Should I buy a Table Saw? Not which

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Forum topic by CplSteel posted 08-20-2012 11:20 PM 6119 views 0 times favorited 61 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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143 posts in 3215 days

08-20-2012 11:20 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question tablesaw miter saw bandsaw router

First off, this is not a “I am scared of a TS because it is dangerous so I don’t want one” thread. I respect table saws and will always make the safe choice, sometimes that means a TS cut and sometimes that means a miter saw or a router table (which may not be safer, depending on the cut). My “problem” is that I have about $3k saved up for my new to me shop. I was going to get a nice 3hp cabinet saw, and was looking at a $1,300 grizzly, but a lot of threads here talk about the eventual upgrade from Grizzly to a Unisaw with a biesemeyer, powermatic or a Sawstop.

So, my question is NOT which tablesaw should I get, there are plenty of threads on that. My question is, given that I will want a bandsaw, and router table, do I make those nice (like a Rikon 14” deluxe ($1,000) and a 3hp router with a MLCS lift and fence ($1,000)) and get a miter saw (~$500) and skip the TS all together, save the money and the floor space? So my real question is what cuts would be much more difficult in this shop that would make me miss a Table Saw?

The only thing that pops to my mind is that the finish on ripcuts, even with a nice blade, may not be glue up smooth. The other concern is a beveled rip, like for a french cleat (which is find with a circular saw because the finish is not critical) but I imagine I could come up with a jig for that (tilting a bandsaw table has never worked out well in my opinion).

The majority of the work I do is hobby and furniture building, sheetgoods come into it occasionally, but even with a unisaw I would break the goods down with a circular saw first.

Again, it is a question of what cuts are just that much easier. Thanks for your responses.

61 replies so far

View knotheadswoodshed's profile


225 posts in 3223 days

#1 posted 08-20-2012 11:27 PM

I would split the 3k up and go with the Rikon that you mentioned (mine arrives Friday, woohoo!)
the Jet Proshop tablesaw (around 900.00..CPO Jet has a sale)
then your router table and you should be set.

oh yeah, I have never had any problems with ripcut glue ups…its all in the blade, IMHO

I stand corrected on the TS..its 1349.00 now…wow, I only paid 900.00 for mine 8 months ago

-- Randy - "I dont make mistakes, I make design change opportunities"

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


17269 posts in 3669 days

#2 posted 08-20-2012 11:32 PM

You can easily clean up cuts with a sharp handplane. TS not needed within the overall shop you’ve described. My .02!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View knotscott's profile


8415 posts in 4426 days

#3 posted 08-20-2012 11:32 PM

Everyone’s different, but most shops feature the TS as the centerpiece of the shop….mine included. It’s possible to do without, but I sure wouldn’t want to. I use my TS for most straight cuts (rip, crosscut, miters, bevels, grooves, dados, etc) because they’re easier, faster, and more accurate than the alternatives….I reserve the BS for curves, and the CMS for crosscuts on very long boards, like molding….rarely do I break out a circular saw. The cuts from a good TS should be glue ready right off the saw with a well aligned saw, flat lumber, and a decent blade….doesn’t even have to be a great blade…just decent. I’ve give up my CMS long before my TS. I’d also give up a router lift before my TS…..have yet to need one with my Milwaukee 5625 or Freud FT1700 routers. You can put the router table in the table saw wing to save space.

I’ve been using the Shop Fox equivalent of a Grizzly G1023SL for 4 years, and have had zero urge to upgrade to a Uni, PM, or other saw….unless you’re running a 24/7 operation, I can’t imagine a new G1023RL or G0690 not being enough saw, which IMO are both great values in a table saw compared to anything else near their price points. I don’t recall reading many (if any) threads here from folks upgrading from a 3hp Griz cabinet saw to anything other than a SawStop, which they generally do to gain the safety feature. In the end, you’ve got to do what works for you.

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

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4354 days

#4 posted 08-20-2012 11:34 PM

follow your heart…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View rasp's profile


75 posts in 3308 days

#5 posted 08-20-2012 11:46 PM

i suggest buying a used saw and refurbish it, it will give you a new understanding/appreciation for the machine. buying something new isn’t always the best route.

you may have to be patient looking on kijiji or craigslist, but some very nice machines come up for sale every once and a while, they may even be modified to suit your needs, maintained well, and a fraction of the price of a new saw.

View Loren's profile


11135 posts in 4698 days

#6 posted 08-20-2012 11:50 PM

You don’t need a table saw to make furniture, musical
instruments and all sorts of other things. For making
plywood cabinets the table saw is very useful but a
compelling safety argument can be made for investing in a
guided track saw system instead.

The table saw is one of the more hazardous common
woodworking machines.

