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Suggestions for First Power Saw? (feeling like an idiot...)

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Forum topic by DustyCellist posted 05-05-2014 07:57 PM 1740 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DustyCellist

71 posts in 992 days


05-05-2014 07:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: miter saw table saw circular saw

I feel like I’m on here asking a stupid question every day. I do lots of googling and reading and even youtube to learn as much as I can, but in the end I need a little interactive feedback when I’m feeling lost in my own situational needs.

I have decided that my first real pursuit is turning, and I purchased a mini lathe to do tops and boxes, etc.

I need to make a stand, so I need to cut 2×4s for construction. I can’t afford a table saw (not one worth owning, anyway) so please don’t say “Save up $400 for a table saw” because I am determined to get started now. Maybe my work will warrant one in the future, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

The choices I see are:

cheap-o $100 table saw
$100 mitre saw
$40 circular saw (plus $30 workmate?)

Which would be more generally useful (and usable) for the next 2-5 years? I’m cash poor right now, so it will be Ryobi most likely.

I’m not building any sheds or houses, maybe bird houses and picture frames, but I have the feeling the $100 table saw won’t be accurate enough for that. The largest thing I envision building anytime soon would be a basic workbench and a play table for my young boys. I assume this could be all done with a circ/horse, but would the $100 table saw let me actually do other projects, or is it not worth being involved with?

Thanks, as always, for the advice for the noobish!


30 replies so far

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jonah

687 posts in 2761 days


#1 posted 05-05-2014 08:06 PM

Don’t even bother with a $100 table saw. They are absolute shit.

I vote a circular saw with a homemade or store bought cutting guide. Marc Spagnuolo (the wood whisperer) made a good one a bit ago, but there’s a million good designs out there.

Then, when you get a few hundred bucks together, go for a used contractor saw.

You’ll always need a good circular saw, so it’s not a tool that you’ll throw away when you get other tools, unlike those POS $100 “table saws”.

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firefighterontheside

13466 posts in 1319 days


#2 posted 05-05-2014 08:09 PM

The only $100 table saw I would buy would be a used one. There’s lots of them for sale around here anyways. I’ve seen decent older craftsmans for $75.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2312 days


#3 posted 05-05-2014 08:32 PM

If you don’t expect to be breaking any panels, I’d vote for the miter saw, you’d be amazed how many things get “knocked-out” on a decent miter saw. If you see sheets of plywood in your future, beyond what you could have sized at the big box store, then I’d get the circ because you can cut just about anything, maybe add a decent Japanese hand saw to the circ for all of those little BS cuts you don’t want to drag the circ out for. PLUS become a Craig’s List junkie, there are 3 “decent” contractor TS in the southern MD area around $300.

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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TheFridge

5765 posts in 949 days


#4 posted 05-05-2014 08:35 PM

Yup. Keep an eye out for a used dirt cheap contractor saw. I’ve seen a few on craiglist under moving sales.

The 100-200$ style are always available new and used everywhere. So if you go that route just give it time and you can find a deal because everyone and their mama has one for sale. Also, no one wants to pay 75$ for 100$ table saw they could get brand new.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View DustyCellist's profile

DustyCellist

71 posts in 992 days


#5 posted 05-05-2014 08:46 PM

Ok, no plastic table saws, then, thanks!

I have a Japanese ryoba which is nice for harder woods like poplar, but I have a hell of a time cutting straight (not because it’s a pull saw, but because it’s a hand saw… Paul Sellers makes it look so easy!) I feel the mitre is safer than a circular and 10” instead of 7 1/4, but it’s 3x the price. For my current project, either will do, though I could make dados with a circular saw… I know everyone says “TABLE SAW!!” and lets assume it’s in my future, just not now.

If you could have only ONE, would it be a mitre (10” non-sliding) or circular (corded, 7 1/4”) and why? I won’t be doing panels, but like I mentioned, I could do small boxes like bird houses, keepsake boxes, etc, if possible. Which is more useful to a WOODWORKER (as opposed to carpenter/builder)?

