Small Carpenter’s Table Saws

[UPDATE: AFTER GETTING SOME FEEDBACK, I WENT AHEAD AND PURCHASED THE DEWALT JOB SITE SAW HERE: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000HXT2N6/. THANKS EVERYONE FOR ALL THE VALUABLE INPUT!]


I mentioned in an earlier post that I’ve been thinking about picking up a small table saw. Not a cabinet maker’s (“real”) table saw, but the sort of thing used by carpenters and the like, such as this one on amazon.

The thing is, I don’t know what makes for a good saw of this type, and what doesn’t. Reviews and the description talk about how easy it is to move around. I don’t care about that. I want to use it in my shop for long rip cuts to get material down to size.

I want a saw like this other than a cabinet maker’s saw because I don’t want to spend that kind of money, and my desired uses for it are rather simple.

I don’t work with plywood or other sheet goods that much if any, so how well a saw such as this manages those types of materials isn’t important to me.

I want to be able to cut long boards down to width for projects efficiently and accurately enough that it’s only necessary to take a plane to their lengths afterwords.

My usual decision making for purchases like this is to look for something with a lot of positive reviews on amazon, follow the masses and make the purchase. I’m wondering if anyone out there knows enough to tell me what to look for. Any input is greatly appreciated!

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16 Responses to Small Carpenter’s Table Saws

  1. billlattpa says:

    I have a Ridgid (I think the number is r4516) portable saw very similar to the Dewalt in the photo. I used to use it for electrical work, meaning cutting frames and plywood, and I’ve used it for stuff around the house at times. It works fine. It’s been at my dad’s house for several years because I generally don’t do field electrical work anymore, and I already have a contractor style saw in my garage. I prefer the stability of a large saw, but IMO the smaller saw can be used for a good number of woodworking tasks.
    Bill

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      Thanks. Is there anything essential about the tool that I should watch out for? Or – especially if my needs are about being able to make long rip cuts of 4/4 to 6/4 lumber – is any decent tool liked by others good enough?

      Like

      • billlattpa says:

        I’ve used it to rip construction lumber many times and never had an issue with the blade bogging down. I once tried to rip a piece of 2 inch thick red oak with it and it gave it some trouble, though that could have been the blade and not the saw. From what I gather, all of the saws in the group, either from Bosch or Dewalt, had gotten pretty decent reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Matt Rae says:

    I got a lot of work done on a table saw less elaborate than that. Remember you can always build an outfeed table to increase your ability to handle larger pieces

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      Thank you. I see this as something I put up on my bench when I need to make a long rip cut, or I can see building a small stand for it so my bench can serve as an outfeed table. Rather than “woodworking,” I view this tool as filling a need for “stock management.”

      If I get one, I’d have to take a stab at some long angled cuts for things like making french cleats, but if I need a dado or something I’ll cut that by hand.

      I’m at a loss determining what to look for, so I can get solid quality without spending more than necessary.

      Like

  3. snwoodwork says:

    I’d look for something used. Being where you live, finding a saw on CL shouldn’t be difficult if you check everyday. When doing rip cuts a solid fence will be paramount. And like Bill said, plan to spend some money on a good blade. My brother-in-law has the collapsible Ridgid from HD & it’s a great saw. The fence is micro adjustable, too. I can’t remember the price but it’s around that Dewalt, maybe a little more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. spokeshave27 says:

    The dewalt is a great tool – but you can also do what you want with a good circular saw .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wesley Beal says:

      You know, I think I am going to go ahead and buy a new circular saw. It’ll be my first *bought* circular saw. The one I have now and any I’ve ever had have been “found” circular saws: abandoned by previous owners. Maybe they were abandoned for good reason, and if I get one that lots of people have liked I’ll have better luck making accurate long cuts with it.

      Like

      • Wesley Beal says:

        Except now I have to figure out: regular vs. worm drive. And some of these cost half as much (+) as the contractor’s saws. Argh.

        Like

        • You probably know this but worm drives are heavy and they should never be used overhead. They tend to twist in the hand. Go to a job site of good carpenters and you will generally see direct drives. When I was cutting parts as a framer, we would remove the stock cord and replace it with a heavy gauge 25-30′ replacement so that there was no plug junction to hang up on things. Just my thoughts.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I have had the same Dewalt for 17+ years mainly used, as you say; for ripping long boards and occasionally making lumber from big stock. It also does all the usual chores to save time and energy. I had a much larger, better machine but my last move was too much for me to move so I sold it. The Dewalt fence is fairly tuneable and accurate. I have built many things with this saw and completely remodeled two houses as well as built several outbuildings and a load of furniture. If the quality is still the same, I say it is worth the price.
    The insert around the blade is cheap cast pot metal and tends to bend inward over time and a couple of the plastic corners on the fence broke. It is far better than anything our grandfathers had and is a real labor saver.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeff Branch says:

    The only thing I would watch for is a fence which locks parallel to the blade. My first table saw had a problem with that. I did a quick look at the reviews on Amazon and it looked like a pretty good saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ll tell you everything I know. First, never try to put a Bush through your table saw. Bush’s should be chopped into small pieces with a very sharp axe. Now, can we talk about getting Liz Warren on the 2016 ticket?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      Thanks for the tip – very good to know. 🙂

      Regarding Warren, I know a lot of people want to see it happen, but I doubt it does. I think she is right where she wants to be now.

      Consider also this: She turns 66 this year. When she is up for re-election in 2018, she’ll be 69, 70 when she’s sworn in for her next term. She seems very young for her age; nonetheless a presidential run takes a lot out of a person, and if you plan on serving two terms, well she’d be 69 when sworn in as president, and 77 at the conclusion of those 8 years.

      She also wouldn’t be able to operate as the critic she is now while also fostering the alliances she would need to have to lead (though it is questionable in today’s political environment whether true national leadership is a realistic goal for anyone).

      I think she’s in a better position to accomplish what she wants from where she is right now, and I think she knows that. Hence, I don’t expect her to throw her hat in the ring.

      Like

  8. The table saw choice seems pretty subjective. Mass dampens vibration and noise. Kickback, especially when ripping light to moderate sized pieces, is a possibility with any table saw. The trunnion adjustments on a Unisaw or a Powermatic 66 are beefy cast iron and machined steel that are accurate and stay set. Portables all depend on a 3450 rpm direct drive motor to get up to blade speed and horsepower rating. With enough use, the blade will move laterally as the rotor bearings wear. On the portables I have used, there’s no way to easily fit a zero-clearance throat plate. That can be a major safety issue. If a thin ripping get sucked into the blade opening, a lot of people will reach to pull it out without thinking.
    How much is a finger worth?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Wesley Beal says:

    Thanks to everyone for all the helpful points and tips. Last night I went ahead and ordered the saw from Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000HXT2N6).

    Thanks again!

    Like

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