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4057 days

#7 posted 08-20-2012 11:53 PM

Ive gotta say $3k would go a LONG way on used equipment. I could possibly outfit an entire shop with that cash.

3HP Cabinet Saw – $500 – 700
14” Bandsaw – $350
Router & table – $400
Jointer – $300 – $400

The you could upgrade every inch of every machine with blades, bearings, guide blocks, pulleys, you name it. $1000 would make every machine you had top notch. You would also know every inch of the machine as well.

Thats my spare change.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3844 days

#8 posted 08-21-2012 12:16 AM

Buy it. Take small steps when learning to use it. With all the guards in place they are pretty safe. I’d say they are safer than a circular saw. Never lose respect for it and you’ll be fine.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View AandCstyle's profile


3296 posts in 3307 days

#9 posted 08-21-2012 12:19 AM

I have read reports from people that do not have a TS because they prefer the relative safety of a BS. I agree with another poster that a BS should suffice if you are not making cabinets with sheet goods. Another consideration is if you are ripping long, heavy planks. This would be much easier on a TS with an out feed table, but could be done on a BS with adequate supports. It really comes down to the type of work you intend to do. Cabinets need a TS, smalls don’t. HTH

-- Art

View MNgary's profile


318 posts in 3467 days

#10 posted 08-21-2012 12:34 AM

To make straight boards with 90 degree edges or ends, a table saw is the tool.

I find the tablesaw essential when making case goods such as bedroom furniture, curio cabinets, end tables, etcetera. I use it for cutting boards to size for drawer fronts, glue up components (boards to assemble into tops, sides, door panels), rails & stiles, legs, webs, even built-up moldings and bases. With a sizeable extension table on one side of the blade and an accurate fence glued up panels can be cut square, as well.

Table saws are also great for cutting tenons, lap joints, and a dado—all important for wood joinery in furniture.

If I were equipping a minimalist stationery-tool shop for furniture, I would include a table saw, jointer, and bandsaw. A router table would be wonderful, but a quality hand-held router will suffice.

-- I dream of a world where a duck can cross the road and no one asks why.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3535 days

#11 posted 08-21-2012 12:51 AM

Table saws have so much capability, it’s hard to overemphasize. I can’t imagine life without one. I really can’t.

-- Brian Timmons -

View nwbusa's profile


1023 posts in 3336 days

#12 posted 08-21-2012 01:02 AM

A table saw is a pretty fundamental tool for most woodworking shops. Can you get by without one? Probably. Does having one open up options and make many operations faster, easier, and more accurate? Yep.

-- John, BC, Canada

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4627 days

#13 posted 08-21-2012 01:30 AM

If your concerned about getting injured I think maybe another hobby might be in the cards for you. I’ve heard of a good number of folks being injured when using a band saw, circular saw,routers and router tables. On second thought maybe just hand tools would be the way to go. Otherwise just buy power tools and be very careful .


View MrUnix's profile


8502 posts in 3249 days

#14 posted 08-21-2012 01:36 AM

On second thought maybe just hand tools would be the way to go.

Or not! The only time I’ve injured myself was with hand tools.. the occasional smashed thumb from a hammer, inadvertent cut from a hand saw when my hand was a bit too close, knuckles scraped up using a rasp, the all to frequent cuts while using a razor knife, etc.. I think it’s actually safer for me to use power tools :)


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

View James 's profile


138 posts in 3976 days

#15 posted 08-21-2012 01:49 AM

A nice PM or Uni table saw sounds nice but when you don’t have any other tools to complement it, well then its just a really nice saw that may or may not get used. There are many theories when it comes to buying tools, its common place for people to tell you to buy one tool at a time or buy the best you can afford. I guess the question is what other tools do you have and if you spend your entire 3k budget on a table saw, how long before you can buy another tool to complement the table saw and expand your projects.
I personally will not buy a used table saw again, have gotten burned twice and has turned me off from buying used tools. After getting burned on a couple table saws I tried going a couple different routes, one included just hand tools and the other focused around using a Festool TS55 and an MFT and I can honestly tell you that I hated both of these ways of woodworking. I just felt limited by what projects I could build and did not have the extra funds to buy complementary tools and therefore did not enjoy woodworking and had pretty much given it up. I can’t stay away and I will be making another attempt at setting up a shop. My budget will be limited a little less than what you are stating and there is no way I am blowing a big chunk of it on a high end table saw. I have 4 or 5 projects picked out that I would like to build and a list of tools required to build them. From here I will see what brands to go with, I would suggest you do something similar. You can always upgrade your tools in the future as funds, space and just natural progression in the hobby.

Why don’t you like router lifts? I have never owned a router table let alone a router lift but many woodworkers seems to love the lifts, in spite of their cost.


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