Hunting for a good Table Saw - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 22 Old 02-15-14, 02:08 PM Thread Starter
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Hunting for a good Table Saw

I have been looking around for a decent table saw... I have built several speaker cabinets with only a circular saw and it is tedious. No matter how much you try to get an accurate cut, it is always a smidgen too small or large or the cut is rarely exactly 90 degrees or whatever angle you want. A table saw gives you the ability to make the same precise cut over and over. I figured my research might help others should they go shopping for a table saw...

My primary need is that the saw be able to rip at least 24.5" (to be able to cut a 4'x8' board in half (note that in real life, MDF is usually 49x97" in size). My primary use would be for building speaker cabinets from MDF and shelving... The saw must be able to accept standard size miter gauges (a lot of them don't, which means you cannot buy a more accurate or flexible gauge)...

(Note that I live in Hawaii and the only stores that carry table saws are Sears, Home Depot and Lowes... I decided not to get anything from Sears because they were priced higher than the other stores... Plus the fact that the Sears store here have really gotten run down and are in a pretty sad shape. Also note that the selection in Hawaii is limited so models in your area may not be available here...)

So here is my list:

Dewalt DWE7480 Bench Saw $380
I ended up getting this saw. They had it on sale for $330, surprisingly for a brand new model. It had a very accurate and really nice rip fence, having a rack and pinion gear system which maintains a straight edge. One big disadvantage is that it cannot use dado blades. i have a router so this point is an inconvenience rather than a need. The DW745 (the previous model) had a soft start, this one does not. But the older model could only rip 14". If needed, I can get an optional stand for this one. The table itself is on the smaller side, i do not recommend it for cutting 4x8s... I usually have the store cut my 4x8s down to four 2x4s anyway so i can carry it in my small car...
Dewalt DWE7491RS Portable Saw $600
Basically the DWE7480 on a rolling stand. One major difference, the 7491 can use dado blades and the 7480 cannot. Another difference is that the 7491 can rip over 30" vs. the 24" of the 7480 due to a larger table...I read somewhere that the shaft for the blades are longer on this one over the 7480, that is why this one can handle dadoes. The stand is pretty huge and sturdy It also uses the rack and pinion fence...
Bosch 4100-09 Portable Saw $600
This one is one of the most popular models with the highest reviews but it is a rather old design. It apparently can do everything you want. The gravity rise stand is really easy to setup and dismantle. Drawback, the saw is a few inches higher than others because of the stand. Since i am quite short, this was a handicap for me. One nice feature is that this one has one of the largest tables, 29"... An inconvenience is that the stand uses tubed tires which can go flat. Another drawback is that this is the heaviest by far at 120 lbs.
Porter Cable PCB220TS $335
I really wanted to get this one. Its cheap but seems well built. It has a decent stand. There is a sliding extension out the rear to support the wood as it is cut. The bevel adjustment is really easy to use, it is a crank on the side vs. the front "slide" on the others. The stand is wider on the back to stabilize the saw when cutting long pieces. The big drawback is that it is impossible to make or buy a zero clearance insert for this saw. The insert prevents narrow pieces of wood from falling between the blade and the opening on the insert which must be large to handle angled cuts. ZCI also reduces uneven cuts on the edges. another drawback is that this one has the smallest table at 19" and the fence is a bit sloppy.
Home Depot:
Ridgid R4510 Portable $530
This saw looks pretty good on paper. It is cheaper than the Dewalt and Bosch. It has the largest table at 30". it has a limited lifetime warranty. But there have been a number of complaints where the table top is warped out of the box. Also, when stored, some users complained it was easy tip tip over on its end. A number of other users reported the motor burned out pretty quickly and that Ridgid's customer service is wanting...
I nixed out any Ryobi because there were a lot of postings where the locking mechanism for blade broke off as it was made of cheap plastic.

Another alternative for people with limited space is the Festool TS55REQ track saw. If you do not have the room for a table saw, these are really nice. You draw your cut line, lay a rail or track next to the line and the saw is placed on a guide on the track and cut. But if you do a lot of repetitive cuts, a table saw is a lot easier...

