Is a table saw really needed?

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Forum topic by Nick posted 01-08-2014 05:34 AM 4149 views 0 times favorited 90 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 2668 days

01-08-2014 05:34 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

so before you instantly reply with a firm yes here is my situation. i have a mid range cabinet saw that takes up a lot of space. I also have the festool ts75eq along with a nice router as well as a decent miter saw. is there anything that i cant do with those tools that i could with a table saw. i know it is much faster with a table saw but im not a production shop so speed isnt really needed. will all that being said is a table saw really needed for basic woodworking projects when i have other tools that are capable of doing the same thing?

90 replies so far

View squazo's profile


140 posts in 2203 days

#1 posted 01-08-2014 05:42 AM

no you dont absolutely need one, you can cut dadoes and rabbets with the router (maybe put it in a table though) and a track saw seems the best way for breaking down panels, however mid sized cuts are easier on a table saw, such as cutting a 20 inch panel in half, to big for the mitre saw to small to easily use the track saw(but not impossible) also small cuts, imagine trying to cut a piece from 3 inch to 5/8 over say 6 ft too much material wasted on router, and can you even affix you track saw to to something that thin.

I vote keep the saw, maybe sell it and get something cheaper.

View sgmdwk's profile


308 posts in 2430 days

#2 posted 01-08-2014 05:43 AM

That’s kind of up to you, isn’t it? I wouldn’t want to get rid of my old craftsman contractor saw, but I could do most things without it.

-- Dave K.

View Greg's profile


335 posts in 3431 days

#3 posted 01-08-2014 05:44 AM

Funny Cuz I immediately said, “YES! Unless of course you have a Festool tracksaw…” There are things you can’t do on a festool that you can on a tablesaw i.g., cutting thin strips using box joint jigs, tenoning jig, specialized sleds, and maybe some others, but most can be worked around.

So, my final advice is that you need to look at what you are building and what you want to build later on. You have to weigh the need against the space hog that a T-saw is. Also, try not using it for a while and see if you can live with the work arounds. However, that said, I have a feeling you have already answered that question by virtue of posting this.

-- You don't have a custom made heirloom fly fishing Net?

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4206 days

#4 posted 01-08-2014 05:48 AM


A small vintage tilt top table saw can be an
accurate tool for joinery cuts though. Delta
made a good one. It has a small footprint.

Tool selection depends on the work you want
to do. For making furniture a band saw and
a planer are the big time savers. If making
casework with sheet goods the most used
machines are different.

View oldnovice's profile


7511 posts in 3926 days

#5 posted 01-08-2014 05:53 AM

You will find out as you build things you want to build!
However, many wood workers take into account the tools on hand when they consider a project. I would not consider a project that required me to buy one or more stationary power tools because of the cost and the learning curve required how to use it to its full capability.

For example, I would not try a highly detailed marquetry project because I don’t have the skills and I don’t have the tools. Or, I would not attack a intarsia project for the same reason.

On the other hand a kitchen cabinet, a picture frame, a dining room table are all projects I would consider because I have the tools, and hopefully of the skills, to tackle these.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Nick's profile


35 posts in 2668 days

#6 posted 01-08-2014 05:56 AM

so my next question ould have to be is anyone looking to buy a well taken care of table saw?

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2999 days

#7 posted 01-08-2014 06:05 AM

Yes, but… (there’s always a but, right?)

I tried going thus route myself after getting rid of my portable contractor saw, with a ts55 and MFT. While it is true that for the most part, nearly everything that can be accomplished with the table saw can be replicated with a track saw and router, I found that the sacrifice in efficiency was pretty steep. I’m just a hobbyist and my time in the shop is limited enough as it is, so I like to make the most of it.

Nearly all the time, I found that the track saw setup required more setup than with the table saw. The worst operation imo was repeated parallel rip cuts. I found a workable solution by making a jig with an Incra positioner, but as I’ve mentioned, it was slow, and the results were only okay. One thing I really didn’t like was that if the board was than the width of the rail, there was a chance the rail would flex and you’d get a sub par cut. You could get around this by shimming up the gaps with scrap, but again, it was just more work.

