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post #1 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been looking around for a decent table saw... I have built several speaker cabinets with only a circular saw and it is tedious. No matter how much you try to get an accurate cut, it is always a smidgen too small or large or the cut is rarely exactly 90 degrees or whatever angle you want. A table saw gives you the ability to make the same precise cut over and over. I figured my research might help others should they go shopping for a table saw...

My primary need is that the saw be able to rip at least 24.5" (to be able to cut a 4'x8' board in half (note that in real life, MDF is usually 49x97" in size). My primary use would be for building speaker cabinets from MDF and shelving... The saw must be able to accept standard size miter gauges (a lot of them don't, which means you cannot buy a more accurate or flexible gauge)...

(Note that I live in Hawaii and the only stores that carry table saws are Sears, Home Depot and Lowes... I decided not to get anything from Sears because they were priced higher than the other stores... Plus the fact that the Sears store here have really gotten run down and are in a pretty sad shape. Also note that the selection in Hawaii is limited so models in your area may not be available here...)

So here is my list:

Lowes:
Dewalt DWE7480 Bench Saw $380
I ended up getting this saw. They had it on sale for $330, surprisingly for a brand new model. It had a very accurate and really nice rip fence, having a rack and pinion gear system which maintains a straight edge. One big disadvantage is that it cannot use dado blades. i have a router so this point is an inconvenience rather than a need. The DW745 (the previous model) had a soft start, this one does not. But the older model could only rip 14". If needed, I can get an optional stand for this one.

Dewalt DWE7491RS Portable Saw $600
Basically the DWE7480 on a rolling stand. One major difference, the 7491 can use dado blades and the 7480 cannot. Another difference is that the 7491 can rip over 30" vs. the 24" of the 7480 due to a larger table...I read somewhere that the shaft for the blades are longer on this one over the 7480, that is why this one can handle dadoes. The stand is pretty huge and sturdy It also uses the rack and pinion fence...

Bosch 4100-09 Portable Saw $600
This one is one of the most popular models with the highest reviews but it is a rather old design. It apparently can do everything you want. The gravity rise stand is really easy to setup and dismantle. Drawback, the saw is a few inches higher than others because of the stand. Since i am quite short, this was a handicap for me. One nice feature is that this one has one of the largest tables, 29"... An inconvenience is that the stand uses tubed tires which can go flat. Another drawback is that this is the heaviest by far at 120 lbs.

Porter Cable PCB220TS $335
I really wanted to get this one. Its cheap but seems well built. It has a decent stand. There is a sliding extension out the rear to support the wood as it is cut. The bevel adjustment is really easy to use, it is a crank on the side vs. the front "slide" on the others. The stand is wider on the back to stabilize the saw when cutting long pieces. The big drawback is that it is impossible to make or buy a zero clearance insert for this saw. The insert prevents narrow pieces of wood from falling between the blade and the opening on the insert which must be large to handle angled cuts. ZCI also reduces uneven cuts on the edges. another drawback is that this one has the smallest table at 19" and the fence is a bit sloppy.

Home Depot:
Ridgid R4510 Portable $530
This saw looks pretty good on paper. It is cheaper than the Dewalt and Bosch. It has the largest table at 30". it has a limited lifetime warranty. But there have been a number of complaints where the table top is warped out of the box. Also, when stored, some users complained it was easy tip tip over on its end. A number of other users reported the motor burned out pretty quickly and that Ridgid's customer service is wanting...

I nixed out any Ryobi because there were a lot of postings where the locking mechanism for blade broke off as it was made of cheap plastic.

Another alternative for people with limited space is the Festool TS55REQ track saws. If you do not have the room for a table saw, these are really nice. You draw your cut line, lay a rail or track next to the line and the saw is placed on a guide on the track and cut. But if you do a lot of repetitive cuts, a table saw is a lot easier...

