Recommendations for a starter table saw?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by hisenthlay, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    My fiance's birthday is coming up, and he's just starting to really get into woodworking, and I think I want to get him a table saw for his b-day. He mostly wants to work with hand tools, but he's heard that a table saw is one power tool that really speeds things up without compromising the final quality of the work.

    So, anyone have any recommendations for a table saw? What to get, what not to get? How little I can spend on a new one and still have it be worth getting? Where I might find some good used ones? What size/features it should have for someone just starting out? So far he's mostly made planters and things for the garden, but he wants to get to work on some furniture, too.

    And is there any other power tool that you think a person really should have, even if they want to mostly work by hand?

    Thanks!
     
  2. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    I have to recommend the Ridgid contractors saw. Model TS3650. It's comparatively cheap for what you get, and is a great tool. It's not a table saw that will need to be replaced due to inadequate functionability in a year or two.

    I made the mistake of buying a $175 Skil benchtop saw a few years back. I had the money for it, and didn't know what I was doing. It functioned, but that's about the best thing that can be said about it. I Just bought the Ridgid saw a month ago, and the difference is night and day. It cuts straight. It doesn't fall over when you run a panel through it. It doesn't vibrate across the shop floor when you try to rip a 2x4. And there isn't a need to upgrade from it. It will do just about anything you need a tablesaw to do.

    There's a smaller portable saw, also made by Ridgid, that is pretty good, too, and a hundred bucks cheaper. I'd stay far away from Craftsman, Ryobi, Skil, or other cheapish brands. Craftsman power tools used to be good until they switched manufacturers. Now they are sub-par. Ridgid tools are currently being made by Craftsman's old manufacturer.

    If you see something you like, do a web search for reviews of it. I have a subscription to fine woodworking. They do all sorts of tool reviews, and I've never been led astray by them yet.
     

  3. wy_white_wolf

    wy_white_wolf Just howling at the moon

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    I have 2 tablesaws.

    A craftsman setup in the shop for finer work (cabinets and furniture) and a Ridged contractors saw to use fro everything else. The ridge is nice since the legs fold up for easy transport to the jobsite.
     
  4. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    :eek: Wow! That's, um, more expensive than I was thinking. I thought it would be ok to drop some $$ on this as a way to snowball our savings, but he'd better be making some pretty fancy stuff for all that money. I've been watching craigslist and the papers for months, waiting for a table saw to come along, but someone always seems to buy them before I call. Sigh. Well, I'd better think about this some more, but I don't have much time left. I'll see what reviews I can find in Fine Woodworking, too. I got him a subscription to that for Christmas, so we do have the last few issues of it laying around.

    Any other useful woodworking gift suggestions, while we're at it??
     
  5. moopups

    moopups In Remembrance

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    Get him a gift certificate to a woodworking shop, so that the pressure to make the right choise is not living at your house! There are hundreds of hand tools available for woodwork, let him make the choise.
     
  6. Obser

    Obser "Mobile Homesteaders"

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    If it were me getting the gift I'd rather have the certificate and would rather that it be from Home Depot or Lowes if there is one within reasonable distance. Their tools are good enough for all but the experts or professionals (and few of us are in that category or realistically aspire to become either).

    If you really wanted to have a table saw in the middle of the floor with a ribbon around it on his birthday, you could pick out a mid-range saw from either of the above two places and there would be no problem returning it if your fiance wanted something different.

    As an alternative, you could wrap the ribbon around yourself, hand him the gift certificate and watch the big smile.
     
  7. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    Good call, moopups. Tools are a tricky thing, and it's way too easy to get someone something that they don't want or need. Everyone has different tastes and priorities.
     
  8. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    Get a belt drive saw.
     
  9. Boleyz

    Boleyz Prognosticator, Artist

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    I bought a nice little 10" table saw at Lowes for $74.00. Stand included. It's the "Tradesman" brand. Cheap, Chinese Import. It comes with stand, rip fence, cheap blade, and a variable angle push guide.

    I built a house with it. No problems. If you're ripping lumber, spend another $20 and get one of the free-standing roller top rests to "Catch" the lumber as you push it through.

    Less than $100 at Lowes, and you're good to go for a lot of projects.
     
  10. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    The little saws are ok for rough projects. They'll drive you nutty if you're trying to build furniture to tight specifications. The arbor run out is horrible, the tables aren't flat, the motors bog down, etcetera.There's nothing worse than ruining a good piece of walnut or other expensive wood with a crappy tool.
    I still use my 10" Skil for rough carpentry stuff when I'm not close to the woodshop. It does ok, as long as theres a decent quality sharp blade in it. It was so bad for building furniture that I spent the last year before I got the new saw using a Bosch circular saw and various jigs and guides. It produced much tighter cuts than the Skil ever did.

    If you can only afford to drop a hundred bucks, and you want to make furniture, I'd say invest in a decent circular saw and a jig book, and make a pair of sturdy sawhorses.
     
  11. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    Well, I was just going to get a gift cert at first, but he's so bad at actually going and spending the money--he feels guilty about getting nice gifts, doesn't like people to make a fuss. And if I get it for someplace like Home Depot, I'm afraid he'll be sensible and spend it on something like new gutters or something. :nono: And I do like him having something to unwrap (other than me :p ).... But I may just do a gift certificate after all--I don't want him to feel stuck with the wrong thing, just because I picked it as a gift. And I wasn't sure how I was going to get such a big and heavy gift home in the first place. At the very least, now I know the price range I should be thinking about. Hmmm... very perplexing....

    Agmantoo--I'll look into a belt drive saw, too--thanks.
     
  12. beorning

    beorning Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to spend a certificate from a woodworking specialty store practically. Unless you run a cabinet shop or make furniture for a living... We have Woodcraft stores here. Great selection of hand tools, weird lumber, etcetera. They also sell online.

    Most belt drive saws I've seen are going to put you back up into the higher end of tablesaw. The little ones are usually direct drive. Belt drive is better.

    I brought my saw home in the car. Had to take it out of the box first. It was manageable in pieces, but the whole box was several hundred pounds. If you do end up buying a ridgid, and take it out of the box to transport it, be sure to cut out and keep the upc. They have a lifetime warranty deal on parts and service right now, but you need that UPC to register for it.

    Good luck. :)
     
  13. spam4einstein

    spam4einstein Well-Known Member

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    I have a $1500 delta unisaw tablesaw and a $300 portable makita tablesaw. I have used a $80 cheepie saw and to tell you the truth, the $80 will do 90% of what my $1500 saw will do if I do my part. I bet the craftsman who built some of the amazing antique furniture in musems would have loved to have a $80 table saw.
    The best buys however are the big older craftsman table saws. You should be able to get one used for $100 without too much trouble. Dont let the tool snobs take the wind out of you sails!