Opinions on a 1990 Craftsman table saw?

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Forum topic by ColonelTravis posted 05-11-2017 02:29 AM 4129 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1976 posts in 2505 days

05-11-2017 02:29 AM

I might be the only woodworker on earth who doesn’t really want a table saw, yet people keep giving me table saws. While back I won a very nice table saw in a drawing, rarely used it, sold it, bought a nice bandsaw that I use all the time and a bunch of hand tools that I use all the time. Now, my father-in-law has a 1990 Craftsman that he bought from another relative who is a contractor, but neither used it very much and it’s been offered to me.

Saw is out of state and being shipped, I’ve seen it before but it’s been a while. All I know is that it’s got cast iron wings and is on legs (not on a cabinet like a hybrid or pro model.) I know nothing else until it shows up at my door in the near future. Anyone know anything about this saw? I’m striking out online.

For the record, unless it’s a dud, I am keeping this one.

23 replies so far

View Combo Prof's profile

Combo Prof

4001 posts in 1889 days

#1 posted 05-11-2017 03:35 AM

Its sounds like the successor to what I bought in 1984, Model 113.298032. I think it will be a 113.298762. Mine has steel wings and not cast iron. Anyway if its belt driven then its a great saw. They did start to produce a direct drive model around then that you should avoid. Some people up grade the fence, but I have had no problems with my fence. My wife wants to buy me a new saw but I am resisting.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

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1976 posts in 2505 days

#2 posted 05-11-2017 04:11 AM

Your wife wants to buy you a new saw???

And you’re resisting???

View Rich's profile


5157 posts in 1201 days

#3 posted 05-11-2017 04:28 AM

They did start to produce a direct drive model around then that you should avoid.

If it’s the one I think you’re referring to, it was actually a flexible shaft drive that made a 180º loop from the motor back to the arbor. I wrote about in another thread, but I bought one in the ‘80s, and it was beyond a dog. Sounds like a cool idea, but with that shaft out in mid air, when the saw would get under much load, it started wobbling like crazy. Pretty scary actually.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 998 days

#4 posted 05-11-2017 04:38 AM

The ones with the cast iron tables and belt drive aren’t bad saws. My dad had a similar one. Far better than the plastic bodied contractor saws being sold today.
I had an aluminum tabled direct drive saw (not the flex shaft saw). I’d avoid those. After I upgraded to an early 40s Walker Turner cabinet saw I’ve never looked back.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View duckmilk's profile


3943 posts in 1936 days

#5 posted 05-11-2017 08:05 PM

Let us know what shows up. I have a Delta contractor’s saw on wheels and like it. I don’t really want a bigger cabinet saw because of the weight and space.

-- "Duck and Bob would be out doin some farming with funny hats on." chrisstef

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93 posts in 1433 days

#6 posted 05-12-2017 05:21 AM

Does the saw have a splitter or a riving knife? I personally would not use a saw that does not have a riving knife (or one that cannot accept an aftermarket one), and most saws from that era use splitters.

The table saw is the most dangerous item in almost every workshop, and kickback causes the plurality of TS injuries. If you are not even sure that you need a TS, don’t bother getting one that cannot meet current safety standards.

I’m relatively new to woodworking, so take my advice with several grains of salt, but I would make sure you can at least retrofit that TS to have all of the new safety features.

Out of curiosity, does the saw look like this?

If so, I’m pretty sure Combo Prof is right about it being a 113.298762 made by Emerson. You might search around the web for reviews of the saw.

View Rich's profile


5157 posts in 1201 days

#7 posted 05-12-2017 05:42 AM

Boy, am I going to take some flack for this.

But, anyone who understands the potential injuries that a table saw can inflict, and how those accidents are caused, is safe from injury if they use their head. I use no safety guards, other than my push sticks and my GRR-Rippers. After decades of cutting on my saw, I’ve never had an “oh sh**” moment. I think the miter saw is more dangerous, and I never make a cut without looking down to see where my fingers are.

The nastiest kickback I’ve ever experienced was routing an edge against a template and trying to go against the grain on a curve. That piece shot across the room. I ponied up the $40 to get a bit with a double bearing.

Edit: I do love the MJ Splitter to keep the piece from drifting away from the fence. It doesn’t save my fingers, but has kept me from having to toss a board that was gouged.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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7602 posts in 2810 days

#8 posted 05-12-2017 05:58 AM

Couple of points… first, those Craftsman contractor saws were made for decades and span a lot of different model numbers (and at least two different manufacturers). It is almost impossible to just look at one and say ‘that is a model xxxx’. They were all very, very similar in design, but there were changes made to them over the years that might not be immediately obvious. Broadly speaking, there were two basic models – the ubiquitous belt drive version, and the not so common flex-drive version – both of which had the motor hanging out the back – and therefore actually require a bit more floor space than a hybrid or cabinet saw.

Secondly, pretty much any used saw you will be looking at will have left the factory with a splitter and blade guard. It may not have one when you get it, but it did at one time. and another one can always be fitted to the machine. There are of course plenty of after-market alternatives as well. Somewhere in a dark corner of the globe there has to be a huge pile of old splitter/blade guards, jointer pork chop guards, and cabinet saw motor covers, just waiting to be unearthed.

