Using Contractor Table Saw for Furniture?

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Forum topic by Danestar posted 07-29-2010 05:35 PM 9407 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Danestar's profile


32 posts in 4135 days

07-29-2010 05:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw question walnut

I am debating on waiting until I can afford a cabinet saw or go with a contractor saw to get me by and wait a little longer before I get the cabinet saw. Obviously there is a huge price difference and if money wasn’t an object I wouldn’t be asking however it is.

My question is anyone using a contractors saw for furniture and or made out of walnut? Max board width is 9×2” x 6-8ft boards. Most are 1” but I do have some 2” thick that I will plane down to 1.5” for the top piece. I am curious if I will get the same quality of cuts or if there is something I should be a aware of. I thought I would have my cab saw but its going to be a while before I can get it and if I can get away with using a cheaper contractors saw then I would like to go that route. Thoughts or advice is welcome.


26 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4734 days

#1 posted 07-29-2010 05:38 PM

If the other option to getting a cabinet saw now is “wait and get it later” – then forgo that other option and just get it now.

if you don’t think you’ll ever need a cabinet saw and can suffice with a contractor saw – then get the contractor saw. otherwise, it would be a waste of money, time, and efforts.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Danestar's profile


32 posts in 4135 days

#2 posted 07-29-2010 05:42 PM

I know eventually I will be getting the Cab saw but want to get this project moving again but stuck until I can find a table saw to use. Its going to be 6 months before I can get the cab saw… I am not sure I can wait that long but if a contractors saw will not suffice then I have no choice.

View NathanAllen's profile


376 posts in 4230 days

#3 posted 07-29-2010 05:43 PM

Most contractors saws will be able to handle a 6/4 piece of walnut.

Scour Craigslist for an acceptable used saw, if you get a decent price you’ll be able to sell for the same when it’s finally time to upgrade. The most important part of a saw at this level is the fence, if it’s solid and can be adjusted then you’ll be fine.

View spclPatrolGroup's profile


233 posts in 3980 days

#4 posted 07-29-2010 05:56 PM

Make sure your blade is sharp and you dont force feed it and you will be fine. I have cut 8/4 material on my contractors saw, slow and steady is the key. If you find yourself cutting really thick material on a daily basis, you may want something with a bit more power.

View Danestar's profile


32 posts in 4135 days

#5 posted 07-29-2010 05:59 PM

My plan is to get a Sawstop Cab saw by Jan. But until I can give every limb of my body for one I am stuck and can really only part for a cont saw until then. I dont mind the slow and steady cuts for now. I just want to progress on this project.

View TheDane's profile


5964 posts in 4749 days

#6 posted 07-29-2010 06:03 PM

I have a Jet hybrid contractor saw ( ), and have built two rooms full of furniture and a bunch of other projects with it. As NathanAllen said, the fence alignment is absolutely critical, which is why I replaced the stock fence with a Shop Fox Classic ( ).

I haven’t cut 6/4 walnut, but I have cut 6/4 and 8/4 oak … with a decent blade (I use either a Freud combo or a Freud glue-line rip) I have never had any issues.

Don’t get me wrong … I would love to have a cabinet saw. But I would also love to win the lottery!

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4759 days

#7 posted 07-29-2010 06:24 PM

You can use a contractor saw for building furniture. You just need to use a thin kerf blade. I use a 1-1/2 hp unisaw and it works fine.

View Danestar's profile


32 posts in 4135 days

#8 posted 07-29-2010 06:36 PM

The Dane thanks for the review links you made my case… Going out this weekend now.

Thanks guys!

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3966 days

#9 posted 07-29-2010 07:03 PM

My dad who is into wood working has a 3hp Delta Unisaw and its a great saw. When I got into woodworking I needed to get a saw for my shop. I just recently purchased a Delta 1 1/2hp contractors saw from Craigslist for 150.00. I am not a very experienced woodworker but I have used my dads unisaw a lot and when I first used my contractor saw it felt about the same. After using the contractor saw for a little while I personally cant see “needing” to go with a bigger saw. The contractor saw works great. My dad even told me that he probably went overboard with the 3hp saw. Sure a cabinet saw is great but a good contractor saw will work just fine for furniture building and most anything else. Like the others said, a good quality blade can make all the difference in the world. The nice thing about my Delta saw is I can add a lot of features to it to make it even better such as a better fence, extension tables ext ext…

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4734 days

#10 posted 07-29-2010 07:05 PM

Just want to ad that my previous comment wasn’t to say that you can NOT build furniture with a contractor saw – for as much as I know – most folks here are using a contractor saw (including me – I’m using a Ridgid hybrid saw).

my previous post suggesting to forgo the extra step of getting a cont.saw now and upgrading it in the next few months was focused on the fact that you know for fact that you will be getting a cabinet saw – and soon, in which case, if there is any way that you can skip the extra steps involved -I think it would be the better path to take.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4260 days

#11 posted 07-29-2010 07:07 PM

I’d LOVE a Unisaw (or a SawStop or a big Powermatic or a big Grizzly or … ).

That said, I built a pair of these … with my Bosch 4100 contractor saw:

It works. You just have to be more careful, with a contractor saw, then I’m sure you would, with a cabinet saw … about ensuring your alignment is accurate and your fence is locked down well.

But … my Bosch will rip 8/4 …. anything … without a hiccup. I put a Forrest WWII on it. Like butta !

-- -- Neil

View RoodyJ's profile


47 posts in 3952 days

#12 posted 07-29-2010 07:50 PM

I used to have a nice cabinet saw setup, but lost it when I divorced. Now I don’t have the room for it…..nor the $$$. I recently got a Bosch contractor’s saw with the fold-up roll about and I absolutely love it. Have made large bookcases for the living room and they came out very well. The saw stores well in a downstairs closet.

One key to my success I feel is that I built a “deluxe” cross-cut sled AND MADE SURE IT WAS ABSOLUTELY SQUARE to the saw blade. No more need for thoughts of large saws.


-- Jim, Maryland

View chewbuddy13's profile


150 posts in 4371 days

#13 posted 07-29-2010 08:11 PM

I have a Delta contractor saw and am very pleased with it. It’s 1 1/2 hp and I use a Freud 40T regular kerf blade. I have had no problems with cutting 8/4 walnut, cherry, or maple. I prefer the full kerf blade, it’s a little more stable than the think kerf, and doesn’t leave the swirl marks when ripping.

View rhett's profile


743 posts in 4753 days

#14 posted 07-29-2010 08:21 PM

Success or failure isn’t determined by the size of a tool.

A quality sharp blade and a stout fence are the only two necessary requirements for a tablesaw.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Viktor's profile


474 posts in 4505 days

#15 posted 07-29-2010 09:14 PM

I agree 100% with rhett. The type of the saw has nothing to do with the quality of your work, only with productivity. A portable table top saw will cut 8/4 hardwood, you’ll just have more prep work to do. In fact, you don’t need a power saw to build furniture.
I used to rip 8 ft of 8/4 hardwood by hand in 10 min, and squared 8” oak logs with an axe to make floor beams. I was surprised how easy and fast it was. We became so reliant on power that simple operation by hand tools seem intimidating. You can easily use hand saw to get through this one project and get whatever you want later as you planned.

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