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Forum topic by natenaaron posted 09-06-2013 02:46 PM 1732 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2307 days

09-06-2013 02:46 PM

Some of you may have heard the flushing of my table saw hopes down the drain yesterday.

I had back surgery a little over a year ago for a blown disk that was blocking roughly 80-90% of my nerve in L5. The initial MRI pointed to several problems in my back and apparently one of those other problems was worse than originally thought to be.

Medical needs trump the 1023RL since I will be heading back for another round of MRIs, back specialists and most likely surgery.

So, while my body is pissing me off, I still have the wood working bug. In another of my posts someone mentioned that a bandsaw, router, planer combination did them just fine. How realistic is this set up?

If I throw in 3 circular saws set up with three different blades, a growing enjoyment of hand tools, and an old craftsman RAS do things get more realistic? I have been operating on the impression that the table was was the backbone of the shop.

I want to make small cabinets and other furniture.

All advice is welcome.

21 replies so far

View Bluepine38's profile


3387 posts in 3595 days

#1 posted 09-06-2013 03:10 PM

A lot of wonderful buildings and furniture were made with handtools before machinery was invented. First
you have to ask and answer, “What can my body do without too much strain and damage?” Start small and
work up until you find the answer is the best advice I can give you.

-- As ever, Gus-the 80 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4157 days

#2 posted 09-06-2013 03:20 PM

You can do it. The table saw is versatile but in doing smaller
work the radial arm saw can do the crosscuts and tenon
shoulders just as well.

The band saw doesn’t do tenon shoulders well but most
other cuts it can do and then you clean up with hand planes.

The glues in plywoods dull the teeth in band saw blades,
so if you use ply a circular saw blade lasts a lot longer. For
this reason too the table saw is a good tool for working
with sheet goods. With a little more work and time though
sheet goods can be accurately cut with a handheld
circular saw.

View EEngineer's profile


1120 posts in 4123 days

#3 posted 09-06-2013 03:22 PM

I have been operating on the impression that the table was was the backbone of the shop.

You know, this discussion comes up every once in a while. I firmly believe that the table saw is the center of the shop. But many years ago I had a friend that was into woodworking too. When he set up his shop he made the center a radial arm saw. We had many discussions about the relative strengths of each and built several projects together at both of our shops. I have to say, although they both have strengths and weaknesses, there really isn’t anything that I could do on a table saw that he could not manage on his RAS.

If you already have the RAS, I really see no reason why you must have a table saw.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3480 days

#4 posted 09-06-2013 03:28 PM

Many of the modern day “masters” of the wood working art depend primarily on the band saw.
Band saws are not too great for dadoes, but you can do those with a router.
Ripping will involve an additional step, but you can do that with a hand plane or jointer or, again, the trusty router.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2946 days

#5 posted 09-06-2013 03:28 PM

Sorry to hear about your health problems. Hope it all works out for you.

You should be fine with the tool set up you described.

The bandsaw can be used for resawing, ripping, tenons,etc.The router, with the right jigs or a table, for edge joining, tenons, mortises, dados, rabbets. The planer for planng, joining and thicknessing. With the circular saws cross cutting, ripping, dados, rabbets. The RAS can take the place of the table saw and all its functions. It just requires a little more time and patience to make sure it’s tuned and set properly after each set up. This is only because they don’t hold adjustments after moving the way a table saw does. RAS’s work best dedicated to cross cutting or miter set up (no movement, no re-tuning). Ripping can also be intimidating on a RAS.

It takes a little more time to get the same results using limited tools, but when you’re having fun in the shop who cares! :)

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2307 days

#6 posted 09-06-2013 03:52 PM

I feel better about my predicament now. The woodworking side at least.

It sounds like a router might be in order though.

Thanks Tom. If I had listened to advice such as Gus’s in the first reply I might not be in this predicament. Then again I did have a lot of fun that most likely contributed to my condition.

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 2796 days

#7 posted 09-06-2013 04:19 PM

#1 I don’t think everyone NEEDS a table saw. It depends a lot on what you want to do. #2 I don’t believe everyone that needs a table saw needs an expensive, 220V, 3HP (or more) cabinet saw.

Whether or not a table saw would be beneficial is dependant, I think, on the definition of “small” in the “small cabinets and furniture” part.

I’ve broken my back 3 times (crazy, huh?) and I can tell you that when I decided to build the cabinets for my kitchen, I bought a decent table saw (Steel City, granite topped, 35990). But I built a lot of cabinets. I had tried before to “make do” with an edge guide for the circular saw, but I was hampered by a really old and not-so-good-any-more circular saw and having to spend a lot of time partially hunched over to set up and use the edge guide. I also had some difficulty getting panels to match exactly in size. I’m sure part of that was my fault, but still….

