Help me buy a table saw...please~

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Forum topic by becka posted 09-21-2010 04:40 AM 4505 views 0 times favorited 45 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View becka's profile


7 posts in 2954 days

09-21-2010 04:40 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw question new purchase help

I am relatively new to woodworking (2 years) and I’m basically self-taught. I’m reading like crazy, keeping Band-Aid in business and asking questions galore. The 1983 Skil Table saw that was given to me just kicked the bucket so I need a new one! Most of my projects will be finish carpentry type things and basic cabinets and bookcases. What do you recommend I purchase as a good, solid, safe table saw for under $500??? I’m a stay-at-home mom… so $$ isn’t something I’m currently drowning in!


45 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1790 posts in 3008 days

#1 posted 09-21-2010 04:52 AM


Welcome to LJ!

A little patience and time spent on Craigs List and you can get a lot more saw for your money…

Good luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Tomoose's profile


422 posts in 3522 days

#2 posted 09-21-2010 04:55 AM

Everything I have read points to a cabinet saw with a real riving knife. Of course, a new one like that is going to be upwards of $1K – and no, I don’t have one either. I would say troll Craigslist for a used one if you have the patience – there are great deals to be had at times. Otherwise, my old Delta 36-650 contractor saw has been pretty solid for many years, although it has few safety features compared to what is available today.

The best thing you can do for safety in my opinion is get into a class at a local community college or even at a Woodcraft store or simiilar. Have someone who really knows about saw safety show you proper operation – this is not an area in which you want to be self-taught; mistakes can be much too costly.

Best Wishes,

-- “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.” Pablo Picasso

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3629 days

#3 posted 09-21-2010 05:01 AM


The table saw is the heart of most woodworking shops and having said that, its good to get the best one that you can afford. There are a few bench top and contractor type saws around the price range that you mention. You just want to be sure it has the power that you need and the fence works well. I happen to like the cabinet saws that sit on the floor and has a cabinet under the table. Much like the Delta Unisaw or Powermatic. I like something heavy that wont move around and has the power to easily cut through the wood that you are using. The cabinet saws, however, are expensive and require more room, but they can be found used on Ebay and Craig’s list like Herb said for much less. Usually around $800 or more. Another nice saw is the Powermatic 64A which is an open stand saw, around 1 1/2 HP and is often sold used for around $500. There is one on Ebay right now for $550. In any event, the folks on here will give you much more info on the saws they like and use. Good Luck !!

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Jim's profile


253 posts in 3794 days

#4 posted 09-21-2010 05:06 AM

Hi Becka,

I use a Ridgid table saw that is in your price range. It’s a great saw. I can rip a 4×8 sheet of ply with it’s 26” capacity. The fence is dead accurate and dust collection is good for a contractor saw. It also has a decent blade guard & splitter that can be removed or attached in seconds which is a vast improvement from my previous Bosch table saw.anyway, Lastly the saw has a lifetime warranty which is very nice. Anyway, I’m sure you will get lots of other suggestions but do give the Ridgid a look.


-- Jim in Langley BC Canada ---

View becka's profile


7 posts in 2954 days

#5 posted 09-21-2010 05:12 AM

Ah! Great info! Thanks!

I have searched on CL for weeks but because of my lack of knowledge about them, I’m afraid of getting ripped off. Plus, getting something used worries me because it’s more likely to have problems, hence the pickle I’m currently in. I also don’t want to wait any longer. And of course there are no classes at the local CC or the Woodcraft store within the next several months that are suitable for what I need. I think I’m doomed to learn from my annoying, chauvanistic father-in-law.

Keep the advice coming….I’ll take all I can get! What a fantastic resource this site is!!!

View Colin 's profile


93 posts in 2960 days

#6 posted 09-21-2010 05:43 AM

Used does not necessarily mean less reliable. Older motors especially were made more heavy duty than now. However, I have to say I feel uneasy recommending anything that does not have a paddle switch to somebody new to woodworking. That being said, Tom makes a very valid point about the old delta contractor saws. They are the best cutting contractor saw I have ever used. Some people love them so much they even spend the money to put a modern fence and switch on them rather than give them up. You can sometimes find them on craigslist with these upgrades. I looked at your profile and you are from PA. is an industrial machinery auction site where you can pick up a nice unisaw or powermatic 66 for around $400. These saws will require 3-4 people to move safely though. Every couple of months they have an auction located at their warehouse in PA.


View Tim_456's profile


171 posts in 3744 days

#7 posted 09-21-2010 05:46 AM

I would recommend avoiding the small “portable” table saws. Those are great for contractors that need to get them to a jobsite but I think their capacity is too small and their fence systems are not as accurate for larger woodworking projects. The next step up would be a contractor’s saw which, in my limited experience, aren’t very portable whcih is good because they have some mass but they have more capacity and probably a better rip fence. Then you get to the hybrids and then the full blown cabinet saws.