Pros:
  • It is easy to use
  • The cut line is the same whether the cut is 0 or 90 degrees, unlike regular saws which are offset.
  • The cuts are virtually splinter free
  • excellent dust extraction
  • Precise depth control
  • Lots of accessories
Cons:
  • Expensive, $585 for saw and a 55" track
  • Accessories are expensive
  • Can only use proprietary blades

I hope this will help whoever is looking into buying a table saw. i spent weeks researching on this. Remember, tables saws are one of the best tools for woodworkers and also probably the most dangerous. Make sure that you double-check alignment right away. Finally, when you buy a saw, buy a good blade. The blade that comes with the saw is usually a cheap and poor performing piece which will make the saw a lot worse than it really is.
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post #2 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 12:18 PM
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I personally would recommend a fixed base unit as opposed to a portable one. It's also imperative that you pick up an alignment gauge to properly align the blade. I'd also recommend upgrading the stock fences with something that can make repetitive cuts consistently.

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post #3 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 01:31 PM
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The Hawaii part makes it tougher. Other wise I'd say to scour Craigslist for a nice used cabinet saw. Out of that list I think I'd go for the Rigid. A lot of woodworkers seem happy with that purchase.

I also would shy away from a bechtop or portable saw. The tables are small and as such the width of cut is narrow for building speaker cabs.
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post #4 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnDean View Post

The Hawaii part makes it tougher. Other wise I'd say to scour Craigslist for a nice used cabinet saw. Out of that list I think I'd go for the Rigid. A lot of woodworkers seem happy with that purchase.

I also would shy away from a bechtop or portable saw. The tables are small and as such the width of cut is narrow for building speaker cabs.

I love my Ridgid. I believe it's the granite top 4511. Other than a mediocre fence, it's a great TS for the money.

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post #5 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 03:48 PM
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I know you are staying away from them, but I do have a craftsman its about 5years old and the professional version but I have never had issues with it. I agree you will need a digital guage like this one. If I had to choose between the ones you suggestion it would be the Porter Cable, I think you get more for the money with it. All my hand tools are porter cable and I put them through heck along with our Boy Scout troop on projects and never have any issues. (drills, circular saws, sanders) If you get a stationary one or even the portable ones you can build out the table to accept longer pieces. I have take up 36" on either side of my blade.


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post #6 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 04:32 PM
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I would invest in a track saw before a table saw if you have not considered one already.

Making rip cuts on large boards with small table saws is still a recipe for inaccuracies. With a track saw it is perfect every time regardless the size of the panel.

Just my .02.
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post #7 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmst3 View Post

I would invest in a track saw before a table saw if you have not considered one already.

Making rip cuts on large boards with small table saws is still a recipe for inaccuracies. With a track saw it is perfect every time regardless the size of the panel.

Just my .02.

I understand what you are saying but the man wants a table saw. It's much faster to set the fence and make the exact same size pieces/cuts repeatedly with a table saw. With a track saw, you have to setup for every single cut.

I guess I'll just never understand the fetish around here for the track saws unless you have limited space and time to waste.
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post #8 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDean View Post

I understand what you are saying but the man wants a table saw. It's much faster to set the fence and make the exact same size pieces/cuts repeatedly with a table saw. With a track saw, you have to setup for every single cut.

I guess I'll just never understand the fetish around here for the track saws unless you have limited space and time to waste.

I agree and understand the desire to own one, I own a craftsman table that works well.

However, when I want to rip large sheets I usually take my stuff to a local wood shop that has a large table saw with extra guide tables and professional fence.

I just have a hard time making accurate rip cuts on small table saws with 4 x 8 sheets. Others may have more success than I.

If I were going to do another project I would even opt for an uber-cheap track saw if I did not have access to a wood shop.
And as you mentioned, there is the extra space for storage when not in use,

Yes, it does take a couple of extra minutes to move and setup a track saw, but it really makes perfect cuts.

I didn't mean to derail the thread, just wanted to share my experiences and give something to consider is all.

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post #9 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 05:08 PM
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I love my rigid r4512.

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post #10 of 148 Old 02-15-2014, 07:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I forgot to mention, I usually buy a 4x8 and have the store cut it down in size into four 2x4s... That's the only way i can get them to fit in my car... So the benchtop saw is perfectly fine for that...

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post #11 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmst3 View Post

I agree and understand the desire to own one, I own a craftsman table that works well.

However, when I want to rip large sheets I usually take my stuff to a local wood shop that has a large table saw with extra guide tables and professional fence.

I just have a hard time making accurate rip cuts on small table saws with 4 x 8 sheets. Others may have more success than I.

If I were going to do another project I would even opt for an uber-cheap track saw if I did not have access to a wood shop.
And as you mentioned, there is the extra space for storage when not in use,

Yes, it does take a couple of extra minutes to move and setup a track saw, but it really makes perfect cuts.

