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New Kobalt Table Saw - Buy or not at Black Friday Sale price?

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 285 days ago 13345 views 0 times favorited 66 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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paxorion

603 posts in 680 days


285 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw question

LJs, I thought I’d crowd-source a dilemma I have been debating for the last 24 hours…
Short Version: If you were in the market for a portable table saw, would a $179 Kobalt-branded table saw that is effectively a Porter Cable PC220TS that actually supports a shop-made ZCI, would it be a worthwhile buy, or should I keep saving for a Bosch 4100?

Long Version: For the past few years, I’ve been using a very old Skil 3305 table saw that is long overdue to be trashed. In fact, I’ve found myself avoiding the table saw because of how aggravating and dangerous (since I can’t properly square the saw blade, or guarantee that the fence is parallel) the Skil 3305 has proven to be.

My circumstances requires me to go with ONLY a portable jobsite table saw, as I do all my at-home woodworking outdoors and would have to drag the machine through my house to store between use. I do have access to a pay-per-use shop which is fully loaded with stationary equipment, meaning that any “fine woodworking” I want to do, can be done there, while at-home projects (i.e. making toys for my kids, cabinet boxes to build out an office, or other random projects that don’t necessarily require tight tolerances) are currently done mostly with hand-held power tools. While I have been saving my self-imposed monthly woodworking allowance towards a Bosch 4100, I noticed a possible alternative within “budget” right now.

Lowes has just released a new Kobalt-branded table saw I had a chance to play with it in-store this weekend and found it to be both promising and disappointing. My conclusion, is that it has a lot in common with the Porter Cable PC220TS, but blends in elements of the latest Dewalt DWE7480 compact saw to address the PC220TS weak points. Specifically:
1 – (P) It appears relatively easy to access the bolts that table-mount the trunnions, making it easier to square the saw
2 – (D) The fence is appears less agitating (not necessarily better) than the PC220TS
3 – (D) Someone claims to have been able to put in a 3/4” dado stack, and after measuring the arbor in person, I’m highly skeptical of it
4 – (P) The insert allows for slightly more than 1/8th clearance at ONLY the leveling screws, but is practically open throughout the rest of the table span, giving somewhere between 1/4-1/2” clearance for a shop-made ZCIs
5 – (P) Standard miter t-slots
6 – (D) Short 5.5” table space ahead of the saw blade
7 – (P) The guard and kickback pawls were easy to use
8 – (D) The saw must be used with the included stand (unless modified to mount to a bench)
9 – (D) The riving knife uses a star knob to tighten, and was moderately frustrating to maneuver up and down
10 – (P) All reviews thus far seem to be good, reinforcing my theory that it is at least on par with the PC220TS

At that $279 retail price, I wouldn’t consider the saw. However, the Lowes Black Friday sale knocks the price down to $179. My question to the LJ community is, if you were in the market for a portable table saw, should I take the risk and buy this saw so that I can get rid of my Skil 3305 ASAP, allowing me to re-allocate my woodworking budget to materials/projects, and frequent visits to the shop with proper machinery, or should I keep saving and buy the Bosch 4100 in the next 12-18 months?

-- paxorion


66 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1494 posts in 355 days


#1 posted 285 days ago

Get the Bosch, better reputation. The only advantage with the Kobalt is if you had a problem in a couple months, it might be easier to return.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 883 days


#2 posted 285 days ago

First, I wouldn’t worry about the dado stack size. I have a “full size” R4512 and don’t feel comfortable spinning a full 3/4” 8” stack. I think that is really reserved for 3hp+ cabinet saws. I stick with 5/8 at the most and use multiple cuts with a sled. I tried 3/4 once to cut my ZCI and to plow a miter slot for my router table, and the saw was really struggling.

Also at a 400.00 price difference between that and the Bosch, you don’t have much to lose. If you hate it, you can unload this on craigslist for that price all day long. It’s reviewed well on the website also.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View JonHitThingWithRock's profile

JonHitThingWithRock

85 posts in 356 days


#3 posted 285 days ago

I’ll throw in another vote for the bosch, if i were in the same situation, that’s what i’d go for. From what i’ve seen, kobalt stuff tends to be a bit disappointing, not harbor freight disappointing, but still, the bosch is all-around better.

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5429 posts in 2010 days


#4 posted 285 days ago

$179 vs $550+. Not saying the Kobalt is a better saw, but I’d consider a 300% ($370) price difference to be an advantage worth some consideration. Which one best suits your needs really depends on usage and budget.

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

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

890 posts in 2248 days


#5 posted 285 days ago

I have a “full size” R4512 and don’t feel comfortable spinning a full 3/4” 8” stack. I think that is really reserved for 3hp+ cabinet saws. I tried 3/4 once to cut my ZCI and to plow a miter slot for my router table, and the saw was really struggling.

Oh, nonsense! I routinely run 3/4” dadoes on my old Craftsman 113 with a 1 HP motor and an Avanti 8” dado stack. My saw doesn’t struggle with this at all. And I don’t feel that it is unsafe (or at least, any less safe than any width dado stack).

Now, ask yourself: If I can’t cut 3/4” dadoes, what use is the dado blade? Much of my work uses 3/4” plywood (approximately, that’s why they give you them damned spacers with a dado set). If I couldn’t do 3/4” dadoes, then it would be a lot harder to make furniture projects.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

603 posts in 680 days


#6 posted 285 days ago

So far it sounds like the votes are 2 for kobalt, 2 against. And the for’s come down to – what would be my usage and the option to re-sell/recoup cost if it turns out to be a bust. This certainly is where I have been leaning towards before I posted on LJ, and thus far, there has been a lot more affirmation of my thought than recommendations against.

