How much power does a table saw need


davestanton
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I am a little while off buying a proper table saw. I have a cheap handyman unit that can get me out of trouble but I fear for my safety when using it to rip.

http://www.ryobi.com.au/getattachment/5d0b5f8d-21bf-464b-b2a2-d2d0d847c949/ETS1526AL-?maxsidesize=400

What I want the saw to do is to work with jigs and sleds, be able to have a dado stack fitted occasionally and also allow me to rip (not a lot) with comfort.

There are some nice 1.5 horse contractors saws out there http://www.carbatec.com.au/carba-tec-10-contractors-saw_c19216 , the dewalt comes in at 2 horse and then we have a table saw at 3 horse http://www.carbatec.com.au/tsc-10hb-heavy-duty-cabinet-saw_c3031

Good dust collection is also a must. I guess the 3/8 x 3/4 mitre slots would also be nice. Soft start or induction as well as vibration free.

So guys, this saw will be with me for the next 20 years and it will live in Australia and have 240 volt supply.......what to do, which way to jump when I am ready?

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I used a contractor style table saw for 25 years. Over the years I upgraded the pulleys, belt, fence, miter gage, used thin kerf blades, and built jigs to improve precision. Repeatability was a challenge with the contractor saw because it lacked the mass to stay aligned, especially the fence. Setup was always a tedious process. With that said I used it for 25 years before I invested in a Powermatic cabinet saw. In hind sight I should have purchased a cabinet style saw many years ago.

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Okay, it has been a while since I’ve done one of my rants, but I want to throw my two cents in.

As many of you know I have had my SawStop 5H, 220volt, single phase, 10” industrial cabinet saw for about 4 years now. I love it. If something happened to it, I would go buy another one tomorrow. Of course the safety feature on it gets all the attention, and there are plenty of places out there to learn about that, so I will try to tell you about some of the lesser known wonders of the SawStop Cabinet Saw.

1 – The dust collection is incredible. It may be equaled out there, but I can’t imagine there is anything better.

2 – The onboard computer has blink codes to tell you if something is wrong with your saw and what it is. (Up to and including a blink code letting you know the cabinet door is open.) At first I was nervous about this failing and causing my saw to be useless. But, after four years (including moving the saw twice to new locations) there have been no issues. If there are, there is an over-ride feature.

3 - The SawStop comes with the best manual I have ever seen... I don't just mean the best manual for a table saw or even the best manual for a tool... NO, I mean THE BEST MANUAL I'VE EVER SEEN! Plus, the manual is spiral bond laminate paper that lays flat if you want to read it or use it... I don't know... maybe ... IN THE SHOP!

4 – If you dial their help-line, you get a dude in the US… who is actually a woodworker, I like that. No offense to anyone who prefers to get somebody in Kazakhstan who’s never even seen a sheet of plywood.

5 – Because their arbor and trunions are designed to survive a million “Stops” they are way heavier than any of the others you see on the market. Big deal right? Well, I can tell you I tuned my saw the day I got it. (It needed almost none, so mostly it was a process of confirming it was tuned.) Since then I’ve moved my workshop twice. When I set up the saw for the third time in my new shop… You guess it, still tuned. My older cabinet saw would get out of tune if I ran too many pieces of heavy maple through it. This one seems to never vary from dead on.

6 - By the way, the heavier trunions and arbor also mean that the tilt and blade raise wheels are pneumatically assisted. Which means it is really easy... I mean really easy to spin them. This feature alone makes the saw super-cool to use. Not only that, but the saw doesn't vibrate at all.

7 – Did I mention the dust collection?

8 – The riving knife system when I first got it was so easy to use it almost made me sick to think why didn’t somebody come up with this before? I think a few of the newer saws out there may be equal to it today.

9 - The riving knife is also attached to the blade arbor, meaning it's hight moves with the blade and the distance from the blade is fixed.