The table saw gave me the ability to do repeat cuts on sheet goods accurately. My wife wanted very simple, shaker style doors. I made the rails and stiles on the table saw. I could maybe have pulled that off on the router table, but the table saw was very fast and accurate.

THEN I got a 14” band saw. I’ve had it almost a year now and I’m really just learning how versatile it is. I’m liking ripping 3/4” stock to width on it. I don’t get glue line rips, but I have a jointer and planer too, so it’s not a huge deal.

I think the table saw is a time saver and excels at cutting sheet goods, and now that I have one, I’m not getting rid of it, BUT I think if you don’t have one and can’t GET one, then you can come up with ways to accomplish what you need without it. You’ll just make more jigs! :)

View mikema's profile


180 posts in 3096 days

#8 posted 09-06-2013 04:35 PM

I agree with the others. With the compliment of the tools you have, you can put off the table saw for quite awhile. Concentrate on using what you have, and on getting your back healed. Have fun in the shop!

-- Mike ---- Visit my woodworking blog:

View dschlic1's profile


460 posts in 2479 days

#9 posted 09-06-2013 04:45 PM

I built a 23’ trimarran wooden sailboat using a RAS. No table saw. The only other power tools I had were a jig saw, disc sander, and a orbital sander.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 2307 days

#10 posted 09-06-2013 04:50 PM

I want to make Krenovian (if that is not a word it should be) style cabinets, desks, and maybe dressers. I thought about a track saw set up for the plunge capability but, in reality, I think I can do just as good with a circular saw, quality blade, and quality straight edge. all of which I already have.

View TerryDowning's profile


1122 posts in 2627 days

#11 posted 09-06-2013 05:01 PM

If you have three circular saws, turn one into a DIY Track saw, plenty of samples here on LJ and around the web.

I am actively trying not to use my TS anymore.
I’m moving towards hand tools

For power tools I’m Favoring
Circular saw with stratight edge for sheet goods and wide rips

-- - Terry

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3480 days

#12 posted 09-06-2013 05:22 PM

For what it’s worth, I think I would rather have a panel saw for working with sheet goods than any thing else that has been mentioned. I just never saw one for less than close to a G$ note.
Until I saw this the other day.
Looks like I can get a kit of parts and build a panel saw for under $300.

View Charlie's profile


1101 posts in 2796 days

#13 posted 09-06-2013 06:02 PM

When you make a circular saw guide, I strongly suggest THIS type.

I have 3 of them in different lengths. I use them all the time for breaking down 4×8 sheets into manageable sizes. You set the edge of the guide right to your line (on the “keeper” side), set your saw on it and away you go. No measuring back based on how far your blade is from the edge of the saw and all that. Set the guide on the line, clamp it, and go.

View Oldelm's profile


75 posts in 2685 days

#14 posted 09-06-2013 06:07 PM

You have everything you need. It is very nice to have great equipment and safe equipment however everyone ca not aford it or because of health constraints can’t use it. That does not eliminate one from woodworking. I have a table saw, not a great one by some standards. It’s a 744 dewalt and it does what I need it to do. It is definitely not the centerpiece of my roll away shop. My circular saws and planes are the center pieces and my 14” delta bandsaw is next. Here is my take, cut it with a saw, doesn’t,t mater what kind hand or power, clean it up with a plane. It is a mater of a few strokes witha plane. Same thing with most parts of woodworking with power tools, cut it with power clean it up by hand. I know about the big equipment because I have owned it and used it and it is nice. I don’t need it now and I am just as happy with the work that I can do with what I have. I have some of the same issues that you have with the back. Check out my projects, the table saw was used for some ripping but that is all. Could have used the circulars or the band saw as well. If I can resaw 3/16 veneer on my band saw than it is good enough to rip a 5’ board for a table top or something else. If I can plunge cut the desk top i built with a porter cable 214 circular saw than I can cut a sheet of plywood with it. Keep enjoying woodworking with what you have.


-- Jim, Missouri

View bondogaposis's profile


5541 posts in 2861 days

#15 posted 09-06-2013 06:12 PM

If you rip on the bandsaw and cross cut on the RAS it is doable if you have jointer and planer. Hand planing is another option but it is strenuous work and might not be possible in your situation. You’ll just have to figure out what the right mix is for you once you heal.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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