Just Starting

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Blog entry by AtlasRook posted 04-07-2014 04:33 PM 1701 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So, I’ve just started woodwoorking. It’s always fascinated me. When I say “just started”, I mean that. I bough a table saw before I ever used one. Never once, not even in a high school shop class. I find it frustrating that when I ask some internet sources about what saw to buy, they couldn’t point me to anything under $1,000. Seriously? I told them ”$500 hard limit”, and the response was, “well, if you just bump it up a little, to $900 you can get something that barley passable as usable.” That’s crazy to me. Yes, I understand that quality tools cost more. Yes, I understand I end up paying more when I have to buy a tool twice. But I’m 30, and I hopefully have 30 years of woodworking ahead of me. I don’t need to spend $5000 on a single tool now when I don’t even have some of the basic tools yet!

Ok, somehow I got off on a tangent. Either way, I hope people here try to understand their audience before answering questions. It will make everyone happier in the end.

16 comments so far

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 1622 days

#1 posted 04-07-2014 04:45 PM

I’ve got the Craftsman version of the BT3100. It looks like they still sell it here. I think I payed $450 on sale. Regular price is $600.

There are plenty of people who poo-poo it, but I believe it is very good quality for the money. I don’t know what I’m missing over a high-end el-expensive model. I know I can’t get a cabinet saw into my basement.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4126 days

#2 posted 04-07-2014 04:53 PM

I would look on Criagslist for a table saw. I just saw a granite tabled Rigid for $300 on the local list. Also you could look at the hand tool route as another option. I would also say that things depend on what you are building. Focus your tool purchase around projects and interests.

I will say that I started with an under $500 table saw and it had limitations in power and accuracy. (The fence flexed and it would not cut through thick stock efficiently). If there is a woodcraft in your area, they have a good introduction to shop tools class that takes you through all of the major tools.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4153 days

#3 posted 04-07-2014 05:03 PM

So I think one of the things that happens with tool recommendations is…

A few years ago, actually before I built my shop, when my woodworking was in the tiny attached garage, I was swearing at some tool and my wife poked her head in from the house and said “you didn’t buy the Festool, eh?”

Much of the recommendation to bump your budget up comes from having bought the cheaper version of something, and then a few years later given it away on Freecycle because we finally broke down and bought the better version and the cheap version really wasn’t worth anything any more.

So I think that what many people are saying when they recommend something more expensive is that the cheaper tool ends up costing you more in the long run, because you will eventually buy the more expensive one too. Also, if you haven’t used a table saw yet, you probably don’t have a feel for what trade-offs you’re really interested in making.

I try to carefully read the questions, and often won’t pipe in when my answer is “spend twice that”, but often I will ask if there’s another way to make that cut or process that leaves you with good tools…

Anyway, welcome! And, yes, thanks for the reminder that we do need to read the question, and answer the question, not what we’d do in a similar circumstance.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4126 days

#4 posted 04-07-2014 05:13 PM

Dan has a good point. You said you are in this for the next 30 years…

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View MrFid's profile


876 posts in 1933 days

#5 posted 04-07-2014 05:49 PM

No, I think I understand what the OP is saying. We all have buyers regret at some points, and yeah, I started with a Ryobi table saw that I ended up basically giving away on CL, but I think you have to have that experience. Our hobby is one that has a high entry cost, even if you go low quality at the outset.
Contrasting woodworking against soccer, that is a hobby with a low entry cost. A soccer ball can be had for a minimal sum (or one can be turned on the lathe ;) ). Furthermore, soccer costs nothing once you have the ball and maybe some cleats. Woodworking requires a constant flow of money, if only for lumber. Or not, if you use reclaimed. Once you have a shop with all the big power tools (or handplanes) you could need, woodworking is not THAT expensive. Even the most exotic hardwoods are reasonable considering what you’ll make with it, and what that could sell for.
I am also a competitive cyclist, which has a high entry point (cost of a bike, gear, etc) but low maintenance cost. I haven’t spent a penny on bikes in a few years, yet I ride many miles per year. Most people don’t buy the best bike when they are just starting out. They buy a bottom-line bike to determine whether they’ll like the sport or not. Once they fall for it, then they spend the big bucks on a top-end bike.
If this guy quit woodworking tomorrow after buying a $1500. cabinet saw today, that would be a bigger waste of money. Better to hedge your bets at the beginning, I say.
Sorry for the long post, caught me in a pensive moment I guess.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Steve2MB's profile


4 posts in 3182 days

#6 posted 04-07-2014 07:47 PM

My first table saw was a Craftsman 10inch flex drive 1 HP saw. I paid $150 for the saw. I then purchased a couple of very good condition used Systi-Matic (no longer in business) carbide saw blades. In my opinion, a good quality table saw blade is more important than the saw turning it. The second consideration is a good saw fence for accurate rip cuts. I had my first saw for five years and it was destroyed in a garage fire. I replaced it with a used 2HP General International 50-185 (used) which I have used for three years now. I really enjoy using this saw. I suggest that you find a good used table saw complete with the guard to start with and later upgrade if you decide to continue woodworking.

