School me on table saws please

  • Advertise with us

« back to Power Tools, Hardware and Accessories forum

Forum topic by Armandhammer posted 12-13-2013 10:30 PM 3479 views 0 times favorited 105 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2108 days

12-13-2013 10:30 PM

New to woodworking…I’ve been wanting to get into it for a very long time. My boss is a hobby woodworker and has a small shop and wants to help teach me some stuff which is pretty cool. In the mean time, I want to start picking up a few things I can use at my own house for small projects.

I figured the first thing I could really use is a new TS. I have a rinky dinky Skil TS…you know, the little $100 job from Lowes. It’s worked for me the time I’ve had it but not very well and I’ve had to fight it more than not to get any decent cuts out of the thing. I’ve never done any real woodworking projects though…just home repair and stuff like that. So, even if for some reason woodworking doesn’t workout for me, I still have a need for a good table saw so it won’t be money wasted.

So I guess what I wanted to know, once I pickup a new saw, what are some things I can do to improve it right off the bat? I plan to build some jigs. I’m guessing that the stock blade is ok but could use an upgrade, depends on the saw I’m sure. Not sure what a zero clearance insert is all about…can someone explain? Of course I’ll take time to go over the manual and check out some safety videos/literature, ect. Just looking for some hints and tips on moving into a better, nicer saw.

In case anyone is wondering…I have a pretty low budget for a saw so I’m looking used. I found what appears to be a decent looking Ridgid contractor saw for $300…waiting to find out the model number. Also want to check out reviews on a Craftsman Model # 21833. Max budget is about $500 but I’d like to stay less if possible so I can get needed improvements.

Sorry for the rambling and thanks for any help.

105 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8327 posts in 3857 days

#1 posted 12-13-2013 10:40 PM

A decent used Ridgid contractor saw would be a good start, or any full size saw with a belt drive induction motor. Fence, blade selection, and good setup of the saw are key factors in the end performance of any saw. A good miter gauge or crosscut sled are also good upgrades to a stock saw.

The ABCs of Table Saws

Please keep us posted on your hunt for a saw.

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

View bbc557ci's profile


596 posts in 2556 days

#2 posted 12-13-2013 10:44 PM

If you do a search here on LJs for table saws, bet you’ll see a gazillion (plus or minus) thoughts, opinions, and reviews.

That said however, given your budget, you should be able to pick up a good quality TS used and in good condition. Get out there and look, post some brands, model numbers and pics, and the members here will give you good advice.

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View bbc557ci's profile


596 posts in 2556 days

#3 posted 12-13-2013 10:46 PM

And that poster #1 is prolly your best source for TS info :o)

-- Bill, central where near the "big apple"

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2725 days

#4 posted 12-13-2013 10:47 PM

Howdy and welcome. I’m still a newb at woodworking myself but was lucky enough to score a Powermatic cabinet saw from a woodworking class I took last year. Anyway, I went from using a dinky Ryobi (HD special) which I mainly used to install hardwood flooring at my last house… to a wonderful tool with a very solid, wide, and impecabbly flat steel top. Yes, it makes a huge deal. Having 2.5hp at my disposal was also a giant leap forward especially when dealing with some hard woods. So I guess my point is that if you have space, go for a used cabinet saw like a Jet/Grizzly/Powermatic/Delta etc… Even the older ones tend to last a lifetime if taken care of and my experience maintaining my used saw has been pretty straightforward.

With that said, a zero clearance insert has hardly a gap between the saw blade and insert so it’s much safer especially when ripping very thin pieces that could potentially get caught up in the normal gap and cause some very dangerous situations. You can make these on your own but are pretty cheap anyways… You just need one for every different angle you cut at… like 90d, 45d, etc… So yeah, must do upgrade.

Depending on what you end up with, a fence upgrade is a great one too if you need it. Once a fence is squared to the blade (made parallel too I should say…) you should not have to worry about it going out of alignment. I check mine pretty regularly but the point is that it should pretty much stay put. Cheap ones like the one on my Ryobi dont stay put very well.

You have the right idea about building jigs… a crosscut sled may be the first one you should make. And it teaches you alot of skillls along the way so highly advisable.

Have fun with woodworking. I’ve only been at it for a year or so but it’s been very worth it.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View jonah's profile


2075 posts in 3780 days

#5 posted 12-13-2013 10:50 PM

Most places in the country you can get a Ridgid, Craftsman, or other make contractor’s saw, in good shape, for $200-$300. That’s where I’d start looking, and use the extra money for a quality blade. Make sure whatever saw you get has been decently taken-care-of, runs smoothly, and has a top and fence that are in good shape. Be especially wary of the old Craftsman fences, since they are nearly universally hated.

View a1Jim's profile


117713 posts in 4059 days

#6 posted 12-14-2013 12:03 AM

If you Read Knotscot’s “the ABCs of Table Saws”(link above) you will be very well informed Re table saws.

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2108 days

#7 posted 12-14-2013 04:07 AM

Thanks everyone…getting ready to check the link now. I appreciate the comments and look forward to getting things rolling. Still waiting for the guy to respond back with a model number but so far, that Ridgid looks like the best deal I’ve seen in my area. It also comes with a new in the package dado stack so that’s a bonus! Especially if I can get the price down a little more.

