New or Old Table Saw?

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Forum topic by clin posted 09-04-2015 02:53 AM 1374 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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838 posts in 989 days

09-04-2015 02:53 AM

I’m finally building a workshop by converting a 3rd garage bay. No car, all workshop!

In short, I have an old 8”, 3/4 HP saw and want to know if it makes sense to stay with this, or get something newer.

Now that I’ll have a dedicated spaced, I’m looking to get more involved in woodworking and trying to decide which way to go concerning a table saw.

I’ve actually got two old table saws available to me (50 and 60 years old), but I’m wondering if it makes sense to buy a new unit.

Currently I have an old Craftsman 8”, 3/4 HP dating from the early 1960’s. I’ve had this one for about 15 years. Was my dad’s and served him well (built our first home with it). And I’ve made some good use of it over the years. But it is far from a precision piece of machinery.

I now also have the opportunity to get another, even older table saw. It is also a Craftsman 8”, 3/4 dating from the early 50’s. It is built like a tank, much heavier. This was my grandfather’s and then my dad’s and now mine if I want it.

I’ve never felt the saw I had, had much power, and from what I can see, 8” and 3/4 HP is rather small by modern standards. Not sure, but I’m guessing 3/4 HP might have been common decades ago to deal with residential electrical circuit capacities.

The 50’s Craftsman is in great shape. Little or no rust (even after spending 30 years in Houston TX). Condition isn’t the issue. I’m mostly concerned with power and whether it makes sense to retrofit a good fence to it and try to add other things like blade guard and splitter.

I’ve never used the older 50’s era saw, but have used the other. Since both are 8” and 3/4 HP, I would assume that generally they would cut the same.

Recently while trying to cut a slot in a 2×4 with the saw I’ve had for 20 years, it bogged down. I was able to accomplish the task with a newish circular saw. It is rated at 15 A (>2 HP). Table saw couldn’t do it, circular saw went through it like butter. Different blades, but neither new, and possibly the table saw blade itself was an issue. Though it hasn’t had that much use.

Also, I can say, I don’t think I’ve every experience kickback with this saw. If something binds, the saw just comes to a stop.

As for my intended use, I’m looking at general woodworking. Ripping and crosscutting average size boards and cutting sheet stock. I don’t expect to use it a lot, but then again, I’m hoping having a dedicated workshop will allow me to do more things, since I won’t have to clean out the garage before I start every project.
When I do use it, I want the saw to help me and not be an obstacle I have to overcome.

Anyway, I’m just looking for some input on this. Money isn’t a big issue, but there are many things I’m spending on for this workshop. So I certainly don’t want to waste money, whether that is buying a new saw I really don’t need, or putting money into an old saw that really can’t get the job done as easily as a new one.

Thanks in advance for any comments.

-- Clin

21 replies so far

View riverguy's profile


110 posts in 2057 days

#1 posted 09-04-2015 03:20 AM

You will no doubt get a lot of opinions on what is the best saw for your needs. Here’s a start. If you can find one, a used Ridgid TS3650 is an amazing tool. I bought mine new about 8 years ago and have used it commercially ever since. It is powerful and best of all, extremely accurate. I have NEVER had to adjust the rip fence and it is within a few thousandths of an inch of right on, all the time. I just slide it to where I need it, lock it down it it’s good. As with most saws, you’ll want to throw away the miter than comes with it and get an Incra Miter.

The newer saw that replaced the TS3650 is not the same tool. I think they spent too much money on the TS3650 and discontinued it. But I do see them for sale now and then. Google “ridgid TS3650 for sale” and try Craigslist. They were only about $500 new, so a used one should be less than that. They do keep their value, though, because they are an excellent machine. I’ve owned and used several very expensive professional cabinet saws and have not found another that works as well for my use as this one. The big, expensive ones are no doubt better for a full-on industrial shop that sees many people using the equipment all day, but for a one-man shop, this is my choice. You can see some of the work this tool has done on my Web site.

-- Skip, Forestville, CA,

View Redoak49's profile


3239 posts in 1982 days

#2 posted 09-04-2015 11:29 AM

If you get a saw, get one with a true riving knife. The old saws are great but having the riving knife is a great safety feature and really reduces kick backs.

View Clarkie's profile


453 posts in 1834 days

#3 posted 09-04-2015 11:59 AM

The best saw is the one the others copy, go with a nice old model Delta Unisaw. Have fun, make some dust.

