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Forum topic by Hinge posted 09-08-2014 03:49 PM 1879 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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79 posts in 1108 days

09-08-2014 03:49 PM

Just starting out and can’t decide whether to buy a contractor saw or go all out and get a cabinet saw. Did a lot of research and I’m still confused. I will be building small stuff to start. Toys for my kids and nephews and nieces. I’m a single mom so I don’t have someone to help me with the decision.

-- The Jesus is my Savior

37 replies so far

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3068 days

#1 posted 09-08-2014 04:02 PM

A cabinet saw is a nice tool and weighs about
400 lbs. A contractor saw is 200lb and up so
they are both somewhat of a hassle for one
person to move around.

If you have 220v or are willing to put it in you’d
probably need that to get a big benefit from
a cabinet saw. The 3hp ones have a lot more
power than 110v contractor saws.

For working thicker woods a cabinet saw is
more pleasant to work with and gets the
job done quicker.

Both are good choices really. You’d need
some sort of outfeed support for either to
cut larger pieces of sheet board accurately.
Cabinet saws are easier to set up with
outfeed tables because the motor isn’t
hanging out the back. There are flip-up
outfeed table designs that attach to the
back of the saw and save a lot of space when
folded down. You can’t use them with
a contractor saw due to the motor position.

View ChrisK's profile


1794 posts in 2501 days

#2 posted 09-08-2014 04:15 PM

I have been using a Craftsman 1-1/2 HP Contractors saw with thin kerf blades for about 15 years now. When it is tuned it will cut 1-1/2” oak with out too much fuss. You need to go slow. If you are going to do a lot of ripping of thick hardwoods, 3hp is the only way to go. For Pine, mdf and 3/4” hardwoods I use a Freud thin kerf rip blade and make sure the fence is parallel to the blade.

I have my saw wired for 220V to help when I am cutting thick or wet wood. I also like the fact that if I had to get the saw out the shop I can do it my slef.

Like Loren said, a good run out table is a real plus. There are lots of examples here to look at. Do not do what I did and make the top from 1/2 ply and 1/2 MDF, the one corner twists up. Use 3/4 for both. I use a sliding compound radial saw for most of cross cuts. I have 12” because it was only $350 at a Sears clearance/refurb table. i would recommend looking the table saw and SCRS as a combo if you can go the extra cost.

-- Chris K

View bonesbr549's profile


1137 posts in 2487 days

#3 posted 09-08-2014 04:34 PM

As someone who’s had about all types there are except a slidder, I’d say if you can do 220V go with a 3hp CS. the foot print is not that big a difference and the table/fence options are so much better. Can you work with a contractor saw, yes, but if you have used both no question Cabinet saw. If budget is a concern, and Old american Delta or PM66 will be good units. I had a griz1023 for 10 years that was very good. If safety is a concern. Save your $$ and get the sawstop. JM2CW

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3842 posts in 1913 days

#4 posted 09-08-2014 04:49 PM

There are a lot of shops that have never had anything but a contractors saw, and they are doing mighty nice work. I went from a contractors to a cabinet saw and didn’t really see anything different due to the saws. True enough, with more power and weight the cabinet saw is a nice tool….but don’t let anybody tell you that the better contractors saws can’t do what you need. They do have a bigger footprint, with the motor hanging out back….and dust collection is a little harder to do with one. It was mentioned above, you would need 240V service for a cabinet saw. But truthfully, you won’t lose with either one.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View CharlesA's profile


2973 posts in 1217 days

#5 posted 09-08-2014 04:52 PM


If it is the same motor, I didn’t think 110v or 220v matters (volts and amps in inverse relationship).

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View lndfilwiz's profile


88 posts in 1020 days

#6 posted 09-08-2014 05:49 PM

I bought the one at the following link about 4 years ago. I love it. It has a router table set up with the saw. Keep your eyes open for sales. I bought mine with a coupon and a sale and saved $100.

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View JuniorJoiner's profile


463 posts in 2860 days

#7 posted 09-08-2014 05:59 PM

is everything u envision to create going to be square and made out of sheet goods? if not, seriously consider a small bandsaw instead. smaller footprint, and cuts wood just fine. no kickback, and can cut curves.
i rarely use my tablesaw, but i use my bandsaw everyday.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

483 posts in 1100 days

#8 posted 09-08-2014 06:29 PM

I have owned a Delta 1.5HP contractor saw for 15 or so years now and I find 95% of the time it works great for what I need. Not all contractor saws are made the same however and I consider the older Delta’s to be top of the line when it comes to contractor saws. A few things that do make me consider upgrading are I would like a riving knife and better blade guard than I currently have as my guard spends most of it’s life sitting on the floor instead of on the saw because of how much of a hassle it is to use and a little more power when pushing though thick/hard wood would be nice although a bandsaw is a good option there to. When I do finally replace this saw it will be with a cabinet saw wired to a dedicated 220 circuit and the thing will have a dedicated spot in my shop to sit. A lot of other things need to happen before I can do that so for now I’m happy with the saw I have.

One thing to consider is even if you need a table saw at all. I find a table saw is great when handling sheet goods (plywood) and excels at ripping long pieces down but when dealing with smaller work pieces I really like my bandsaw a lot of the time. I find it is safer on smaller pieces, can cut curves as well as straight lines which a table saw can’t do and gives you more fine control over your work piece. I am fortunate to have both but if I could only have one I’m not sure I do enough work with large pieces or sheet goods to be worth giving up a bandsaw over.

View Woodbum's profile


716 posts in 2485 days

#9 posted 09-08-2014 06:31 PM

If I were starting out again, and not sure if the bite of the woodworking bug would stay with me, I would invest in a new or very good used 10” stationary floor model contractors saw instead of diving in with both feet on a cabinet saw; though I would recommend buying new. I would buy one that has some stability too. I do not like working on those saws with a fold up stand on wheels. Too tippy for me. I started with an 8” B and D direct drive saw that lasted for about 2 months, and then I bought a 10” cast iron Craftsman that I used and upgraded and used some more for about 25 years. Then I bought a new Griz 1023 cabinet saw when I was financially better suited. A good contractors saw will do everything that you want done in the beginning if properly set up and with a few basic up fits. A thin kerf blade for more efficient cutting. A good after market miter gauge for more accurate crosscutting, and maybe even an up fit fence after a while. A good crosscutting sled is a necessity IMHO if you are going to be cutting a lot of small stuff. Your table saw will most likely become the center of your shop, so take it slow, and learn to use it as well as you can, and then when you are ready, you can always move up, and take your up fit accessories with you to the new saw. These thoughts are only MHO, but this path worked for me in the past 30 years and come from my individual frame of reference. ( You don’t have to wait 25 years to upgrade, as I did. I am kind of a cheap skate who likes to wring every dime out of my major purchases. My wife said I got my money’s worth out of the Craftsman and stop being so tight) Finally, buy some hearing protection, safety glasses and a good dust mask or respirator too. Have fun and work safely!

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View ChrisK's profile


1794 posts in 2501 days

#10 posted 09-08-2014 06:37 PM


It matters with longer runs of wire and the full load amps of the motor. When running at 220 the FLA is half, so less voltage drop along the wires to the saw. When all you have is 1-1/2 HP why loose a few ponies to wasted heat in the wire instead of making saw dust?

-- Chris K

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2795 days

#11 posted 09-08-2014 07:57 PM

This might help… The ABCs of Table Saws

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

View retfr8flyr's profile


327 posts in 1089 days

#12 posted 09-08-2014 08:46 PM

I have to agree with junior, if you are only planning on making small pieces and toys, you would be much better off getting a good band saw and maybe a scroll saw to go with it.

-- Earl

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


392 posts in 2441 days

#13 posted 09-09-2014 12:21 AM

What’s the nature of your shop space? I’ve used a Ridgid contractor saw for years and it has done me good service. I bought it years ago because (1) I got a great deal on a close-out new saw, and (2) for years I had to work out of a garage or other shared shop space that forced me to pull tools out and put them away at the end of the day. That was easier with a contractor saw. The Ridgid (and some other contractor saws) can be wired for either 110 or 220V. If you go the contractor saw route, make sure you get one with an arbor that will allow a stacked dado set and has standard miter slots (as opposed to the smaller T-slots on some of the saws).

Today I have a dedicated basement shop and would probably buy a cabinet saw if I needed a saw today. Cabinet saws tend to be quieter, run smoother, are easier to adjust/align, and offer better dust collection.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5300 posts in 3132 days

#14 posted 09-09-2014 12:52 AM

A couple of folks have already mentioned a bandsaw and I can agree with that, if all you are making is small stuff have you considered handsaws? They can often be faster than it would be to set up and cut on a table saw, they are also much quieter so if you want the wee ones close by they can be in the same room and not risk their hearing. Letting them saw is far safer with a handsaw than a table saw (early on). My son can cut a straight line with a handsaw but there is no way he is getting near my table saw…at least until his head is higher than than the top LOL! There is also something in having the kids see you build something with out all the screaming from the power tools. I’m not knocking power tools at all but this may be an opportunity that hand tools can capitalize on better than power tools. I recently have found myself single parenting and although I am taking solace in my woodworking I also invite my kids in to my shop and I think the act of planning; measuring; dimensioning and joinery are times we are using to bond and perhaps heal somewhat. We have spent some great times with hand plane curlings piling up around our feet and the smell of fresh cut wood in the air….making memories as well as projects.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2795 days

#15 posted 09-09-2014 01:04 AM

It’s important to point out that a bandsaw leaves a much rougher surface than most table saws that will need to be smoothed somehow. The BS also tends to be a bit less accurate, but can certainly be a viable option depending on the saw and the objective.

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

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