  • It is easy to use
  • The cut line is the same whether the cut is 0 or 90 degrees, unlike regular saws which are offset.
  • The cuts are virtually splinter free
  • excellent dust extraction
  • Precise depth control
  • Lots of accessories
  • Expensive, $585 for saw and a 55" track
  • Accessories are expensive
  • Can only use proprietary blades

I hope this will help whoever is looking into buying a table saw. i spent weeks researching on this. Remember, tables saws are one of the best tools for woodworkers and also probably the most dangerous. Make sure that you double-check alignment right away. Finally, when you buy a saw, buy a good blade. The blade that comes with the saw is usually a cheap and poor performing piece which will make the saw a lot worse than it really is.

Last edited by jon96789; 02-15-14 at 09:09 PM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 02-15-14, 02:12 PM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

Nice post. Anyone that's ever looked for tools knows how frustrating it can be to look for the best balance of price and quality... and you definitely don't want to skimp on quality!
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post #3 of 22 Old 02-15-14, 02:59 PM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

For cutting things like speaker boxes I think one of the "must have" and Safety First" items is a crosscut sled for any table saw. Easy to make and it really helps with crosscut accuracy when using a smaller saw. There are many designs and most are simple to make.. Just Google "crosscut sled for table saw" and pick out one that is easy for you to make...

After many years I scrapped my crosscut sled for a commercial version of one of these Sliding table

A word of caution... Table Saws are one of the most dangerous tools there are. I have used them for 42 years and I am afraid of them every time I hit the on button. I was also a Paramedic on a 911 ambulance in North Houston for 12 years and had an average of 6 patients a year that cut something off in their garage shop while using their table saw.. Please be Careful !
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post #4 of 22 Old 02-15-14, 07:22 PM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

Years ago I bought a Rigid Table saw (not the portable one), and I loved it... nice smooth accurate cuts. I wish i hadn't sold it now!


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post #5 of 22 Old 02-16-14, 09:37 PM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

Safety First Safety First Safety First

So I am glad some other people bring up the fear of the table saw!!

I had this fear but not anymore because I bought a Festool track saw. yes it is pricey but you cannot match the safety component.

just a couple tid bits...

You can cut a entire 4x8 sheet by yourself with extreme accuracy and do repetition cuts with the Festool parallel guides... look on you tube for what I speak of. I mean you can cut everything exact, by yourself with no fear. you don't need a feed out table, someone to help your wood as it dangles off the last 12 inches of table saw.

Yes festool stuff is a bit pricey but look up "ask woodman" on youtube on how to build your Own MFT (Festool multifunction table). plus Alan from ask woodman is Awesome to communicate with and I have done so on occasion. The Bessy rapid action clamps he uses are awesome he sells them too. Good price as well.

If anyone considers buying table saw you just cant beat the festool track saw. Im tellin ya!
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post #7 of 22 Old 02-16-14, 11:02 PM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

Yes I like safe

I have a production type of table saw as I build custom cabinets. The saw is equipped with a large table and out feed area along with a sliding crosscut table so its pretty safe. Almost all of my former saws had the blade guards removed because they were just flimsy and I think they made the saw even more dangerous. I have final found a guard, Website link, that really works and even doubles as a vacuum port.. It's not that expensive and really works well.

The only time I remove my guard nowadays is when I need a dado blade installed..
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post #8 of 22 Old 02-19-14, 04:25 AM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

the ridgid or the dewalt for $600ish are both great saws. my buddy has the Ridgid and it's what we use for all our speaker and sub builds
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post #9 of 22 Old 02-19-14, 07:50 AM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

Another option to maybe look at are used saws. I originally found in the online classifieds someone giving away a non-working Craftsman 10" saw (not the decent quality ones - the ones with the universal motors and aluminum tables). Turned out the gravity switch had gotten jammed. Fixed that and saw worked great. The saw had an Align a Rip fence on it, which was the reason I took a chance at picking it up. A while later I picked up a 50s Craftsman (Emerson) contractor saw I got for trading a 2Gb mp3 player. It has cast iron everything and a good (original!) motor. I cannibalized the stand and fence from the other saw and now I have a very decent heavy table saw that cost me Free + MP3 Player + link belt + new bearings for motor and arbor. I can pass the "nickel" test with this saw, and I bet you could find a good table saw for much less than (and with better quality) than many of the saws you have looked at new. Sorry for my long winded 0.02.
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post #10 of 22 Old 02-19-14, 07:56 AM
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Re: Hunting for a good Table Saw

I'm not a rigid fan but my father picked up the rigid and it's been great! We have put many hours on the saw so far and it's been really good absolutely no complaints.
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