10 – Changing the blade is stupid simple. Wrenches wait for you on the side of the machine, ready and willing to change your blade. Even switching to a dado head, which requires a different brake pack can be done in less than a minute. (I can change my brake pack in about 5 seconds… seriously, I’ve timed it.)

11 – I don’t know if other saws have this or not, but there is a lockable turn lever on the side of the machine which disconnects power from the machine. This feature prevents accidently turning the machine on if you are tuning it, or making changes or something of that nature. (May also be helpful when my son, who is now 16 months, starts exploring my shop.)

12 – Oh and by the way, the blade stops spinning if you touch it. That may one day save my hand or finger.

As you can see, I love this saw. I would not recommend buying any other. I dropped about 4 grand on mine with everything I got when I bought it and every day I use it I think it was a bargain. My wife totally supported my purchase. Because when I told her it was going to be either the SawStop at 4 grand or another saw which would be 3300 to 3600, she said it was a no brainer. As usual, she was right.

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If you don't mind buying things twice then go for the contractor saw. It will serve you well for a lot of years. Trouble with them is that you will eventually outgrow the machine and want a cabinet saw. If money isn't an issue, I'd go for the cabinet now and be set for life. That Carbatec looks like a fine saw, too.

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Im no fan of sawstop not because its not a good product but because of the politics they bring to the industry.

Dave,

My understanding is that things are crazy expensive in Australia compared to the US. There is a guy that had your screen name maybe 10 or 15 years ago on the first ryobi forum and at that time he said even the bt3k cost more than a PM in the US. Personally 3HP is plenty for a one man shop unless you cut loads of hard 8/4 stock. If you can swing a cabinet saw thats the way I would go. You dont need to buy the biggest baddest saw to get a good one. Are the Carbatecs the only option local? I'm sure that if carbatec put the same effort into their saws as they did their lathes they are fantastic.

Don

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Dave - I will second Chet's comments on the SS (I own the 3HP PCS), but I will try to keep this a more general response.

If you want or need to keep the Ryobi while you save up your pennies, you should do all you can to make sure it's as safe and as 'usable' as it can be. Keep your blades sharp, use thin-kerf blades, use a sled when you can, use featherboards every chance you can (to hold stock sideways against the fence AND down against the table), try to install an aftermarket splitter for those rip cuts (see Micro Jig's MJ Splitter), and use a proper outfeed table/system.

As for your specific question - 1.5HP should be considered the minimum, and I think any of the good contractors (SS, Dewalt, etc) would meet that easily. Be prepared to stay thin-kerf with a 1.5HP saw. For a true cabinet saw, look for 3HP. I think any newer contractor saw or true cabinet saw would be a serious jump in quality over what you have. If you're handy (as I know you are), look around for a used machine. A used Uni, PM, Grizz, SS, etc would be a vast improvement. In either case (contractor or cabinet) pay close attention to the fence system. A well powered and aligned saw with a crappy fence will frustrate you every time you use it. Make sure it can be adjusted, holds position firmly, and and is fairly 'repeatable' in terms of setting it up.

I

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I've owned a 2hp contractor saw, a 1-3/4hp hybrid saw, and now have a 3hp cabinet saw. All of these saws was capable of cutting to full blade height if the material was flat and straight, the saw was well aligned, and a proper blade was used. Motor power is only part of the equation in perceived cutting power. The smaller saws are much more sensitive to the variables involved, and obviously cut much slower in thicker materials. The 3hp saw is simply more of a pleasure to use, has more mass, a more robust design, more power, and likely better long term reliability. In the US, a motor with more than 2hp will need to run on 240v/20 amp circuit...not sure how that effects you, but is worth looking into.

If you cry once, you'll happy every time you use the saw for the rest of your life. If you only "wince" a little, you'll likely smile from time to time, but not necessarily every time!

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Im no fan of sawstop not because its not a good product but because of the politics they bring to the industry.

