Shopping for a Table Saw

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Forum topic by bryandive posted 02-18-2015 07:21 PM 1115 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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3 posts in 613 days

02-18-2015 07:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw question general sawstop delta powermatic jet grizzly table saw

Hi everybody

I have been shopping around and researching table saws. I recently moved into a new house and have a host of projects that all require a table saw (in addition to always wanting one to expand my hobby). During my research I found this site and have read a lot of the threads. I have also read knotscott’s “The ABCs of Table Saws” and other information from him and other people here and around the net.

In part all of this information just makes it harder for me to really decide what I want and need. So, I would like to get some of your opinions on what I need.

To start here are some of the projects I am planning to do over the next few years:
build custom shelving units
install new hardwood floors
build a kitchen table
pedestals for washer and dryer
build a new deck
and the big one: build all new custom kitchen cabinets

shop setup:
my wood shop will be in my basement: it is a large unfinished basement with plenty of room for even the large cabinet saws so I am not worried about space constraints
I can run 240 volt single phase wiring to the saw if it is needed or even just better for the saw and I have 120V standard residential available as well
Budget wise I am not hung up on. The more expensive the saw the longer it will take me to save for it and the more delayed all my projects become but I want to make sure to get the saw I need.

Now I have read and now the old adage of buy the biggest and best you can afford and while there is truth to that I also know that there is such a thing as overkill. While the fanciest Delta Unisaw would absolutely do everything I need it to I think it may be more than I actually need. But I am not totally sure so that is why I am here to ask everyone here for their opinion.

some of the saws I have been looking at and my thoughts about them:

The first two I am using as kind of benchmarks so to speak. I know a portable unit is not really going to fit my need and since it will be setup in a shop I do not need to move it around much if at all anyway.

36-L352 Type 2
3 HP Motor 10 in. UNISAW® with 52 in. BIESEMEYER® Fence System

As mentioned above, now I know this saw would absolutely do everything I need, but is it overkill?

DELTA 10” Contractor Saw

will this size and style fit what I want to do, make kitchen cabinets? Reading everything and talking to people I think it will but I do not want to just think it will be sufficient and then go to make my cabinets and have the saw fall short. I rather spend a little extra and get what I need.

In comparison to the Delta 36-725 I looked at a Powermatic:

reading the specs between the Delta 36-725 and this Powermatic 64B I really cannot tell a difference, but the price for the Powermatic is $1000 more. What am I missing?

I have also looked at the larger Powermatic cabinet saws and have the same question as I do between the two Delta saws. Are the cabinet saws overkill?

Grizzly G0175P looked like a good option. It seems to be a solid saw with some advantages of a cabinet saw but not going all the way keeping the price a bit lower.

Steel City saws have been talked about and seem to have a good reputation. I do not really know enough to distinguish them between the other brands.

Then there is Jet, which also has a good reputation and seems to be another good option.

Then there is SawStop. I do like there blade stopping and retracting technology. I always practice safety but things can happen. While I do not currently have kids we are looking to and I would most likely be teaching my kids to use this saw someday. So this safety feature does interest me.

Now I have not decided on any of the saws and as I said, I cannot really tell the difference between a lot of them. Can anyone help guide me to a good saw that will meet my needs but not be overkill? If it is a saw that is not listed here then please let me know about it.

I am also willing to look at a saw and then get some aftermarket products in order to improve its performance so some options in that realm are also viable.

Thanks everyone, I appreciate the advice.

13 replies so far

View lepelerin's profile


471 posts in 1743 days

#1 posted 02-18-2015 07:48 PM

There are literally hundreds of posts in this forum answering your questions.
Any saw would allow you to built your do to list.
Buy the best you can afford, if sawstop is appealing to you for the safety feature and the quality of the machine (I do not own a sawstop, only a ridgid 4512), go for it. With my ridgid, so far I have been able to do whatever I needed.
Good luck and enjoy your new tool.