I agree with Rich… if you understand the potential and take precautions, the chance of injury diminishes substantially. I have several other tools in the shop that I consider much more dangerous than the table saw, and treat them all with the respect they deserve.


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

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Combo Prof

4001 posts in 1889 days

#9 posted 05-12-2017 10:39 AM

Once again I forgot to put a watch on this thread. So a series of responses now.

Your wife wants to buy you a new saw???

And you re resisting???

- ColonelTravis

(1) Yes. I like my little 113. It does not take up much space. works well enough for my purposes. Any new saw of equal or better quality would cost around $2,000. She was thinking I should have a SawStop so $4,000. I think I’d rather have a full set of hollows and rounds. But I would consider a vintage upgrade. I would not consider a saw that does not have a cast iron top. But having said that, maybe I will look in to it.

(2) I agree with Rich and Mr. Unix and disagree with Vindex. After trying to use the splitter and blade guard that came with the 113 they were removed and stuck in a drawer with in the first year. (I think every body did. There were proposed solutions.) I have had the 113 for 33 years and operated without riving knife, splitter and guard, without injury. To avoid injury if you are uncertain of the safety of an operation stay out of the line of fire, i.e. out side of the miter slots. Use feather boards. Don’t be stupid. Never operate the saw when drunk or angry.

(3) Portable power tools (chain saws, reciprocating saws, circular saws, ladders) are much more dangerous then a table saw.

(4) put a thin kerf Frued blade or similar on it. The motor I have is 1 or 1.5 hp . The thin kerf blade helps a lot. Later models have a 3hp motor so maybe a thin kerf blade won’t be necessary.

(5) There are plans all over the place for upgrading this saw. It was the standard back in the 80s-90s so magazines like wood magazine published plans for upgrading it. (Ok they never said it was for the 113, but that was the saw aways in the picture.)

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View ksSlim's profile


1304 posts in 3501 days

#10 posted 05-12-2017 11:53 AM

Use my 1953 model 113 something for a rip saw. Used to do every thing hand tools only.
Long rips its handy. I’ve plenty of old/sharp cross cut saws.
If you have the room, use a thin kerf rip, fine tooth, and a splitter to keep the kerf apart.
I took off the left extension table to save space.
A piece of masonite with a fitted frame to cover the saw top, makes a handy glue up table.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

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Combo Prof

4001 posts in 1889 days

#11 posted 05-12-2017 12:59 PM

^ I just drop down the saw blade and set a section of old laminate counter top on the saw for small glue ups. You can scrape off the glue drips with an old chisel.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View runswithscissors's profile


3081 posts in 2636 days

#12 posted 05-14-2017 04:01 AM

A lot of us grew up on saws without riving knives (never even heard of them until a few years ago). We did okay. My dad did acquire a serious wound on a borrowed saw, and still had the scar 60 years later. I have never had a tussle with a TS. Like most, I habitually toss the blade guard off a new saw, as most of them are poorly designed and interfere with many operations. I have no confidence in anti-kickback pawls, as most of them look really flimsy. Not having a riving knife, the next best thing is a splitter. You can make your own, or buy one.

That being said, I like my riving knife very much, and feel naked when it’s not in place (even more so if I’m not wearing any clothes).

I disagree about using a fine tooth blade for ripping. One with fewer teeth (around 40 or so on a 10” blade) works better for ripping. Fine teeth are best for crosscutting.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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Combo Prof

4001 posts in 1889 days

#13 posted 05-14-2017 12:00 PM

I use the freud 10” thin kerf 40T diablo blade for both rip and cross cut on the 113 and it works really well.

-- Don K, (Holland, Michigan)

View knotscott's profile


8364 posts in 3987 days

#14 posted 05-14-2017 03:14 PM

A full size 113 contractor saw in good working order should be fine once aligned and equipped with a decent blade. The original steel fences were kinda lame, but can be made to work, and can be upgraded. All have pretty much the same guts as the Ridgid contractor saws.

None of the 113 saws had a riving knife, and none can be fitted with an aftermarket riving knife that I know of. Since a good splitter and riving knife essentially perform the same task, there’s no reason to pass up a perfectly good quality saw at the right price because of the lack of a riving knife IMO….just install a good splitter, get the alignment and setup spot on, and use a sharp blade that’s suitable for the task, along with safety devices like feather boards and push shoes.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View jonah's profile


2092 posts in 3910 days

#15 posted 05-14-2017 11:27 PM

I love it when people complain about safety features like riving knives. I suppose you don’t buckle your seatbelt either?

Safer is safer. Riving knives are unequivocally safer than old style splitters, which are unequivocally safer than nothing at all. Giving us some anecdote about how you’ve been woodworking for 324572 years and haven’t amputated any fingers yet does not help your argument.

Wood does funny things, and I’d not want to rely on the pure chance of avoiding a horrendously destructive, expensive, and most importantly dangerous situation purely because I am too dumb to use a safety feature.

Practicing safe habits at the table saw lowers your chances of something terrible happening, but nothing that involves an exposed, razor sharp blade spinning towards you at thousands of RPM is ever going to be 100% safe. Stack the deck in your own favor by using safety features when they’re available.

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