is it worth getting a cheap table saw for ripping 3/4 maple?

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Forum topic by toehead posted 04-17-2014 04:15 AM 2982 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 1656 days

04-17-2014 04:15 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw

I have a small “woodshop”and i have 150ish bf of hard maple from 4’’ to 8’’ wide.its milled close enough to flat and i just scored a 6inch jointer.I’m going to need to do some ripping and I dont feel a circular saw would be safe and my cheesy 9inch bandsaw aint up to the task.the question is….is it worth spending 300-500 bucks on a contractor saw with a good forrest blade, and a better fence if there is one made for a contractor saw?thanks

43 replies so far

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1558 days

#1 posted 04-17-2014 04:21 AM

Spent $500 on mine and don’t regret it. I’ve built 3 cabinet sets since I bought it. Most people poo poo Steel City for reasons I don’t understand yet.


View toehead's profile


21 posts in 1656 days

#2 posted 04-17-2014 04:38 AM

I’ve been looking at steel city.going to get the steel city planer this summer.i wish I had room for it , I’m going to have to get a table top table saw though. It’s going to need to be stashed under my miter saw.

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1558 days

#3 posted 04-17-2014 04:47 AM

To better answer you question I believe it’s worth it to buy a decent saw as long as you use it on a regular basis to justify the cost.

I first bought a dewalt dw744 job site saw with a mobile base, around $750 all said and done. I regret this decision. I bought my dewalt as I was doing a lot of off the site jobs at the time. Job site saws are very underpowered. If you plan on cutting maple and lots of it a weak job site saw will frustrate you.

For 300-500$ most here will tell you to watch craigslist. I did so for 6 months without a decent saw showing up to warrant a purchase. Don’t skimp on a table saw purchase if it’s your first one, you will always want more saw and more power. My steel city “contractor saw” 110v current setup cuts 4/4 maple without any bog.

For a table saw stretch your budget as far as you can. You won’t regret getting more saw but you will always regret the underpowered dinky table saw.


View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2964 days

#4 posted 04-17-2014 05:42 AM

A blade upgrade for a jobsite/portable saw makes sense. Especially thin kerf.
That will help in the power department.
Never saw a fence upgrade for one of these saws as they are not standardized from brand to brand.
Would not increase the functionality much anyway as the tables are so small and usually aluminum.
Moneywise, when you get much below $400 there is not much of value to pick from.
Then, if you go quality like Dewalt or Bosch you can spend as much as a real saw before you know it.

View redSLED's profile


790 posts in 1885 days

#5 posted 04-17-2014 01:05 PM

Will you be woodworking 1 year from now? 3,5 or 10 years from now? If yes, do not get a “cheap” table saw – that is, one that is underpowered, has sloppy/poor fence adjustment and controls, and sub-par user/owner reviews. You should have lots of options under $500 tax included. Table saws with consistently good user-owner reviews on forums will suffice (do not go by new product reviews or retailer website buyer reviews). Then you get proper blades for your needs.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1941 days

#6 posted 04-17-2014 01:11 PM

For that amount, with a good blade your cheese TS may do more than you think. Also I doesn’t have to be a 9” blade. Depending on how thick your stock is, you could use a 7 1/4” blade. I have seen tons of 10” TS on the job sight with 7 1/4” blades just because it was cheaper, and performed better.

View bigblockyeti's profile


5111 posts in 1713 days

#7 posted 04-17-2014 01:20 PM

with a good blade and a straight edge, you’d be surprised how well a hand held circular saw can perform in ripping tasks. You just have to take your time and make sure the saw base stays tight against the edge!

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2362 days

#8 posted 04-17-2014 01:36 PM

I have the Bosch 4100. I spent just about $500 for it, another $40 for a Freud blade, and $50 for the left side and outfeed extensions. I needed a saw I could tuck in the corner when not in use. If space is a concern, this is something to consider. I’ve had mine for maybe 3 or 4 years, and have build cabinets, bookshelves, and smaller items with it. It is no replacement for a nicer stationary saw, but for what it is, I’ve been extremely pleased, never had any problems with it.

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

View John's profile


244 posts in 1574 days

#9 posted 04-17-2014 01:36 PM

BigBlockYeti is right. We very rarely have a table saw on the jobsite, instead relying on the circular saw and straightedge technique. With a little practice, you can really do a nice job. That being said, you can’t beat a quality table saw for accuracy, repeat-ability, and convenience.

-- I measured once, cut twice, and its still too short...

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2362 days

#10 posted 04-17-2014 01:39 PM

You can get a good straight edge with your circular saw, then run it on the jointer. I think the problem is going to be getting an edge parallel to that first one. You can get pretty close, but I think you’re going to need a table saw if you want it to be dead-on parallel.

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

View rustfever's profile


752 posts in 3303 days

#11 posted 04-17-2014 01:54 PM

Never, repeat NEVER pass up an excuse to obtain another tool!

-- Rustfever, Central California

View guitchess's profile


85 posts in 3701 days

#12 posted 04-17-2014 02:18 PM

From my experience with the smaller “table top” saws, they will not handle the maple. If you did make it through the frustrating and curse inducing experience that this process would be, the saw would be as good as junk afterwards. You would better off with the circ saw approach. It will have more torque, and handle the maple easier than the table saw. The only issue then would be an reliable rip fence/jig.

In my opinion, a good “new” contractor’s table saw cannot be had for $500. The price range for what I would suggest is more like $750 – $1,000. Please don’t let this be a deterrent. If you plan on doing any serious woodworking, it will be well worth it.

As far as the Forrest blade, skip it, at least for now. Especially since the main goal at this point is ripping the maple. A far cheaper blade that you could consider disposable would be a better option. For general woodworking chores, I suggest the Irwin Marples blade. For around $50 you can get a Irwin Marples, and it will produce results as good as blades twice the cost. Marples is the key word. The plain Irwin stuff is not good, which results in a bad rep, which probably explains the low cost of an excellent blade.

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1588 days

#13 posted 04-17-2014 03:20 PM

I bought a Makita jobsite saw, the same one you can rent at home depot. I regularly rip around 300-400 feet of 3/4” plywood at a time. It takes around 30 minutes and the motor stays cool to the touch. I don’t know how much it costs to rent though. Also the fence can move so you need to clamp a piece of wood against the fence to prevent it from moving.

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2038 days

#14 posted 04-17-2014 03:30 PM

A jobsite table saw will be able to address the task, but I would strongly advise against the cheaper ones. The higher end Bosch, Dewalt, or Ridgid ones do serve their purpose well for anyone where portability is a must. Any saw with an induction motor will be perform better.

Since you’re also looking for ripping performance, make sure you are happy with the rip fence. I settled on the latest Dewalt because the rack and pinion fence stays parallel and meets my needs.

-- paxorion

View JADobson's profile


1033 posts in 2104 days

#15 posted 04-17-2014 03:54 PM

I know that getting a quality saw is always advisable and if you have the funds to do so great. For me, money is always really tight and dropping $500 on a saw is just not in the budget. i found this Delta on Kijiji for $40 and it does what it is supposed to do.

Obviously it doesn’t perform like a unisaw or a sawstop but it cuts wood and if you check the fence every time and take the time to make sure everything is set up properly it works. Cross cutting doesn’t work terribly well because the top is so small but I try to do most of my crosscuts by hand anyway.

Just another opinion.

Edit: Sorry for the giant picture. It isn’t mine, I just lifted it from the internets.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany

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