Table Saw/Bench Saw
June 5, 2005 8:55 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a small to mid-sized (maybe 16"x32" surface), high quality table saw/bench saw with some possibly contradictory requirements.

I'd like to start doing fine woodworking again but my current work area is not large enough for a full size table saw (plus I only have access to standard 120V sockets.) What I'm looking for is: something solid and very accurate, quiet, light (well, OK, not TOO heavy), and easy to setup up (the guide, swap blades, dado, etc.)

I've got about $800 max to spend.

I know the quiet vs light thing is tough because of the universal vs induction motors. Any insight into this would be great.
posted by gwint to Shopping (7 answers total)
You might want to look at Festool. Before I had a table saw, this was all I used. (The cuts are as clean as those cut on a Powermatic 66 table saw.) I've never used the multifunction table but, like everything else that Festo makes I would expect this to work as well as the saw itself. It's not a perfect solution but it is quiet, exceptionally light, works on 120. Dado is a problem but you can solve that with a router that works with the same guide system. Coupled with one of their shop vacuums and you have flexible and *very* effective dust collection. Cons: Pricey (but worth every penny in my opinion). It's not really a table saw (set up and repetitive cuts take a little longer). You're tied into the Festo system and will pay a premium for that.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:28 AM on June 5, 2005

One non-recommendation: My Ryobi is a pain in the ass when it comes to changing blades. Also, the thing is manufactured so that it's nearly impossible to make your own zero-clearance insert -- you have to buy theirs.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:49 AM on June 5, 2005

Ryobi BT-3100. Excellent saw. Sliding mitre table, good capacity, powerful motor for its size. Highly recommend it if it's in your price range, and indeed even if you've budgeted perhaps another 50% more than its cost.

Blade changing is not a problem: just bring it fully up. Zero clearance insert is not a problem: a simple rectangle, with some rabbets that are easily done without a dado blade, because the sliding mitre makes it easy to overlap a series of thin-kerf cuts.

Easy to move the fence and mitre to either side. Easy to remove the mitre fence to get more useable table surface. A very good blade is included. Has a moderately useful router insert which can be used with the tablesaw fence and sliding mitre.

Squaring the saw is also child's play. And, finally, there's something of a cult following for this saw, so there's a ton of plans and support and advice on making best use of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:37 PM on June 5, 2005

Bosch or dewalt contractors portable tablesaws with stand. They have come a long way with motor and fence tech. Make sure to get the table extensions side and rear and the stands which fold and work. Bosch has a new folding stand/dolly that the saw stays attached to, seems like it might be worth the money, especially if you have a small space. The new motors are much quieter then the old saws, cheaper ones still tend to scream. The best prices I have found are on Amazon when you factor in the free shipping. Or reconditioned, Bosch has links to a sponsered retailer for their rebuilt stuff.
posted by flummox at 2:11 PM on June 5, 2005

I have the Bosch tabletop saw as well as a Powermatic 66 and the two just don't compare at all for smoothness of cut, cutting power, stability of fence - anything. The DeWalt woodworker's saw is quite a bit smaller than a cabinet saw, can be made portable enough with a rolling base to store up against a wall in your shop, and has a quiet induction motor and heavy stable arbor.
posted by nicwolff at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2005

I don't think you can begin to compare a tabletop/contractors saw with a full-on cabinet saw!
posted by five fresh fish at 4:38 PM on June 5, 2005


Late as it is to this thread, a recent Fine Homebuilding (June/July 2005?) had a review on portable table saws.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:55 PM on June 7, 2005

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