|Review by RibsBrisket4me||posted 03-24-2014 01:43 AM||7613 views||0 times favorited||9 comments|
Tool Review, Craftsman Contractor Saw 113.298763, Made 1996.
I’ve had this saw since 2002, so I figure I’ve used it enough to write a fairly balanced and accurate review. I bought the saw from a good friend who was the first owner. I paid $225 for the saw, three Craftsman blades and some push sticks.
He used it primarily to remodel his basement, and he did one heck of a job. I helped him quite a bit and learned a lot. This is my second table saw. My first was a direct drive Craftsman that was actually barely adequate.
General overview of this saw:
This contractor saw is a solid, great value saw for most workshops. I know the technology has changed significantly since this saw was made, mainly riving knives, hybrid saw construction and blade stop applications, but I still feel this saw has a place in a woodworkers shop today.
The induction motor on my saw has been a work-horse. It has really never given me any issue over the years. Now on a dedicated 20amp circuit, it can cut 1-2+ inch thick hardwoods with relative ease. I do use thin kerf blades (WW-2 and Freud LU86) on this saw >90% of the time, and I feel a thin kerf blade is the best choice for this saw.
Using a nice full kerf Oldham 40T combo blade works, but it’s easy to tell the motor is working a bit harder and feed rate does have to slow a bit. Using a dedicated thin kerf rip or cross cut blade really allows this saw to shine and make cuts that are easily smooth enough for most applications.
The blade guards for these saws are generally maligned, but I have to say, it is really not that bad. I really always liked the anti-kickback pawls, and the splitter that holds the blade guard itself is actually easy to zero out, and have it perfectly aligned with the blade. In fact I like the stock set up so much, I bought a MJ Splitter set up, and never used it.
I actually like these. Nice wieght and heft is added to the saw. I never caught my fingers in them as some say, but I have had a pencil or tape measure drop through. I easily filled in the webs with 1/4 inch plywood and Liquid Nails.
Okay, I’ve had this saw for a long time, so obviously I’ve made some upgrades. We woodworkers just cant help ourselves you know . ?
The usual upgrade for this type of saw is a link belt (under $40 at the time). I did that and feel link belts are a super investment for most induction woodworking tools. I’ve had the same link belt on this saw since 2002, so it’s obvious they are durable. The saw still runs very smoothly.
Next was the rip fence. The MAJOR DRAWBACK of this era Craftsman saws were the horrible rip fences they had. I was lucky enough to find a Ridgid AC1036 aluminum fence with rails, new in the box at a Home Depot for 50 dollars. This fence is WONDERFUL. This fence holds it settings, and was a breeze to put on.
I really tried to like the stock miter gauge, but we had to go our separate ways HAHA. There are just too many good aftermarket MG’s out there. I have two.
- I have an Osborne EB-3 on sale for $99 and I actually think this MG is kind of too big for this saw. I use it, and it is very accurate, but it is heavy, and I have to be careful to keep it from tipping back on me with wider pieces of wood, because these saws do NOT have a T-miter slot.
- I also have an Incra V27 MG, that I married to a MLCS aluminum miter fence (under $100 total) and this combo works wonderfully.
I put a PALS on this saw and then ended up taking it off. Two reasons: 1. I was able to get the blade/trunions lined up fine without it, and 2. I found the PALS make it impossible to tilt my blade to 45 degrees. Perhaps I had it on wrong? I am still using the stock original pulleys.
I then upgraded the hand-wheels from plastic to aluminum, got some zero clearance inserts, and then built a modest/simple/crude but incrediblbly functional mobile base.
I do not have a dial indicator. I know many here do. What I did was tune my saw to the point where I could make a box, with 45 degree miters, making all the cuts on my saw. To me, that is accurate.
Getting the blade to tilt to 45 degrees is a pain. It takes a million turns of the wheel to get it in position, and then I have to use a Wixey to get it in position.
Dust collection. Yes it collects a ton of dust in the housing. The main issue with that is my fault with how I designed the mobile base.
Non T-slot for miter gauge.
I really like my saw. I still enjoy using it. I will admit, when the first hybrid saws came out years ago, I wanted to “upgrade”. Now over the years, I’m kind of glad I didn’t. There are many good hybrid saw out there, but now we are seeing many hybrid saws, with blade shift as the blade is lowered/raised in height. I’ve never had that problem.
Also, I’ve never really had an issue with the motor hanging out the back. I can still get two cars in my garage shop if I want, so that point is mute.
The other huge advantage of this saw, is the sheer number of them out there for sale. I see the Craftsman 113.298 saws for sale all the time on Craig’s List.
If my saw craps out, it seems I could easily buy another in decent condition, and marry the best parts from both saw, to have a really good saw again, at a fraction of the cost of one of the new saws. I could go out tomorrow and get a PM, Uni or Sawstop. I just never saw the need to for me, a simple hobbyist. That is no disrespect to anyone out there who chooses to do so. One is free to choose how they manage their own money, I’m just saying, that if someone wants to woodwork on a budget, this Craftsman 113.298xxx is a real viable way to get a decent saw.
Finally, I kind of like how this saw looks. It is not the newest, latest greatest, but to me it represents a “grinder”. A saw that tens of thousand of homeowners went to their local Sears and bought, and then used to make things for them and their loved ones. That makes it cool to me. Maybe I’m being overly nostalgic.
Anyway, I hope someone got something out of this review. Is this saw perfect? Heck no. The PM 66, Uni, and SS are waaaay nicer. I give the Craftsman 113.298xxx, 3.75 stars out of 5. But for me, and for many others, it will fit the bill just fine.