View exelectrician's profile


2327 posts in 1846 days

#2 posted 02-18-2015 08:20 PM

Many years ago I got a Ryobi BT3000, used, $150.00 thinking that I would upgrade to a Powermatic like my son-in-law has.
But as the years flew by, I have become more and more attached to my Ryobi. Now when I visit my son-in-law and do a few cuts on his ‘monster saw’ I am more and more thankful that I have kept my Ryobi.

Just one more thing for you to ponder…

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2794 days

#3 posted 02-18-2015 08:35 PM

The specs won’t tell you much. Better to compare features IMO.

The ABCs of Table Saws

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

View Richard H's profile

Richard H

483 posts in 1099 days

#4 posted 02-18-2015 08:37 PM

I have used a 1 1/2 HP contractor saw for many years since I first got into wood working and it will do everything you will probably want for a long time to come especially when paired with a decent bandsaw. A bigger saw means more power and the ability to cut larger pieces at higher feed rates which generally results in cleaner cuts with less burning but you can do it on the smaller saws as well. What I tend to do is use my table saw for pieces up to about 1 1/2” thick and use a bandsaw with fence for thicker pieces but I have also used a 5 HP cabinet saw that cut though 3” thick leg pieces like they where butter. The larger cabinet saws also have beefier parts, generally larger work tables, longer fences, are much heavier so tend to run with less vibration and have better dust collection.

I am not sure a cabinet saw is the best first saw unless you are really sure about doing this for a long time. A 10” 1 1/2 HP or so belt driven contractor saw with a 14” band saw mate might be a better option for now than you can trade up in the future if you really find you need the additional capacity.

View Ejsdad's profile


8 posts in 613 days

#5 posted 02-19-2015 01:42 AM

I am using the Porter Cable from Lowes. Bought for $299, and so far well pleased. I have a small shop so I needed to stay small with the tablesaw. Only problem is the insert, so I use painters tape on the left side. I also use a Shop Vac for dust collection.

View Deano56's profile


91 posts in 612 days

#6 posted 02-19-2015 02:27 AM

I too would go for the best you can afford, like a cabinet makers saw. It will do all you want and no need to upgrade. If it’s too heavy to move around then get a mobile base, the heavy cast iron top and metal base makes for a much smoother running saw. I would stick with a unisaw or a powermatic 10” saw for parts reasons with left hand tilt. I’ve seen them go for less than a 1000.00 for a nice clean one and down to 500.00 for a early Unisaw, right hand tilt though. I personally own a old Craftsman cabinet saw made in the 50’s and 60’s. This is the second one I have own and used the first one daily when I owned a small cabinet shop. I just purchased this one for 200.00 and it is tight and good shape, just dirty, not rusty. The choice is yours of course but, you won’t be sorry for buying something quality that can last your lifetime. There are other good older 10” saws that come along on CL but, any parts that break you will be going to a machine shop to get made.

-- Deano

View TheFridge's profile


5673 posts in 904 days

#7 posted 02-19-2015 02:47 AM

I just went from a solid craftsman 1 1/2 hp contractor saw with a sawstop tsa-pfa fence, to an old Rockwell unisaw with a 52” Biesemeyer fence. Huge difference. Especially handling sheets of ply.

A contractors saw didn’t have the heft and stability I wanted when building stuff out of sheet goods. Also, being able to rip a 2 1/2” piece of laminated hard maple with a full kerf blade with ease Is great. No riving knife sucks but I’ll make something eventually.

Edit: cabinet saws, especially when bought used, hold a good bit of their value. It’s really just matter of how well it’s been taken care of, the fence, and the motor.

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

View crank49's profile


3979 posts in 2389 days

#8 posted 02-19-2015 03:13 AM

If you ever think you will want to teach your kids to use the saw the Sawstop would be the way I would go for sure. If I could afford the Sawstop I would go with one for my own safety as well.

About the only bad move you could make in my opinion would be to a saw like the Ridgid 4512.
I say that because I have a tendancy to make that mistake myself.

I looked at portable saws and they have a range of prices from $125 to $600.
Then cabinet saws range from $1600 to $4000.
In between are the hybrids, ranging from $550 to $1500.

