All Replies on To buy or to wait, Table Saw Dilemma...

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To buy or to wait, Table Saw Dilemma...

by SJD3
posted 06-08-2010 12:57 AM

28 replies so far

View hairy's profile


2661 posts in 3501 days

#1 posted 06-08-2010 01:07 AM

I will join you in waiting for the experts. What I do is a lot of reading before I buy, get the best I can afford, and take care of it.

If you think something is junk, you’re probably right. Cry once and move on. Good luck!

-- My reality check bounced...

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2924 days

#2 posted 06-08-2010 01:13 AM

Usually, I advise people to get the best tools that they can afford. But, assuming that you don’t have an unlimited budget to work with, in this case I might say go with a contractor saw. The primary reason that I say this is because you don’t have a jointer/planer, and while you can work without these tools, most of the ways to do it are work arounds, and the most efficient way to surface wood is with a jointer/planer. So, I say come up with a plan to get all three tools. (Or learn how to surface boards with hand tools.)

Contractor saws are pretty good tools, and you will learn a lot owning and using one. Yeah, you might end up replacing it in 5-10 years, but you might not either. And, in the meantime, you will have added the other tooling (jointer and planer) that you need.

View a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3546 days

#3 posted 06-08-2010 01:19 AM

From my experiance Jet and sears saws don’t last You might take a look at Grizzly saws . If your thinking contractor style see if you can find a Ridgid 4511

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SJD3's profile


11 posts in 2879 days

#4 posted 06-08-2010 01:52 AM

Uffitze, I dont have a requirement to buy the table saw right now. I can wait to see if I can find a sale on the Delta models. Im only concerned that the deal on the 21833 wont last long.

I have had the same experience as Jim and while craftsman hand tools last the items with moving parts have generally let me down. While the 21833 says contractors saw, it really is in the hybrid category priced as a contractors saw.

The Ridgid sounds attractive with the granite top, but trying to get one is difficult. And having bought difficult items, when it comes time to buy a spare part its going to be that much more difficult and I may end up with having to replace the item.

I plan on getting a Jointer and Planer as they are obvious tools required to ensure your pieces are flat. At this time I will get the table saw as I can learn how to do joint types on softwoods as well as use the table saw to build storage and workshop items that can have imperfections.

Also, as for the Grizzly, according to the grizzly website they removed the Hybrid that had several good reviews. They now have the G0715P now listed on the site. This is new and as of last week they did not have any Hybrids listed. There are no reviews of this model so it is an unknown at this time.

-- Jr.woodworker

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3043 days

#5 posted 06-08-2010 02:35 AM

Cheap tools are expensive! I once bought a modest Craftsman TS (don’t remember the model number). I put up with it for a while, but eventually I bought a much better TS. The money I had spent on the craftsman was, de facto, a waste. That’s why I say that cheap tools are expensive. You don’t need a super expensive TS. Just step a notch or 2 above the cheap s**h.

Here’s something to consider – A track saw (a.k.a. plunge saw) can do virtually 95% of what a TS can do and, when you eventually get a good quality TS, the track saw will still play an important role in your shop. I routinely use a TS, a miter saw and a track saw. There is a role for each in my shop. However, if I only could have one saw, it would be the track saw. It’s the most versatile.

Festool, DeWalt and Makita all make track saws and they are all priced about the same. Furthermore, they are priced lower than any good quality TS. They also don’t take up much space in your shop.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3146 posts in 3078 days

#6 posted 06-08-2010 02:55 AM

Rich, if I keep seeing you plug this Fesstool plunge saw,I’ll probably buy it instead of a bigger table saw. I bought the infamous Ryobi of lawsuit fame (still gots my pickers, I don’t violate OSHA regs…much). That thing requires the multi-function table, iirc, and that’s big ticket stuff when paired up. I guess I could sell that ‘60s muscle car I’ve been restoring to pay for this stuff…guess I’m really a lumberjock, after all. But I’m sure gonna miss that straight line neck snapping acceleration. :(

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View SJD3's profile


11 posts in 2879 days

#7 posted 06-08-2010 03:19 AM

Well, I actually have a track saw. The dewalt. Love the saw but the accessories make me wonder if they actually tried everything together. The T-Square adapter has a knob on bottom to snug to the track but if you put a clamp in there (which they give you a nice slot to fit the clamp through) the pistol grip hits the knob and you cant release the clamp on anything thinner then 5/8”.

Also, a track saw wouldnt be my ideal tool to make perfect repeatable cuts like face boards for a cabinet or such. Its GREAT at ripping down 4×8 ply sheets to finished dimensions. And that is what I use it for.