I can describe my short (~3 months), mid (~1 year), and long-term (2-3 years) usage.

Short-term – I have a toy kitchen that I am making for my daughter, which will benefit from the rip capacity. Thus far I have been breaking down 3/4” MDF sheets using just a circular saw, and it’s been rather interesting trying to plan out the cuts so that I can get close repeatable cuts (e.g. cutting both sheets at once).

Mid-term – Building cabinets boxes for my basement, squaring S3S lumber with a rip-blade

Long-term – Tide me over until I move to a house and can invest in a contractor/hybrid/cabinet saw. I do have access to a pay-per-use shop with stationary equipment (i.e. SawStop ICS) for case-by-case accurate work.

-- paxorion

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paxorion

603 posts in 680 days


#7 posted 285 days ago

Also, not sure if this is in any way relevant, but it appears the country of origin is likely Taiwan

-- paxorion

View jonah's profile

jonah

452 posts in 1933 days


#8 posted 285 days ago

I’d have to recommend against the Kobalt. I’ve never seen one of those super cheap portable saws that I would even consider using for anything I care about. I’d wait and get the Bosch, or, alternatively, get a track saw and use your router for dados. Check out my review of the Scheppach track saw. There’s really nothing I’d do with a portable table saw that I wouldn’t rather do with a track saw, honestly.

View RandyTsuch's profile

RandyTsuch

52 posts in 302 days


#9 posted 285 days ago

Hi
I’m kind of in the same boat, except I have no table saw right now. I need to buy a little TS so I can store it when not in use, and would carry it outside to use. My actual usage would be less than yours, and my projects are smaller.

I am planning to buy the DW745 from HD, they lowered they price to $300.

The Kobalt looks interesting, and Lowes has a 90 day return policy, so you could try it out, and return if it doesn’t work for you. I would only do this if you would actually return it if you don’t like it.

Randy

-- Randy, Los Angeles/Brentwood, Ca

View helluvawreck's profile

helluvawreck

15627 posts in 1501 days


#10 posted 285 days ago

I don’t buy any tools with the Kobalt brand. The first and last thing I ever bought Kobalt was a small set of screwdrivers. They didn’t last a month. I figure if their screwdrivers are cheap then probably a lot of other things of theirs are as well.

helluvawreck aka Charles
http://woodworkingexpo.wordpress.com

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Craftsman70's profile

Craftsman70

241 posts in 759 days


#11 posted 285 days ago

I’ve been looking at that Kobalt saw also but decided it against it because 1) to remove it from the stand you’d have to cut the metal frame. 2) the fence stinks. The fence is deceiving. You’d think it would be good like the DeWalt, but it is not because the front and back are not connected as they are on the DeWalt. So they don’t move in unison and are never kept in alignment with the blade. I found the fence very frustrating after just a fe minutes with the display model at Lowes.

View crank49's profile

crank49

3380 posts in 1605 days


#12 posted 285 days ago

”I have been breaking down 3/4” MDF sheets using just a circular saw, and it’s been rather interesting trying to plan out the cuts so that I can get close repeatable cuts”

Don’t expect that to substantially change with a 50 lb jobsite type table saw available.
A 500lb cast iron cabinet saw with outfeed tables will make a difference.

I have a Craftsman 21833 / Ridgid 4512 and it weighs about 275 lbs and I don’t even use it for breaking down sheet goods. I still prefer to use my circular saw. Then I’ll follow up with a trim cut on the table saw if it’s needed.

What I really want, and plan to build in my new shop is a panel saw.

The Kobalt saw is the same saw as a Porter Cable portable saw, as pointed out earlier. I thought it looked pretty good, but I have seen reviews on it that didn’t look too good.

I could see advantages to having a portable, but for my use, not enough advantage to justify more than $500 for one. My HD has a clearance sale right now on the little DeWalt DW745 portable for under $300. Been looking at it pretty hard.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View jonah's profile

jonah

452 posts in 1933 days


#13 posted 285 days ago

I’ll say it again: pretty much anything people are doing with those portable table saws can be done easier, more precisely, and safer with a track saw. Use the track saw to break down sheet goods, to rip and to crosscut. Use your router to make grooves and dados.

If the only choice is a portable table saw for logistical reasons, then my vote is no table saw at all. Wait until your situation changes and you can get a more substantial (but not much more expensive) used contractors, hybrid, or cabinet saw. Don’t bother mucking around with cheap portable saws – they’ll only frustrate you.

View paxorion's profile

paxorion

603 posts in 680 days


#14 posted 285 days ago

crank49 – Mix-up on my part in wording it, I was thinking more the final dimension cuts. I wouldn’t dare breakdown sheet goods on a table saw. I was contemplating the Kreg Rip-cut

jonah – A track-saw is on my to-buy list, but not until a few other items are checked off.

-- paxorion

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paxorion

603 posts in 680 days


#15 posted 285 days ago

Craftsman
1. Yes the stand is an integral part of the saw frame, which is a big down, but from what I saw in store, some creative manipulation could make it “stand-alone-ish” without major (cutting) modifications
2. The fence and guide rails certainly aren’t as nice as the Dewalt’s, but I didn’t sense too much frustration with it while in-store, while making sure my 2 year old didn’t steal anything. Will have to play with it again

-- paxorion

showing 1 through 15 of 66 replies

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