What could you do with a contractors Table Saw?

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Forum topic by Scootles posted 05-30-2014 03:23 PM 2213 views 0 times favorited 52 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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153 posts in 1882 days

05-30-2014 03:23 PM


Well, it works. It ‘cuts’. What can I do to make it ‘feel safer’? I’m going to be starting to do some precision cuts with it and quite honestly, its a bit scary. It doesn’t have the solid feel of a real table saw and right now I can’t even pretend to afford a real table saw. I’m going to be cutting some 1/8” thick walnut strips and the saw just feels like its about to lunge at me and attack. A ‘real’ table saw is heavy and vibrations don’t transfer throughout it like this saw does. I have spent quite a while on a real table saw and am very comfortable with it. This saw however, not so much. But I don’t have any choice. If I want to build stuff… this is what I have to use.


52 replies so far

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2297 posts in 2337 days

#1 posted 05-30-2014 03:29 PM

What do you have the saw on while using it? Perhaps some of the issues you mention result from it not being solidly secured to something solid. I have a contractors saw (Bosch 4100) and have cut thin strips no problem. I’d recommend spending some time making zero-clearance inserts and a thin-rip jig. How old is your saw? Are you sure that it isn’t defective? It’s not a cabinet saw, but at the same time, it should be unsafe or scary to operate.

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

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 1882 days

#2 posted 05-30-2014 03:38 PM

The table is only about 3 months old. Its on an old desk that I built that is very stable and sturdy. I was trying to make skids for sleds for the table saw last night and it was a scary process. I’m sure after I get used to using it, it won’t be a problem… but I’m so used to a cabinet saw.

As for making zero clearance inserts… I don’t have any way to really do that. I don’t have a bandsaw… or a thickness planer… I’m very limited on what I can work with. If I knew someone in the area with the right tools maybe they’d be able to help, but i’m on my own out here! New to the area!

View ras61's profile


92 posts in 1488 days

#3 posted 05-30-2014 03:48 PM

Does the vibration happen when it’s running with no load or while cutting? If the latter, does it have a quality blade or the one it came with? The stock blades are often garbage.

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

View j_dubb's profile


196 posts in 1776 days

#4 posted 05-30-2014 03:54 PM

I just put a diablo blade on my 10” skils table saw (model 3310) after having used the general purpose blade that came with the saw since I purchased it. The difference is like night and day with the cutting.

Unfortunately the saw, in general, is a piece of cheap crap. I went to make a sled for it. Used a dremel to get rid of the guides in the proprietary miter slots. Fired it up to cut some rails for the bottom of the sled. Cut a 2’ strip. One end was .693. The other end was .730.

I used a pretty thin piece of stock to begin with, so perhaps that’s part of the problem. Going to give it another shot in the coming days.

-- Josh // "If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." - Jack Handey

View Scootles's profile


153 posts in 1882 days

#5 posted 05-30-2014 03:54 PM

I am using the blade that came with it. Unfortunately I am very tight on funds and haven’t been able to upgrade. I’m looking at getting more tools so I can start making some money with this, but right now with just a table saw, you can’t make much money.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5623 posts in 2781 days

#6 posted 05-30-2014 04:01 PM

Three things from my experience with portable saws come to mind.
1. Secure the saw to a workbench. This not only prevents the saw from tipping, but it also raises it to a comfortable working height.
2. Build an outfeed support. At minimum an outfeed roller, but better yet a melamine shelf.
3. Replace the factory blade with a thin kerf ripping blade. The Freud Diablo 24 tooth thin kerf is available at Home Depot, and is inexpensive. It has great anti-kickback features, and will make your saw feel more powerful.

Good luck with it.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View Rob's profile


704 posts in 3038 days

#7 posted 05-30-2014 04:32 PM

Everyone else has already given some great tips (especially about getting a better blade), but I’ve got a couple more.

I learned a really slick trick for a zero-clearance insert from Doug Stowe at Weekend with WOOD a few weeks ago.

Lower the blade, clamp a piece of plywood over the top of your table saw, turn on the saw, and slowly raise the blade. Instant zero-clearance tabletop.

Another thing you can do to improve the safety is to make a sled that rides in your miter slots (for crosscuts or short rips) or a jig that straddles your fence.

Also, regarding the money issue, unless you have 10 grand or more right now to spend on tools and training, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’ll buy more tools and magically you’ll start making money from your woodworking. Maybe some of the others here will prove me wrong, but I get the distinct impression that very few woodworkers earn a living or even pay for their tools directly by making things from wood. Most are lucky to pay for their materials and don’t get much on top of that. Professional woodworkers who do make a living from woodworking either seem to do custom cabinets or they actually make their living by teaching woodworking. A few might make high-end art and furniture, but I would assume you have to build several such projects for your portfolio before any potential high-end customers will even begin to approach you.