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paxorion

1102 posts in 1508 days


#6 posted 05-05-2014 08:58 PM

I generalize tools into two different ways of thinking and suggestions for “new” power tool users:
  • Tools you take to the work – Safer when the work is “big-ish” –
    The circular saw is more the tool you take to the work, and there’s generally a size threshold where it can get a bit precarious to hold a small part that you want to cut.
  • Tools you take the work to – Safer when the work is “small-ish” – The miter saw would be more something you take the work to it, and I prefer to take the work to the tool when it’s smaller to safely (and accurately) cut.

Overall, I’d say the circular saw would be a better as there are many things you can do to make a circular saw more accurate and safer with jigs and creative ways of holding down the work. For example, before I started accumulating tools, I did all my rip and cross-cuts with my circular saw, using different techniques to hold down the work on my outdoor bench (with sacrificial top). I haven’t dared any “rip” cuts with my miter saw.

-- paxorion

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paxorion

1102 posts in 1508 days


#7 posted 05-05-2014 09:11 PM

I’ll also add another note, I’ve been far more successful in dialing in my Porter Cable circular saws (I have the PC13CSL and PC15TCSMK) to cut accurately (and I highly recommend a better one, with a cast shoe and arbor lock, lasers are useless) than my Skil miter saw.

-- paxorion

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firefighterontheside

13466 posts in 1319 days


#8 posted 05-05-2014 09:28 PM

If I could only have one it would be the circular saw. You can’t cut anything to width with the miter. You can make good square cuts with a circular saw and a square. Put a good blade on the circ saw, and have a cheaper one for construction type cutting. Look into sleds and what not for the circ saw.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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DustyCellist

71 posts in 992 days


#9 posted 05-05-2014 09:28 PM

So I don’t think I’ll ever be ripping 4×8 panels, but once I have a table saw, will a chop saw ever be used? I guess once I have a table saw neither would the circular saw… If that’s true, I’ll go with the cheaper (circular). Even for 4×4 I could cut as deep as the blade goes and do the rest by and (so it’s straight…).

When I put it in perspective, I’d rather have a circular saw AND a small router than just a mitre…

If that’s the case, the question remains: $40 Ryobi or $50 Ryobi with laser?

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firefighterontheside

13466 posts in 1319 days


#10 posted 05-05-2014 09:30 PM

Here’s one of my favorites.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/81555

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

7210 posts in 2838 days


#11 posted 05-05-2014 09:34 PM

Where are you? I’d definitely watch CL for a decent used full size cast iron contractor saw with a belt drive induction motor….a good TS is pretty versatile, and can be very accurate. They pop up pretty regularly around here in the $100 range.

I picked up a saw nearly identical to this one for $120 last fall….not common, but not rare:

It’s common to see saws like this for ~ $100…some might need some TLC, some don’t, but the potential is there for a fine saw.:


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

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firefighterontheside

13466 posts in 1319 days


#12 posted 05-05-2014 09:35 PM

I have all three and use all three a lot. Hard to cut 4×8 on the ts. Can’t crosscut long pieces on the ts. Do all my miters on the miter saw. But you gotta start somewhere.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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ChefHDAN

808 posts in 2312 days


#13 posted 05-05-2014 09:42 PM

Don’t waste your money on the laser, get a sheet of hardboard and make the cutting guides 100% more accurate for cutting than the laser. My first two tools were a 71/4 Makita circ I borrowed from my dad and a 9.6v skill drill, made a boatload of projects with just those two tools but don’t tell my wife, every tool I bought after those was definitely ESSENTIAL!!!

-- I've decided 1 mistake is really 2 opportunities to learn.. learn how to fix it... and learn how to not repeat it

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Shawn Masterson

1297 posts in 1411 days


#14 posted 05-05-2014 09:48 PM

you can do 10X more stuff with a good circular saw. I say good. I have never even looked at a circular saw that was less than $100. The Bosch CS20 is one of the best saws I have ever used. I have used tons of saws on the jobsite. Every contractor likes something different. This mikata is my second choice. They are tried, tested, and last for ever.

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firefighterontheside

13466 posts in 1319 days


#15 posted 05-05-2014 10:15 PM

+1 on the makita. I have it and it’s great. Never used the Bosch.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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