LumberJocks

Converting an inexpensive table saw into a much more reliable/accurate version

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by BPrisock posted 06-25-2016 03:29 PM 2511 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View BPrisock's profile

BPrisock

16 posts in 165 days


06-25-2016 03:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw

Good morning all.

First time posting and a newbie to the wide world of woodworking. I never realized just how much I would enjoy building things… I do. A whole lot. I haven’t dabbled in anything complex. I did build a workbench of my own “design”, some shelves and actually built a portable miter saw cart via the Family Handyman plans. Came out pretty darn well if you ask me. I learned a lot about how not to cut on the laser line, don’t measure all of your cuts on a single piece of wood and THEN cut… damn kerf. Anyway, it’s been a short journey so far and I’m hooked. So here I am!

Which brings me to the actual reason for my post. I’ve looked for hours at all different kinds of table saw cabinets, modified tables, and table saws types. I don’t have the money right now to buy an expensive table saw and, in truth, I know my skills certainly don’t warrant me buying one. HOWEVER, I have certainly found myself in need of a table saw and I think I might be able to make something work. I’m looking at buying an inexpensive table saw from one of the home improvement stores and taking the cheap aluminum table top off. I have some fantastic 3/4” finished plywood from a local cabinet company that I would like to use as the new top. I’ll use a router to install some aluminum C-Channels and follow some of the many, many guides for making a new, very accurate fence, etc.

Are there any major things I need to be aware of or look for when “altering” a saw like this? Basically I’m looking at buying either a Ryobi RTS10G or a similar Craftsman table saw. I know some people are going to say, “Wait until you can buy a more expensive, better model” and I would love to but I’ve got my first munchkin on the way and the chances of me buying a great saw in the near future are dwindling! :) (which is just fine!)

Anyway, I’m looking for some pointers or some other help. I’ve seen a whole lot of amazing designs that some people have mounted a circular saw upside down, zip tied the trigger and installed a new switch… I could still do that, but I just thought using an actual table saw motor would be a little safer and more precise.

Wow, that post was far too long. If you read the whole thing, THANK YOU!

I look forward to your responses. Thanks again.

Cheers,

Brian


21 replies so far

View Woodchuck2010's profile

Woodchuck2010

513 posts in 323 days


#1 posted 06-25-2016 03:53 PM

Many will tell you to check Craigs list for a great deal on a better quality saw. You might not have to build a new top. The top is the main thing that contributes to the accuracy of the cut. That and the fence. The fence has to be dependable and accurate or you’re just going to get frustrated and waste a lot of time and wood. I can’t stress that enough. So many of us say “that should be good enough”. You’ll learn that this is not always true when it comes to tools.
This is a great forum for gaining knowledge about all things wood…..and more. Do lots of searches on saws and what people have experienced. Lots of opinions, but you can weed out the good from the not so good. Good luck and great hunting for your table saw.

-- Chuck, Michigan,

View BPrisock's profile

BPrisock

16 posts in 165 days


#2 posted 06-25-2016 04:06 PM

Thanks Chuck! I’ve been looking on Craigslist and come across a couple. Actually in contact with few folks this morning. One is an “older” Craftsman belt driven saw with cast iron top and extensions. Looks to be in great shape. The other is a Delta Shopmaster but the guy said it stopped on him all of a sudden and he doesn’t know how to fix it. Might be a matter of resetting a tripped switch? Anyway, I’ll hold off for now on the inexpensive saws… I certainly know the truth about “You get what you pay for”!

Thanks again! Cheers!

View Loren's profile

Loren

8309 posts in 3113 days


#3 posted 06-25-2016 04:09 PM

The fence is a big deal. A fence that locks at both ends
is usable but a T-square design is generally preferable.

Other than that, the Craftsman cast iron table saws
do a pretty decent job. I’ve read complaints about
a few models having defects but by and large
the saws are well worth what you’d pay on the
used market. They get the job done.

A “Shopmaster” may be a motorized saw, basically
a portable with a proprietary universal motor… generally
good to avoid if longevity is important to you.

View BPrisock's profile

BPrisock

16 posts in 165 days


#4 posted 06-25-2016 04:15 PM



The fence is a big deal. A fence that locks at both ends
is usable but a T-square design is generally preferable.

Other than that, the Craftsman cast iron table saws
do a pretty decent job. I ve read complaints about
a few models having defects but by and large
the saws are well worth what you d pay on the
used market. They get the job done.

- Loren

Thanks Loren. I’m very curious to hear back from this guy. I hope he still has it for sale. Thanks for the input!

