Help a n00b zero in on table saw

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Forum topic by Ian S posted 06-28-2016 09:58 PM 574 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ian S

19 posts in 116 days

06-28-2016 09:58 PM

Hey all,
I’m a brand new member and pretty sure I am rehashing some well-established questions here. Please feel free to redirect me or tell me this is a dumb OP if you need to :-)

The wife and I have been getting into woodworking (together!!) for about a year, and we’re about ready to invest in our first table saw. We are not making anything too complex yet, but would like to invest in a tool that can grow with us, eventually be used to make furniture pieces and so on.

From the reading I have done, there’s a lot of love for old 113-series Craftsman table saws. My understanding is that these are prized mainly because #1 long lasting and powerful induction motors, and #2 long lasting and strong cast iron tables. And of course because a used $150 saw + elbow grease to restore is a lot cheaper than a new $800 or $1000 saw with the same main features.

Am I on the right track so far?

If so, I’m hoping somebody would humor me and look through these links real quick. No in-depth analysis needed, just wanting somebody to help me skim these and give some pointers here. Most of these are older Craftsman models, the last two are newer saws that are marked down quite a bit from MSRP.

Craftsman 10” Contractor’s belt-driven table saw

Craftsman 10” table saw

Table saw

Craftsman Table Saw 10”

Craftsman 10” Contractor’s belt-driven table saw

Craftsman Hybrid Cast Iron Table Saw 1.5 HP

Delta tablesaw

Table Saw Top of the Line

I can at least tell that a few of those Craftsman ones are clearly belt-driven induction models. But just wondering if any of these stick out to you as either #1 really good potential, or #2 waste of my time relative to the others. I haven’t done a ton of research yet on those last two, but I can at least tell they are mid-range models from reputable brands.

Finally at the end I am also just considering waiting for a sale on the Ridgid 4512, which seems to have great reviews AND the two major features noted above: induction motor and cast iron table.

What am I missing? How can I narrow this list? Thanks for any help you all can provide! Much appreciated.

11 replies so far

View Rentvent's profile


144 posts in 267 days

#1 posted 06-28-2016 11:03 PM

View rwe2156's profile


2111 posts in 899 days

#2 posted 06-29-2016 12:02 AM

All of the C’man saws you listed have that awful, awful fence on them, so would need some type of upgrade, which won’t be worth doing on a saw that cheap.

The C’man he ^ listed has a better fence, but you really want a T fence that only clamps to a front rail.
The Ridgid is overpriced.

The Delta is the best of the bunch but over priced, IMO.

I would just keep searching. I would focus on Delta and pass on those C’man with the crummy fences no matter what the price. If you can bump your budget up to $6-700 in the long run it will be worth it to start looking at better saws.

Here is a suggestion.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2794 days

#3 posted 06-29-2016 01:28 AM

This one has their better fence, and grated cast wings….I’d try to get it closer to $225. The motor isn’t really 3hp…more like a usable 1.5hp, but it should have 2 capacitors and a bit more power than the single cap 1hp.

I like the Ridgid too (nearly the same saw as above….from the same factory, etc). Looks to be in nice shape. The blades aren’t worth much. Offer $250 –

Saws with this fence can still be worth the $150 asking price if they’re in good shape and include stuff like the miter gauge and blade guard, but they’ll definitely benefit from a better fence at some point. The Delta T3 is $193 at Home Depot and is one of the better values IMO.

If it checks out, I’d take that Delta at $400 over a new R4512 …better fence, better track record.

Pretty sure this one has a universal motor, and is likely direct drive. I’d pass.

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

View daddywoofdawg's profile


1006 posts in 993 days

#4 posted 06-29-2016 01:48 AM

I have the forth down,and it’s ok,not great If I hadn’t been given it,I would look for a uni-saw,low cost used,lots of parts available,and good enough for most commercial shops.

View clin's profile


485 posts in 414 days

#5 posted 06-29-2016 01:59 AM

First off, welcome to LJ. And I give you extra credit for starting a new thread. Seems most noobs are afraid of that and dig up a 5 year old thread related to their question, and then a 5 year old question gets answered.

I’m no table saw expert and you are no doubt aware you can spend a lot more money that what you are considering. And you well get a better saw, spending more money.

There is no right answer, to what you should get, and I’ll leave it to others to comment on the links you posted. But I’ll say this, I think a table saw is the MOST important power tool in the shop. I can’t think of a project I have done or would do that I didn’t use a table saw for.

So my only advise is get the best one you can afford, and maybe even make it hurt your wallet a bit. Doesn’t mean you have to get a 3 HP SawStop PCS (what I did), but whether you get the best new saw, or best used saw you can afford, don’t cheap out.

-- Clin

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Rick M.

7690 posts in 1798 days

#6 posted 06-29-2016 03:34 AM

Delta tablesaw
- beanu

That one. It’s a couple months old and you save $150. Go check it out at least, bring $400 in cash, wave it under his nose.


View MrUnix's profile (online now)


4025 posts in 1617 days

#7 posted 06-29-2016 05:19 AM

Based on all the problems they have had, I wouldn’t even consider the R4512 – you may get lucky, or you may not, but are you willing to flip the coin? If you are willing and able to put in a little effort, I’d wait for a nice cabinet saw to show up in your price range. They take up no more room than a contractor saw, and it is not unheard of to find Unisaws, PM66’s, Delta 12/14’s, PM72’s, etc… for just a couple hundred bucks and only requiring minimal attention. As an added side benefit, the cleaning up process also allows you to learn the intricacies of the machine, get a feel for it’s adjustments and maintenance, and helps you get better use out of it. Of course, YMMV.