I didn't mean to derail the thread, just wanted to share my experiences and give something to consider is all.

What are some of those über cheap track saws that you speak of? I have been wanting a track saw for a while, but I can not afford a $500 price tag. Any suggestions on cheap track saws? I thought about just buying the track thing that Lowes has for like $45 that just attaches to the front of any standard circular saw. Not sure how this would compare to a dedicated track saw, though?
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post #12 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:02 AM
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What are some of those über cheap track saws that you speak of? I have been wanting a track saw for a while, but I can not afford a $500 price tag. Any suggestions on cheap track saws? I thought about just buying the track thing that Lowes has for like $45 that just attaches to the front of any standard circular saw. Not sure how this would compare to a dedicated track saw, though?

I was thinking of the type that converts your existing circular saw to a track saw.
Here is one, but I have seen several over the years.

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post #13 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpmst3 View Post

I would invest in a track saw before a table saw if you have not considered one already.

Making rip cuts on large boards with small table saws is still a recipe for inaccuracies. With a track saw it is perfect every time regardless the size of the panel.

Just my .02.
I agree with this if you need accurate long rips 8ft long, but if one is cutting down 2x4 or 4x4 ft panels, I think a table saw with rollers works perfectly fine. I tried cutting a 4x8 on a table saw and don't wish to do that again :P
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post #14 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Anthony_Gomez View Post

I agree with this if you need accurate long rips 8ft long, but if one is cutting down 2x4 or 4x4 ft panels, I think a table saw with rollers works perfectly fine. I tried cutting a 4x8 on a table saw and don't wish to do that again :P

No doubt. Ripping smaller stock in a repeatable fashion is a table saw strength.

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post #15 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:19 AM
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I have the EZ Smart system. I am using it with a fairly cheap Hitachi saw and a decent freud blade. It works well and I use it all the time for breaking down large panels and for cutting angled pieces that are too big to cut on the chop saw or the tablesaw with a miter sled.

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post #16 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:40 AM
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I have the EZ Smart system. I am using it with a fairly cheap Hitachi saw and a decent freud blade. It works well and I use it all the time for breaking down large panels and for cutting angled pieces that are too big to cut on the chop saw or the tablesaw with a miter sled.

http://www.eurekazone.com/saw_bases_s/1973.htm


Yes! That is the one that I originally had in mind but could not think of. I have never used it, but I know many people have had success with it.

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post #17 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 09:59 AM
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I use the EurekaZone tracksaw system as well.

I have a fantastic tablesaw (3HP Unisaw with a pro-grade 54" fence), I can't tell you when I last turned it on. I think it was when I built the MicroWrecker prototype last winter, and even then - I wound up doing the cut with the tracksaw because the tablesaw was too sketchy (had to cut a few steep beveled rips). I don't just build speakers either, I also make cabinetry and furniture.

Like many, I've tangled with a tablesaw and lost. Thankfully, I only wound up with a small scar, no real disfigurement or impairment. I know of others that fared FAR worse.

I worked in a cabinet shop when I was younger. I logged plenty of 8-hour days running sheets of particleboard core through a tablesaw. Even with a proper tablesaw, with proper infeed and outfeed, shoving wood towards a high-powered spinning blade just doesn't make sense from a safety standpoint. For me, the tracksaw is just a better way, I can't get my fingers near the blade without really making a mistake. I often work alone, so safety is paramount. Two hands on the saw, wood clamped in place, and no worries about kickback or maiming myself.

With my current tracksaw setup (EurekaZone's EZ-1, a cheap Skil 7 1/4" circular saw, and a $14 blade), I can do accurate, repeatable rips and accurate, square, and repeatable crosscuts to better than 1/32" accuracy all day long. Cut quality is equal to the tablesaw with my $100 Tenryu cabinetmaker's blade. With this setup, my cut depth is over 1.5", so I can gang-cut two stacked pieces of 3/4" in a single pass (this way I can make my mistakes twice as fast). While it might take me a few seconds longer to set up for each cut, I will gladly spend that time. For longer rips, I use EurekaZone's UEG, it works very well. I can rip an 8-foot panel in half, or cut it into a stack of narrow strips.

