A good, accurate & CHEAP contractor's saw?

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Forum topic by SSDan posted 09-03-2016 01:42 AM 2191 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 777 days

09-03-2016 01:42 AM

I used to have a terrific shop, including a PM2000 cabinet saw. Then, I got divorced. Long story, but no more saw (jointer, bandsaw, mortising machine, etc… ) I’ve recently moved, and am seriously thinking of getting another table saw, but I’ve now got nowhere near the bucks, space, or 240 volts required for a cabinet saw. So, I’m wondering what the best/most accurate/versatile and CHEAPEST contractor sort of saw might be. Am I nuts to think something like this is capable of reasonable accuracy? Best shot at quality/price is probably USED, though that’s an unpredictable market, at best :-/ Any input appreciated.


This looks decent, but DEFINITELY would be pushing the budget

20 replies so far

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6943 posts in 2345 days

#1 posted 09-03-2016 01:50 AM

I’d stay away from the Dewalt just because of the motor. If you want best bang for the buck, scour CL for a while looking for a nice C-man or Delta contractor saw – something with a real induction motor and cast iron top. They pop up all the time in the $50-$200 range.


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

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5 posts in 781 days

#2 posted 09-03-2016 02:57 AM

A used Craftsman seems like it’d be your best bet if price is a primary concern.

That said, I’ve had that Delta saw mentioned in your post for going on a year now and it’s served me well. I use it just about every day and it’s proven to be reliable and accurate. I’ve found the fence to be excellent. The only real downside to it is dust collection because of the open-bottom design (it’s still pretty good for a contractor saw). Delta put a blade shroud in the saw that routes some of the dust to the included 2.5” dust port and it does work well, but makes it a little bit of a hassle to change blades. I removed the dust shroud, closed the cabinet up a bit more and put a 4” dust port on it which has improved dust collection and, maybe more importantly, made it super easy to change the blade. I also put a router table extension on the right side and it was fairly easy to do and has proven to be pretty useful for a lot of things.

I won’t bore you too much more with the details since you’ll probably be able to find more comprehensive reviews all over. The bottom line is, I think the Delta is worth the price if you can fit it into your budget.

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769 posts in 849 days

#3 posted 09-03-2016 02:59 AM

I feel your pain Dan been there.

-- "Boy you could get more work done it you quit flapping your pie hole" Grandpa

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4728 posts in 859 days

#4 posted 09-03-2016 03:02 AM

not sure of the area you are in …. but check craigslist a couple times a day…also widen your search

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

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8129 posts in 3522 days

#5 posted 09-03-2016 03:05 AM

I’d definitely look to a contractor saw over a portable jobsite saw. Used is generally going to be the best bang for the buck. Most decent full size belt drive contractor saws can be accurate…it’s really a function of the fence, blade, and setup. New contractor saws start in the $550 range….I’d prefer the fence of the Delta 36-725 over the Ridgid R4512.

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

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3 posts in 777 days

#6 posted 09-03-2016 03:45 AM

I have and love it. I don’t really have much to compare, but I can’t really say I’ve ever felt the need to blame the saw for anything that came out of it. I’d definitely like to have an acre of cast iron with a big motor and etc., but that’s not realistic for several reasons right now and the little Dewalt does what I need (and does it on 110), then disappears into the corner. It’s no powerhouse, but it’ll turn a dado blade and is happy in 4/4 oak.

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979 posts in 1599 days

#7 posted 09-03-2016 04:00 AM

You need to decide if you want ‘good & accurate’ or ‘cheap’? The two tend to be mutually exclusive . . .

If you only want to make little stuff a 4” model makers saw works well. But a decent one is still $400 for the base unit.


-- Madmark -

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1959 posts in 2176 days

#8 posted 09-03-2016 04:04 AM

I’d toss out some love for the Bosch 4100. It has served me dutifully for the last 3 years. For a contractors saw, it has really been a critical component to my wood working experience. The fence is not that bad. They actually tried to make it rather acceptable. It’s no biesemeyer. With the accessories like the gravity stand, left and outfeed riggers, able to do dado blades, and the safety features… it should be a consideration

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter

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12369 posts in 2526 days

#9 posted 09-03-2016 04:17 AM

Look for a Delta with a Unifence or Biesemeyer, best bang for the buck: $300 – 450. Second best bang is probably a used Jet with a Bies clone. 3rd is probably a $600 Delta from Lowes.

-- Rick M,

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172 posts in 2048 days

#10 posted 09-03-2016 04:25 AM

I like the dewalt jobsite saws. If you built a mobile stand for it with small outfeed table & maybe some side spacing I think it could prove to be a good value, you are not crazy. The 744 is better or the newer generation posted above by DLM. That said the craftsman 113. saws are good, the fence is its downfall so if you just happen to run across one with a biesemeyer fence for you would be styling if it was tuned in, often times setting one up is a project in it self but thats half the fun or is it? I recently sold my craftsman 113. with biesemeyer, it had full on dust collection. I posted it for $600 & it sold the next day for slightly less.