-- Jr.woodworker

View miserybob's profile


88 posts in 3013 days

#8 posted 06-08-2010 03:38 AM

These days you can find good used table saws pretty cheap – a sad result of the current economy, but a good opportunity for someone looking to buy. Check out Craig’s List in your area and various woodworking forums – most of them have a tool swap section.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3239 days

#9 posted 06-08-2010 03:44 AM

Rich is indeed correct on the uses of a good track saw. I would also suggest that I have operated without a planer or jointer but you will never get quality results without these tools (or leaning to be proficient with hand planes). Lumber that you buy from box stores or other sources that are cut dimensionally are expensive and not usually very square (wood moves over time) so you will always need to smooth and square a piece prior to working it….if you can’t or don’t do this you will end up with poorly fitting joints and amateur looking projects.

I recommend to folks that are getting started in woodworking to buy the best tools you can by first researching, learning and trying tools…. and then shopping for the best value. You made a great decision to join this site as it is one of the best source for great folks with great information. There are a lot of good blogs on tools and reviews of their worth and value. A search on any tool will usually get you a blog with reviews and opinions.

Now, there is an ongoing debate amongst woodworkers as to what tools are needed and when. I recommend that you find a local group or club, look for classes at your tool or wood store or local college/schools. You can’t really buy a good tool unless you know how it works and what it does….that will also help you to prioritize what you will need and when….I learned wood working by doing with my grandfather…and with other like minded folks…I cannot place a high enough value on personal experience and the benefits of learning from an experienced and skilled teacher.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View hazbro's profile


109 posts in 2959 days

#10 posted 06-08-2010 03:58 AM

another tool work around: before I could afford a stand alone joiner I used a straight edge and a router with a top & bottom bearing to make my boards straight. it was a pain in the but, but it worked.

I would suggest making due with the track saw and the increased set up times until you can afford a saw that you know will be a work horse and make you happy instead of fighting a moderately ok saw that tests your nerves all the time. those “just good enough” tools take the joy out of the craft.

-- measure once, keep cuttin' til it fits

View gbook2's profile


10 posts in 2882 days

#11 posted 06-08-2010 05:18 PM

I’d be very hesitant about the Craftsman 21833. I bought one in late April, and while it appeared to be good at first, I found a huge alignment problem. The alignment changes as a you raise and lower the blade. See the problems I and other people have had here:

I’m actually returning the Craftsman and plan to get the Grizzly G0438RL instead. A $500 300lb saw should not have any alignment issues. When I see more than one person with the same problem, it makes me leery of any Craftsman saw.

View Ger21's profile


1074 posts in 3100 days

#12 posted 06-09-2010 02:18 AM

Rather than spend $1200-$1500 for a saw that will last 10 years, why not buy a used Unisaw or Powermatic that’ll last a lifetime. Watch Craigslist, and be patient, and you may find a really good cabinet saw for around $750 or so.

As for a tracksaw doing 95% of what a table saw can do. I’d say that 95% of what I use my table saw for can’t be done with a tracksaw.
Yesterday, I ripped a 3”x24” board in half, then put a 3/4” dado on to cut some slots. Then used my sled to crosscut some 3”x6” parts. With a tracksaw, I’d still be standing there scratching my head??

What about making rabitts, box joints, tenons, coved mouldings? A miter sled on a table saw is the most accurate way to cut mitered mouldings. A tablesaw is far and away the most versatile tool in the shop.

Sure, a track saw has it’s place. But can it do 95% of what a table saw can do?? Not even close.

-- Gerry,

View SJD3's profile


11 posts in 2879 days

#13 posted 06-09-2010 02:38 AM

Well, 220V requirement, lack of mobility, Overall size (current space limitation), and increased price are limiting me from buying a cabinet saw, as from my first post I would LOVE to have a high end cabinet but a Hybrid seems to be the best fit for me.

Buying used can lead to great gems but honestly its not something to jump in and buy as a first time saw. After owning a saw for awhile and being very comfortable knowing how to adjust every bit of a saw then I would feel comfortable checking a used saw and determining it to be good or not.

Im leaning toward picking up a delta so I guess Ill just wait until they have a sale.