Having said all that, I really love my TS55 and there are several types of cuts for which its my go-to tool (namely tapered cuts, breaking down sheet goods, and edge jointing 4/4 or 5/4 stock). I also know a few people who have gone that route and love it. For me, I found the track saw to be a very good component to a table saw. Greg’s advice is probably best – since you have the TS75 already, try not using your table saw for a while and see how you like it. Best thing is you’ll have your answer and not someone elses.

View gtbuzz's profile


427 posts in 2999 days

#8 posted 01-08-2014 06:09 AM

Forgot to add one thing. The only thing I can think of that you can do with a table saw that you can’t so in some way shape or form with a track saw + router is a cove cut. How big of a deal that is depends on what you like to make. I’ve only done it once myself.

View realcowtown_eric's profile


619 posts in 2495 days

#9 posted 01-08-2014 06:18 AM

Can you put a dado blade on it, or even a moulding head?

methinks the answer is keep the ts , even if speed is not essential, you will find shortcomings in a rail guided saw.

Eric in cowtown

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2844 days

#10 posted 01-08-2014 06:48 AM

Needed? No. However, I would argue that many types of cuts are made most efficiently on a table saw. That said, not everyone has the space for one, and there are always alternate methods for every type of cut a TS can perform.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Fettler's profile


200 posts in 2555 days

#11 posted 01-08-2014 09:17 AM

No, but it’s a versatile tool. I have a 1944 Unisaw that I bought off craigslist for $300.

Your alternatives to a table saw are:
1) Hand tools. Quality panel saws like Lie Nielsen, Wenzloff & Son and Old Disstons (I have one from can be more expensive than a table saw.
2) Bandsaw. The cut is much rougher than a table saw and needs to be cleaned up with a hand plane (which is often the case for the table saw cuts anyway).
3) Tracksaw. Can do a majority of the cuts a table saw can but requires more setup.

The wood whisper has an episode on replacing a tablesaw with a bandsaw. There’s been talk about legislature banning table saw or at least table saws without safety cartridges (sawstop).

i’d also like to do away with my tablesaw as it takes a huge portion of my basement shop, but it just doesn’t seem possible. I know people like Jim Tolpin from The Port Townsend school of woodworking has done away with his power tools except his bandsaw.

-- --Rob, Seattle, WA

View SebringDon's profile


95 posts in 2498 days

#12 posted 01-08-2014 11:09 AM

No, a table saw isn’t really needed.

I don’t have a table saw, but I did recently get a Craftsman 14” bandsaw. Take a look through my projects (and those of others who don’t have a ts) and decide for yourself if you really need a table saw. In particular, check out the saw horse panel saw and circular saw crosscut jig/table I use in their stead. I’m glad I didn’t blow the budget or the limited space I have for a workshop on a TS; others might feel differently.

-- Don

View Woodbum's profile


898 posts in 3623 days

#13 posted 01-08-2014 01:18 PM

No, but then again, do you really need half of the tools you own? That’s kind of a personal decision based on:
a. What kind of work you do
b. Storage space
c. Budget
d. what your priorities sre
For me personally and the work I do, and my budget etc, the answer is a resounding YES. I NEED a table saw.
Do we really need $55,000 pickups? $500 watches? $500,000 mini McMansions? Expensive vacations or an Ivy League education? No but some people choose to have those things because it fits their personal priorities.
I really don’t want to come off sounding like a jerk, but if you have to ask, then no, you don’t need a table saw.

-- "Now I'm just another old guy wearing funny clothes"

View Kryptic's profile


294 posts in 2218 days

#14 posted 01-08-2014 02:55 PM

I am currently in your situation with the same tools. I have no issues using the table saw as a bench, and my Festools for everything else. Go figure, that I still get a big buck for my work.

View bigblockyeti's profile


6107 posts in 2278 days

#15 posted 01-08-2014 03:02 PM

I don’t really need a car, I could walk everywhere, but it’s much quicker and convenient to drive, most of the time. There is so much that a tablesaw does so well, it’s hard to imagine working without one. Many will argue a good tablesaw is the cornerstone of any workshop for the reasons mentioned above. It’s all about not only capability, but speed as well.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

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