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1958 days

#7 posted 04-07-2014 11:41 PM

Be patient and make CL your homepage on your screen. The good deals go fast, but they’re there. (There there, they’re there).

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Woodknack's profile


11826 posts in 2409 days

#8 posted 04-08-2014 02:19 AM

When I bought my first table saw it took me over a year to save the money. Fifteen+ years later and I’m still using it and am still happy with it. It cost almost $900 back then and was worth every penny. Not once have I ever thought, ‘Damn, wish I had bought a cheaper saw.’

-- Rick M,

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3771 days

#9 posted 04-08-2014 02:35 AM

In your OP you say that you already Bought a Table saw…

So what did you buy?

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View cabmaker's profile


1735 posts in 2837 days

#10 posted 04-08-2014 05:44 PM

500 dollar hard limit ? New? Next 30 yrs?

Sorry, can’t help you.


View AtlasRook's profile


25 posts in 1551 days

#11 posted 04-16-2014 06:41 PM

Wow, I didn’t expect all the responses for my first blog post. Thank you all for the interest!

I already bough a table saw, the Makita 2705. I works well, for what I’ve used it for, and it fits in my shop (a little 6×6 area in the basement). Anything larger would not have fit in my basement, and the current plan is to move outside when the weather is nice to avoid dust problems (and back to the basement when it gets too hot/humid or to cold to work outside). Note that me trying to avoid the hassle might overrule that plan. Not a problem with a portable but could be a concern if I had a bigger table. I bough a Freud D1040A Diablo for it as well.

I do fully understand that at some point I’ll want a different, higher quality saw in the future. I don’t expect this saw to by my only saw for 30 years; I expect that I’ll get the hag of things more and put some real money into it in 5 or 10 or 15 years.

As I said someone suggested to me to put $900 into it, where I only put in $500. That extra $400 dollars can be put into stuff that I don’t have like: a random orbit sander (don’t own), a shop vac (don’t own), a dust collector systems (don’t own, looking at the HF one), clamps (I have 4 small irwin ones), new/sharp blades and bits for my power tools, a couple nice hand tools, wood. I assume that a lot of people take some of these things for granted when answering questions.

Oh, and I do check craigslist for this stuff. I’m in an area that there isn’t always a huge selection there for tools. It does make me a bit nervous to buy a big power tool used when I’ve never used one or really been up close. In those cases I wouldn’t know what to look for to judge it’s worth. As I’ve said, I never even took a shop class in school (I was a nerdy math type).

View AtlasRook's profile


25 posts in 1551 days

#12 posted 04-16-2014 08:01 PM

Oh yeah, drill press (don’t own), maybe a jointer and/or planer..

View LJackson's profile


295 posts in 1622 days

#13 posted 04-16-2014 08:16 PM

For quick grip type clamps, go for the HF ones. I got five 12 inch ones for $2 each! They have a lifetime warranty. I broke one and the next time in HF they replaced it no questions asked. You can’t go wrong.

For other clamps, I’m going to be making my own. Bar clamps, for example. I’ll need a bunch in order to build my workbench, and it will be much less expensive to make them.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3614 days

#14 posted 04-16-2014 08:26 PM

I can’t realistically comment with exactitude on USA prices for machines ,but if you buy a really cheap model you will ( In my honest opinion ,combined with a lot of personal experience behind me) either give up the hobby or be persuaded later to resell at a loss and buy a much better make.That’s why I personally always buy used heavy duty machines in the first place ( not at all suitable of course for everyone)and usually wait till I can get what I need used.I works for me but maybe as said not for everyone .I wish you nevertheless well, and hope over the next number of years you have a lot of success but mostly fun.That’s why most of us do it ( woodworking that is LOL) and then come here to tell all.LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Ocelot's profile


1981 posts in 2667 days

#15 posted 04-16-2014 09:41 PM

Welcome (I should say first).

I’m not familiar with the Makita saw. I know they have made some nice tools. My current table saw is still my first one – a relatively inexpensive Rigid. As somebody has already said, the fence (and the blade) are the critical parts. The fence has to reliably be parallel with the blade, and able to set firmly where you want it.

Also, mind your fingers! I know I don’t have to say that, but look around on the web for some tablesaw safety videos. It’s not obvious what all the dangers are. Make and use some pushsticks and feather boards.


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