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Forum topic by LOW1 posted 02-14-2018 03:53 PM 1231 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 982 days

02-14-2018 03:53 PM

I know this general topic has been asked before, but if you were building a 16×20 shop would you get a 36 or a 52 inch table saw?

19 replies so far

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2876 days

#1 posted 02-14-2018 04:05 PM

Mine is one stall of a garage, about 15×25 I think. It would be really cramped with a 52”. I went with the 36 and while there have been times I wished for the extra width, I would notice not being able to walk around the saw 100% of the time.


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View Lazyman's profile


5860 posts in 2268 days

#2 posted 02-14-2018 04:22 PM

IMO it depends upon whether you plan to try to move everything out of the way so you use the space in other ways (such as a garage) when not in use. If that is not a factor, then as long as it has a mobile base on it you can always move it around or turn it a different direction way if needed so I would definitely go with a larger one. Smaller saws tend to be portable contractor saws designed to take to a jobsite and would not be my choice for a dedicated shop. Perhaps a better question is to compare the saws you a considering so we can help you decide between them?

BTW, My shop is a 2-car garage but I have so much wood and other stuff stacked in there it is effectively a 1-car. My saw is 62” wide and it never feels cramped to me.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View knotscott's profile


8386 posts in 4256 days

#3 posted 02-14-2018 04:50 PM

If the saw is left tilt, you can usually rob capacity from the left side by sliding the rail farther to the right….meaning if you get the 36”, you could fairly easily extend to about 46” if necessary.

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

View AZWoody's profile


1478 posts in 2104 days

#4 posted 02-14-2018 05:46 PM

Also depends if you think you will ever use that much capacity.

If you’re only going to be ripping pieces less than 4’ wide, you can easily do it with a 36” fence.
Originally, I had a 50” fence on 2 different table saws and i never opened them up that wide.

View BurlyBob's profile


7942 posts in 3146 days

#5 posted 02-14-2018 06:49 PM

It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

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6292 posts in 3289 days

#6 posted 02-14-2018 07:31 PM

I have 16×20 shop, with the extensions the saw is at 62” has worked for years. As someone else mentioned it does take up space and longer pieces get challenging. To work with this I installed double doors and oriented the saw to allow the off cut to go out the doors when needed. Mostly I rough cut 4×8 ply outside and bring it inside. Current cabinet build to attached two contractor saws together side by side comes to 68”, still no issue but I doubt I would ever go larger. Current base cabinet under construction:

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View 8iowa's profile


1591 posts in 4642 days

#7 posted 02-15-2018 12:25 AM

While 52 inch rip capacity is great for ripping 4’x8’ sheet goods, you will not have a large enough shop to handle the infeed and outfeed requirements of 4’x8’ stock.

My Upper Peninsula “Workshop in the Woods” is a basic garage floor plan of 24’x28’ outside dimensions. I can just barely rip a 4’x8’ sheet of plywood, but it’s very close.

Your shop will have a “center stage” area where a large machine will have to be moved into place and then again put back somewhere to make room for other equipment. If you are a big strong guy you can shove around 500 to 700 pound machines. For me… way!

Keep in mind your electrical requirements. Big powerful machines need to be on 240 volt. You will need a 60 to 100 amp breaker box.

Be sure to include on your list, a nice workbench with shoulder and tail vises. My workbench is indispensable. It is my gluing, clamping, and assembly station.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View AlmostRetired's profile


221 posts in 1595 days

#8 posted 02-15-2018 01:04 AM

I have a 52 and use it to cut down sheet stock pretty regularly. If you intend to do that with a separate track saw or that type of setup then the 36 will be more than enough.


View Knockonit's profile


707 posts in 1083 days

#9 posted 02-15-2018 01:53 AM

Wheeled unit if 52’’, mine is a 52’’ uni saw, and while i sometimes cut large stock with it, i usually pull it out of the two car garage and do the deed. as all the work tables in garage have projects on them, as does the dang patio. lol. seems i’m always clogging up the joint with stuff, (wifes words not mine).
again depends on what aspect the saw will serve in your intended hobby.
Rj in az

-- Living the dream

View BikerDad's profile


347 posts in 4482 days

#10 posted 02-20-2018 06:34 PM

Having seen this question asked for many years on forums, the general consensus from those who haven’t had a 50”+ is to go with 50”+, whereas many, MANY not ALL, of those with the 50”+ would not do it again. It simply takes up too much room for how often it’s used. The key question is: will you be crosscutting 4’x8’ sheets of plywood frequently enough to justify the space required. If you’re going to be building lots and lots and lots of cabinets, then sure. In fact, it that’s your intended use, you’re probably looking at building a full blown “workstation” of outfeed table and such.

Knowing what I know, and how I work, I would not do it today. I’ve no interest in wrasslin’ full sheets of plywood onto the table saw (mine is 6” higher than normal). I’ll just use a circular saw to break the plywood down and finish on the tablesaw. If precision in the first cut is required (it hasn’t been yet), I’ll invest in a tracksaw.

-- I'm happier than a tornado in a trailer park! Grace & Peace.

View ArtMann's profile


1483 posts in 1697 days

#11 posted 02-21-2018 03:49 AM

A 16 X 20 is a little small to accommodate that size of saw rails. You need walking around room.

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337 posts in 1241 days

#12 posted 02-23-2018 03:57 PM

I, for one, hate jockeying 4×8 sheets of plywood over a table saw. When I shut down my cabinet business and shrank back to my garage shop, I set up my saw for a 36” wide max cut. For sheet goods I use a guided rail system like Festool which is as accurate as needed. And its much easier to plop a sheet of plywood on a couple of shop made sawhorses than trying to raise the ply and push over the saw. Especially with MDF. So I don’t think the extra 12” width is worth the space and cost when working in tight quarters where space is at a super premium.

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6785 posts in 2601 days

#13 posted 02-23-2018 04:31 PM

It s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

- BurlyBob

+1. My shop is just under 13’ 6” wide and I have a 52” right tilt saw and planning around the saw initially has proven to offer adequate space save for when my inner wood hoarder kicks in.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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Jon Hobbs

147 posts in 1585 days

#14 posted 02-23-2018 06:08 PM

I’ll reinforce what others have said – I think how you intend to use the saw, need vs. want, should drive the decision more than the space available.

If you get the 52 incher:

If you truly need 52 inches often, you’ll easily find a way to deal with the space issue, while happily enjoying the generous rip-capacity of your saw.

If you do not truly need 52 inches, you’ll frequently curse all the space that it occupies and the shop will become a less pleasant place to play :)

If you get the 36 incher:

If you truly need 52 inches often, you’ll curse yourself often for not getting 52 inches.

If you rarely need 52 inches, you’ll easily deal with the work-arounds (many of which have been suggested already) on the rare occasion where you need more capacity, while enjoying the spaciousness of your workshop :)

-- Jon -- Just a Minnesota kid hanging out in Kansas

View LOW1's profile


4 posts in 982 days

#15 posted 03-18-2018 07:56 PM

Thank you all for your help. I got the 52 but hedged my bet by getting the industrial base. The shop that it is for is in northwest ontario on an island. Rather than dealing with putting the saw in the boat this summer we brought it up last weekend over the ice road. 42 inches of ice so no worries. If i knew how to post some pictures i would. Thanks again for the help and insights

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