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2843 days

#4 posted 09-04-2015 12:16 PM

Welcome to LJ

+1 for a riving knife, I run a Ridgid 3612, modified with a 3650 fence system, comment above spot on, once set have not had any alignment issues. Besides the power factor, I think the two CS are severely limited by blade size, and at best I think you’ll mostly only be able to find 7.25 blades for them. It’s amazing what will turn up on Craigs list, in the last 30 days I’ve seen two entire shops go up for sale at 50% or more less than retail, kinda of sad to see them, but hopefully someone like you will snap then up and get the dust flying…. and if you find a Uni and can swing the $$$ don’t hesitate

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 2664 days

#5 posted 09-04-2015 12:30 PM

I wouldn’t worry so much about the age of the saw versus the power and size. Upgrading to a 10” blade saw will give you a lot more options in terms of blades. As for HP, you’d want at least 1.5 with a 10” blade. I bought a an old unisaw, it’s about 40 years old and the difference compared to a brand new unisaw is that all the parts are metal, whereas some of the new models have some plastic parts, the design has remain virtually unchanged. Oh, and it cost about 10% of what a new one would run you…

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View bearkatwood's profile


1572 posts in 1005 days

#6 posted 09-04-2015 12:41 PM

There are many people that would tell you to get a SawStop and they swear by them. Ask a few questions about when the brake has gone off and how hard it was to re-calibrate the machine and how often it shuts off in the middle of a cut and you might be surprised at the answers. Get one if you want, I say keep your hot dogs out of the blade and find an old unisaw or powermatic and tune it up and get cutting.

-- Brian Noel

View clin's profile


838 posts in 989 days

#7 posted 09-04-2015 02:33 PM

I appreciate all the responses.

My question was really more about whether it made any sense to try to work with the saws I have available to me. The fact that most responses just jumped right in to recommendations for other saws, leads me to conclude that 8” and 3/4 HP is considered pretty limiting and I should just move on.

If I’ve misunderstood, please let me know. Else I’ll assume the consensus is get a 10” saw which will have more power than a 3/4 HP.

I know there are plenty of threads concerning table saw recommendations, and I’ll take a look at those.

I’m also still struggling with how to set things up. While a fixed saw with a large top and fence would be nice, at this point I don’t expect to be using it that much that I want it to dominate my space. So I’m thinking about some sort of mobile cabinet that would incorporate storage and a router table. It certainly makes sense to share some tabletop between the table saw and router.

It’s just so hard to really know at this point how I’ll use the workshop since I’ve essentially had ZERO space to work in for about the last 6 years. The space I did have in my previous home’s garage got overwhelmed for storage when we had some remodeling done and never recovered. Work got busy as well. Now work has lightened up and I have a dedicated workshop space.

Decisions, decisions.

-- Clin

View ChefHDAN's profile


1062 posts in 2843 days

#8 posted 09-04-2015 03:37 PM

Yep, bigger saw will make you smile, saw a few on your CL
Ridgid $350
Find out the model # & search it some had arbor issues, TS2424, TS3612, & TS 3650 are good for $200 to $250

Ridgid TS2424
This is a 2424, which just meant that there was 24” to the left and right of the blade, asking price is high and it’s a good saw, but you’ll need to be considering a fence change

Jet & dust collector $525
If this was close to me I’d pull the trigger in a heartbeat and sell my current saw, good deal with the DC too

CS Package $350
These CS saws were made by emerson who also made the Rigid saws, this one looks identical to mine and it looks like a well cared for saw with a great pile of mods & accessories with it.

UNi $1200
UNi & a dust collector, one and done!

I sympathize with the time and space issues, I’m in a 2 car and keep everything on mobile bases to set up what and where I want, can still get a car in too when I need too

Good Luck!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

View a1Jim's profile


117085 posts in 3570 days

#9 posted 09-04-2015 03:49 PM

I’m one of those guys that say if you can afford a Saw Stop, buy one. Remember if you buy a cabinet saw it will require
220 volts. In a one car bay you may want to have your table saw and most of your other benches and equipment on wheels. I’m not a fan of the old sears Table saws but I know they have there following. I your not going to get a SS and you have 220 in you space then a used “Powermatic” is a good choice,or perhaps a “Jet” or Maybe a new “Grizzly”

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


6697 posts in 2192 days

#10 posted 09-04-2015 04:12 PM

If your existing saw works, even if a bit underpowered, and you don’t have a pressing need at the moment to upgrade – use it to your advantage. The key to finding really nice machines at a great price in the used market is patience. There is no need to rush into buying a new saw just because you now have the space. Set up your shop, use the saw you have, and start keeping an eye out for a nice saw on CL, e-bay, garage sales, etc…

For mobility, you can pick up one of those $30 mobile bases from HF… it’s generic enough that you can re-purpose it later on for another saw if needed.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3224 days

#11 posted 09-04-2015 05:15 PM

If you have the room, keep your old saw (or one of the others), and buy a new one. I have seen saws set up back to back. Depending on what type of work you do, you could leave the old one set up with a specific blade…say a dado stack or a rip blade. Just a thought.