I’d highly recommend joining your local woodworkers club (if you have one) and attending as many local woodworking events as you can.

-- Ask an expert or be the expert -

View MrKnowItAll's profile


20 posts in 1442 days

#8 posted 05-30-2014 04:33 PM

step one: find your receipt
step two: drive to Home Depot

-- -because I said so, that's why

View Woodknack's profile


11483 posts in 2347 days

#9 posted 05-30-2014 08:23 PM

I’m being pedantic but a contractor saw is pulley driven and usually has an external motor. The Dewalt is a benchtop or jobsite saw, basically a table with an upside down hand held circular saw. The universal motor will run at high rpm and be very loud. They excel at being portable and rough cutting framing lumber, also removing fingers. I would take it back and look very hard for an older used Craftsman contractor saw.

-- Rick M,

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1562 days

#10 posted 05-30-2014 08:37 PM

1. Weight/ stability – Attach it to a bench or make a stand(heavy) specifically for the saw.
2. Table size – Someone already mentioned this. Might need to fashion your own fence. If so look up homemade table saw for ideas.

Those are the two cheapest/easiest ways to improve that saw.

View ras61's profile


92 posts in 1488 days

#11 posted 05-31-2014 02:59 AM

Rick makes some very good points about portable saws, and maybe that’s the OP’s biggest problem having been “spoiled” by cabinet saws. I have a comparable Bosch portable saw, and it has never limited what I wanted to do, it just wasn’t as easy or enjoyable. It’s kind of like comparing an old pick-up truck to a Ferrari, they’ll both get you from point A to B, but the ride getting there is two completely different experiences.

-- "South Carolina is too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum" - James L. Petigru, 1860

View derosa's profile


1572 posts in 2803 days

#12 posted 05-31-2014 03:41 AM

The motor noise alone made my first saw, a craftsman contractors saw, seem a lot more frightening then my Hitachi which is a hybrid style. That noise coupled with the blade spinning just seemed to make it more dangerous feeling.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View ColonelTravis's profile


1756 posts in 1861 days

#13 posted 05-31-2014 03:42 AM

The biggest hangup for me with those kinds of saws is not safety but the fence. They drive me nuts, although what you have isn’t a complete POS, I think yours has the best fence of that class of saw. Like ras61 said, you can do a lot with it. You won’t be filled with unbounded joy, but that’s not going to stop you from working (unless you’re so ticked off that you just can’t deal with it.)

Based on what you’ve said, you’ve only got two choices:

1.) Sell it.
2.) Use it.

Check out people here who’ve built cabinets around their jobsite saws. Some are impressive, and it would cut down on the rattle. Go get a better blade. Or go to craigslist. Or get a hand saw. Ain’t much else left.

View bandit571's profile


19749 posts in 2651 days

#14 posted 05-31-2014 04:15 AM

While I doubt this is the saw they are talking about

a made in USA Emerson 10” Contractors saw. The pole barn where this sits also has a Screaming Dewalt Jobsite saw, with it’s stand. LOUDER than my Craftsman, by a ton! However, neither seem to jump at anybody. Dewalt does start up with a “bang” and vibrates like crazy. Fence was a POS. Even the Craftsman was better!

Get a sheet of 3/4” plywood, does not have to be anything but the cheapest at BORG, and pick up a few 2×4s. Build a stand to sit the portable saw on, and bolt it down. Why a full sheet? You will be adding a bottom shelf to the stand. Then buy four bags or so of “Play sand” ( sand box sand) and lay on that shelf. I doubt IF the saw will hop around much after that.

In my projects photos, you will find a project for a tablesaw fence. Uses a cleat to ride on the old fence’s rails, a Triangle of plywood ( scraps from the stand build) with a deadnuts square corner, and the long side dead straight. A 1×2, and some screws. Lay the triangle along side a mitergauge slot. Clamp the cleat in place. While the two are clamped up, flip the two over, and screw them together. The 1×2 is then screwed to the long side, following the straightedged end of the plywood. To use the new fence, measure where the cut will be, clamp the fence to the rail with two c clamps. Double check the cut is right, and saw away. Mostly scrap woods, the cleat should be a hardwood like oak. Cleat does not have to be exact thickness, a little thick won’t hurt. Too thin more be a bad idea, as the far end would rise up. Get it as close as you can.

In the years before I bought the Craftsman ( new, $400) it was either a circular saw, or an older 8” universal motored table saw, with the arbor being the motor shaft, no less. Used that Craftsman for over 30 years, and it is still going good.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View bandit571's profile


19749 posts in 2651 days

#15 posted 05-31-2014 04:20 AM

Op: Yep, that saw looks like the Screamin Demon Dewalt. The one out at the pole barn shop, came with a steel tube stand…...

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

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