All I can say is that it works great for me. Sure, it takes a bit of different thinking, as the tracksaw approach is contrary to what we've all been taught. I'm really glad I took the plunge. I'll sell my tablesaw and radial arm saw within the next year, I just need to make myself a proper router table first.
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post #18 of 148 Old 02-16-2014, 02:51 PM
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sticking strictly to table saws and the vendors you have in front of you, i feel i owe it to you to at least try and talk you out of a portable saw. 15 years ago i was in the same boat you are in and i was buying my first saw. I figured a benchtop or portable would be all i would ever need.

But i was talked into ( on sawmill creek) buying at least a contractor saw..and i remember the first thing i thought...no way do i need that much saw for what i think i will be doing with it. But at the time there was some nice delta saws on sale so i hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks and finally found one that was a great deal and ordered it.

BEST tool buying decision of my life....i have since added a bessey fence to it, and added dust collection and i just love it.

Can you get grizzly tools delivered to you? If so, check them out...but sears if memory serves makes some nice contractor and cabinet saws, as does ridgid.

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post #19 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 05:07 AM
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radial arm saw

Now we're talking dangerous. I'm cleaning/repairing one for a guy and I can hardly get myself to make test cuts with it.
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post #20 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 05:53 AM
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Don't any of you guys have any luck at ripping with a skill and guide/fence?

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post #21 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 09:07 AM
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Don't any of you guys have any luck at ripping with a skill and guide/fence?

That's what I use when I don't want to use my table saw. I've never seen the need for a track saw. I can be just as accurate with my clamp edges and circular saw.
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post #22 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 09:43 AM
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Now we're talking dangerous. I'm cleaning/repairing one for a guy and I can hardly get myself to make test cuts with it.

NO!!! Stay away from Radial Arm Saws, unless you are a serious woodworker. I had one till last month. It was a beautiful craftsman digital with all the bells and whistles. I used it 2 times, the second time I used it I thought I had the wood clamped down good and I didn't, the blade caught it and threw it across the garage, making a small dent on my garage doors. They are very dangerous and from what I understand not very reliable for straight cuts. I sold it and used that money for a router table.

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post #23 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 09:55 AM
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You are exactly right, but hey if a man wants to pay me to clean it up and repair it, who am I to argue?
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post #24 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 09:58 AM
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You are exactly right, but hey if a man wants to pay me to clean it up and repair it, who am I to argue?

Definitely, the best way to keep tools performing as they should is to maintain them and have them serviced by a professional. That way if there are any issues they are found before they become a problem.

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post #25 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tundrSQ View Post

sticking strictly to table saws and the vendors you have in front of you, i feel i owe it to you to at least try and talk you out of a portable saw. 15 years ago i was in the same boat you are in and i was buying my first saw. I figured a benchtop or portable would be all i would ever need.

But i was talked into ( on sawmill creek) buying at least a contractor saw..and i remember the first thing i thought...no way do i need that much saw for what i think i will be doing with it. But at the time there was some nice delta saws on sale so i hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks and finally found one that was a great deal and ordered it.

BEST tool buying decision of my life....i have since added a bessey fence to it, and added dust collection and i just love it.

Can you get grizzly tools delivered to you? If so, check them out...but sears if memory serves makes some nice contractor and cabinet saws, as does ridgid.

I would really love to get a regular table saw but I just don't have the room for it... In Hawaii, land is very expensive, so properties are extremely small, the average home lot size is about 4000 sq ft, barely enough to build a small home on it. Many homes don't even have yards in them. Garages are very small, not even enough space to put any shelving in them. In my area, i know of only one home that has a workshop on it. And the reason why, the owner bot two adjacent lots to have the space for the workshop.

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post #26 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon S View Post

I would really love to get a regular table saw but I just don't have the room for it... In Hawaii, land is very expensive, so properties are extremely small, the average home lot size is about 4000 sq ft, barely enough to build a small home on it. Many homes don't even have yards in them. Garages are very small, not even enough space to put any shelving in them. In my area, i know of only one home that has a workshop on it. And the reason why, the owner bot two adjacent lots to have the space for the workshop.

Festool sells a "multifunction" table for their track saw that you may consider. While not cheap, you can fold it up to save space.

https://www.festool.com/Products/Pages/Product-Detail.aspx?pid=495315&name=Multifunction-table-MFT-3-MFT-3

Their parallel guides are also ideal for ripping long sheets.