My “workshop” is a one car garage with washer/dryer/hot water heater, freezer, and storage rack that take up a lot of space. So, my table saw sits near the overhead door and faces inward. Anything longer than 48 inches requires the door to be open. Otherwise I can work with the door closed. The room is insulated and air conditioned! :-)

With limited space, my workbench is also an outfeed table for the saw and assembly table or whatever is needed. Every project I do gets some time on that table.

All power tools are on mobile bases so I can maneuver them around and set up for the next phase of the project. This takes up some time, but it is what it is. The room isn’t getting bigger and we ain’t moving.

Here are a few random pics. My saw is the Grizzly 1023RLW.
Note: Browse through my projects. You might find some inspiration from them.
Good luck.

Note the extension piece I added to the back side of the work table. It is hinged so I can collapse it when not needed.

Assembly table

Sometimes, the projects are too big so I use my adjustable height worktable to add extra length to the workbench.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View knotscott's profile


8006 posts in 3369 days

#12 posted 09-04-2015 05:20 PM

A smaller saw will be somewhat limiting, especially if the fence isn’t real good. The construction of some of the older saws may be better, but the technology has evolved a lot. I’d look to a full size (27” deep) saw that accepts 10” blades, with a belt drive induction motor, and a good fence…whether new or used. New will get you a true riving knife, and a warranty.

The ABCs of Table Saws

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

View HokieKen's profile


4954 posts in 1132 days

#13 posted 09-04-2015 05:23 PM

I’ll hop on the other side of the fence here. You obviously like your 8” saw but feel it’s underpowered. So pick up a used 1 or 1.5 hp motor on CL or at the flea market. I have an old 50’s model C-man TS someone gave me to restore and it is a well built machine. The cast iron table on the one I have is still flat, the arbor runs true and the lift and tilt gear mechanics are free and solid. It’s much smaller than I could consider using for cutting sheet goods but if you’re working with small(ish) stock, that saw may be all you need and a bigger motor will go a long way.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

View buildingmonkey's profile


242 posts in 1541 days

#14 posted 09-05-2015 01:03 AM

I had an old craftsman table saw I bought used 40 plus years ago. When I fixed up a permanent woodworking shop, was going to buy a new motor and new fence for it. Talked to my local hardware guy, and he said they have a show every spring, where he could buy a special prices. They talked to the delta salesman, and I was able to buy new unisaw delivered for 1000, with long rails and biesemeyer fence. So decided to go that way, as fixing up the old craftsman would have cost about 600 plus. And am glad I did. Since then I bought a new Hammer sliding saw, but kept the unisaw as well.

-- Jim from Kansas

View clin's profile


838 posts in 989 days

#15 posted 09-05-2015 01:26 AM

Thanks again for the great input.

While talking to my wife, very generally about this, I mentioned how there’s this saw that stops if you touch it.

She said, “that’s the one to get.” Doesn’t mean I will, but I suspect like a lot of significant others, she sees the saw that can’t cut off your fingers as a real plus.

I have to admit, I find it pretty tempting. Knowing that if I ever seriously hurt myself on the saw, I’d sure have wished I’d gotten a SawStop. How much is a finger worth?

I know you pay a significant premium, and I can appreciate that there’s some significant expense if it goes off. And apparently some hassle readjusting the saw (need to look into that more). But all that beats the heck of of sitting in the ER waiting room holding a finger in bag that should still be attached to your hand.

It’s early days, but these responses have set me more along the line of getting another saw that is larger and more powerful. I built a 220 V circuit into the new shop when I added the sub-panel for it. So I can go that route if I want.

I also can’t argue with the logic of working with what I’ve got, for now. Except, the saw will be the largest machine in the shop and it’s size and mobility will affect the overall layout. Not to mention that one of the first projects will be building workbenches and cabinets for the workshop itself. So I’d rather settle the saw issue pretty soon.

-- Clin

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