Dave,

My understanding is that things are crazy expensive in Australia compared to the US. There is a guy that had your screen name maybe 10 or 15 years ago on the first ryobi forum and at that time he said even the bt3k cost more than a PM in the US. Personally 3HP is plenty for a one man shop unless you cut loads of hard 8/4 stock. If you can swing a cabinet saw thats the way I would go. You dont need to buy the biggest baddest saw to get a good one. Are the Carbatecs the only option local? I'm sure that if carbatec put the same effort into their saws as they did their lathes they are fantastic.

Don

Don, Carbatech are not the only option. I can buy JET as well as other brands. The reason I am looking towards Carbatech is that they have good after sales support and parts are not a problem. They sell saws made in China and Korea. The cheaper chinese models are identifiable by the 3 year warranty and the Korean made products have a 5 year warranty. After talking with one of the older salesmen who used to be an electrical engineer, I gathered enough information regarding quality of the castings, alignment of parts when assembled and so on were superior in the Korean products. This same guy avoided the BS and spoke with enough knowledge in a practical way for me to seriously consider his advise.

Regarding price, things do tend to be more expensive here, nearly twice as much as you guys pay. Our economy is slowing down and retailers are having to work harder to make a sale. Just last night, the saw that I am interested in ( http://www.carbatec.com.au/tsc-10hb-heavy-duty-cabinet-saw_c3031 ) dropped by nearly $200. Unfortunately I am not in a position to take advantage of the saving, but maybe it is indicative of how things will run over the next few years.

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In hind sight I should have purchased a cabinet style saw many years ago.

That is the problem though, how many people have purchased the best they could buy only to lose interest a year or so later? This happens with so many interests. That is why lots of people test the water with a cheaper version.

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Okay, it has been a while since I’ve done one of my rants, but I want to throw my two cents in.

As many of you know I have had my SawStop 5H, 220volt, single phase, 10” industrial cabinet saw for about 4 years now. I love it. If something happened to it, I would go buy another one tomorrow. Of course the safety feature on it gets all the attention, and there are plenty of places out there to learn about that, so I will try to tell you about some of the lesser known wonders of the SawStop Cabinet Saw.

Chet, thanks for the detailed answer. I have looked at saw stop but do not know if they ship internationally. Also, 4k is way out of my budget and I can only guess as to how much that would end up if I could get one in Australia, 6 or 7 k maybe?

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If you don't mind buying things twice then go for the contractor saw. It will serve you well for a lot of years. Trouble with them is that you will eventually outgrow the machine and want a cabinet saw. If money isn't an issue, I'd go for the cabinet now and be set for life. That Carbatec looks like a fine saw, too.

I am still undecided between a cast iron top contractor saw and cabinet saw but am definitely leaning toward the cabinet saw.

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use a proper outfeed table/system.

If you're handy (as I know you are), look around for a used machine. A used Uni, PM, Grizz, SS, etc would be a vast improvement. In either case (contractor or cabinet) pay close attention to the fence system.I

All good advise John and thanks for the vote of confidence in my abilities!

Second hand units in Australia are usually ready for the scrap heap and the asking price is nearly the same as new, so......

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The 3hp saw is simply more of a pleasure to use, has more mass, a more robust design, more power, and likely better long term reliability. In the US, a motor with more than 2hp will need to run on 240v/20 amp circuit...not sure how that effects you, but is worth looking into.

Thanks for the voltage update on US machinery over 2 HP. I tend to agree with you regarding the solid construction and more power. The lighter machines do tend to struggle and hence wear out faster. I am still leaning towards the carbatech 3 hp model I linked to....and now the price has just dropped around $200. Even so, I must be financially responsible as there are many items putting their hands up for money at present, lol.

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Hi Dave, I have one of those cheap handyman units as well. It is stored under the most remote corner in a backyard shed.The cheap handyman is the scariest machine I have ever used.

I also have a 3hp Rockwell. My recommendation is to get a cabinet saw with at least 3hp. Figure out how much you think you can afford and then, for safety sake and your own personal satisfaction, add at least 50%. The more you spend, the happier you will be.

There are some very good second hand bargains out there if you shop carefully.

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