The biggest caveat for the table is it's too small to crosscut 4X8 sheets.
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post #27 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 06:26 PM
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Great thread. I bought the Porter Cable model you mentioned a couple of years ago. I’ve always wanted a table saw but was unwilling to give up space for a car in my garage to facilitate something that I’d probably use only once or twice a year. I have a friend who’s a contractor that uses a portable table saw, and when I saw how it folded up all nice and compact I knew I had to have one. I was attracted to the Porter Cable because it seemed really well built for the money, as you noted, and it also got good reviews. In the store it seemed nearly as sturdy as the Rigid, for a whole lot less money. I’ve only used it a few times, but it’s worked well. My only complaint is that setting it up is not especially intuitive; I go so long between uses that I forget how to expand the legs and have to refer to the manual.

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Wayne A. Pflughaupt


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post #28 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tundrSQ View Post

sticking strictly to table saws and the vendors you have in front of you, i feel i owe it to you to at least try and talk you out of a portable saw. 15 years ago i was in the same boat you are in and i was buying my first saw. I figured a benchtop or portable would be all i would ever need.

But i was talked into ( on sawmill creek) buying at least a contractor saw..and i remember the first thing i thought...no way do i need that much saw for what i think i will be doing with it. But at the time there was some nice delta saws on sale so i hemmed and hawed for a couple of weeks and finally found one that was a great deal and ordered it.

BEST tool buying decision of my life....i have since added a bessey fence to it, and added dust collection and i just love it.

Can you get grizzly tools delivered to you? If so, check them out...but sears if memory serves makes some nice contractor and cabinet saws, as does ridgid.

I started with a Craftsman "Contractor" saw, it was good, but not quite good enough. I made a lot of speakers with it though. I'll second tundrSQ's recommendation, if you're going to get a table saw, get an honest one. The benchtop saws are just not large enough to be useful in my experience, the fences are too short and too inaccurate to be worthwhile for most work.
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Originally Posted by JohnDean View Post

Now we're talking dangerous. I'm cleaning/repairing one for a guy and I can hardly get myself to make test cuts with it.

I certainly agree that they're dangerous, but I'll be honest, my tablesaw scares me more. It is far more powerful, it throws wood at me, and I push workpieces towards a blade that is working against me. The radial arm kicks wood away from me into a fence, and though the saw motor can come at me, it has a limited axis of motion and range of travel, and by design, I am standing to the side. Mine just isn't accurate enough to warrant keeping. Both will get sold.
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Originally Posted by steve nn View Post

Don't any of you guys have any luck at ripping with a skill and guide/fence?

Started there, still use them from time to time. It's accurate to a 16th when all goes to plan.
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Originally Posted by JohnDean View Post

That's what I use when I don't want to use my table saw. I've never seen the need for a track saw. I can be just as accurate with my clamp edges and circular saw.

Not accurate enough, and no option for repeatable cuts. Still - the sawboards have their place and do still get used, particularly with my cordless saw.
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Originally Posted by cessna1466u View Post

NO!!! Stay away from Radial Arm Saws, unless you are a serious woodworker. I had one till last month. It was a beautiful craftsman digital with all the bells and whistles. I used it 2 times, the second time I used it I thought I had the wood clamped down good and I didn't, the blade caught it and threw it across the garage, making a small dent on my garage doors. They are very dangerous and from what I understand not very reliable for straight cuts. I sold it and used that money for a router table.

Glad you're alright. Dented garage doors are no big deal, there were no bruises or bleeding afterwards. Powerful tools of any type don't forgive when it all goes wrong.

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post #29 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 06:42 PM
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Powerful tools of any type don't forgive when it all goes wrong.

Oh so true. I like my table saw but I honestly thought I would use it more. That being that, I do use it and it definitely has it's place. By rights, I ought to buy a new one instead of another driver next time I make a purchase.

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post #30 of 148 Old 02-17-2014, 06:45 PM
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why does the track on a track saw have to be attached to the board being cut?

seems like a 'table' (that would sit on 2x4's or something on the ground for blade clearance) could be rigged up almost like a giant paper cutter:

push the board in, run the saw across...repeat. users weight would hold the board being cut in place.

i have to believe something like this is being done...i just don't know what to call it.


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