I went with the hybrid at the $550 end, thinking I had a saw similar to a real cabinet saw but at the price of some portables. The error of this logic is what I got was a very low end hybrid at the price of a top quality portable. The key words here are low end saw at high end price.

What I’m saying is don’t think a low price on a saw is always a bargian.
A hybrid would have been a good enough saw for my level of use. But I would have been much better served by $1000 to $1200 saw like a Grizzly near the top end of the hybrids.

-- Michael: Hillary has a long list of accomplishments, though most DAs would refer to them as felonies.

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2794 days

#9 posted 02-19-2015 09:13 PM

Still with us Bryan?

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

View Brian's profile


176 posts in 1450 days

#10 posted 02-19-2015 10:50 PM

I purchased the exact same Unisaw Type 2 that you mentioned in your post, and I must say, you will not be disappointed. I sold my Ridgid 4512 to purchase a Grizzly and sold the Grizzly to purchase the Delta. Every time has been a major upgrade. I’m sure there are better quality saws out there, but for the money, I couldn’t beat it. Home Depot had the Unisaw on sale last fall for around $2500. That’s a great price for 3hp and 52” rails.

-- “Always take a banana to a party, bananas are good!” - Tenth Doctor

View bryandive's profile


3 posts in 613 days

#11 posted 02-20-2015 02:57 AM

Yes, I am here.

I appreciate everybody’s feedback.

In the end it seems like the saws I have been looking at are pretty comparable and I cannot really go wrong from what everyone has said. That helps me a lot knowing I have been on the right track.

With some more reading I am leaning more towards the SawStop at this point. Main reason being that if I do not get that one and something happens now or 30 or 40+ years from know I will regret it, but if I get it and nothing ever happens in 100+ years I will not regret having spent the extra money

I am still debating over the 1 3/4 hp contractor saw versus the 3 hp cabinet saw. I get the buy the biggest you can afford but I am thinking the 3 hp is probably overkill.

From what I have read about them they seem to be well made and good saws. Does anyone have a reason on their performance that I should consider before buying? Or some reason I should not buy one based on its capabilities?

View knotscott's profile


7145 posts in 2794 days

#12 posted 02-20-2015 03:22 AM

I am still debating over the 1 3/4 hp contractor saw versus the 3 hp cabinet saw. I get the buy the biggest you can afford but I am thinking the 3 hp is probably overkill.

From what I have read about them they seem to be well made and good saws. Does anyone have a reason on their performance that I should consider before buying? Or some reason I should not buy one based on its capabilities?

- bryandive

The Saw Stop PCS 3hp is pretty comparably priced to other top tier cabinet saws in it’s price range, making the safety feature a much better bargain…almost a no brainer in the $3K range IMO. The Saw Stop contractor saw is a less expensive path to the safety feature, but runs ~ $800-$1000 more than comparable contractor saws, putting the safety feature at much more of a premium, while leaving you with quite a bit less saw than a non-SS $1700-$2000 saw would buy…it’s a good saw, but less saw than other comparably priced saws. (Odds are good you’d want to upgrade the fence and the wings, pushing it up to the $2K mark).

3hp might be overkill, but you’ll rarely read about extra power and capacity being a bad thing, and is a significantly better value IMO (~ $3K). It’s a better position to be in than not having enough power at times. Even the PCS 1.75hp is a better bang for the buck IMO (~ $2300 vs $2000). Just my 2 cents.

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

View bryandive's profile


3 posts in 613 days

#13 posted 02-20-2015 03:50 PM

thanks for the comparison Scott, it is definitely a good way to look at it.

I was definitely looking to upgrade to cast iron wings and upgrades fence with the 52” table

I think you are right that the cabinet saw is a better value for the cost.

Thanks to you and everyone else that responded I think I have narrowed it down to the SS cabinet saw. Hopefully in the next week or two I can get down to the dealer near here and take a look at it (still going to look at the contractor saw too at least for comparison).

Thanks again

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