Advice on first table saw

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Forum topic by MSal posted 11-21-2015 04:01 AM 1640 views 0 times favorited 54 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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12 posts in 1977 days

11-21-2015 04:01 AM

Topic tags/keywords: saw table tools recommendations question

Hi everyone, I’m looking for some advice on an entry level table saw. I’m hoping to get a contractor saw rather than a portable saw. Space is not an issue as I’ve got a large working area in our walkout basement, and I can’t see me needing to bring the saw anywhere once it’s in place. I’m looking for something capable of cutting some thicker hardwood, along with being able to handle general carpentry tasks (ripping longer boards which I do with my circular saw right now and is a pain). The problem – my budget is around $300. I think this pretty much limits my options to CL.

Based on the research I’ve done so far, I’m trying to find something with a cast iron top and preferably belt drive. I see A LOT of craftsman table saws all over CL for cheap, but most of them don’t seem to be very high quality (no belt drive, small tabletop, VERY old/beat up, etc.). Honestly I am getting a little bit overwhelmed by all of the different saws on CL, and I’m having trouble telling what is good and what isn’t despite reading up on table saws.

So far there is one that I’ve had my eye on. It’s a Delta 34-444 with a roller stand which might be nice if I need to move it around the basement alone. It sounds like everything is stock (fence, etc.). According to the listing it’s in ‘excellent’ condition and it looks to be in pretty decent shape based on the pictures. It’s listed at $400 but I’m hoping to knock that price down a bit if it’s a good purchase for my situation.

What do you guys think? Most of the threads I’ve found regarding this particular saw are pretty old (4+ years). Is it still a solid saw? Am I better off getting a cheap craftsman for sub and saving my money to upgrade later? Anything in particular to ask regarding the saw, or to look for if I decide to see it in person?


54 replies so far

View conifur's profile


954 posts in 2210 days

#1 posted 11-21-2015 04:09 AM

Find a delta, why does everyone want a cast iron?exp
Anything Crapsman made in the last 15 years is junk.
BTW what ever you buy, get a good Frued thin Kerf rib blade or there new combo.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View Woodknack's profile


13552 posts in 3439 days

#2 posted 11-21-2015 04:49 AM

Buy a used Delta contractor or a new Delta contractor.

-- Rick M,

View MrUnix's profile


8518 posts in 3258 days

#3 posted 11-21-2015 04:52 AM

Anything Crapsman made in the last 15 years is junk.

Craftsman (sears) doesn’t make anything. Just like any of the other big box stores, they just re-brand other companies tools. They sell good stuff, and they sell junk – you pick.


PS: You can tell who actually made the machine (usually) by looking at the manufacturer prefix part of the model number.

-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View SawSucker's profile


110 posts in 1987 days

#4 posted 11-21-2015 05:28 AM

I’ve been a woodworker for about 30 years. In 1995 I bought a made in the USA Delta 34-444 with a 30 inch Unfence and a full-size mobilize base. It’s been a great saw for me, and I have no plans of selling it anytime soon. It will more then likely be the last table saw that I’ll ever need in my lifetime.

View oldnovice's profile


7702 posts in 4427 days

#5 posted 11-21-2015 08:15 AM

No matter what saw you buy, someone here will be unhappy with your choice so you need to choose one that fits your needs and your budget. However, there are two things I would suggest:

  1. Get a power twist belt with turned pulleys. These make a saw run as smooth as silk
  2. Buy a Forrest WW II blade for your saw, in my opinion, the best saw blade on the market and worth the extra cost.

I have a 40+ year old Craftsman, actually made by Emerson I believe. I updated to the powertwist belt over 20 years ago and to the Forrest WW II blade a short time later this saw has served me well for all those years.

-- "It's fine in practise but it will never work in theory"

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

556 posts in 4115 days

#6 posted 11-21-2015 09:48 AM

There are lots of used table saws on the market. Lots of folks have saws they don’t use. For the most part older is better. They are typically made heavier which dampens vibration and the quality of casting was better. I have an old Powermatic 66 that took a couple of weekends of work to clean and set up. My first saw was a Grizzley, and I had a Craftsman too. Birth cut straight lines, and that’s what you want. I agree with oldnovice’s comments on pulleys and blades.

-- Glen

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3692 days

#7 posted 11-21-2015 12:13 PM

You could offer $250-275 for this Grizzly:

This is a nice Craftsman…..again, offer less:

Another decent Craftsman…..a 113/315 series with the align a rip fence and router table extension: Offer $200

This would clean up nice…....$50.

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3692 days

#8 posted 11-21-2015 12:54 PM

Oh…..but there is certainly nothing wrong with the Delta either. I was just pointing out a few saws in New Hampshire that I would also consider.

