Hand rip boards or use a table saw?

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Forum topic by LucasWoods posted 02-18-2015 05:04 PM 2369 views 0 times favorited 53 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View LucasWoods's profile


190 posts in 755 days

02-18-2015 05:04 PM

So I have a delema. I would like to stick with hand tools to build all my projects but I also do not have the most time in the world. I have 2 kids, getting my BA and work for the Air Force. My question is would getting a table saw that I would mainly use to crosscut and rip boards down really increase my efficiency to make it worth it.

Note: I do like hand tools for the fact that my daughter can walk into the garage and I don’t necessarily have to worry that she will cut an arm off.

-- Colorado Springs, CO

53 replies so far

View Jesse's profile


58 posts in 1048 days

#1 posted 02-18-2015 05:19 PM

It is worth the money in my opinion. If a table saw allows you to save enough time that you stay interested and involved in wood working then go for it! If space is a concern and all you want is to rip boards, a bandsaw with a good blade and fence could do that as well, also can resaw thick boards for you. Not as traditional as a handsaw but my table saw is my favorite station in my shop. Tons of options as far as style and brand also so do your research and find one you will be happy with.

View albachippie's profile


757 posts in 2457 days

#2 posted 02-18-2015 05:22 PM

She could still easily cut her arm off with a hand tool! If safety is your only concern, I would get a table saw and put some safety rules in place around it. If on the other hand you are a traditionalist, well, hand saw it is. But, a table saw will allow you to spend far more time hand jointing, mortising, smoothing, sanding etc by hand. The roughing out is what takes the most time.

Just my tuppence worth!


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland -

View MT_Stringer's profile


2820 posts in 2653 days

#3 posted 02-18-2015 05:24 PM

Most power tools have safety devices so you can disable the on/off switch. On some, you merely remove a little piece of the switch. On others, a provision has been made for a lockout device.

Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View MrUnix's profile


4032 posts in 1621 days

#4 posted 02-18-2015 05:28 PM

My question is would getting a table saw that I would mainly use to crosscut and rip boards down really increase my efficiency to make it worth it.

As for increasing efficiency, of course it would.. you could rip dozens of boards in the time it would take you to do one with a hand saw.. that is what they were invented for! If a table saw or (other type saw as Jesse mentioned) is ‘worth it’ to you… that is something that YOU need to decide for yourself and your own criteria (time, cost, space, safety, etc…). If it’s just a question of efficiency, that answer is obvious.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

View LucasWoods's profile


190 posts in 755 days

#5 posted 02-18-2015 05:31 PM

Ok now the question is do I really need a $500 saw if I am solely going to just use it to do rips and cross cuts? Maybe some miter. If I can get away with a used craftsmen table saw in the $150-200 range that would be great or what would you recommend?

-- Colorado Springs, CO

View agallant's profile


520 posts in 2308 days

#6 posted 02-18-2015 05:41 PM

Like someone else has said there are ways of disabling it. Mine has a key, some of my other tools have a plastic clip that can be removed. If you do get a table saw it is one of the most usefull tools in the shop and you can do allot more with it than rip boards. If you are really worried take the blade out when not in use.

View MrFid's profile


793 posts in 1326 days

#7 posted 02-18-2015 05:59 PM

If all you plan on doing with the saw is simple rips and crosscuts, you should be fine with a smaller saw, depending on the type of wood you are cutting. The reasons for a bigger saw over a smaller one that I can see are as follows:

- Bigger work surface, especially in front of the blade. This is more important than you might realize.
- More stable/ less vibration during use.
- Capacity to cut dados. Some smaller saws still have this.
- More accurate. This can be improved on a small saw with a good setup/tuneup, good blade, good fence, good crosscut sled, etc.
- More power to cut through thicker/harder wood easier/faster. Cutting through 12/4 hard maple for feet at a time is not fun on a small saw.

If those things do not matter to you, then the small saw is the way to go for saving some money. Definitely used is better for saving money than new.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 2739 days

#8 posted 02-18-2015 06:03 PM

I think it all depends on how much sawing you do.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View agallant's profile


520 posts in 2308 days

#9 posted 02-18-2015 06:05 PM

View Tim's profile


3032 posts in 1383 days

#10 posted 02-18-2015 06:28 PM

It depends on what you’re woodworking for. You say you want to stick to hand tools and if you’re woodworking purely as a hobby you could certainly stick to using a hand saw. I do and it works fine, but I don’t turn out a lot of projects with the little time I have available. Most of my time goes into practicing skills and making tools so far, but I’m having lots of fun and enjoying the time I get. But if your goal is to complete as many furniture projects for the house in the little amount of time you have available then that’s a different story. Power tools win by a mile for efficiency especially when doing the same thing over and over. You can of course go hybrid and do both. Get some power tools for rough stock prep to save lots of time and then hand tools for the rest, whatever you enjoy the most. Do you have access to an on base shop or anything like that?

I know the most common advice is to make a table saw the center of your shop but there are other ways to go instead.

View theoldfart's profile


7936 posts in 1873 days

#11 posted 02-18-2015 06:39 PM

I do mostly hand ripping. If I need speed I use my band saw and extra stands, just don’t like table saws.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

View pjr1's profile


26 posts in 636 days

#12 posted 02-18-2015 06:43 PM

No reason to restrict yourself to one or the other. When I feel the need to go traditional I do it and if I want to speed things up I break out the power tools.

View Rivercitykenb's profile


25 posts in 638 days

#13 posted 02-18-2015 06:59 PM

Depending how old your daughter is you could simply lower the blade below the table surface as well. Then in order to cut herself she would have to raise the blade and turn the saw on. Take in mind this advice is coming from someone with no kids, So clearly this is expert advice.

View Woodbum's profile


717 posts in 2487 days

#14 posted 02-18-2015 08:16 PM

Even most of the pros use power tools for the ‘heavy lifting” work and then finish with hand tools. As Graham Blackburne stated, it is the only way that he can make money in today’s market. IMHO limiting yourself to either power or hand tools is kind of silly. Most woodworkers today are ‘Hybrid woodworkers”. They use the tools that are most appropriate and functional for the task at hand. Multi routers and CNC machines are upping the game even more. As I have opined many times, if the old masters of the 16th thru the early 20th centuries would have had access to modern power tools, would they have said “hell no, I’m not going to use them; I am a purist”? Maybe so, but I think not. Use what you need, can afford, and feel the most comfortable with. The dilemma that you speak of can be mitigated somewhat by proper training for your daughter and a no wavering set of rules for everyone to follow when in the shop. I am the only person to use my shop, or even enter it, and I lower blades, release tension on other blades; remove cutters and bits and lock fences over bits when I leave the shop for the day. I want no “statistics” coming out of my shop. Have fun and work safely. Thanks for your service in the USAF. I for one appreciate it!

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

View JADobson's profile


656 posts in 1533 days

#15 posted 02-18-2015 08:31 PM

She could still easily cut her arm off with a hand tool!

Ha, not likely. She might cut herself, even badly, but there is no way she’s taking off an arm. What are you using? A guillotine?

Woodbum, I have no doubt that the old masters would be using power tools if they had them. Some of us, however, are just hobbyists and aren’t worried about making money. From what it sounds like the OP is in that situation so the efficiency of a machine isn’t as necessary. As for pros using all hand tools, check out Tom Fidgen. The guy does everything by hand, including sawing veneers and making his own plywoods. Pretty amazing.

-- James

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