Need a table saw but have limited space

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Forum topic by agroom posted 02-27-2012 05:37 PM 11228 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6 posts in 2309 days

02-27-2012 05:37 PM

I finally built a small workshop in my 1 car garage this fall (it’s the modular workbench from The Family Handyman) and am getting all my gear setup. I thought I could go w/o a table saw, but I’m finding I need one more and more. The problem I have is space. As I said it’s a 1 car garage and my workshop shares it’s space with some other items like the lawn mower, yard tools, summer gear, etc. There’s room to setup a saw, but not to keep it there. I also feel there’s not enough room to even slide it to the side.

This leaves me with few options, the foremost being something like a job site saw that I can fold down and store away. The workbench actually has a table saw setup built into it, but my garage floor slopes too much where that’s at to do what they did; however, I could use the space to store it.

60-70% of my need for it I’ll call “general use.” Honestly I don’t know what that means, but say it’s everything that’s not the rest of the work I want to do which is more precision crafting like indoor/outdoor furniture (tables, dressers, book shelves, etc), possibly cabinets, picture frames, etc. I know because of my limited space I’m forced to go with something that’s not ideal to what I want, but I’d like to not be completely disappointed. I also plan to buy used, so my options are limited to what’s for sale.

So my question is twofold then: 1) are there other options I’m not aware of and 2) if not, what is a good table saw for my situation?

-- Aaron

19 replies so far

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3716 days

#1 posted 02-27-2012 06:01 PM

I can’t recommend tabletop/benchtop saws due to my own experiences with a Delta : (
They’re nothing more than an upside down Skilsaw in a box with poor fences and even worse table inserts. Stay away !!

“lawn mower, yard tools, summer gear, etc.”....any way to build a small “shelter” for the outdoor equipment and free up your garage ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Maclegno's profile


224 posts in 3090 days

#2 posted 02-27-2012 06:06 PM

Good advice from Dusty. A small garden shed wouldn’t cost much.

-- Maclegno,Scotsman in Italy

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2477 days

#3 posted 02-27-2012 06:33 PM

2My advice, stay away from anything with too much plastic! Just too weak and that makes them very, VERY dangerous!

I had a little bench-top Ryobi on a stand, and the motor housing shattered while I was ripping a piece of 8/4 oak. I had a very bad kick-back as a result, since the blade was allowed to misalign by a massive amount (I could wiggle it side to side about 3/8” to 1/2”). I got my arm torn open, a bunch of bruises, and hit in the stomch so hard I w2222a22s knocked to my back, and I’m 5’9” 200lbs. (I was standing to the side, bu t my arm deflected the wood)

I like the older Craftsman contractor saws. They’re built from cast iron and steel and are very rugged. They can be found used for short money, and a mobile base makes them easy to move. The fence does leave somnething to be desired’ but it’s at least as good as what comes on many of the newer benchtop saws.

There are other new saws that are like this too, and many have better fences and more safety features, like riving knives.

The new Craftsman Professional Contractor saw (#21833) is a pretty nice saw, as is their Premium HYBRID saw (#22116)

There are many others out there like this too.

Just please hear me out on this: The tablesaw is the most used machine in any shop, it is the biggest work-horse. It is also one of the most dangerous, and trying to use a saw that’s cheaply built and flimsy is a sure shot way to get hurt. And you normally don’t just get a nick from a tablesaw, it’s usually bad when it happens. I got really lucky in my accident. Be smarter than I was. Buy a quality tool that is well built and safe.

Also, if you plan to build nice furniture and make precision joinery, all that is made easier with a good, accurate table saw.
Remember, accuracy starts with the milling of the lumber. If your boards aren’t ripped and cross-cut straight and true, it’s going to make everything else that much harder.

If you would like, I can take some pictures of my saw that I bought for $50 and rehabbed into a very useable tool. I now have about $85 into it, but plan to buy a new arbor assembly in the next few weeks, so add $65 to that. You could likely find a similar saw for a similar price and do the same, as these saws are everywhere!

Good luck, be safe!

PS: add an MJ splitter to your saw if it doesn’t have something like this already! It can save you big time!

-- Kenny

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#4 posted 02-27-2012 06:56 PM

Get a portable or small vintage tilt-top Delta or similar saw (they
are very accurate). You can build a Jimmie Jig and get panel
saw performance when you want it without having a permanent
or even contractor saw sized setup.

Jimmie Jig plans:

View Kenny 's profile


260 posts in 2477 days

#5 posted 02-27-2012 07:11 PM

The Jimmy Jig eh?

A well designed table saw sled is a better option IMHO.

The Jimmy Jig had a good start, but it has become an abomination of astronomical proprtions. The basic jig would be great with a few modifications. A well thought out sled has one major advantage, it travels with the stock. It is also easily removable without any clamping and registers from the miter slots.
If the JJ was made to travel with the stock, it may be worth while.

I also disagree with the tilt-top saw. I have two of them (no longer in use), they’re scary to use when making cuts with the table angled. You not only have to guide the stock, but hold it from sliding off the table. Ever try that with a 2’ x 4’ sheet of 3/4” ply and the table angled to 45 degrees? That’ll get the ol’ heart pumpin!
They are a good and accurate saw, but not the safest or easiest to use, especially for someone relatively new to the tablesaw.

-- Kenny

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#6 posted 02-27-2012 07:26 PM

I little less hyperbole might make for a clearer message.