-- Jr.woodworker

View knotscott's profile


7983 posts in 3344 days

#14 posted 06-09-2010 03:25 AM

The price of that Delta is pretty high considering that it offers traditional table mounted trunnions, old style connecting rods, and no riving knife. I think I’d consider something like the GI 50-240GT, Steel City, Craftsman 22116, Grizzly G0661, G0715P or Jet Proshop, or even a closeout on the Cman 22124 before spending that kind of money on the outdated Delta….all have mechanical advantages over the Delta design, whether cabinet mounted trunnions, a single piece cast arbor carriages, riving knife, or all three.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View SJD3's profile


11 posts in 2879 days

#15 posted 06-09-2010 03:45 AM

50-240GT is $1600 and appears to have limited availability.

Craftsman 22116 is $950 which is more then a Delta 36-715 (closest comparable fence)

Grizzly G0661 is a contractors saw with table mounted trunnions at nearly $900

Grizzly G0715P looks nice and seems to have a decent price at $850. Currently brand new and I will keep an eye on reviews. This is a contender for the Delta.

The Jet Pro Shop saws are nice but at the same budge Im looking for something with a full cabinet base. If all options equal this is one possible determining factor.

Craftsman 22124 is completely discontinued at this time.

So, the Delta 36-71X (5,6,7) has been around awhile. Parts and accessories are widely available. The saw is easily available from multiple vendors. There are many reviews and most are very positive.

Honestly the Grizzly is the main contender. As I read more the Jet Pro Shop may, but the fact that its not a cabinet is a turn off.

-- Jr.woodworker

View Tim_456's profile


170 posts in 3564 days

#16 posted 06-09-2010 05:03 AM

I won’t comment on which table saw to buy since sometimes that comes down to intangibles but I would suggest you buy the best tool you can afford without thinking of needing/buying a dado blade, jointer, and/or planer. Since you’re new to woodworking and tools of that caliber you’ll have to spend a bit of time just getting used to ripping and cross cutting on it using a normal blade. when i bought my first “real” TS it took me a while to practice and get comfortable ripping and using the miter gauge. when I did I realized I needed a cross cut sled and an upgraded miter guage and some other attachments long before I was ready to use a dado blade and a jointer and planer. Depending on how fast you come up those learning curves it might be a while so what it comes down to for me is that it’s better to have a fewer number of really good tools you know how to use really well rather than alot of mediocre tools you don’t really master. Just my long winded two cents…

View Ben 's profile


163 posts in 3333 days

#17 posted 06-09-2010 06:02 AM

I have always heard…. buy the best tool you can afford or…you only cry once when you buy good tools. I agree with both adages but, when you are buying a tablesaw the water gets muddy in a hurry.

What does that really mean? Should you buy the best benchtop tablesaw that money can buy? Or, a name brand hybrid for the same money? What about a low end cabinet saw?

Bosch sells a great benchtop for 600.00. You could buy a Craftsman hybrid for the same money. The base model Grizzly cabinet saw can be had for a few more bills.

I don’t think there is an easy answer but, I would lean toward the hybrid or cabinet saw if you plan to be a woodworker for many years to come. The upgraded fence and tefc motor are worth the additional coin.

Don’t get hung up on the trunnions. My dad has been using the same craftsman contractor saw since 1978 and still produces furniture I could only dream of. The blade, fence and a good cast iron top are much more important than horsepower or trunnions; as long as you won’t be sawing 2-3 inch hardwoods on a regular basis. Sure, it’s easier to tune a cabinet saw than most hybrids but, if it only takes you an extra 30 minutes to tune your hybrid… once a year, then you should still come out ahead in the long run.

If you are looking for a fully enclosed base, go with the best enclosed hybrid that you can afford.

View knotscott's profile


7983 posts in 3344 days

#18 posted 06-09-2010 11:09 AM

The Griz G0661 is listed as a contractor saw, but it has the motor tucked inside the cabinet, which makes it a hybrid by my definition. Though it doesn’t have a full cabinet, the benefit of the riving knife and one piece arbor carriage/blade shroud are an advantageous tradeoff IMHO.

The Cman 22116 goes on sale for quite a bit less sometimes, is made by Steel City, has a riving knife, full enclosure, cabinet mounted trunnions, and has a one piece cast blade shroud as an arbor carriage. Also an advantageous tradeoff IMO.

Its like most other decisions. Do the research, weigh out what’s most important to you, and go with your gut. They’re all capable of doing a good job once aligned and fitted with a good blade.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3129 days

#19 posted 06-09-2010 12:58 PM

Lots of good (and varied) advice already. I agree with Gerry on all his points. In addition, I’ll add that 2 things make the saw 1) alignment and 2) the fence. Whatever you get, make sure you end up with a decent T fence(Besemeyer-like).

