First Table Saw

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Huckleberry posted 02-17-2008 04:34 PM 1905 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok jocks, I am in the market for a new table saw or should I say my first table saw. I was looking at the Powermatic 1 1/2 hp contractor saw. I was at my local Woodcraft and got into a really good conversation with a fellow wood worker who happens to work there. We were talking about this saw and then he tries to up sell me on a steel city 3hp table saw. Now the pros and cons of each have been weighed heavily and there is about a $400 to $500 difference between the two. Now with this bigger saw I am pretty sure that dust collection would be a great idea. So I guess my question would be for a first saw would you buy bigger than you need knowing that you may tie into a project that could require the extra hp. But also that this purchase would indeed run you to the point of no new tool purchases for at least another 6 mos. But on the other hand with this Powermatic that you may still end up buying a bigger saw a few years down the line. I’m looking for some advice on this one since this will be my first big purchase.

-- I cut it twice and the damn thing is still too short!@#$%

15 comments so far

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4015 days

#1 posted 02-17-2008 04:45 PM

You can’t really go wrong either way. I feel buying the bigger saw would probably be better if you are
going to buy one anyway. You are basically set as far as a table saw goes. No need to think about
upgrading in the future and getting rid of the old one

As far as dust collection goes, both saws will make the exact amount of dust.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View GuyK's profile


356 posts in 4106 days

#2 posted 02-17-2008 05:08 PM

Huckelberry, Gary is right in saying both saws will make the same amount of dust, so that consideration doesn’t realy matter. If I was buying for the first time again, I would buy the 3hp saw over the 1 1/2 hp. I have a 1 1/2 hp saw myself and I am happy with it most of the time, but when you need that extra hp on hardwoods it isn’t there. So buy the 3hp if you can.

-- Guy Kroll

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 3881 days

#3 posted 02-17-2008 05:25 PM

With a table saw, buy the most you can when you can.
If your budget doesn’t allow it, go with the contractors style saw.
But you’ll never regret having a full-sized cabinet saw.

I lived with a contractor/hybrid saw for years because of space
limitations. Since upgrading to a cabinet saw, I wonder how I ever
got along with the smaller saw (I didn’t, just fooled myself into
thinking that I did).

Also for the cabinet style saws, look for the 220v motors. They
use half the amps as a 110v motor. Down side is you’ll need to
have a dedicated 220v circuit installed for it. I had a friend
(licensed electrician) wire mine for a case of beer. Make sure your
electrical cabinet has a double-space available for the breaker

-- Still learning everything

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3825 days

#4 posted 02-17-2008 05:32 PM

Spend the money to get a cabinet saw so that you will see no need to upgrade later. I have had the same Grizzly left tilt 3HP saw for years and I never think about exchanging it. It works perfectly, does all that I want, and requires almost no maintenance. I first looked at a contractors saw and I am so glad that I made this choice instead.

Steel City has brought good products to the market. I would look at theirs, the Grizzly, and maybe a few others, but as I already said, if you can afford it and have space for it, think cabinet saw with at least 3hp.

-- making sawdust....

View dlgWoodWork's profile


160 posts in 3781 days

#5 posted 02-17-2008 05:37 PM

It all depends on what you really want to spend. I hear a lot of people talk about getting a contractor saw, then upgrading to a cabinet saw. I have the Ridgid TS3650, and I don’t think I will ever have the need to upgrade. With the price of the PM contractor saw, you could get a hybrid and that would help with the dust collection. Or you could get the Grizzly 1023 3hp cabinet saw for just a little over $1,000 delivered. Also, make sure you have 220 volt, you will need it for a 3hp cabinet saw.

-- Check out my projects and videos

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4116 days

#6 posted 02-17-2008 05:41 PM

I would put in another vote for a 3 hp cabinet saw. You seem to like to make some large projects (the dining table and so on). I don’t think you will regret it long term.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4103 days

#7 posted 02-17-2008 06:18 PM

I started out with a portable contracters saw. Regretted that the first time I needed to saw sheet goods. My second saw was a Grizzly 1023SLW 3hp cabinet saw. I’ve never regretted buying it. Other than attaching the side tables and putting on the handles this saw was ready to go. Oh yeah, you’ll probably have to buy a blade too, at least the Grizzly didn’t come with one. After ordering the saw my son and I ran two 220 volt lines and two more 110 lines out to the garage. As Time would say, more power, whoot, whoot. ;)

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3848 days

#8 posted 02-17-2008 06:46 PM

Spend the money for the bigger saw.

To quote Matt Vanderlist (Matt’s Basement buy your second tool first. I have a 1 1/2 HP contractor saw and while it still works fine I want to upgrade to a cabinet saw. The Steel City product looks really good and the granite top upgrade is unique- dead flat and it doesn’t rust. The amenities you get with a better saw- fence, dust collection, cutting width,- will make your woodworking life much less frustrating.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4080 days

#9 posted 02-17-2008 07:48 PM

Huckleberry, I wish I had bought my 2nd saw first. I hate spending money twice. lol.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4126 days

#10 posted 02-17-2008 08:01 PM

The first thing after reading your blog was look at your projects. You aren’t making little boxes, I would vote for the bigger saw.

I started out with the Jet Contractor saw with a 1 1/2 hp motor, and to be honest I loved it. It had sufficient power and it fit my space at the time. It came wired for 110 but could be changed to 220. It was a super smooth saw.

I happened to find a smokin’ deal on a Jet cabinet saw that had been ordered and not picked up. I could not pass it up. The funny thing is I did not actually feel like I had outgrown the contractor saw at the time. I loved the extra power and table size because of cutting sheetgoods. I can say for sure that I would have outgrown the contractor saw for the type of work I do.

If your space is limited the contractor saws are something that you can live with for years to come. If you have the space and you plan on upgrading in the future, buy the right saw the first time. Save yourself the money of a double purchase. These are long term investments.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3901 days

#11 posted 02-17-2008 09:23 PM

Go big or go home.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3812 days

#12 posted 02-17-2008 11:05 PM

I also started with a small saw, the price was rite. Then was givin a craftsman old time table saw and soon wore it out. I purchased a Jet cabinet saw and that is the best saw I have used, and cutting sheet goods is a breeze. I say go big to start you will not be sorry.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View Grumpy's profile


23997 posts in 3877 days

#13 posted 02-17-2008 11:12 PM

I have had both.Huck. Started off with the smaller improvised version and ended up with the 3HP single phase variety. To me there is no comparison, the bigger saw saw much more capability. I would definitely go for the 3HP even if it stretches the funds. By the time you make all the jigs to go with the T/S & play with them you won’t even think about buying new tools.

-- Grumpy - "Always look on the bright side of life"- Monty Python

View Tom Adamski's profile

Tom Adamski

306 posts in 3797 days

#14 posted 02-18-2008 01:12 AM

Disagreeing with my fellow wood workers, I opted for the contractor saw from Delta and have not looked back. Mine has the 1 1/2 Hp motor and the cast iron extensions. It also has dust collection and a built in mobile base. I make custom furniture and marine cabinets (for boats) and have no problems cutting through anything, especially with the thin kerf Freud blades. Having the extra money in my pocket feels good too.

Delta 36-980

-- Anybody can become a woodworker, but only a Craftsman can hide his mistakes.

View RobG's profile


71 posts in 3848 days

#15 posted 02-19-2008 02:23 AM

Buy the biggest friggin’ table saw you can afford!! Go into debt if need be. I have a puny saw and every time I turn it on I hate it. My next one is going to take a fork lift to unload.

-- Woodworking is Life. Anything before or after is just waiting.--S. McQueen sort of

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics