Opinions on contractor table saws

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by Brent Wells, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Brent Wells

    Brent Wells

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    Hello all first time posting. I was curious what opinions you guys and gals had on contractor table saws, and which are the best. My shop is in my basement and I don't need to rip anything huge so I think contractor size is my best bang for my buck and space is a premium. I will mostly be using for segmented work, making pen blanks, general use, ect. I will be hooking up my jet dc1100vx-cx 1.5 hp dust collector to it. I have band saw and mitre saw so I am mainly looking for something to do accurate cuts . Pens, bowls , platters, vases , pepper mills are my interests . I am new to turning, have only had my lathe for a year which is a jet 1221vs so I won't be turning anything huge until I upgrade lathe down the road. I have looked at bosch 4100, dewalt, ridgid. Sawstop was nice but for price I would upgrade lathe first. Safety is always a priority. Thanks for input it is appreciated. Sorry for grammar/ misspellings as I am typing on phone and if this is posted in wrong forum.

    Thanks

    Brent
     
  2. Brent Wells

    Brent Wells

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    I forgot to mention as my skills grow and evolve I would like something that would not become just a paper weight down the road.

    Brent
     
  3. jschnell1203

    jschnell1203

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    I had a craftsman contractor saw and the stand was real unstable. I now have a old Unisaw and love it but for you if you using it for smaller wood a contractor saw should be fine.
     
  4. Shawn Pachlhofer

    Shawn Pachlhofer

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    band saw does just fine roughing out these items - they don't need to be that accurate - and IMO, the band saw is faster.

    if you're going to be segmenting - the table saw will definitely come in handy.
     
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  5. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    A sliding compound miter saw is a very versatile tool and probably more accurate than a light duty contractor table saw. Makita has some great models.
     
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  6. Andy Chen

    Andy Chen

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    Go for the Sawstop if one of your main goals is to do segmented turning. Your Jet 1221VS can do a lot. A 12" segmented bowl is plenty big. A lathe upgrade can wait for a few years. Safety aside, Sawstop has the best workmanship among all brands, period. This advice is from a guy who owns a Unisaw (and two Oneway lathes) and has being turning segmented bowls for over 20 years. (In fact, my very first bowl was segmented.)
     
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  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Good advice from all. Wish I had had it many years ago.
     
  8. Glen Blanchard

    Glen Blanchard

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    Brent, I think you will find that most contractors saws have a larger footprint than most cabinet saws as a result of the motor hanging out the rear of the saw. If space is at a premium, you may actually be better off with a cabinet saw.

    Additionally, contractor saws are much more difficult to fine tune than are cabinet saws without the purchase of additional equipment.
     
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  9. Fred Belknap

    Fred Belknap

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    Contractor table saws have a low resale value, look for someone wanting to upgrade to a cabinet saw and I bet you can get a good deal. I never was happy with the Delta contractor saw I had.
     
  10. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I can't offer an opinion on the newer contractors saws. I had a Powermatic contractors saw for many years and was quite happy with it except for Dust collection. I modified the hell out of it trying to get as must dust collection as possible but never really succeeded. I changed to a cabinet saw this year and like it a lot better except for one thing. I don't have wheels on this saw so it's impossible to move around for those odd boards that need cutting. Consequently everything around it is now on wheels so I can move them instead. With the contractors saw I could simply lower the wheels and move it to cut that occasional long or wide board.
    At one point I thought I was going to have to move to a very tiny shop. I looked very seriously at the Dewalt contractors saw and liked it. Far smaller than my Powermatic or the newer cabinet saw but I was looking at it for doing segmented work mostly or cutting wood into smaller parts for my hand mirrors and such. Looked like it would do the job. Haven't looked at them in about 5 years now so can't tell you how they work.
     
  11. robo hippy

    robo hippy

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    I found an old Delta Unisaw when I was setting up my shop. I think it cost around $700. Great buy, and a good step up from a Delta table top type saw I had before. This was 20 years ago. The biggest problem with dust collection on a table saw is the stuff that flies off the part of the blade that is above the table top. There are extended arm hoods that go over the blade that will get most of it, but most seem to be a pain to use, especially for small pieces. Some of the good chop/sliding arm saws have great precision. Malcolm Tibbits uses a Festool chop saw for cutting his segmented pieces. Biggest secret is to cut with the down stroke, let the blade come to full stop, then raise the blade out of the wood. With a perfectly set up bandsaw, and a good carbide tipped blade, you can make precision cuts, but the chop saw is still better.

    robo hippy
     
  12. Douglas Ladendorf

    Douglas Ladendorf

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    Like John, my first table saw was a Powermatic contractors saw (64A). While it was a great saw with plenty of power I struggled with the dust collection. To me this is the number one reason to look at a cabinet saw vs. contractors saw. Manufacturers seem to be paying more attention now so perhaps there are new contractors saws that offer good dust collection but I haven't seen them yet. Capturing dust above the blade is a large part of this. I bought a third party blade guard/splitter (SharkGuard) that has a dust port at the top for my PM66. Other benefits of a cabinet saw include stability and reduced vibration.

    Good luck with your quest. It's always fun to hunt for a new tool!
    Doug
     
  13. Brent Wells

    Brent Wells

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    Thanks for all the great advice some things were brought up that I didn't even think about. Looks like I have some more research to do. All very helpful.
     
  14. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree with Andy about the SawStop. I have a Delta Unisaw that I got about 1995. They were made very well back then.

    I also agree with the above comments regarding contractor saws. Contractors don't need high precision saws. Segmented turners on the other hand do need repeatable accuracy. If you are diligent, you can get a contractor saw or a Shopsmith to serve your needs for segmented turning. One of our former club members did just that and made stunning segmented pieces. I have even tweaked my Craftsman RAS to be very accurate and repeatable over the short term. I have a Makita SCMS that I got for doing crown moulding and other millwork. I have found it to be dead-on accurate and holds its settings as well as my Unisaw.

    Nobody has mentioned blades yet, but without a high quality blade, even the best saws won't make clean cuts. I use Forrest blades and think that they are the best. Freud also makes some outstanding blades. A top quality blade isn't cheap. AFAIK, any blade that comes with a saw is just something to get you started. Contractors like cheap blades because they can use them to saw through nails.
     
  15. Roy Turbett

    Roy Turbett

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    Table Saw Choice

    I was in my local Woodcraft store last week because I'm considering a Sawstop to replace my Unisaw. The one major advantage of all of the Sawstop models is the safety brake that you can't get on any other saw. It sets off a charge that stops the blade in a millisecond if it comes in contact with flesh. The Sawstop contractor model doesn't have a bigger footprint than the "Professional" cabinet saw and costs about $1,000 less and both have good over the blade dust collection. The new Deltas, Jets and Powermatics also have improved their dust collection and are priced close to the Sawstop. The overall quality seems to be similar between the brands but the salesman said the Sawstop outsells all the brands 14 to 1. They also hold their value. I searched all of Craigslist and could only find four used Sawstops for sale and they were all listed close to the original list price.

    Aside from a good quality blade as Bill mentioned, look for a good quality fence. The Sawstop, Biesmeyer, Powermatic, and Unifence are all good because they consistently lock the fence parallel to the blade. Many lesser quality saws have fences that don't always lock parallel to the blade which can cause a kickback. When using one of these saws I always set the fence by moving it from right to left so, if the fence is off, the toe will be open at the back of the blade.

    Another significant feature of the newer higher quality saws is a riving knife. A riving knife is a splitter that is slightly shorter than the blade and moves up and down with the blade. A riving knife helps prevent kickback by preventing the kerf from closing on the back edge of the blade.
     
  16. Marc Tuunanen

    Marc Tuunanen

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    My advice is to buy the best you can afford at the time. A Sawstop is a one time buy and cry over the price. But, after that first cut those tears will dry up and a smile will glide over your face. From then on it's history and happy segmented turnings. Really, any good cabinet saw is a steal. They are accurate over time which is a problem for contractor saws.

    Cheers and God Bless mate,
    Marc
     
  17. Justin Stephen

    Justin Stephen

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    If you are not already a member of the Segmented Woodturners Forum, join so that you can view this thread, started by me, back in 2011:

    http://www.segmentedwoodturners.org/forum/showthread.php?768-Table-saw-recommendations

    I ended up buying a Ridgid R4512 in early 2012 and have been very happy with it, most especially since I have since moved and my new workshop is indoors but very small. All of my tools except my larger lathe have to be mobile so I need the mobile base on the saw. I have cut and turned many a segmented piece using segments cut on this saw and the cuts are very accurate. Once the pedal on the mobile base is released and it sinks to the floor, it is very stable indeed. This is a very heavy saw so wobble/movement is a non-issue in my experience, and I have ripped some pretty big stuff using this saw.

    Any quality table saw, properly adjusted and using an accurate sled and a good blade, should give you accurate cuts. You do *not* need a $2000 saw to do that. My Ridgid cost less than a third of what a comparable SawStop would cost and its dust collection is quite decent. Would I love to own a SawStop? Sure, but for safety, not because I honestly think its cutting accuracy is better (or better enough to make a difference that would alone justify the cost).

    I use a Forrest WoodWorker II blade and some sleds I built myself that I know are accurate.
     
  18. Raul McCai

    Raul McCai

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    My first was a Craftsman

    IT was a contractor I purchased some 40 years ago. Back then they hadn't gone all out for garbage. Some time after they entered a very long very dark tea time of the soul and couldn't even make a screwdriver that wouldn't break on the first use.

    I hear the engineering has come back to the brand and things are improving.

    I still have that saw. It's sort of a tank. but it's been retired to a back corner thanks to my fancy pants Austrian Slider.

    Get the best saw you can. Stay out of the BORG if you possibly can. General International makes a great cabinet saw. Grizz is not too bad.
     
  19. Andy Chen

    Andy Chen

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    Bill,

    I appreciate that you agree with what I said but on the blade, I respectfully disagree that "a top quality blade isn't cheap." I am sure you'd agree that a 40-T 10" general purpose blade that costs <$30.00 is a cheap (in price, that is) blade. That's how much a Freud Diablo blade would cost and I have been using them for my segmented work for probably over 10 years now. You are familiar with the quality of my work and I don't even sand my segments to dimension after they come off the saw with a Diablo blade. I also have a Forrest 50-T Woodworker II blade but it does not produce better quality cuts than the Diablo that costs about 1/4 what the Forrest costs and it has sat on my shelf for over 10 years now. (I know, I know, you'd say why don't you give it to me if you don't use it. You wouldn't be the first one to ask that.) I even cut Corian with my "cheap" Freud Diablo blade with equally good results.
     
  20. Justin Stephen

    Justin Stephen

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    While my segmenting experience is no doubt not as extensive as yours, for what its worth I agree with you. I drank the Forrest Kool-Aid, and the WWII is a heck of a good blade, but it is not noticeably better than my Freud.

    I recently threw a 60T Freud "finishing" 7 1/4" blade on my table saw and have used it to cut some strips for bowl-from-a-board laminations and have been very pleased with the results. I will probably use the same little blade for my next set of segmented rings and expect to be happy with the results. $19 from the BORG and a very thin kerf. When it gets dull, I'll toss it in the garbage and buy another one.
     

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