|Review by lumberjoe||posted 04-02-2012 09:05 PM||3456 views||0 times favorited||28 comments|
Some call it cheap crap, I say “challenge accepted”
After many years of refinishing old tag sale furniture, I decided I’d like to do woodworking. I got some books, then got some tools. I wasn’t sold on the idea that I would be good at it or even like it, so I wanted my initial investment to be fairly small. Around Christmas time, Home Depot had this bad larry on sale for a little over 100$. I could have picked up something used and much nicer for short dough, but safety was my primary concern as a beginner. I make money with my fingers (IT Manager) and would like to keep them attached for as long as possible.
So, What can you expect from a 120.00 Table saw?
Setup – Actually pretty smooth. Considering this is more of a toy than a table saw, it should be. The blade was suprisingly square to the mitre gague (more on that later) and only required slight tinkering. The tinfoil coated balsa wood table (“Aluminum”) was surprisingly flat and even. The stand took about 15 minutes to assemble.
Safety – actually a decent amount of it. The riving knife/splitter is very adjustable and moves with the blade. The kickback paws are nice and actually work, and the blade guard, well it guards the s#$t out of that blade. It comes with a decent push stick that mounts to the side of the table, where smart people put it when they are done using it (maybe someday I will be like them).
Power- It has little of it. I’m not sure what the motor does with the electricity it is consuming. My assumption is filtering it off into thin air where my hopes and dreams of good table saws live. It bogs down ripping 3/4” pine, and that’s with a forrest woodworker II. The included blade is better suited for turning lumber into landscaping mulch. However as I mentioned, I am an IT manager, and make a good living turning mediocrity into awesome, so I can cope (feed slower when it bogs, smaller cuts, strong and heartfelt words of encouragement.)
Accuracy – Awesome! and Terrible! Let me clarify. As I said, squaring the blade did not take long at all. Using the saw is a different story
– The rip fence is actually decent. It’s easy to move and lock, it stays straight.
The measuring guide on the track is actually dead on (by dead I mean within a 1/16”, to some people that is a mile and a half). I was expecting it to be off by inches, but it’s not terrible
Cons: – The mitre gauge is 100% useless. It is a non-standard size and cannot be replaced/upgraded. The problem is there is a lot of play between the gauge and the track. You can actually slide the gauge back and forth about 1/8th inch on either side. Therefore I have never even used it once. – Vibration. Forget about the penny test, this thing can (and has) vibrate a 30’ Stanley PowerLock right on to the floor.
Things I don’t like about the saw – It’s small. You’ve got 12” on either side of the blade for ripping – I’d comment on how there is no room in front of the blade for cross cuts, but the mitre gauge is unusable – It’s a little down on power – It makes me use a circular saw a lot. I’d rather hit myself in the groin with a tube sock full of bars of soap repeatedly before I pick up a circular saw. – Cannot use a dado blade – ANYTHING but a rip cut is pointless
Thinks I like about the saw – It makes sawdust. At the end of the day if all I can do is make sawdust, it wasn’t a bad day for me. – It’s blue, yellow, and grey. It looks like a superhero’s cousin who also wants to be a superhero, but doesn’t quite have any skills, just good looking costumes. – Despite being under powered, featureless. inaccurate in any way a table saw could be, and small, I have turned out some good results. – It gave me valuable experience for my next adventure starting soon – what I DO want in a saw.
So why 3 stars for a seemingly 1 star saw? Well, everything is relative. At this price point, there are some much worse saws out there. Also I ended up learning A LOT about woodworking buy having to do so many workarounds. Instead of using a dado stack, I got REAL familiar with my router. Same with finger joints. I take nothing for granted now. Just because I flattened the edge that rode the fence, I don’t assume the other will be straight, because the fence and table are SOOOO SHORT. It also taught me how much more magical my life would be with a decent table saw. More importantly, It taught me that I really do love woodworking. This saw induces feelings of range and frustration like only the worst of bratty children or the horrific singing teen shows on Nickelodeon can (you dads know what I am talking about), yet I keep using it over and over and over. I’ve easily sent 1,000 board feet though it in 3 months.
When it’s time for it to go, there will be no viking funeral, no Office Space style bat-beatdown, no craigslist add. It will come out of the woodshop and go quietly into the basement. When I get nostalgic, I’ll head down with some safety glasses and wood. I’ll rip a more crooked line than I could walk after a dozen frosty beers and whisper “you done good buddy!” before I cover it up for a while again.