Which table saw is the best?

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Forum topic by will2480 posted 02-02-2008 08:25 AM 63897 views 1 time favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View will2480's profile


27 posts in 4004 days

02-02-2008 08:25 AM

Topic tags/keywords: table saw question

It’s really killing me that I don’t have a table saw. I want to develop a lifetime passion and hobby by becoming a true woodworker. I’m seeking advice on the best table saw I can purchase to meet the following requirements:

  1. Limited shop size (half of a two car garage)
  2. Must run off of a standard wall outlet (110v)
  3. Able to create anything from a basic jewelry box to fine furniture
  4. Limited budget; Under $1000 (including shipping if that is required)

Please let me know what you think the best table saw would be for a beginner like myself, as well as the best place to purchase from. I look forward to all of the valuable feedback.

Thanks in advance!

46 replies so far

View Dadoo's profile


1789 posts in 4190 days

#1 posted 02-02-2008 12:51 PM

Check out the “Reviews” section on this website. I recently posted my review of my Craftsman saw that you might like, especially considering that you are limited on space.

-- Bob Vila would be so proud of you!

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4022 days

#2 posted 02-02-2008 02:37 PM

You may want to look at a hybrid saw. These combine the mobility of a contractor saw and the closed base of a cabinet saw. The Jet ProShop has gotten good reviews.

Rockler has 8 models listed on their website ranging from just over $600 to $1100.

I tend to agree with Matt at buy your second generation tool first.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Alphie's profile


39 posts in 3986 days

#3 posted 02-02-2008 03:45 PM

One thing to keep in mind is that some (maybe many?) of the table saws have a dual voltage motor. This means that by switching a couple of wires, it can either be 110 volts or 220 volts. I run mine on 220 because it supposedly runs better on 220. I could configure the motor to run 110, but I have 220 in my shop, so I never have done it. If you find your dream table saw, and the motor is listed as 220 volts, it’s possible that it can be switched, but you’ll want to know for sure. I agree that checking out reviews is very helpful.

-- Tom, Michigan ~ Working with a renewable resource called wood

View Dollarbill's profile


91 posts in 4338 days

#4 posted 02-02-2008 06:49 PM

Robert, I can’t tell you wich TS is the best because I have not owned them all. I made the mistake of buying a cheap portable with the blade connected straight to the motor shaft. It had no power and burned up. There goes $130 out the window. Bought another one and of couarse there goes $260. Bought a $400 saw with a sliding table and spent all my time adjusting it so now we are up to $660 out the window. For the last 6 or 7 years I have had a $600 Ridgid (on wheels) and I love it (lifetime warrenty).
I also sugest two acc. Get a good blade and miter gauge. I use the Forrest WW2 blade ($100) and the cheapest Incra gauge ($60), and I love them both.
The moral of this story is to buy a good one and save $660.
Good luck and safe woodworking,


-- Make Dust

View CedarFreakCarl's profile


594 posts in 4253 days

#5 posted 02-02-2008 07:59 PM

I’ve got the Ridgid TS3650. Although I’m going to upgrade at some time in the future, it’s really been a great saw. The only knock I’ve got against it is that the oem insert is a little flimsy. That wasn’t a problem since I use zero clearance inserts anyway. Like Scott says there are some nice “hybrid” style cabinet saws out there too.

-- Carl Rast, Pelion, SC

View mike02719's profile


25 posts in 3986 days

#6 posted 02-03-2008 03:35 AM

There is an old saying, “Don’t worry about the size, It’s how you use it that counts.” That also applies to your workshop space. My shop is 12’x24’ and I have a Delta Contractors’ Saw with a 30” table. It is on Delta wheels, and is very easy to move around. The TS is the heart of most shops, and a little creativity goes a long way. The other posts are right . Spend enough to get a good blade, miter guide and fence. My TS runs on 220v that I ran under the floor. The saw pivots around to suit the task.

-- Mike, Massachusetts

View douglbe's profile


369 posts in 4161 days

#7 posted 02-03-2008 04:33 AM

I’m sure there are other contractor table saws out there that I would be more than happy with, but I am partial to the Rigid TS3650. I bought this after buying and using a small light weight table saw and the Rigid is such a treat to use, the size of the table, more power, a much better fence, and definitely more accurate. The wheel lift system is a breeze to use and makes if very easy to move about the shop. As CedarFreakCarl mentioned the OEM insert is a bit flimsy and I also make and use zero clearance inserts. For the price and quality of this saw it is a very good value. I do not regret buying this saw one bit.