If you didn’t say you were just beginning, I’d agree with the “buy the best you can afford at the time.” and just maybe it could be your last saw. No matter what you buy, you can continue to do your research to avoid a bad product(with alignment problems), even with CL. There’s nothing wrong with decent used equip. for a beginner. Notice I said decent, I didn’t say the perfect saw of your dreams. I’m guessing you still need a bit more experience before you can pick the saw to last your lifetime.

IMO, the chance that the first saw you get will be your last, is pretty slim. Don’t think of it as ‘family’, its only a tool. If your house catches fire, save the wife and kids, maybe the cat, but let the saw burn. The same problem with folks naming their cows. Once you name a cow, then you can no longer eat it.

You’ve listed what you HAVE built, but what are your future projects? What is your total shop budget? What’s your most important desire for your shop tools (safety, mobility, precision, diversity)? Chances are you won’t get all of them so just pick one or two.

Oh, and if you plan on the $1500 range, look at either the contractor or the newer model Saw Stop. They even come in 120v versions.

I’ve got more to say but I’m out of breath.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3112 days

#20 posted 06-09-2010 01:14 PM

I’m keep Bessey away from you, Rance.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 2921 days

#21 posted 06-10-2010 06:51 AM

How much have you done with the track saw? I’m starting out too, kinda, (More moving to finish-grade furniture rather than construction grade utilities) and just started collecting power tools.

With suggestions like Rich’s above, I too went with the track saw. (Festool) If you have a large bench it’s not to hard to make repeat cuts, the jigs just take a bit on ingenuity if you’re used to the tablesaw jigs.

Now, I admittedly favor portable tools, as I have no idea where I’ll be after fall semester. However, if I were buying workshop sized tools, I’d be going for the jointer first followed shortly by a surface planer. The tablesaw would mostly double-cover things the track saw can already do. The jointer/planer, however, would massively reduce my lumber costs, which means either more projects, or more money for future tools.

-- ~Mark

View rance's profile


4255 posts in 3129 days

#22 posted 06-10-2010 01:06 PM

Tools have a primary purpose, a secondary purpose, and a whole lot more they could be used for. Take a gas chainsaw… it is mainly useful for cutting down a tree trunk (crosscut) away from electricity. However, it can also be used for ripping a stump into bowl blanks, but the rip cut is not its best cut. And after that, it can be used for things so out of its intended purpose such as freehand chainsaw art.

I have to respectfully disagree with the recommendations of using a track saw over a table saw(TS) for normal every day panel cutting. Yes, a track saw could be used for many things a TS excels at, but is it the best tool, not necessarilly. A TS fence allows multiple repeatability which a track saw just doesn’t allow. I would go crazy if I had to re-adjust my TS fence for every cut. That’s one place where the TS excels. As a comparison, a router could do almost anything in the shop, but would it be the absolutely best tool for all tasks, absolutely not.

As a secondary purpose, a TS can be used to cut stick lumber such as crown molding and such. I couldn’t imagine trying that with a track saw. Don’t get me wrong, track saws are nice tools, but they have an entirely different purpose than a TS.

Of course this all assumes you have a use for what the TS’s primary purpose is. Hope this sheds a little different light on your choices. I’m sure you’ll find what works best for your situation. I’ll shut up now. :)

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View SJD3's profile


11 posts in 2879 days

#23 posted 06-10-2010 02:52 PM

I agree with you rance. And 100% on the primary vs capable.

I have the track saw because cutting large sheet goods will likely be something I do often. Plywood for shelving, desktops, play area for my kid. Things that on a table saw is bulky, difficult, or unsafe in situations. Once you get a 4×8 sheet cut down (specially in length) then you can make finer cuts or more repeatable cuts with the table saw.

I would not use the track saw for say, cutting a 45 degree miter on a 2×4. It can do it, but its really not the best tool for the job.

You can be clever about using your tools in ways that may not be a primary purpose but always think about safety, dont do something innovative if there is a possibility of hurting yourself or others around you.

Right now at the price of the Grizzly G0715P I could get the table saw and probably have enough in my budget to get a jointer. Unfortunately its not shipping until September so Ill have to sit on my hands awhile and wait to see what people say about it.

-- Jr.woodworker

View m88k's profile


83 posts in 2921 days

#24 posted 06-10-2010 05:55 PM

I must admit: I’m one of the lunatics that really loves the RAS, the purported king of the unsafe tools. But it’s hard to think of truly unsafe ways to use the plunge cut saw. (making cuts on your lap does NOT count) It really seems like the closest thing to an inherently safe power saw. The jig I had in mind locks the track in place, with a scrap piece of wood providing a fence. The workpiece slides under the track, butting against the fence, easily providing repeatable cuts. Maybe a little convoluted compared to a table saw, but workable and not the least bit dangerous.

