Do we need a helpful matrix of table saw features and benefits for first time purchasers?

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Forum topic by Lee Barker posted 05-11-2013 04:50 PM 1433 views 1 time favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lee Barker

2172 posts in 4188 days

05-11-2013 04:50 PM

Years ago when I was involved in a motorcycle forum, there would be a large collective “not again” whispered gently when a new owner would come aboard and ask the perfectly predictable questions: “What (tires, oil, windshield, pick any or all) should I buy?

I sense the same about table saws here at LJ.

Would it be helpful if somewhere we had a matrix that grouped saws roughly by type and/or price point new (think contractor, cabinet, professional or something like that) and noted factual info like hp, dado capacity, ease of adding router, available addons, capacity to the right of the blade, maybe even actual size of table?

I am not suggesting entries like “I have this one and it’s never let me down” but rather data points that could make it easier for a shopper to narrow her or his list.

Perhaps, however, there could be a comments section so opinions could be offered, signed of course, so the inquirer could ask further questions of that particular poster.

Whaddya think, would that be helpful? Or am I overthinking this? I’m not the one to execute it, just the idea guy here.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

17 replies so far

View MrRon's profile


6259 posts in 4581 days

#1 posted 05-11-2013 06:02 PM

There are already matrixes where different saws and other tools are compared as to size, weight and all other specifications. They answer all the questions anyone would ask in making a decision. Trying to catagorize saws or anything else for that matter is almost meaningless in today’s “planned obsolescense” culture. To compare a Dewalt saw circa 2010 with one of 2013 is like comparing apples to oranges. Designs change so quickly these days to make comparison useless. You know yourself that comparing a “Skil” saw made in 1985 to one made in 2012 is a worthless comparison. The early one was a fine saw; the new one, a piece of junk. That goes for most tools with a few exceptions, although I can’t think of any at the moment

View unbob's profile


810 posts in 3241 days

#2 posted 05-11-2013 06:15 PM

Myself, if I was looking for a 10” saw. I would find a clean used Powermatic 66 with a T style fence. And be done with the wading through all the stuff. One would have to look real hard to find complaints on that saw, and should question any that do complain.

View Jeff's profile


558 posts in 4532 days

#3 posted 05-11-2013 06:17 PM

It would be helpful but wouldn’t matter. I heard before: “I’ve checked out all the previous questions but I still need to ask …”

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 4188 days

#4 posted 05-11-2013 06:22 PM

Ron, Jeff, I get it. Thanks for gently exhausting the inflation from that pneumatic idea.




-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Matt Przybylski's profile

Matt Przybylski

583 posts in 3716 days

#5 posted 05-11-2013 06:33 PM

I disagree. I think such a resource would be immensely helpful and considered making it about a month ago (I’m a web developer “in my day job”). My plan was to contact knotscott and have him help me out with data input. I wanted to start with table saws and then eventually when I felt we had a good resource move to other tools (but mostly table saws, quite honestly). It was going to include data like original release date, dado stack width, blade size (and best types for diff things linked to the many of Scott’s posts about those topics), riving knife, splitter, accessories, fence style, etc along with all the other important factors in deciding a purchase. It was going to have comparison views, the whole nine yards, and would make it invaluable to new buyers and seasoned vets alike. I never contacted Scott and have put it on the back burner for the summer at least as, well lets face it, I’d rather be doing other things outside of working on the computer all day long (literally) but maybe when the cold weather comes around again I’d revisit the idea if there was enough interest and help to get it off the ground.

-- Matt, Arizona

View sgv's profile


266 posts in 3230 days

#6 posted 05-11-2013 06:47 PM

I have bin wood working for all my life on and off (i am 51) always have had crummy tool, now that I can afford good tool I want to make the right choice, and some help from a great site like this one helps a lot my 2 cens

-- Tite Lines, May the wind be at your back

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 3286 days

#7 posted 05-11-2013 07:04 PM

I understand what you are saying. I just move along.

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 4261 days

#8 posted 05-11-2013 07:13 PM

Lee: While I share your point I don’t think it would mean much. Jeff pretty well nailed it.

-- Life is good.

View RonInOhio's profile


721 posts in 4202 days

#9 posted 05-11-2013 07:23 PM

I have seen pinned threads in other forums for table saw features for first time buyers. I’m not so sure it prevents the same questions from appearing. Maybe there would be more of the same questions if not for the pinned thread.
Its not a bad idea.

View knotscott's profile


8437 posts in 4713 days

#10 posted 05-11-2013 07:43 PM

Well, it doesn’t list useful features in a matrix, but I did put together a blog that helps clarify different classes of saws, and points out differences in construction, pros and cons of the different types, etc., along with some basic tips for buying a saw.

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

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3363 days

#11 posted 05-12-2013 08:20 AM

If knotscott’s blog doesn’t answer all of the questions, it certainly is an excellent start. Maybe combine it with Lee’s suggestion about a comment section (from people who have used/owned and hate or love the saw or its features). If newbies were directed to that resource as soon as they post their question, it might save them the bewilderment of conflicting opinions. The opinions would still be there, but presented in a more cohesive way. Could maybe include opinions on customer service, that sort of thing.

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

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4623 days

#12 posted 05-12-2013 01:43 PM

I agree with runswithscissors; knotscott has always given the best information on differences between saws without pushing one over another…........and I’m glad he always helps the bewbies when the same questions get asked. Thanks knotscott.

-- John @

View JamesT's profile


104 posts in 3250 days

#13 posted 05-12-2013 02:40 PM

I think many woodworkers find that buying a tablesaw is a more difficult decision than buying a new car or truck. Maybe because the right saw should last a life time and the new car a few years. Last year I bought a new truck for $32,000 and a new saw for $1400. Took about two hours to decide on the truck and several months on the saw.
I believe they know what they’re going to buy (or should buy) and what they can afford, but it helps to have someone say, “it’s okay, you’ve made a good decision”.

-- Jim from Horseshoe Bend

View 47phord's profile


182 posts in 3575 days

#14 posted 05-12-2013 04:26 PM

I don’t think this would be as helpful as it might seem; if you do a side-by-side of say, 10” cabinet saws, you’ll find that they all generally have the same specs: blade heights, horsepower ratings, etc. I think a more valuable resource is to read the tool reviews here and elsewhere, you get a more realistic idea of what actual users of these things think of them. Of course, the trouble there is that not all reviews are created equal; on one hand you have the guys who give a saw 5 stars before they even take it out of the crate (I just LOVE people who do that) and on the other, you have the reviewers who trash the the saw because they had a bad customer service experience. But I know where you are coming from, it seems like every other day, there is another “I need help choosing a tablesaw” post.

View runswithscissors's profile


3134 posts in 3363 days

#15 posted 05-12-2013 08:56 PM

I don’t think the specs would be the most useful part (most cabinet saws are 3 hp or more, most hybrids 1.5 or 1.75 hp, etc.). Of more use might be the comments about alignment problems experienced with certain models, the annoying little thin throat plates that make a ZCI impossible, the standard vs. non-standard miter grooves—that sort of thing. I’ve learned a lot about saws I have no experience with from LJs, such as the split rails that some saws have. The point would not be to tell someone what saw to buy, but things to look for or to beware of. Could save someone a lot of aggravation from finding out this stuff before purchase.

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

showing 1 through 15 of 17 replies

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