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2108 days

#8 posted 12-14-2013 06:03 AM

Delta Model # 36-650 for $350 with upgraded fence? Not sure what the upgrade is, sent an email, waiting for reply.

View darthford's profile


612 posts in 2406 days

#9 posted 12-14-2013 09:28 AM

I paid $549 new for a Rigid some years back and it was a perfectly capable TS. Loved the easy built in mobile base. I put a Incra Miter 5000 on it and it was quite accurate.

View knotscott's profile


8327 posts in 3857 days

#10 posted 12-14-2013 11:41 AM

”Delta Model # 36-650 for $350 with upgraded fence? Not sure what the upgrade is, sent an email, waiting for reply.”

If the upgrade is a nice fence, and the saw’s in good condition, this could also be a good saw….$350 isn’t a steal, but depending on the fence it could be a solid deal. If this is the 36-650 you mentioned, the fence is a Craftsman upgrade that’s about the same fence as the Ridgids used….decent fence, but not an outstanding fence. It’s got some rust that’ll clean up pretty well, but it also makes for a good bartering point….you can always make a reasonable offer.

At $450, this one is a bit steep too, but it’s loaded, and was obviously owned by someone who knew their saws….it’s got a Unifence, link belt, Sharkguard, extension table, nice mobile base, ZCI, and decent blade. There’s also a highend crosscut/miter sled in the background that you might negotiate for. Again, a reasonable offer or price discussion shouldn’t hurt anything.

Here's another one, that’s way too high but is in excellent condition…. a reasonable offer of maybe $300 isn’t out of line…they may not realize that it’s priced out of hte market. Sometimes people just reference other listings for pricing, and they all end up too high. The negotiating points are the steel wings, stock fence, traditional splitter (no riving knife), outboard motor, and no warranty/return privileges…..$550 buys a new hybrid style saw with a riving knife and warranty. Also, I’m in no position to question where their saw was made, but it looks like one a Taiwanese version to me, like the 36-650.

This 10-15 YO Craftsman is a steal @ $100 IMO….very similar to the Ridgid saws, and the stock fence is the same as the upgraded fence on the 36-650 shown above.

Geez, there’s lots of saws in your region….a lot are a bit overpriced, but lotsa choices! Here’s an American made DeWalt early hybrid. I’d offer $400ish –

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

View toolie's profile


2165 posts in 3110 days

#11 posted 12-14-2013 02:27 PM

FWIW, the 10-15 YO c-man scott noted is the c-man version of the old ridgid st2412. i have one and it’s a great little saw. the fence on the linked c-man, while not fancy and not a t-square, will, once aligned and used properly, hold it’s settings reliably. mine performs as well as the t2 on my 113 series c-man.

-- there's a solution to every just have to be willing to find it.

View RogerM's profile


800 posts in 2881 days

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

Not knowing how serious you want to get into this hobby I would recommend a good used Powermatic or a Delta Unisaw or new one if you can swing it. You will find that a tablesaw is one of the most basic (and essential) pieces of equipment in the shop and is the key to most any well made project. These two saws have stood the course of time and will yield consistent and accurate results. Other than a good blade you will not need many upgrades for these saws.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2108 days

#13 posted 12-14-2013 04:53 PM

I’d definitely like to have a Unisaw or Powermatic or the like, just not sure the budget can handle and honestly, I don’t really have the space at the moment for such a saw. In fact, I don’t have any place for a shop right now. My basement is really just a cellar and my shed I built is packed and probably too small anyways. I’m looking at working on my carport for the time being which is enough room but of course outside so I’m at the mercy of the cold right now. Being that it’s on the carport, something huge and unmovable is probably not the best option. We are hoping this spring to start building a new house on some land we bought a few years ago. When that happens, a portion of the basement is going to be allotted to me for shop space. If I feel like I’m going to get pretty serious about woodworking, that’s definitely when I’ll be looking hard at a cabinet saw.

Again, I appreciate all the great replies. All those CL links…I saw those ads but wasn’t sure which were worth looking at. The first Delta I was looking at is sold so I’ll be contacting sellers about the others. Just wish there were some closer…all those are 2-3 hours from me…but for the right saw not a big deal.

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 2108 days

#14 posted 12-14-2013 05:09 PM

I also know that I’ll likely get more for my money in a used saw, but if I were to look at something new, what would the best options be? In my area, there’s not too much that I know of for places to buy, Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, maybe a couple small privately owned hardware stores…I need to look into some other places that might be in the area.

I know Lowes has a Delta saw= that looks pretty decent. It’s $599 but we have a Lowes card so I could get that for slightly less (5%) or I could get my sister to buy it, she’s active military so that’s 10% off.

Sears has a saw for $499. is about the top of the budget for a cash saw, the $599 Delta from Lowes might be doable. Just need to look around to see what’s out there.

Home Depot has the Ridgid saw#...

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2737 posts in 3404 days

#15 posted 12-14-2013 06:26 PM

I bought a Rigid table saw #3650 in 2006 for $500 new and it is still working fine for me. I keep a ripping blade in it because that is about all I do with this saw. It cuts smooth enough to glue up with no other jointing or surface prep.

-- No PHD just a DD214

showing 1 through 15 of 105 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics