Cabinet Saw - New or Used?

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Forum topic by LucasinBC posted 10-05-2011 06:05 AM 14013 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4317 days

10-05-2011 06:05 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tablesaw

Warning: I’m sure that this is a topic that will raise much discussion, so rest assured that I realize there is no correct answer to this question. I’m mostly looking for experienced opinions on this topic. Also, I should point out that I am a beginning woodworker, not a pro, not working in a big shop.

I’ve recently decided that I would like to invest in a table saw. I don’t have one yet and it’s driving me crazy. I have every other woodworking tool you can think of, and I have kept the table saw for last for a few reasons which I won’t go into right now (mostly it was a healthy respect / fear of doing something stupid on a table saw that could get me hurt as a beginner.)

As well, I have recently decided that I am tired of buying sub-par tools because they wind up costing me more in the long run. I don’t want to start a major debate on that, I realize everyone has a budget and in the end it’s the user, not the tool, which determines the quality of the work. That being said, I have had a negative experience buying a budget Chinese made bandsaw which leaves a lot to be desired.

I know most like the idea of buying a portable or contractor saw, upgrading to a hybrid saw, then a cabinet saw, or whatever, but I think I just want to cut to the chase, invest in something decent and have it last me the better part of my life, if not my whole life. That’s the idea anyway. I would rather pay now than later, in either having to buy another tool, or, have unhappy results with the tool.

However, I cannot afford a brand new $4K cabinet saw. That is just out of my budget. My budget is up to about $1500. Where I live in the Vancouver/Lower Mainland area there are a good number of used cabinet saws that go for about that amount. The most common are used Rockwell/Delta Unisaws, which appear to be 15 years old or more. There are also a few General table saws in that price range, also aged about 10 years.

By contrast, $1500 could fetch me a new Grizzly G1023 type cabinet saw, with riving knife, blah blah blah. I realize that Grizzly is more on the affordable range of cabinet saws, by contract to say Powermatic, Sawstop, Jet, etc, but as I mentioned, such new saws are normally out of my budget.

So my question is – which is better? Is neither a good option? Has anyone had experience buying a used 1980’s unisaw? bad? good? Has anyone tried a used cabinet saw from the 1980’s compared to a Grizzly type saw? More trouble than it is worth? Hard to obtain good parts if they break down?

Your thoughts are much appreciated!

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

21 replies so far

View brooksorkot's profile


13 posts in 3856 days

#1 posted 10-05-2011 06:31 AM

Well Lucas, I own a 1961 Powermatic model 71 table saw. Not many of them made. It is 3hp and is 3ph. I use a phase converter with it. It is a 12” blade with a 1” arbor. I bought it for $400 and put about another $400 into it and refurbished it. I am sold on Powermatic and I have an old saw that cuts the same every time I turn it on. My personal opinion is that the older machines were made to last. My blade is Freud Premiere Fusion and would recommend that blade to anyone. I have seen guys talk about the older delta unisaws and they seem to be good saws to. It really is up to you, but for me I like the older “heavier” tools that seem to last. Again, just my 1 1/2 cents.


View knotscott's profile


8431 posts in 4621 days

#2 posted 10-05-2011 06:34 AM

If you’ve got 220v and the budget, I think “most” would acknowledge that a cabinet saw is a more substantial saw than a portable jobsite, contractor saw, or hybrid saw.

There are pros and cons to buying both new and used. A good used saw is often the best way to get the most saw for the money, but it depends on what’s available in your area when you’re looking, the condition of the saw, and your comfort level of having no warranty. The older saws also don’t have an updated riving knife, and many could use a fence update. A riving knife is a more elegant solution than a traditional splitter IMO, but a good splitter is certainly capable of performing the same function, so wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. In some cases an aftermarket riving knife called the “BORK” will can be retrofitted to an older saw.

The Grizzly cabinet saws are well regarded and considered excellent value in today’s market place for hobbyists. Many will consider a Canadian made General 350/650, Delta Unisaw, or PM66 to be more robust machines, but the Grizzly G1023 and G0690 are plenty capable of excellent work for most hobbyists, and even many commercial shops, plus they’ll carry a warranty and have all the modern features.

Which is best for you is really an executive type decision that only you can make. Please keep us posted!

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

View twiceisnice's profile


95 posts in 4073 days

#3 posted 10-05-2011 06:35 AM

I ‘f your going to invest in a good saw, don’t buy grizzly.

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 4353 days

#4 posted 10-05-2011 07:19 AM

I love my G0690 Grizzly. If I had to do it over I would buy Grizzly again. This is my third Grizzly tool and all have been excellent tools.

View Sarit's profile


552 posts in 4386 days

#5 posted 10-05-2011 09:44 AM

I would say that as a beginner, having a riving knife is a very good thing. Kickback is the most likely thing that you will face. If it were my money I would get the Grizzly too. Table saws aren’t terribly complicated devices. So long as your tables are flat and your arbor doesn’t have excessive runout, everything else can be tuned to perfection. I don’t hear of many people who have actually bought a grizzly TS and been unhappy with it. They may have missing/broken pieces when they open the box, but after getting it setup most seem to love their Grizzlies.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7933 posts in 4160 days

#6 posted 10-05-2011 02:28 PM

What knotscott says AND what Sarit says.

The only other thing to add is I have the G0690 and love it.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View vernonator's profile


75 posts in 3897 days

#7 posted 10-05-2011 03:28 PM

I was in your same situation about 9 mos ago – wanted a table saw and could not decied new/used. I prowled craigslist for 3mos and did not see a single cabinet saw for sale so I ended up buying new (got a General International) and am happy I did. Even in the time since I have only seen 1 cabinet saw on our local craigslist. Now you may live in a more populated area that has more availability…ymmv.

View David's profile


199 posts in 3909 days

#8 posted 10-05-2011 04:09 PM

One thing to consider is that you may want to leave room in the budget for a good miter gauge. My (limited) experience with table saws is that regardless of the saw quality the miter gauge usually is lacking.

-- Perilous to all of us are the devices of an art deeper than we ourselves possess. --Gandalf the Grey

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 4132 days

#9 posted 10-05-2011 04:52 PM

I don’t think you would be dissipointed in a new Grizzly.

View Loren's profile


11277 posts in 4894 days

#10 posted 10-05-2011 07:04 PM

You throw away about 40% of the value by buying new. I seldom
buy new machinery for this reason. Changing safety standards are
causing a flood of older saws onto the used market, which makes
a glut and drops prices for you. Buy new if you want to, but you
have plenty of good options in the secondhand market. If you’ve
got $1500 I’d look for a used Scmi/Mini-max slider or similar.

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 5045 days

#11 posted 10-05-2011 08:50 PM

I am a big fan of grizzly. I have had mine for more than 7 years now and it works flawlessly. I still have not needed to repair it once.

I wouldn’t start off with anything more expensive since mine does it all. As for used, unless you have an interest in repairing things, get something new so you can focus on cutting wood instead of repairing tools

-- making sawdust....

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4317 days

#12 posted 10-06-2011 06:57 AM

Thanks for all the responses everyone – as I had predicted there are lots of good points on either side of the debate. I personally enjoy taking old tools and making the work again, which is what I’ve done with all of my hand planes so far…but I realize table saws are another game.

Cr1 – you are bang on. As I said before, I cringe at the idea of “working my way up” to better equipment. Buying 2 or 3 machines likely is more expensive than just picking the one you want and sticking to it for many years. Don’t know if FELDER is in my budget though.

Motthunter – your point is also well taken. I am not a mechanically inclined person. If the motor fails, I am not the type who enjoys taking it apart and fixing it…which is why I am looking for quality and not quantity right now.

I like to hear the good stuff from Grizzly users. The only thing I can see is that General seems to offer a limited lifetime warranty for their saws which is more than the 1 year on Grizzly. General is also hella more expensive…about 1K more. But again, may be worth it if it’s the last saw I buy.

Decisions decisions! Well, my birthday is coming up, so I may as well set that as my deadline. I’ll let everyone know which way I go.

Thanks again everyone,

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View knotscott's profile


8431 posts in 4621 days

#13 posted 10-06-2011 12:49 PM

Lucas – I’m not sure if you have Shop Fox tools available to you, but they’re owned by the same guy that owns Grizzly… many of the tools are the same as Grizzly, but are sold through dealers with a longer warranty.

King Industrial and Craftex are a couple of other viable choices available in Canada.

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

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4317 days

#14 posted 10-06-2011 03:03 PM

Hi Scott – yes the King and Craftex brand are fairly well known here in Canada. I mean this in the most polite way possible, but both are somewhat of the lesser value variety. I hear Craftex is trying to improve their image with their machines, and they have a 3 year warranty, but I have not had good luck with their tools. I have a Craftex bandsaw which I rate at 3 out of 5 stars in my review.

I actually like the look of some of the JET tools in the USA, but unfortunately they are completely unavailable in Canada, and they can’t even be shipped here. Something to do with a trad agreement with another company, not sure which. Which is too bad, because JET seems reasonably priced and they too look like they are decent quality.

One tool company which is quite available up here and reasonably priced as well is LAGUNA. They have always seemed to be a bit of an outsider for me. They seem to have cool looking, high quality machines, but I can’t find a lot of material on their machines. Not many people I know have ever used or owned LAGUNA products. They tend to be slightly more expensive, and I always equated them with one of those fancier brands…but who knows. No LAGUNA reviews here on Lumberjocks (that I can find) for instance. They have some decent looking cabinet saws for $1700-$2000 here in Canada….but again are they simply overpriced? No idea. There’s a store 10 minutes from my home that sells Sawstop, General and Laguna. I think I may take myself for a trip there Friday!

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View Bertha's profile


13624 posts in 3939 days

#15 posted 10-06-2011 03:23 PM

What are the Canadian Generals coming in at? I’m not sure what’s available used in your area but for $1500, I’d be looking at a PM66 or Unisaw for <$1000 and spending the rest tuning it up. That’s more in line with my type of woodworking and my type of shop; yours may differ. I think you’re going to be happy whichever route you go.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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