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Tablesaw talk

jwmay

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Hello all,

I have an older Dewalt jobsite tablesaw, which I saved from a dumpster and spent too much repairing. I’ve always wanted a “good” tablesaw, but have only ever used this jobsite saw. My main hangup with it is...well everything, but it does cut sheet goods fairly well. Regardless, my Dad picked up an even older Craftsman saw that I guessed to be a little lower quality than my Dewalt. But after having used it, I came away thinking my own saw wasn’t nearly as smooth, or well made.

My purpose for a tablesaw has been primarily to rip sheet goods. But what I’d like to do is make my own Gerstner style chests, indestructible tv stands, bookshelves, tool partitions for drawers, and other easily purchasable and often particleboard or plastic utility items.

I’ve found that heavy cast iron tablesaws are fairly affordable if they happen to be a little ugly.

All this nonsense typed, so that I could ask before I continue to dress up this Dewalt, “ should I cut bait, and start looking for a mid grade hybrid tablesaw?”

In your experience, have you made this switch, and been overwhelmingly satisfied with your decision?

Finally, if you don’t want to recommend a specific saw, would you give me your own short list of “must haves” when it came to the tablesaw you are using?
 

Cadillac

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I second a cabinet style saw no comparison to a contractor style saw. Having a nice stable platform when maneuvering sheets across the top makes a difference. More horsepower, dust control. Having a outfeed table is nice but I use rollers for space savings. When not in use it doubles as a tabletop for my carbide grinder and portaband saw.
 

DavidR8

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+1 for the cabinet saw. I went from an circa 1950's 8" Beaver tablesaw to a circa 70's 9" Beaver saw to a 1965 Delta Unisaw.
Let's just say running the Unisaw compared the the 8" is the difference between a limousine and a tricycle :)

Look for a used saw. There are lots of decent used saws out there. I snagged my Unisaw for $200 from a commercial sign shop that had to get rid of it because it has no guards.

Unisaw.jpg

I replaced the Unifence with a Beis clone, sold the Unifence and came out cost neutral :)
 

Martin W

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I have been a cabinet maker for 35 years. Used a lot of table saws. If all you have is a job site saw, build yourself a table around it for stability for cutting sheets. Make a sled for cross cutting that runs in the mitre gauge slots. Keep your blades nice and sharp. You can do a lot with a crappy saw and a router and belt sander, just takes time and patience. Watch craigslist for a cabinet saw, Rockwell or Delta Unisaw with a Unifence. They are going for $700-1200 dollars for a decent used one here in Ontario. Probably cheaper in the US, considering our dollar.
If you plan on using a dado set or heavy ripping , best be looking to upgrade
Cabinet saws have after market sliding tables that can be added Excalibur’s is one. Make it safer for cross cutting.

I used a Craftsman 10” and a Delta Unisaw for years and made money. Now I have a Altendorf F45 10’ slider . This is 30 years out of date now as most shops have CNC routers to cut parts now. I just can’t justify spending 150 grand this late in my career.
Hope I wasn’t too long winded
Cheers
Martin
 

bill70j

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Agree with others. A jobsite contractor saw probably won't offer the stability and rigidity you are looking for.

But you are probably talking big money for a quality cabinet saw. A good alternative, especially for your needs would be a hybrid.

Though they stopped making it, Dewalt produced a very high quality hybrid (DW746) which I purchased years ago. It has done a good job for me, all the way from making shop cabinets to furniture to machinists' chests to small box-joint boxes for measurement tools. Sufficient power and meeting cut specs has never been a problem.

So if I were you, I would try to find a quality hybrid (the DW746 if you can find one). You can probably get the accompanying cast sliding table, build your own side and outfeed tables, and retrofit the saw for dust control.

Desirables:
  1. Enough power to rip thick boards
  2. A design that will allow you to retrofit for dust control
  3. Nicely machined table and table mitre slots
  4. A good fence. Doesn't have to be a high-bucks aftermarket - but you want it to be accurate and repeatable
  5. Stout legs that will allow you to secure it to the floor for rigidity
Nice to have: Heavy cast sliding table
 
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Logan 400

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I had the same problem a few years ago. I found an old walker Turner saw and built a fence and a table so I could rip 4x8 sheets without help. This is the saw and fence before the table.
IMG_20111115_183429.jpg IMG_20111115_193219.jpg
 

