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
 
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