I also sold another craftsman 113. with stock fence, no upgrades for pretty cheap, that one took weeks to sell. My point is the upgraded saw is more desirable than a barebones stock saw.

I like the craftsman 100’s, 1961-1965 I believe. If you spend the time to dial it in they are great, I only sold my set up craftsman with the biesemeyer because I unexpectedly got a cabinet saw otherwise if still have it. I have the dewalt 744 & 745, both are great saws with gobs of power, they are very accurate.

-- -Mike, Southern California, YouTube User ( Give & Take )

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171 posts in 1751 days

#11 posted 09-03-2016 03:01 PM

I feel your pain. In 1998 I lost my 1965 ImpalaSS 396, my 1957 Coupe Deville, and 1968 Dodge Charger RT
to the big D. Life is good now.

-- Correlation is not causation but I did loose my Doctor !!!

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13 posts in 779 days

#12 posted 09-03-2016 04:25 PM

I have a hybrid porter cable PCB270TS with a Biesemeyer fence (great price on CL). Before the Biesemeyer it was an alright TS but now it is a great budget saw. It also has a built in mobile base so I move it to the wall when not in use. Next is to replace the belt with the Power Twist Link belt but its a good saw as is. The TS is discontinued but if you find it on CL for a few hundred bucks its a good option.

-- 15 hours of youtube tutorials and research for my 20 min project...might need to rethink back in 15 hours

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3 posts in 777 days

#13 posted 09-03-2016 06:59 PM

Thanks for the great replies. I figured I probably wouldn’t be the only guy here who’d been through something like this. Here’s a pic of my old shop.

It’s a combination of 2 shots (didn’t have “panorama” on that camera). Haven’t looked at that in over 5 years. I do still have a lot of that gear, mostly had to get rid of the bigger/240V machines. And I sold them on CL, too. BTW, if anyone hasn’t tried one, that Ridgid oscillating belt/sleeve sander was a great, versatile addition to the shop, especially for < $200.

Much as I’d like at least a decent contractor’s saw with cast wings, etc., I think with my current circumstances a job site type saw would be better. The Bosch looks good, but of course the most $$$. Anyone know of a particularly good review comparing this type of saw? A lot of suggestions for a used Craftsman. I’ve got a ton of older Craftsman hand tools, from back when they were considered professional quality, but I thought those days were long gone. This one’s new, good price, at least, anyone know anything about this model: Good reviews on their site, if that means anything.

I’m thinking of buying a saw now, because I’ve recently begun doing some volunteer restoration work on a 150 year old house in the area (South Sound area, WA), where it would be nice to have some ripping capacity. Also have been considering making cigar humidors to sell online. So, although I don’t really need to be able to crosscut a 4×8 sheet of plywood, I would like to be able to make cuts precise enough for decent “fine” woodworking, as well as being able to rip long boards.

Thanks again for the input,


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3 posts in 777 days

#14 posted 09-03-2016 07:45 PM

How important is the “space” bit of your considerations, and how is yours shaped? I had a little gap in a corner into which the folded Dewalt fits, and that was no small part of my choice.

If you have room to build a cabinet around the saw, or even to roll a bigger saw into a corner, I’m not sure I’d see the point of a contractor saw – I suspect you can do better off Craigslist for the same $ or less if you can fit a bigger saw somewhere.

I looked pretty hard at the Bosch 4100, and I’m sure I’d have been happy with it. I believe the Dewalt folds a bit more compact, has a better fence system, better dust collection, and a bigger (32”) rip capability. A lot of people really like the Bosch’s soft start and stand. I don’t think you can go wrong with either, just pick the features you find most important.

Many of the smaller saws will not fit a dado, if that’s important to you.

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8129 posts in 3522 days

#15 posted 09-03-2016 09:53 PM

The suggestions for a used Craftsman saw are generally referring to the larger cast iron Emerson or Ryobi made contractor saws, which have potential to be a decent saw if fitted with a good fence. I suspect the Cman 21807 would be a quite a let down compared to your PM, and even compared to an older used contractor saw. (they’re really a pretty humble entry level homeowner type saw)

If a jobsite saw is the most feasible for your current situation, I’d still look to a used Bosch, Ridgid, or DW jobsite saw over a new Cman benchtop saw. I’d also opt for a new DW 745 over the 21807. Personally, I’d try to find a way to make a cast iron contractor saw work for me, even if I needed to remove the wings.

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

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