how nice it was especially for the price. I would avoid the contractor style saws even the ones with the  enclosed motor, dust collection on them is horrible. I have seen the contractor SS up close and was not very impressed. I did like the SS PCS with 1.75 HP motor but at $2500 it was to expensive for me. The PM1000 is a sweet looking saw but again the price tag is $2000. Why not get the Grizzly 0715P, Festool TS-55, and CT for about the same price as the PM and SS  :D

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New is nice but their are some great bargains on CraigsList. I just got a IFF text about a Unisaw for $950. I am also working on upgrading my DeWalt Hybrid saw. It served me well but after using a real cabinet saw I know that I wouldn't use the DeWalt anymore and it would just sit there. I am working a trade for a quad that has sat for a year for a 14" cabinet saw with exchange able arbors. I don't need the quad and he does need the saw. I am going to put the old rails and fence on my DeWalt and sell it on CraigsList if I can work out the deal for the 14"

 

If you are serious about the hobby then get the best tools that you can get. I make lots of cutting boards and after text the gentleman that has MTM in Europe, I have seen the advantage of having a sliding table. I am told by everyone that I give my cutting board to that I should sell them on ESTY or else where. 

 

On the other side I did just fine for 11 years with my old saw. Don't let your tool limit you. 

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The tablesaw is the heart of most woodshops. If you are gonna splurge on a tool, this is the one.

Need not say any more than this. Look at your max budget, and say, "yes"

I'm not even to say what I have or what I recommend in terms of brand or size. I recommend you spend the full $1000 - $2000 if that's what you have. You'll regret the kick in the bank until you get it home, plug it in, and enjoy it first hand.

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A table saw CAN be the only power tool in your shop, and you can still crank out tons of projects. My ranking of importance for power tools goes like this:

1- tablesaw

2- dust collector

3- thickness planer

4- jointer

After that it gets fuzzy, and depends more on the type of work you like to do. This also assumes you buy S4S lumber or have bench plane for basic milling.

With a tablesaw and some plywood jigs, one can easily rip, crosscut, cut tenons, make toungue & groove joints, mill rabbets and dadoes ( with a dado stack or even a single blade ), mill coves of various curvatures, make raised panels, cut box joints or dovetails, and even cut circles. Check out Izzy Swan on youtube for even more advanced jigs that let you make spindles, bowls or even spheres with the tablesaw.

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A table saw CAN be the only power tool in your shop, and you can still crank out tons of projects. My ranking of importance for power tools goes like this:

1- tablesaw

2- dust collector

3- thickness planer

4- jointer

After that it gets fuzzy, and depends more on the type of work you like to do. This also assumes you buy S4S lumber or have bench plane for basic milling.

With a tablesaw and some plywood jigs, one can easily rip, crosscut, cut tenons, make toungue & groove joints, mill rabbets and dadoes ( with a dado stack or even a single blade ), mill coves of various curvatures, make raised panels, cut box joints or dovetails, and even cut circles. Check out Izzy Swan on youtube for even more advanced jigs that let you make spindles, bowls or even spheres with the tablesaw.

Cool to watch but I wonder if he has an accident reel

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A table saw CAN be the only power tool in your shop, and you can still crank out tons of projects. My ranking of importance for power tools goes like this:

1- tablesaw

2- dust collector

3- thickness planer

4- jointer

After that it gets fuzzy, and depends more on the type of work you like to do. This also assumes you buy S4S lumber or have bench plane for basic milling.

With a tablesaw and some plywood jigs, one can easily rip, crosscut, cut tenons, make toungue & groove joints, mill rabbets and dadoes ( with a dado stack or even a single blade ), mill coves of various curvatures, make raised panels, cut box joints or dovetails, and even cut circles. Check out Izzy Swan on youtube for even more advanced jigs that let you make spindles, bowls or even spheres with the tablesaw.

 

I would move the dust collector to last because respirators are inexpensive.

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Chris,

Though I am also a beginner in the field there are some principles that apply to this equipment that I use in other fields.

1. Pay no attention to the labels.  Find the features you want with the quality required for your task.  That's that solution to your needs.

2. Don't be a gear-head about technical details.  A few of them matter but certainly not most of them.  If the become important later then upgrade as needed.

3. See if you can find it used.  Save a buck.  And with stuff like this, save a lot.

 

But perhaps I need to get away from principle and more into application.

First, a large work surface allows for better control of your medium and thus better cuts.

Doesn't have to be cast iron.  Just larger than a little utility saw.  That's what I ran into early-on.

Then just do a test cut to see if it comes out smooth on the edges.

After that I can't imagine much more, other than say the extras like dust collection or maybe a good rip fence if one does not come with it.

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The ABCs of Table Saws

 

Once you get to the full size belt drive 120v induction motors, you've generally got potential for a respectable saw.  Beyond the basics of the table area and drive system, a good fence, miter gauge, dust collection, ease of adjustment, accessory compatability, price, and warranty really make up the bulk of the differences.   A full size top means standard depth (27") with sufficient space to operate safely and successfully, and will add enough mass to be stable.  A belt drive induction motor of 1hp to 2hp is generally ample power for most cutting operations, but the actual performance is very dependent on blade choice and setup....a well setup saw with a 1.5hp belt drive motor will generally handle all common cuts without much problem, but the motor may slow or bog somewhat depending on what's being cut and the blade being used. The jump from 1.5hp to 3hp is pretty substantial IME, and the saw will be less sensitive to setup and blade choice.  

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a well setup saw with a 1.5hp belt drive motor will generally handle all common cuts without much problem, but the motor may slow or bog somewhat depending on what's being cut and the blade being used. The jump from 1.5hp to 3hp is pretty substantial IME, and the saw will be less sensitive to setup and blade choice.  

 

Excellent point. If you run a 40, 48 or 50 tooth combo blade, a 1.5 will not rip 1" hardwood without substantial bogging down, and if you slow the feed rate too much you chance scorch marks on your wood. I run a 48 tooth combo blade on a 3 HP cabinet saw and it chews through 1" hardwood. My 1.5HP contractor saw from the same manufacturer used to bog down a bit. So the blade makes a huge difference there, if you're gonna go 1.5HP for rips, get yourself a thin kerf blade and perhaps a dedicated rip blade, and a dedicated cross cut blade and change them out.

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Thanks for all of the excellent advice.  I am going to talk with an electrician about a 240 V plug in the garage (it will also come in handy for my other hobby, homebrewing).  If the install is as simple as adding a breaker and some conduit, I will probably go that route.  If I need a new panel or sub-panel, I'll probably stick with 110 V. 

 

I am glad to hear that even if I am stuck with 110 V, an induction motor will still give me more power than I am used to with my little direct-drive universal motor.

 

Chris.

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Ok,this forum is getting in my head, I'm going to look at a vintage Rockwell cabinet saw tomorrow, it seems like a very good deal off of craigslist

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A table saw CAN be the only power tool in your shop, and you can still crank out tons of projects. My ranking of importance for power tools goes like this:

1- tablesaw

2- dust collector

3- thickness planer

4- jointer

After that it gets fuzzy, and depends more on the type of work you like to do. This also assumes you buy S4S lumber or have bench plane for basic milling.

With a tablesaw and some plywood jigs, one can easily rip, crosscut, cut tenons, make toungue & groove joints, mill rabbets and dadoes ( with a dado stack or even a single blade ), mill coves of various curvatures, make raised panels, cut box joints or dovetails, and even cut circles. Check out Izzy Swan on youtube for even more advanced jigs that let you make spindles, bowls or even spheres with the tablesaw

 

maybe it's just me but I couldn't live without my ROS.

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