Tablesaws: What's the difference between say a mastercraft and an expensive model?

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Forum topic by dpoisson posted 02-03-2011 07:37 PM 3339 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 2937 days

02-03-2011 07:37 PM

I was wondering, I unfortunately cannot afford a 2000$+ tablesaw. So I’m looking at cheaper models. What’s the difference between a really expensive tablesaw and a cheaper one?




12 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3672 days

#1 posted 02-03-2011 07:42 PM

the price!

but other than that, usually the cost factors revolve around the following:
1. power (larger motors can handle deeper cuts in denser woods
2. weight/rigidity – larger saws do not tilt/move as you handle material on top of it, also they do not shake/vibrate which leads to a safer cleaner cut
3. table size (larger can support heavy boards, more table space in front of blade is easier to do cross cuts with)

from these 3 main factors you can really go into a more complex reasoning, but all fall into those 3 main categories one way or another.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View dpoisson's profile


190 posts in 2937 days

#2 posted 02-03-2011 07:46 PM

I haven’t checked the price tag yet, but something along the lines of this looks nice:

Not sure what the associated price tag would be though. I could be in for quite a surprise.



View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#3 posted 02-03-2011 07:55 PM

Hey Fish
There are differences. Most folks that buy super cheap saws end up upgrading in a very short time.
I would suggest Saws in the $ 350-$1000 depending if your buying a new saw or not. Here’s where I think they have good deals on good saws. For the most part I would stay away from the lite weight portable saws.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View skippyland's profile


158 posts in 2715 days

#4 posted 02-03-2011 08:22 PM

Hey, Fish. Echoing some others out there, you’re gonna pay more for better HP and larger table size, which is fairly important. What a difference a nice heavy TS makes in less vibration and stability. Working with thicker pieces of denser wood is so much easier with higher HP. Usually better miter gauges and fences can be added to mid-priced TS as well…of course, how much room you have to dedicate to the TS is key. Enjoy yourself while your shopping. Skip

-- Skip from Batavia, purveyor of fine and exotic sawdust & chips.

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2714 days

#5 posted 02-03-2011 08:57 PM

Don’t rule out used saws. I watched forums and saw which models were being gloated about frequently and kept an eye out for those models used. I got lucky to buy a grizzly cabinet saw (the 1023 specifically) for $400 in great condition.

Now, I will say… you need to know what “great condition” really means. I was coached by a more experienced woodworker and got a very fair deal. But if I was going at it alone, it’d make me a little nervous to be honest.

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

View Manitario's profile


2630 posts in 2906 days

#6 posted 02-03-2011 09:30 PM

My first TS was a $100 Ryobi which I bought for doing some basement renos. It did the job ok, but was underpowered and not accurate, I was constantly re-checking the fence to make sure it was cutting where I wanted it too. I am still a complete novice WW, but I upgraded to the General 240GT TS; what I got for the extra cost was a solid TS with plenty of power for thick hardwoods, that has a large top on it and is dead on accurate.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Raskal's profile


35 posts in 2708 days

#7 posted 02-03-2011 09:39 PM

imo, the fence is THE most important part of a TS.

Find the best fence you can afford and whatever comes with it will be fine.

I started with an old Craftsmen contractor TS and now have a Ridgid 4511 and the fence is night and day better. Still the more expensive saws come with better fences and I bet I’ll want one someday.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

377 posts in 3105 days

#8 posted 02-03-2011 09:42 PM

I agree that you probably need to be looking in the $350 and up price range, maybe $200+ for used.

I started with a $100 Craftsman and it scared me every time I used it. The table size is really small, so the work would tilt as it moved past the edge of the table. The fence could not stay in position and one side of the cut would always burn. Everything was lightweight and the legs had a small footprint, so it wants to tip over when pushing wood through it. The miter slots are non-standard so nothing fits. And it has a universal motor that is really noisy. There is not a single good feature about it.

You will only remember paying more for a short time. You will regret buying a cheap saw every time you use it.

-- Steve

View dpoisson's profile


190 posts in 2937 days

#9 posted 02-03-2011 09:46 PM

>> You will only remember paying more for a short time. You will regret buying a cheap saw every time you use it.

I love that quote!!

Thanks guys for all the good replies.



View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3984 days

#10 posted 02-04-2011 12:52 AM

Gotta remember that there is “cheap” and there is value. BIG DIFFERENCE!!!!
I use a Grizz G0444Z contractor saw with dust collection. No it is not the latest and greatest, but it has been an excellent investment/value for my needs. I don’t run the saw for 6 hours a day either.
Kinda like buying a $200.00 plus “unobtanium” framing hammer when my old trusty Stanley still works.


View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3399 days

#11 posted 02-04-2011 03:01 AM

Fish – Sometimes it’s more expensive in the long run to spend too little….more importantly it’s definitely not as safe to use a sloppy, poorly made, lightweight saw. If price is driving your purchase, by all means do some research, scour the used market, and be patient. You’ll at least get the most saw for you money that way.

Here’s what $150 buys in a new saw:

Here’s what $150 can buy in a used saw:

Which looks like the more substantial machine?

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

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3021 days

#12 posted 02-04-2011 03:05 AM

Between the cheapest saws and the midrange, there is a world of difference. Up from there, there is a bit of diminishing returns.

The difference between a $100 saw and a $500 saw: No comparison. Better motor, better fence, better table, better stability. The cheapest, you might as well put a $20 circular saw under a table.

Now, as the price goes up from there…

From $500 to $2000 or so, you can get into a really good fences, enough power to saw through just about anything within reason on an occasional basis. Nice stuff for hobbyists and lower end pro work. Contractor saws up to something like a Delta Unisaw (The Unisaws actually kind of bridge between the hobbyist level and into the pro level).

Beyond that, you start getting into what are real professional models. They are meant to work all day every day and not complain no matter what you put through them. You start getting nice features like sliding tables, scoring blades, real dust collection. Big massive stuff that you need heavy equipment to position. Most in this range will be using 3 phase power. Can build up to the range of 10’s of thousands of dollars and more.

Where does that leave you? Well, you can tune up a better contractor saw to be a pretty nice saw. Add outfeed tables, table extensions, aftermarket fences, better pulleys and belts, maybe a heftier motor.

Don’t even mess with the little cheap ones. They are too light to be stable. They don’t have enough power to saw much, they are not very accurate, and they have lousy fences. They really are not safe to use. Well, you could build one into a big cabinet and add a fence but it still would suck.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

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