Help with tablesaw decision

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Forum topic by pdalton posted 01-01-2019 12:28 AM 2031 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15 posts in 3062 days

01-01-2019 12:28 AM

I’m about to buy my first table saw. I have used many in the past, but never owned one myself. I plan to use it for making gift/jewelry boxes, some puzzles and an occasional special-use cabinet or the like from time to time. We have a 3 car garage, but one of those spaces is “just mine”, so no cars get parked in it and I can set it up and keep it as I please. My air compressor is an older (25+ yrs) 20-gallon Craftsman that I rewired from 120v to 220v current and for which I already ran 220v current, so I have access to and can use either power voltage.

Ideally, I’d buy the SawStop contractor saw if I could afford it, but that would be a BIG stretch I don’t think I can make, and it seems impossible to find used SawStops.

I’ve looked for used belt-drive contractor models on CL in this general area (Dallas-Ft. Worth) with no real success. It could be because I don’t really know what I’m looking at among what’s being offered, or that the few I’ve seen that look like possibilities seem overpriced and appear to need quite a bit of work. I haven’t worked on saws before and while I might be willing (though not eager) to “learn how”, I really don’t know how to fairly evaluate the condition of any I’d be looking at.

So, because I don’t feel comfortable paying what’s demanded for used contractor saws in unverifiable condition and because many of those don’t appear to have either good blade guards or riving knives for safety, I’ve also been thinking about just buying a new “jobsite” saw instead. However, I’m not sure whether a “jobsite” saw will be adequate to do the things I want, so I’d really appreciate some thought on whether I should even be thinking about a “jobsite saw”.

But if I can get comfortable that a “jobsite” saw will suffice, I’ve more or less narrowed those down to two: The DeWalt DWE491RS or the SkilSaw SPT-99-(10 or 12) (like its siblings, the SawStop “jobsite” model is also too expensive). Both of these have R&P fences, but (from what I’ve read) DeWalt’s R&P implementation is probably better. Both claim to be able to take a 13/16” dado stack (though, at this point, it appears SawStop has only a 1/2” dado insert). The SkilSaw does have a worm drive motor, which I’m led to believe is more powerful than DeWalt’s direct drive motor. The Skilsaw has a larger table and can make a 1/2” deeper 90 degree cut, but it has 2” less rip capacity. Of course, the SkilSaw is newer, so it may still have some bugs to work out. The SkilSaw has a “180 day STAY TRUE Guarantee and 1 year limited warranty”, while the DeWalt has a three Year limited warranty. I’ve seen reports that the table on the SkilSaw may have some serious flatness issues, but then I’ve also seen a few complaints about the flatness of the DeWalt table, as well.

I already own an Incra 1000HD Miter gauge, so I’m not really concerned about the quality of the miter gauge that comes with whatever saw I end up buying.

However, another thing that may be an issue in the long run is that I believe it could be useful to add an Incra LS-TS positioner sometime down the road, and I just don’t know whether that can be used (or would be advisable to even try to use) with one of these “jobsite” saws.

Anyway, I’ve been gnawing on this issue for several months now and I really want to be done with it. I feel like I’ve chopped down so many trees in the forest of table saw information that I’m dizzy and just need some additional perspectives, thoughts and ideas to help me make my decision.

So any thoughts and suggestions about contractor vs. jobsite saws and which saws to consider would be greatly appreciated.


-- Paul Dalton; Grapevine, TX

19 replies so far

View jamsomito's profile


714 posts in 1761 days

#1 posted 01-01-2019 12:37 AM

What exactly is your budget?

A job site saw can make nice things. A contractor saw is a nice step up.

View pottz's profile


22315 posts in 2319 days

#2 posted 01-01-2019 01:08 AM

wow there are so many variables to consider so im gonna sit back and watch the show,it’s usually pretty entertaining-LOL.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Noel's profile


106 posts in 1142 days

#3 posted 01-01-2019 01:20 AM

You might be surprised at what you can do with a jobsite saw – I’ve had the Sawstop JSS for two years and I’m extremely happy with it. My projects are similar to what you want to do, with the addition of the occasional table or picture frame, and it would be hard to justify the expense of a contractor or cabinet saw for what amounts to a serious hobby for me. I faced the same decision you are and looked very hard at the DeWalt, but ultimately decided that my fingers are worth more than the $600 – $700 difference in price between the DeWalt and the Sawstop. The portability/mobility of the JSS is an added bonus in my 160 sf shop. I also have the Incra 1000 and between that and my crosscut sled, accurate, repetitive crosscuts are no problem. Dust collection is good and the fence is solid and square to the blade and to the miter slots right out of the box.