If you have an issue with the Dewalt pistol clamps, the Festool and Makita clamps both supposedly fit the Dewalt track, and they tighten like C clamps; less convenient, but if you want to eliminate the pistol grip drawbacks….

Why not cut miters with it? :-D I just butt the left edge of the saw against a quick-square and go. A power miter would be a much better choice, but I don’t own one, and I’ll most likely be putting it off for some time. If I was doing a lot of miter cuts, or I was making cuts at more interesting angles, I’d definitely get one; I’d probably buy it today.

If you have enough budget for both, there’s no reason to wait on the jointer while you wait on the table saw. If you’ve found a place to buy rough cut lumber, it’ll save you a bundle in material cost on any projects you do before September.

I feel like I’m being difficult, but I truly have the best intentions; I think I’m the least likely member of this site to recommend buying a new tool. :-P If I followed all the recommendations I’ve gotten in the past month and a half, I would have spent at least three grand in tools. Not saying the suggestions are a bad thing. They did convince me to buy the track/plunge saw and an awesome little impact driver, and I’m incredibly happy with both.

-- ~Mark

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3239 days

#25 posted 06-11-2010 01:55 AM

I have to weigh in here on the Track Saws…..I have used mine for practically everything that can be done with a table saw….Also, I have both – a track saw and a table saw…but it always depends on the situation. Typically there are many ways and methods to make a specific cut.

Now a Track Saw is not a table saw…and was not intended to replace one….but it does do as good a job for ripping, x-cutting, mitre cuts and for dados, rabbits and slots (there is no dado blade for these saws…but you just have to micro change the track and repeat the cuts). I have a few home made jigs I use with my track saw to allow for micro shifting my track when I am cutting a slot, rabbit or dado…I did this because I like the fact, like a RAS, that I can see the cut as I am making it.

The best way of doing a cut is one that gets you the result you want. just because someone else does it on a router, or a bandsaw, or a track saw or whatever…thats great…and learning to adapt and adjust to save time and produce a more professional piece is part of the woodworking craft. For all purposes it is the result that is the reward…not the method used. Woodworkers are very good at finding innovative work arounds to get things done that they may not have the specific tool for….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View QuangFromCalgary's profile


33 posts in 2967 days

#26 posted 06-11-2010 05:16 PM

I am pretty new to ww too. I have been doing this as a hobby for about 3 summers (can’t do it in Canada winter,it is too cold in the garage). Due to limited space (cars have to be in the garage in winter), I don’t have table saw. I use track saw (the EZ track). Don’t get me wrong, I always dream to have a table saw, but for now I have to work with what I have. It is a bit cumbersome to try to do what a TS does. They sell all kind of gadgets to go with the track, but I think by the time I get all of those gadgets, it could be more expensive than a good table saw. So I build most of the jigs for myself.
After few years, I believe that each tool has its own purpose. I don’ t believe a track saw can replace a table saw. It can come close to what the TS saw does, but with a ton of money added in for gadgets which does not make sense to me. I build lots of things without table saw (which takes lots more time to figure out how to do the cut with track saw) , but in my dream I just want a table saw instead.

View Vrtigo1's profile


434 posts in 2960 days

#27 posted 06-11-2010 10:40 PM

I’d agree with what others have already pointed out…unless you’re dead set on spending the extra coin because you have to have something new, you can find some truly killer deals on used kit right now. With that being said, a used Uni or Powermatic isn’t really that much bigger than the hybrid you’re looking at if you get one that doesn’t have the 7’ rails. I’d also agree that the Delta hybrid will probably do pretty much all that you want now, if you go out and find a quality cabinet saw in the $750 price range, you can be sure it will do everything you need now and in the future. Buying too much is always better that not having bought enough, so as I said, it really just comes down to personal preference and whether or not you really WANT a brand new saw. Who knows, if you end up moving in two years to a place with a 3 car garage and you decide you want to turn the whole thing into a shop, a cabinet saw will be right at home, but if you have a hybrid I can almost guarantee that you’ll be thinking about upgrading at that point.

Also, as others have pointed out, don’t forget the cost of a good blade or two, upgraded miter gauge, and stacked dado set. These can easily add up to another $400 or so. Of course you don’t need all of these things right off the bat, but once you have a nice saw, you’ll want them in short order.

View Matt88's profile


22 posts in 2660 days

#28 posted 01-26-2011 03:37 AM

Did you end up getting a table saw? If so, which one did you decide on.

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