-- Doug, Reed City, Michigan

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 3999 days

#8 posted 02-03-2008 06:12 PM

I like Grizzly… but you also can get a nice hybrid from Dewalt that you will like.

-- making sawdust....

View Alin Dobra's profile

Alin Dobra

351 posts in 4088 days

#9 posted 02-03-2008 07:44 PM


A contractor saw should be plenty. I have the Grizzly G0444 for about 2 years and I could not be happier. You can set it up perfectly, the fence is straight and solid and, by adding a piece of plywood at the back you get decent dust collection. I might be able to run hardwoods a little faster through a more powerful saw but that would hardly decrease the build time for anything than large production runs. If I were you (and I was 2 years ago), I would buy a contractor say (spend around 600 with shipping) and purchase a really good blade (40 tooth Forrest or another high end blade, about 100$), replace the belt with the new link belts (red color, about 30$), and purchase a dust collection system (200$ at Lowes). Running the table saw without the dust collection systems will fill in your shop and lungs with dust in no time. This setup is not particularly good for cutting large sheets (8×4) but you can easily use a 20$ guide, 30$ circular saw and 15$ blade to do a good job (but take more time).

The G0444Z has solid steel wings and 2hp motor but costs about 100$ more. It is a very good choice as well.

Good luck,

-- -- Alin Dobra, Gainesville, Florida

View SteveL's profile


173 posts in 3968 days

#10 posted 02-06-2008 05:36 AM

I have the Rigid TS3650. Mine’s about 2 years old now and I’m pretty happy with it, though in my dream shop, it will be replaced with a SawStop cabinet saw. The only knock I’ve got on the TS3650 is the arbor they shipped with mine has a groove cut into the threads just past the 1/8” point, which is precisely where your first chipper sits if you use a dado head. That means that th first chipper cut will be “high” (deeper) than the rest of the cut. One of my applications is to use the Freud Box-Joint two-blade system, so to handle this problem I bought two CMT stabilizers to space my blades out 1/4”, just past this groove, but of course that means I can’t use a 3/4” stack anymore since the arbor isn’t long enough to accommodate the spacers plus 3/4” of dado—but it works fine for my box-joint blades. I’ve heard that Rigid has sent new arbors to some people who complained. I usually use a router to cut dados for shelving, so I mostly just live with (or use a shoulder plane on) the non-uniform bottom if I cut them on the TS. All that said, I’ve got no other complaints about this saw. Woodline and a few other places sell ZC inserts for this saw made from HDPE if you don’t want to make them yourself.

-- SteveL

View Woodchuck1957's profile


944 posts in 3964 days

#11 posted 02-06-2008 06:41 AM

I have a Delta 34-445X Contractors table saw also with the 30” Unifence, mobile base, Fenner Drives PowerTwist link belt, my own design for dust collection, added a paddle switch to the bottom of the fence on the left side, and wired for 220. I bought the saw new 13 years ago ( American made ), it’s seen alot of use and will more than likely see alot more. it’s been a good saw. If you run a Contractors on a dedicated 110 circuit you should have no problems cutting just about anything. The problem many people have is running the saw on 110 that has multiple outlets or is on the same circuit as the lights reduceing available power. One note of caution to anyone who blocks the back off with a piece of plywood or anything rigid is, if you forget to take the back off before cranking on the hand wheel to tilt the blade you can knock the blade out of alignment and worse case senario crack the rear trunion bracket, which aren’t cheap. If you decide to go with a hybrid, the Steel City would be the one to look at. Whatever you decide to buy, make sure it has a good fence. Biesemeyer, Biesemeyer clone, or Unifence preferably.

View coloradoclimber's profile


548 posts in 4267 days

#12 posted 02-06-2008 07:22 AM

In that price range grizzly has a 3 hp 220 v cabinet saw or cheaper a 2 hp 110 v hybrid. Personally I’m not a huge fan of grizzly tools but there are a lot of guys on this site that have grizzly and seem really happy. Seems like it might be a good match of cost and quality.

If there is any way you think you could wire up 220 v you might be happier with a 3hp cabinet saw. They tend to be heavier, more stable, less vibration, more power, easier cutting. Not that a smaller saw couldn’t or wouldn’t work just fine but a bigger saw often runs just that little bit smoother.

Ridgid generally gets positive reviews and it looks like it fits your requirements.

You might consider Steel City. I’ve not owned one but I’ve looked them over pretty close and they look like a well made saw for a pretty good price. They usually get pretty good reviews. They generally seem to come in for a bit less money for similar capabilities.