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

View Ian S's profile

Ian S

19 posts in 116 days

#8 posted 06-29-2016 12:32 PM

Thanks everyone, this has been superbly useful. Overall I am surprised to find that there are so many decent-potential saws showing up on CraigsList all the time. Didn’t expect that frequency. Certainly makes me feel more confident about searching slowly and haggling on price; no big deal if I lose out on a good find.

Here’s a Unisaw in my area, is this the idea?

Thanks for all the other tips. The search has gained much more definition. Really appreciate the warm welcome!

View CharleyL's profile


190 posts in 2783 days

#9 posted 06-29-2016 12:54 PM

I’ve owned many table saws including Craftsman and contractor type table saws and I was never quite satisfied with them for various reasons. The belt driven contractor saws with a good fence provide accuracy, but there is no way to contain the sawdust. Table saws like the Ryobi Bt3000 and 3100 do better at containing the sawdust, but they have brush type universal motors that don’t last long. These Ryobi saws aren’t very accurate either.

About 8 years ago I finally got the chance to buy a mid 1980’s Unisaw with a 52” Unifence in relatively good condition. I’m the third owner of this saw. The first was a cabinet shop that only had it for a few years before going out of business. The second owner was a hobbyist. The saw was dirty (but no rust) and needed new belts when I brought it home, but otherwise it was in great condition. I paid $650 for it and hauled it home from about 1 hour away. I cleaned it, replaced the belts and arbor bearings, aligned and calibrated it, and began using it. I have since added a Wixey DRO and upgraded Uni-T fence extrusions (I have both the 16” and 43” lengths) for improved ability to attach accessories via T slots, but I still sometimes like using the original Unifence extrusion because it can be set in either a high or low fence position. These fence extrusions are easy to switch out whenever needed, by just loosening two T handles on the Unifence main casting, exchange the extrusion, set it for the length desired, and tighten the two T handles. The 16” Uni-T Fence makes it easy to use as a length stop when cross cutting many identical pieces to length using the miter gauge. The cut pieces fall away from the blade after they pass the end of the short fence.

With the Wixey DRO I can set the fence, make a cut, move the fence away and then back to the original position, and make a cut on a second board and the two boards will be less than .005” different when measured with a digital caliper. With the upgrades that I’ve added I still have less than $1000 invested in this Unisaw, including the cost of bringing it home. I have no need for a better saw than this one. My children will inherit it.

If you are going to spend more than a few hundred dollars on a saw, and you want a saw that will cut accurately, find yourself a 1970’s or newer Unisaw or a Powermatic 66 with a 3 or 5 hp 1 phase 240 volt motor that hasn’t been abused or left out in the rain to rust, clean it up and calibrate it, and you will not likely ever want a better table saw in your life time. Many don’t like the Unifence, but I use a Biesmeyer fence at work and a Unifence at home. I much prefer the Unifence myself, but they both are very accurate. Older Unisaws with Jet Lock fences that haven’t been abused, can be set for very accurate cuts too, but I’ve found that they are a little harder to use. If the saw that you find comes with any one of these fences, you will not need a new fence, unless you later want to upgrade to one. All three will make accurate cuts.


View CharleyL's profile


190 posts in 2783 days

#10 posted 06-29-2016 01:25 PM


That Craigslist Unisaw that you posted looks to be in pretty good condition and has a relatively new Biesmeyer fence with it, but it looks to be a 50’s-60’s saw. This isn’t a problem, just an older saw that will likely need more cleaning. A 3 or 5 hp 1 phase motor is going to need 240 volt power and it will draw more power than a switch like I see in the picture can handle for any length of time. The contactor is just a big power relay that is in a box on the back or side of the saw cabinet and I think I see it behind the sheet of plywood. The start and stop buttons then operate this contactor which then operates the motor. The contacts in this contactor do the power switching for the motor and the start and stop buttons only handle the power needed to operate the contactor. The proper start – stop switch will run about $40-50, but this one may be OK. I can’t tell from the picture.

You are going to need a side table for the Biesmeyer Fence to be used at full capacity , which looks to be about the 54” version (length of front rail from looking at picture – 54” measurement from saw blade to farthest position of fence). It doesn’t look like they have a side table from looking at the pictures, so you will likely be building one. The fence actually looks new and like it was never installed on the saw. These fences are sell for over 1/2 of what they are asking for the saw
(upside down left photo) and Unifence (upside down right photo) type fences. These pictures are likely from the fence manual.

Their last photograph is upside down, but shows both the Biesmeyer

To me, this saw looks to be a pretty good deal. Don’t think about it too long or it may belong to someone else.


View MrUnix's profile (online now)


4025 posts in 1617 days

#11 posted 06-29-2016 04:51 PM

That Unisaw appears to have the cast iron plinth, which is desirable and dates the machine to somewhere before around 1973. It is missing the motor cover and blade guard (unless they are stashed somewhere not pictured), and the handle on the front handwheel is missing. None of which are deal breakers. The fence is the old commercial version of the Biesemeyer, which is more robust than the homeshop version of that era (and the current T2/T3 flavors as well). Hard to tell from the picture, but probably the BC50 model, which is worth a couple hundred just by itself. Without seeing it in person (and how it’s wired), the switch does appear to be a standard OEM momentary push button control, and just controls the starter that is mounted on the side. The asking price is a bit on the upper end IMO, but it’s been sitting out there for a month – so the seller would probably take less. Either that, or it’s already been sold and the seller never pulled the ad.


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

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