If I had to point out a shortcoming of the JSS, and I suspect the same is true of other saws in the same category, ripping long stock can be a little challenging, requiring care when initially feeding a board to make sure it stays snug to the fence. Also, like you noted, the miter gauge is pretty worthless for anything other than construction framing.

You’ll likely be fine with any of the saws you’re looking at, but try to get as much saw as you can afford. The JSS, in addition to its obvious safety advantage, is a very well engineered, solidly made table saw. You won’t regret the extra expense of that saw, especially if you trip the brake . . . Oh, and it will accommodate a 3/4” dado stack. ;)

-- Just make the cut

View Smorgasbord's profile


12 posts in 1146 days

#4 posted 01-01-2019 04:07 AM

First question is what size projects do you undertake? Jewelry boxes, furniture, or built-ins? Or just construction type work? Solid wood or man made substrates?

Second issue is I think you should re-evaluate how you spend your money. You already own a $170 miter gauge and are considering a $500 fence, yet you want to spend only $550 on the saw itself? Better to buy a better saw with a good rip fence from the get-go.

The JSS are not built for accuracy, but for things like ripping a 2×8 to a 2×7. If you’re doing the kind of work that leads you to lean towards Incra products, you won’t be happy with any of them. Splurge on a good contractor’s saw is my advice. Oh, and forget the dado thing. A router produces a cleaner dado, and unless you have a lot to cut, you’ll find that just making multiple passes on the tablesaw is faster than swapping out blades.

View Blackfin29's profile


210 posts in 1504 days

#5 posted 01-01-2019 04:36 AM

Oh my I just saw this movie with my nephew. Started with a Job Site, and quickly realized the shortcomings and actually put a $300 Vega fence on it, which was even discouraged by the guy answering the phones at Vega. But he still did it. Then went on for an Incra Miter express, which was overkill for the JSS as a simple shop made crosscut sled would have worked just fine, and finally said uncle and just recently ordered an affordable hybrid. Real Cast table top, ability to make realistic adjustments to table, etc.

In the long run, wait and save your pennies and get what you want.. or do what he did and financed it from Grizzly and pays under $100 month for 10 months or something like that.

As usual it boils down to how much this means to YOU… but if you’re even more than half-serious about starting woodworking do it right and do it slow, but get what you can keep for a long time.

The incra gear you mentioned alone will cost more than the saw.

Good Luck….

View MrUnix's profile (online now)


8853 posts in 3533 days

#6 posted 01-01-2019 05:11 AM

Unless you absolutely need a light weight portable plastic saw, stay away from them. Find something with a real belt driven induction motor and cast iron top. The ubiquitous C-man and Delta contractor saws are plentiful and cheap on the used market and make a great entry level saw. When time to upgrade, you can sell them for what you paid and be out nothing or very little.


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

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2821 days

#7 posted 01-01-2019 05:16 AM

There is no way in hell I’d ever consider putting a incra fence on a contractor saw. Much less a job site saw. I’d just spend the money for the fence on a cabinet saw.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3360 days

#8 posted 01-01-2019 05:49 AM

Some of the job site saws lack standard miter bar slots, which might make your Incra miter unuseable. That’s the first thing I’d check out. But I agree that a contractor’s or hybrid saw is a much better choice.

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

View NoSpace's profile


173 posts in 2575 days

#9 posted 01-01-2019 08:19 AM

I’ve only ever had a DeWalt jobsite saw w/ good blade and it pretty much does what I need it to do, but I admit I don’t do many large projects. If I were to get a SawStop tomorrow—I am considering getting one within a year—it would take me a while to get the SawStop to the point where I can do what I can with my jobsite due to the custom sleds and jigs. I’ve put money into upgrading other tools first, getting a great bandsaw and more handplanes, i’ve gone through three miter saws to find a good fit, but the little dewalt jobsite has just sort of been good enough to keep up with everything else.

Having used the jobsite saw for 4 years, I will list in order my reasons for wanting to get to a real cabinet saw. 1) noise. 100+ db vs 85. Aside from how that affects those I live with and my concerns about neighbors, even with ear projection, as time goes on I just dread hearing that scream constantly. 2) Ripping hardwoods. I prefer to rip on bandsaw and sometimes i clean edges with table saw or sometimes other methods. But there are some basic ripping operations I’d prefer to just blast through comfortably on the TS rather than two operations. 3) more space to work with. 4) the safety feature on SS is a decent bonus, but I was attracted to their Db chart foremost. ha.