View MSal's profile


12 posts in 1977 days

#9 posted 11-21-2015 01:12 PM

Find a delta, why does everyone want a cast iron?exp
Anything Crapsman made in the last 15 years is junk.
BTW what ever you buy, get a good Frued thin Kerf rib blade or there new combo.

- conifur

My understanding was that if it isn’t cast iron it will be aluminum (at least in my price range) which is more prone to denting, warping, etc. Wow that’an affordable delta! Nothing like that around my area I don’t think. CL seems to be flooded with craftsman table saws and I have trouble telling good from bad (old from new in this case) as a lot of them don’t have model #s and you have to go off the pictures.

The improvements mentioned sound like a good idea, also something I could work on over time rather than immediately.

Tedstor, thanks for looking on my behalf! I’ve probably seen most of these but again, couldn’t tell the good craftsmans from the bad. I was looking hard at that Grizzly yesterday I think. I’m actually about a mile from Maine which opens up a lot of CL to me. I’m sure there are a lot more saws out there but here are my thoughts regarding the ones you mentioned, just so you guys can get an idea where my head is at:

  • #1 – seems like a solid table, from what I’ve read Delta and Grizzly both make reputable saws. I also figure that resale would be easier for one of these brands, should I do so in the future.
  • #2 – not bad, a contender. makes me think I shouldn’t 100% avoid a craftsman saw.
  • #3 – I would definitely use the router table extension and the aftermarket rip fence sounds like a good thing. Something I have to keep in mind is that this one is much farther away than the others…
  • #4 – not looking for a complete teardown at the moment so I don’t think I would consider this one

Here’s the delta I mentioned in my original post:

What do you guys think regarding the delta vs. the grizzly? I guess this also assumes that I can grab the delta for around $300 and the grizzly for say, $250. If the delta is $400 firm it’s out of my price range for sure.

Thanks everyone for taking the time to help me out, I’m sure these sort of Which one should I buy? threads get old :-).


View MSal's profile


12 posts in 1977 days

#10 posted 11-21-2015 01:25 PM

Looks like that Grizzly also has a router extension… definitely a nice to have for me.

Just a heads up as I am usually quick to respond – I am heading to MA for the day (early T-day with one side of the family) so may be slow to respond until tonight!

View Tedstor's profile


1691 posts in 3692 days

#11 posted 11-21-2015 01:29 PM

The delta is a good machine. However, I think the Grizzly has a better fence (and perhaps a ‘shopmade’ router extension).
Either will serve you well for years to come… won’t outgrow either one anytime soon.
I’d probably go with the Grizzly.

*But you should look into the #2 Craftsman as well. I’ve seen several glowing reviews of that saw here on LJ. Good ‘hybrid’ saw that puts you closer to a cabinet saw.

View bonesbr549's profile


1588 posts in 4126 days

#12 posted 11-21-2015 01:30 PM

If it’s an old craftsman, it would be a good deal. That budget will be tough but is doable. For that mone, if you are willing to do the rehab you could get an old delta and bring it back to life. There is not a lot to them actually. Some elbow grease and maybe replacing a bearing, but will last forever. and patience is your friend.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View SawSucker's profile


110 posts in 1987 days

#13 posted 11-21-2015 03:40 PM

The Delta that you show is the one you want. It is an American made 34-444. In time you may want to replace the fence, but the saw does come with a nice mobile base. $400 is a pretty fair price compared to all the import junk thats out there, If it was my saw I would in no circumstances let it go for less then $350, and I’m not so sure that I’d give you the mobile base at that price. If you get all of it for $350 then consider yourself lucky. If you do get it, I can show you how to make it an even better saw. Good luck.

View MSal's profile


12 posts in 1977 days

#14 posted 11-22-2015 04:10 PM

I did a little more research and a lot (most) of the recent (‘14-15’) threads make it sound like Delta parts are becoming scarce and their customer service is on the decline. I was close to pulling the trigger on the Delta(seller is willing to let it go for $350) but I’m having second thoughts now and leaning toward the Grizzly…

Should I even be worried about parts/support or is it not really an issue since most parts are inter-changeable?

View GT350's profile


388 posts in 3040 days

#15 posted 11-22-2015 04:37 PM

I had a belt drive Craftsman tablesaw from the ‘70’s and it worked well for me. I built a new base and motor cover with a small extension table to contain the sawdust and hook to my dust collector and I was pretty happy with it. I built a lot of projects with it and the main reason I switched was the threads on the arbor were no longer the same size as the hole in the blades which meant the dado’s from a stacked blade weren’t flat. I think any of the belt drive saws from that era would work, just make sure it isn’t worn out. You really shouldn’t need to worry about replacing parts often.

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