If you really think this is going to be a lifetime passion I’d really recommend going for the largest saw you can afford. I’ve owned 5 different tablesaws over the years and each time I’ve upgraded and I’ve been happier with each new saw than the last saw. I know that when you’re starting out money can be an issue, particularly if you’re not sure this going to be the thing for you. So buy the saw that seems like a fit for now but when you really decide this is going to be a long term part of your life then save your pennies and skip over saws 2, 3, and 4, and jump right to saw 5. Get a saw bigger and better than you can afford. You’ll be happier and you wont have wasted the money on the saws in the middle.

You might try checking you local craigslist tools section. Around here there’s usually a saw or two going back and forth. Sometimes you can find a killer deal, usually worth keeping an eye on.

A mobile base can help with dealing with the limited shop space. A mobile base can tack on up to a couple hundred bucks so in your price range it’s probably not a great fit, spend the money on more saw instead of a mobile base.

View 8iowa's profile


1587 posts in 3961 days

#13 posted 02-08-2008 02:33 AM

As a 27 year Shopsmith owner, who has had to operate out of 1/2 of a two car garage, I can tell you that the Shopsmith is the perfect solution for the small space hobbiest woodworker. Yes. It would be great to have a big Grizzly saw but it would overwhelm your space and electrical capacity. Also note that a lot of the better saws weigh 500 pounds or more. The truck will stop at your address and the truck driver will move the pallet to the back of the truck, and that’s it. You have to get it out of the truck and into your garage.

My Shopsmith is a high precision tool. I can cut 12 sided segments for segmented bowls with pinpoint and repeatable accuracy. Accurate miters for boxes and picture frames are easy. Cheap saws can’t do this and contractor’s saws are designed to provide the limited kind of accuracy that carpenters need on a job site. Many of the big boxes sell cheap Aisian saws that are powered by universal motors. Don’t waste your money on them.

As part of a woodworking system, you can add special purpose tools such as jointer, belt sander, and bandsaw, that are also designed to store out of the way in a small space when not being used. Shopsmith owners also benefit from service and support that no one else comes close to.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View mjlauro's profile


244 posts in 3961 days

#14 posted 02-08-2008 02:58 AM

You can get a decent left tiltiing table saw at your local home improvement warehouse. You will save on shipping. If you have a woodcraft near you i would check them out. Also Fine woodworking gave the Grizzley hybrid a great review. I think you can get one for under 1000 with shipping. You may also want to forget the tablesaw for the time being and buy a great bandsaw, I find myself at that machine way more often then the tablesaw. I am in a one car garage( we don’t refer to it as a garage anymore, its my shop) so if you have any questions about setting up shop don’t hesitate to ask.

View jcees's profile


1070 posts in 3999 days

#15 posted 02-08-2008 03:27 AM

I’ve had my Powermatic 66 for only four years. For ten years before that, I used an older model Craftsman contractor’s saw. Geeeeez am I glad that puppy’s GONE! It was a constant battle to keep it running true. Therefore, like high speed internet access, I’ll never go back to dial up. I’d hock the car before regressing to anything less than the 66.

The heft of the thing paired with a REAL horsepower rating and there’s just no comparison. Granted, if you’re like my father-in-law, a Sears saw is perfect… it’ll frustrate him but a few times and then it will quickly get covered with detritus of the garage soon never to be seen again.

Hurricane Charlie in ‘04 made it possible for me to get the 66. I stole it from a guy who didn’t care anymore after the blow blew his shop down. The saw had been wet and was a sad sight. But it was all there and then some. All total, I got the saw, a dozen blades, dado head, 72” fence rail, HTC mobile base and flip up out-feed rollers, a single stage dust extractor with cyclone, three throat plates and a pair of freestanding out-feed roller stands. I paid $900 plus another $150 for the liftgated truck rental and it is MINE! I had to clean it up, replace the belts, tune it and I’m using her today. I should replace the arbor bearings, and will, but not today.

As to the unavailability of 220v, I ran my saw off a homemade extension from the dryer outlet for a year. I’ve since updated the electrical. But back then it cost about thirty bucks for the 10-4 SO cord, outlet, box and hunk of 2×8 cut square and mounted to the backside of the box. Gitter-dun!

So save your sheckles, grasshopper and haunt the online auction houses and personally investigate examples of those on your short list before you plunk down your hard earned. It can be a lifelong purchase so take care and be ready to pounce. In the meantime, I know a guy who owns an old Craftsman saw that might be willing to let it go…


-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

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