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

5765 posts in 951 days


#5 posted 06-25-2016 04:15 PM

Most cheap saws are not worth the time. I’ve had a couple craftsman contractor saws. 125$ for a clean one isn’t A bad deal.

I tried to go the same route with one I had but the internals are not built for fine woodworking. Too much backlash and a horrible fence.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2436 days


#6 posted 06-25-2016 04:16 PM

It is not the aluminum top alone that makes an inexpensive saw less than highly desirable.
Others may have different opinions but for me it’s the universal motor and the fact that the blade is mounted directly on the motor shaft. Also, the fence is often not a high point either.
I would agree that you may not need to, or even have anything to gain by loosing the aluminum top.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7216 posts in 2840 days


#7 posted 06-25-2016 04:21 PM

I would try to avoid the really light weight direct drive saws with universal motors, and stick with the heavier full size cast iron belt drive saws….they just have better bones from the beginning to work with, and are far more conducive to making upgrades to. I see the old Emerson made Craftsman contractor saws for $50-$100 pretty frequently in our area…sometimes Delta, Grizzly, old Jet, old PM, and Ridgid’s go for that low too.

The ABCs of Table Saws

http://spokane.craigslist.org/tld/5597619432.html
http://spokane.craigslist.org/tls/5643361037.html
http://spokane.craigslist.org/tls/5586106894.html
http://spokane.craigslist.org/for/5611604242.html (nice)
http://spokane.craigslist.org/tls/5633488115.html (really nice)

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

View crank49's profile

crank49

3981 posts in 2436 days


#8 posted 06-25-2016 06:06 PM

It’s good that you are looking for an older used saw.
Generally the older high end tools are a better value than any new low end tool..

That said, very many people are perfectly happy with their portable/jobsite Bosch, DeWalt, or Ridgid saws.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View MrUnix's profile

MrUnix

4230 posts in 1664 days


#9 posted 06-25-2016 07:18 PM

No matter what you do to one of those saws, you will still wind up with a cheap saw and all of its inherent design problems. And an aluminium top is the least of those – and really, it’s not even a problem as they work just fine and have the added benefit of not rusting. The only real drawback is the inability to use magnetic fixtures, which you wouldn’t be able to do with a wood top either.

If all you plan on doing is using it occasionally for very small projects that don’t require much precision, then it might be just fine for you. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t take much to melt the plastic motor housing on those things, and the blade height/tilt mechanisms are about as cheap as can be made, and leave a lot to be desired. Replacing the table top doesn’t change that. For the money, time and additional expense you are considering, you can find a much better machine on the used market IMO. Nice used C-man or Delta contractor saws show up all the time in the ~$150 price range, and would be a huge step up from the ones your are considering. Anything with a belt drive induction motor is far more desirable and robust than one of those universal screamer motors. If you have the patience, even hybrid or cabinet saws can be found in that price range, and certainly can be if you are willing to bump up your budget a few hundred more. They are out there – and a quick search here and on other sites will turn up tons of examples.

Cheers,
Brad

-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

3926 posts in 2708 days


#10 posted 06-25-2016 07:52 PM

Any cheap saw can be altered to perform better than original. The problem with that is; cheap saws have cheap bearings that won’t stand up to much use. The arbors may have a lot of runout that you won’t be able to improve on. My recommendation is as others have pointed out, look for a used saw with an induction motor.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

17671 posts in 3141 days


#11 posted 06-25-2016 08:02 PM

I have no complaints about my 1970s cast iron Craftsman for small and medium projects. Everything was true out of the box. An aftermarket fence will be a great improvement.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View diverlloyd's profile

diverlloyd

1444 posts in 1322 days


#12 posted 06-25-2016 08:55 PM

Local auctions(auctionzip.com), I have a craftsman professional zip code saw and like it better then the other saws I’ve had. Most of it is taking the time to set the saw up in the first place. Make sure it has nice miter gauge slots.

View Rentvent's profile

Rentvent

148 posts in 314 days


#13 posted 06-25-2016 09:38 PM


http://spokane.craigslist.org/tls/5633488115.html (really nice)

- knotscott

All three items in that CL posting are good deals.

View Rentvent's profile

Rentvent

148 posts in 314 days


#14 posted 06-26-2016 12:25 AM

also +1 on finding something decent on CL vs buying a new cheapie from the big box or HF.

View Woodchuck2010's profile

Woodchuck2010

513 posts in 323 days


#15 posted 06-26-2016 03:12 AM

http://spokane.craigslist.org/tls/5633488115.html (really nice)

- knotsco

All three items in that CL posting are good deals.

- Rentvent


$600 for all 3. DEAL!!!

-- Chuck, Michigan,

showing 1 through 15 of 21 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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

HomeRefurbers.com