GL

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I have an "old school" contractor Craftsman. Cast iron table and wings - not portable, other than in the military sense (add enough handles to a tank and it's "portable"). Decent Craftsman rip fence, not a Bessmeyer, but way better than the original POS. 2hp, belt drive. I added an out feed table, but use rollers also. See them used fairly often for $150. As a stationary tool, easily 10x better than the current breed of portable table saws. If I was using it more would definitely look for a used cabinet saw (I lust, but haven't gotten there yet). The current contractor saws seem to fall into the "better than nothing" category, marginally better than mounting a circular saw under a table with a slot to extend the blade through. Why they are so expensive is beyond me (most are more than I paid for my saw, 25 years ago - damn starting to sound old now). As others have said, buy some cast iron - gravity will reward you with stability, durability, and pleasure ( nothing worse than fighting tools). Mine is 110v, I suspect 220v would be nicer yet.
 

gr8legs

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I have a Delta Rockwell Unisaw and using it for cutting sheet goods is really awkward unless you have a full size table to handle both infeed and outfeed. Big.

Another option is a vertical panel saw. You aren't wrestling full size sheets through the saw, you move the sheet goods onto the saw frame and then just move the saw - about the size of a Skilsaw. The panel saw has counterbalances for the weight of the saw and makes crosscuts and rip cuts very easy.

Just another option suggestion. They turn up regularly on craigslist for about the price of a good table saw. PanelSaw_2.jpg PanelSaw_1.jpg
 

dbq49

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The Craftsman table saw I got for graduation from college is still in the basement. Started a remodeling business and got a Delta contractors saw. Nice cast iron top for stability and put wheel barrow wheels on it to make it portable out of the pickup back. Still needed a ramp to get it out of the truck and then it had to sit out side because of not being able to take it up stairs and such. Finally settled on a Makita 8" portable saw and had to make an add on table top to get the table top to 24" wide to rip sheet goods. I can carry it anywhere. I build a panel saw like above and it sat around for years. I agree with sliding tables and outfeed tables to make life safe. Free hand cuts are not YOUR friend.
 

MikeInOr

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For cutting down full sheets you might want to consider a track saw. A track saw is much easier for cutting down large sheets and makes very acurate and clean cuts... better than I can do pushing a full sheet through my cabinet saw by myself without someone to help.

Festool is kind of the original track saw and one of the most popular. I like the Makita track saw... which can run on a Festool track.

A track saw can't cut dados, rabbits or tennons like a table saw can so it is kind of nice to have both. I prefer the left hand blade tilt of my Powermatic cabinet saws over Delta's right hand blade tilt... but this is just personal preference and has a lot to do with what you are used to. A good fence almost makes more of a difference than a good saw. The beseymer T square style fences are great for setting really accurate cuts really quick. On occasion it is nice to have a fence that locks on the rear as well as the front... but the T square type would probably be my first choice.

Since you already have a usable table saw you might consider purchasing a track saw before investing in a cabinet saw.
 
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jwmay

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Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the thoughts and ideas.
 

Eddyde

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I was in the custom cabinet/millwork and general construction/carpentry business for over 30 years. I agree with all those above recommending a proper cabinet saw with T square (Bessmeyer) style fence. Nothing beats cast-iron for sucking up saw blade and motor vibrations. Try to get at least a true 2 hp motor, Yes this will mean 220v but it's worth it.
No blade does it all, get at least, a ripping blade for ripping solid hardwood and a good veneer plywood blade, if you plan on cutting a lot of particle board/melamine get a separate blade for that as it will murder your plywood blade. Keep em sharp, it's a good idea to get a pair of your most used blades so one can be sent out for sharpening with out shutting you down. You don't need to spring $200 apiece for industrial blades but stay away from the big box store, "blister pack" blade specials.
Above all, work safe.
 

Winegrower

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A couple years ago, after a few decades of working with a small portable table saw, I bought a Powermatic PM2000 with the big table extension and a built in router lift. Wow, this is a huge step up for both saw and router work. I am really pleased with the Freud glue-line rip blade, their “dial-a-width” dado set, and how easy it is to use the router lift...literally work in a few thousandths or less. The dado adjusts in .004” per click. And I added a Wixey digital readout to the saw fence, as I’ve done to the planer too. And a crosscut sled is far more precise than my miter saw.

This moves woodworking closer to metal working. I suppose that is either appealing or not, depending on your interests.

Now I can make cuts that are precisely one inch too short. :)
 

JohnG

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I've had a Beach table saw since about 1982. This is a factory saw, built like a machine tool. I still enjoy working with a small cabinet saw which several writers have recommended. They compare favorably to a larger industrial saw so long as you aren't ripping a lot of 8/4 hardwood. I find a jobsite saw unnerving for any job due to the vibration. Weight and stability are all important in a saw both for accuracy and safety in my opinion.
 

Choiliefan

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I have 3-phase Delta Unisaw and 16" RAS under tarps outside because there's no room for them in the shop.
Inside there's an older Ryobi BT3100 which has a sliding table for cross-cutting and an exceptionally well-designed fence. Its accurate for the small things I make but a wobble-type dado blade shakes the heck out of it.
If you can't afford or have the space for an Oliver or Tannewitz, get a Unisaw and live happily ever after.
 

ErichKeane

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The Powermatic 66 is IMO the best tablesaw ever made. I've heard that the PM2000 is a good successor to it. I had a 3 HP (3 phase) that could take on anything I threw at it. I had a Biesmeyer style fence (which is an absolute necessity!). The Unisaw is also quite nice, but I am not a big fan of the Unifence that these come with.

I ended up selling my PM66 for a song/dance and "upgraded" to a 5hp Sawstop ICS for the safety feature (having a new baby + an accident changed what I value). The 3 HP PM66 is better in every way than the 5 HP Sawstop other than the safety mechanism.
 

woodtickgreg

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I'm just a hobbiest wood worker as much as I am a hobbiest metal worker. I still have the very first craftsman table saw that I purchased when I was fresh out of high school. It has served me well, I have rebuilt it once, reground the cast iron top, and upgraded the fence to a T square style. I added an out feed table and side extension and I can cross cut and RIP sheet goods by myself accurately and safely. I intend to mount 3 routers in the tables. If I was to purchase another saw I would look at a used delta or powermatic. Grizzly saws offer a lot of bang for the buck too. My dream saw would be a saw stop but 3k is a bit out of my budget. cleaning shop 006.JPG
 

Winegrower

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I am thinking a cheaper saw with a huge table beats a more expensive saw with a dinky table.
But the router lift is life changing. :)
 

jwmay

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So I went to the box store yesterday, and couldn’t find any saw blade NOT in a blister pack. The prices were all over the place. 14-140 dollars...where do I draw the line? Currently I have the blade the saw came with from probably 2005 or so. I’d guess it’s a 40 tooth combination blade.
 

woodtickgreg

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I have had great results with Freud blades from the big box stores. Cut very clean, run quiet and dont sing, can be resharpened, run true and have an anti stick coating on them. They sometimes are blister packed but they are a good blade imo.
 

Cadillac

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Gosh it’s been awhile but I remember 10” 90 tooth finish cut blades were in the 100 range. You have a rockler near you?
 

Choiliefan

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Blister packing protects the carbide teeth from damage so nothing wrong there.
I too have had good luck with the cheaper Freud blades.
Folks used to rave about Forrest Woodworker II blades but I don't follow much WW anymore.
Have a Klingspoor store near you?
 

Winegrower

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I think a Freud glue line and an ultimate crosscut ought to cover it. If I cut much plywood on the table saw, I would have a blade for that.
 

jwmay

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My choices are Lowe’s, Home Depot, Menards, Rural King, Ace Hardware...that’s about it I guess. I was at Menards, and Freud was the only name brand I’d remembered from this thread. They had a store brand, a bunch of Bosch blades, and one labeled CMT that had an orange non stick coating. I was hoping I could be fairly well armed with a fifty dollar bill. But I suppose considering my current blade is probably 14 years old, I can split the cost by at least a decade.
 

jwmay

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After a little searching, I believe Amazon will have to be my supplier. Thanks again!
 

bill70j

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Folks used to rave about Forrest Woodworker II blades but I don't follow much WW anymore.
I have Forrest's 10" Woodworker II on the table saw and their 12" Chopmaster on the mitre saw. Both are excellent blades - better than any other brand I have tried. Plus Forrest's sharpening service is reasonably priced -- and the blades come back like new.

Also, if you're in the market for a stacked dado set, Forrest makes a very nice one.
 

mikey

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I've been using the Freud Diablo thin kerf blades (50T ATB combo and 80 tooth plastic cutting blade for Melamine ply) and have been pretty impressed with them. I used to buy Forrest blades, too, and they are good but also very expensive. For just home shop use, I've been happy with Freud.
 
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