View Paintman1966's profile


1 post in 1459 days

#10 posted 01-01-2019 01:05 PM

I had a cheap Ryobi contractor saw from 2004-2010 that I bought for $300 that was pretty darn good. I bought a WW II blade for it and never put it on it since the factory blade was pretty darn good. I upgraded (minor one) to a Ridgid R4512 due to good reviews and put the WW II blade on it eventually and I’m loving this saw. The blade it came with lasted me a while and cut pretty good although any decent blade should do you good. For $550 then and $529 now at HD, I think it’s a great value and it is very accurate with a nice fence and easy to use built in mobile base. Blade changes are easy to do, though I hardly ever change out the WW II. I have seen these used, though rare to find used, for $350 or so. Ridgid also has a lifetime service agreement (Sign up ASAP and don’t wait like I did and lost out on that, though I haven’t needed it) They made a version with a granite top for a while but have stopped and gone back to cast iron. Granite was heavier and especially chipped or cracked during shipping or hard knocks, so avoid granite if going used. Sorry to ramble on with my 2 cents worth, Good Luck.

P.S. No, I don’t work for Ridgid or HD :)

View bondogaposis's profile


6097 posts in 3686 days

#11 posted 01-01-2019 02:30 PM

Get a used Craftsman 113 series saw, usually can be found for under $200. Upgrade the fence and you will have a very serviceable saw and far better than a plasticky job site saw. Making boxes requires a fair degree of accuracy and repeatability. A contractor saw will serve you better than a job site saw.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View knotscott's profile


8437 posts in 4710 days

#12 posted 01-01-2019 04:18 PM

The basics of a true cast iron contractor saw with a belt drive induction motor will have every advantage over a portable except for portability. If you don’t need the portability of a jobsite saw, there’s little reason to give up the advantages of a full size saw.

Some reading that might help your decision

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

View pdalton's profile


15 posts in 3062 days

#13 posted 01-16-2019 10:32 PM

Thanks to all for your very informative comments and suggestions, including the helpful link provided by Knotscott. We’ve had some health issues over the past few weeks that diverted my attention from this, but I now have read all of it and deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Knotscott’s brief summary convinced me not to try to do this with a jobsite saw. So I started looking instead at new contractor/hybrid saws (e.g., Ridgid R4512, Grizzly G0771Z, & Shop Fox W1837). Attractive, but still more than I’d hoped to have to spend to get started.

While I’m still wary of buying used, based on the encouragement from MrUnix and Bondogaposis, I returned to Craigslist today and found a posting asking $110.00 for an older (40+ years) Craftsman (model 113.298032; serial/date code 2236.P0053) with an upgraded motor (1.5hp – Mod. 820030), although it does not appear to have a blade guard or riving knife. [].

If, as Bondogaposis suggests, a Craftsman Model 113 is a good saw, then perhaps getting this used one, cleaning it up and adding a better fence, riving knife & a blade guard might be a good idea.

I already sent a message to the seller asking if it’s still available.

Any comments about this saw? (I’m a bit curious about the non-solid extension wings.)

Any recommendations for a good aftermarket riving knife and blade guard for this saw?


-- Paul Dalton; Grapevine, TX

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3360 days

#14 posted 01-16-2019 11:03 PM

I don’t know the age of that saw, but it’s likely a riving knife is not available for it. Instead, it should have a splitter and blade guard (if not tossed in the dustbin ages ago). The mandate for riving knives began in 2009, though some manufacturers started earlier. You can always add an aftermarket splitter, and should do so to help control or better yet eliminate kickback. It is said that kickback is the most common type of TS injury.

By non-solid extension wings I’m not sure whether you mean the open grid type or the sheet metal type. Either will do fine, but I can’t get within 6 feet of the open grid type without pinching my fingers with either the miter gauge or fence. Just my own stupidity.

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

View knotscott's profile


8437 posts in 4710 days

#15 posted 01-16-2019 11:36 PM

The link in your previous post is now dead, so either you got it or someone else did. If you did get it, post a bunch of good pics so we know exactly what you got.

If not, this older Ridgid, likely a TS2424 or TS2412, has good basic bones, and a decent fence. Looks to be in good shape and is priced fairly –

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

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