I think you misunderstand how the Jimmy jig works. It does not
preclude or in any way prevent the use of a cross-cut self
for… cross-cuts. What it does allow however is the cross-cutting
and ripping of full sheets of ply without consuming a lot of
space when not in use. As the original poster stated, he
has a small space.

And yes, I have worked with the top tilted on a tilt-top saw.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2516 days

#7 posted 02-27-2012 07:49 PM

For small spaces you can’t beat a Ryobi BT3100 or it’s older brother that has had the upgrades, the BT3000. those can be found on eBay and CL all the time for less than $250 with all the trimmings. Sears also sells the same machine with some different bells and whistles for @ $450? Sears P/N is 21829 and 22811.
they are accurate to within a couple of thousandths when set up correctly, will resaw to 3 9/16”(BT3100), have a lot of abilities and add-ons other machines don’t and are portable.

Good luck with your quest….

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 3806 days

#8 posted 02-27-2012 08:41 PM

Try a Shopsmith Mark 7, it gives you not only a 2HP tablesaw but also a drill press, disk sander, horizontal boring machine, router, shaper, lathe and with optional accessories a host of other tools. I have one also in a 1 car garage and have been using it for 30 years.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

View agroom's profile


6 posts in 2309 days

#9 posted 02-27-2012 11:10 PM

Thanks for all the input guys! I probably should have said my budget is going to be around the $500 mark too. I really like some of the portable options suggested, especially the Craftsman Professional 21828. Even the stationary ones with casters I’m a bit hesitant on. I also like the idea of a Jimmy Jig or something similar. I know ultimately I’ll probably have to do something like this if I want a larger surface. Something that I can store flat against a wall and use when needed.

Unfortunately I don’t have much space for a shed. I live in a duplex with little room around the yard; however, I am considering a small lean-to type shelter just tall enough to park the mower and tiller in which would help a lot. But unfortunately nothing in the area of a small shed.

I think I’ve got a good start though on what to keep my eye out on and features to look for. Thanks everyone!

-- Aaron

View agroom's profile


6 posts in 2309 days

#10 posted 02-27-2012 11:26 PM

I’m not in a big rush, but I did find these two listings on craigslist and wanted to see what you thought.

-- Aaron

View oxyoke's profile


57 posts in 2382 days

#11 posted 02-27-2012 11:47 PM

I would also keep my eyes open for the ridgid or boshe job sight saws. between 500.00 and 600.00 new. Sorry about spelling

-- Bill Byron Center MI

View agroom's profile


6 posts in 2309 days

#12 posted 02-28-2012 04:07 PM

The Mark V was also mentioned, and I came across this one too:

The deck on it seems pretty small with little ways to improve it. I seems like a much different model than the other Vs I see online. But it does come with a ban saw as well as the other tools. The lathe is really tempting! I’d be forfeiting my ability to save space though since I’d have to keep it out all the time.

-- Aaron

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2398 days

#13 posted 02-28-2012 04:40 PM

I picked up the Bosch 4100 jobsite saw about 2 months ago, for the exact same reason…space. I would have liked to have gotten a contractor saw, but just couldn’t afford to lose that much real estate in the garage. I’ve used it quite a few times already, on 4/4 cedar, 3/4 maple, and 3/4 plywood, and I have had no issues. It did an accurate job of cutting 1.25”x.5” strip out of cedar to make trim out of on the router table. The fence system is great, after the initial alignment, I can now set it based on the ruler on the front, and get within about 1/64” of an inch of my setting, without worrying about measuring fence to blade before hand. I buy my lumber jointed one edge, and had no issues ripping the opposite edge and edge-joining boards into a panel straight off the saw. I already had an Incra V120 miter gauge, and had really good luck cutting trim with that, so I can’t comment as to the gauge that comes with the saw. The stand takes a few times to get used to, but it sets up and folds up in 2 seconds, and its easy to shove in a corner, where it doesn’t take up much space. The riving knife and guard system are awesome, they can be removed/adjusted in just a few seconds.

If you can fit a contractor saw, that’s probably the way to go, I looked at a nice Ridgid, but if you can’t I would highly recommend the 4100. My only beef with it is that it does not come with the left-side and outfeed support, but they aren’t that pricey on Amazon. I had read some other reports of people getting them and the table not being flat, but I checked mine, and saw no issue with it. Initial set-up and calibration took about 1.5 hours. I used the 10% mover’s coupon at Lowes and paid about $580 after tax. Haven’t used the blade that came with it either, but it would be good for that 60-70% general use you mentioned.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2998 days

#14 posted 02-28-2012 06:05 PM

What about something like this

There’s a version of this mitre saw / table saw combination on rails that would give 12” cross cut capacity.

Or a flipover saw.

View Paul M Cohen's profile

Paul M Cohen

86 posts in 3806 days

#15 posted 02-28-2012 08:55 PM

The Mark 5 pictured is a model 500 it is fully upgradeable to a current model. For 50 years they were used successfully, I used it for about 10 years before my first upgrade to larger tables. I currently have the largest tables and a 2 HP digital motor (DVR) but it still fits in the space of a bicycle.

There is a very active resale, upgrade market and you can still get parts for machines from the 1950’s and there are 10,000 of machines still operating from then. There are also video libraries showing many things this tool can do that many others can’t or how to do things with this that at first glance look difficult.

-- Paul, Beaverton OR,

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