As you go up, you’ll pay more of course, but you’ll also be happier with the tool and get better results especially as a hobbiest. Maybe someone who’s a “pro” can deal with some of the lower end saws but I need all the help I can get ;)

personally I think you can get a good deal on a contractor’s saw or a hybrid but for anything more and for $500 you’ll proabably have to get something used which has it’s own problems.

So, having said ALL of that nonsense, I would agree with SR above, the TS will be the cornerstone of your shop and you’ll probably have it for a lifetime AND it can make your WW pleasant and fun or make it a hairpulling exercise because nothing is square or will stay aligned, etcs. So, go cheap on some of the other tools you may get, but I’d plunk down enough to make sure you’re happy.

View woodtoolgy's profile


44 posts in 2954 days

#8 posted 09-21-2010 06:07 AM


Good luck with your search… it’ll take patience…

In the mean time, join a local woodworking club, someone there will be glad to help you sort through a used saw. I counted on help like that when I first got started in the hobby.

What part of PA are you in?


View KTMM (Krunkthemadman)'s profile

KTMM (Krunkthemadman)

1055 posts in 3342 days

#9 posted 09-21-2010 06:40 AM

Craiglook dot com….. Use it to search everything within a hundred miles of your area. I personally don’t mind driving two hours to save a couple hundred bucks…..

Oh yeah and read reviews and the comments. The good thing about this site is that you can see what people have made using the tool they’ve reviewed. Just take a look at my table saw base…....

-- Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. Vince Lombardi

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 3902 days

#10 posted 09-21-2010 06:42 AM

Becka, try to try as many table saws as you can before your purchase. Study the fences, the arbors, and the motors. Understand how the saw will fit into your shop. If you need to move it around to use another tool, a 800 lb cab saw with long fence rails may not work. As for used, almost all of my large stationary tools in my shop are used. I would put my 30 year old Jet cab saw up against any new saw anytime, and just because it doesn’t have a riveing knife does not matter to me, because I always use the guard with splitter unless I am using the dado blade or tenioning jig. Also consider the power in your shop, do you have 240? 120? and how many amps?

My 2 cents

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View becka's profile


7 posts in 2954 days

#11 posted 09-21-2010 07:38 AM

SUCH great advice!!! You’ve saved me HOURS of researching the internet. Still welcoming any more suggestions and really, really appreciate ALL of the above comments!!

View TJ65's profile


1381 posts in 3199 days

#12 posted 09-21-2010 08:31 AM

Cant help you with your choice of tablesaw as I decided on a buying a bandsaw as I do more crafty type of stuff .
However welcome to LJ’s Becka it’s good to have another female on board!! :-)
You will get a lot of helpful advice from fellow Lj’s so maybe in time you can do with less and less of your “chauvanistic father-in-law”. These guys are great, as no question is too lame. I have learnt so much over the last (nearly!) 12months.
So keep on making that sawdust and look forward in seeing some more of your projects

-- Theresa,

View James 's profile


138 posts in 3075 days

#13 posted 09-21-2010 10:02 AM

Hi Becka and welcome to LumberJocks,
I like you am a new woodworker who is in need of a new table. The last one owned I bought used of CL and it was a POS. It drove me nuts and was frustrating to waste good lumber on that saw. I can honestly say that I will not be buying anymore used tools off CL. I know there are several people on this site who will say I am nuts and maybe they are right but after getting burned I would rather just cough up a little extra to get a new tools. The problem is that you just don’t know how well the seller took care of their saw. Ridgid is coming out with a new saw in your price range but not sure when. It might be worth a look.

There seems to be two schools of thought on buying tools, “buy the best you can afford” and “buy less expensive tools but more of them.” Not sure yet with method I am going to subscribe too but they both have there merits. The good thing about buying less expensive tools is that you can work on a broader range of projects and really get an idea of what you like and dislike about your current tools and upgrade in the future. You also might want to take a look at the Festool TS-55 saws. It’s a tracksaw bu if your going to be doing bookcases and finish work it might be the right tools for you.

Good Luck

View scottishrose's profile


110 posts in 3315 days

#14 posted 09-21-2010 10:11 AM

I would suggest you check out some of the factory reconditioned web sites. Delta has one and so dioes Makita. I would imagine there are more companies that offer them also. They have good buys on new or discontinued stock but also on factory reconditioned tools with factory warrentees. I got a great Makita 12 inch miter saw that origionally sold for over $1000 for under $400. It looked brand new and works great. Sometimes if you find a model you want and they don’t have it in stock – as reconditioned, you can have the web site let you know when one comes in. Just an idea.

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3005 days

#15 posted 09-21-2010 11:49 AM

Hi Becka,
I make all my furniture with a bandsaw.

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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