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  • Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

    I am just starting into woodworking, actually I don't take my first class until next week. But I've been researching the necessary tools that I might need and table saw keeps popping up. I want to make boxes, pens and maybe some bookcases. I will be putting together a murphy bed, but I got the place where I bought the wood to cut the sheets to the specifications for the bed. What are the most important tools needed in a small, very small workshop? If a table saw is needed, I was looking at either the Bosch 4000-09 or the Ridgid TS3650. Please advise. Do all of you guys have a table saw?

  • #2
    Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

    jyzkirk -

    Welcome to the forum!

    I'd say space and money are the two biggest considerations for getting a table saw. If you're going to get serious about woodworking, I think you'd want to have one. I have a TS3650 and love it. You might just wait until after you finish your class to get a better idea what you want. I never owned a band saw until just last year, and now I don't know how I ever got by without it! I bet I use it for something on every project now.

    Happy woodworking.

    - djb
    sigpic

    A Democracy is 2 wolves and 1 sheep voting on what to have for lunch.

    Restore the Republic.

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    • #3
      Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

      If you're looking to put together a small shop consider the TS-2400. It packs away nicely and while not the same level of precision as the 3650 it does alright from what owners on here say.

      A couple sturdy sawhorses, a good straight edge, and a decent circ saw can do you for a while until you make up your mind or save some cash for a TS.
      ---------------
      Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
      ---------------
      “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
      ---------
      "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
      ---------
      sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

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      • #4
        Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

        A tablesaw should be your #1 priority. With the right blades and accessories, it can do anything. I like Delta and Jet tablesaws. Spend the money on the fence. You also need to look at what you want to make. Scale your equipment to the work produced. Cutting sheet goods in a small shop is very hard. A high quality circular saw will do a better job.
        Buy cheap, buy twice.

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        • #5
          Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

          A lot will depend on the kind of projects you wish to grow into, but a table saw would certainly provide you better precision and, of course, give you new horizons.

          I started out with some very simple tools; circular saw, electric drill, sabre saw, and several hand tools like hammer, hand saw, screw drivers, cheap chisels, block plane, a couple of squares, level, yard stick, and a steel tape. Sanding was all done by hand with a felt block and sheet paper.

          With just those tools, I did a bit of room remodeling, built some bookcases, a workbench, and did some minor repair things like fix the porch, steps, etc.

          First big tool I added was the Radial Arm Saw, and frankly that took good care of me for years. But, that's neither popular or cheap in today's market, and today I would have to recommend a decent table saw. Accuracy is very important, and in a small shop, perhaps something compact and portable like the previously recommended TS-2400.

          However, you are just starting classes... so take the recommendations in mind, but also pay attention to your classes and see where that goes. I'm sure you'll be back with a bit more insight and probably a lot more questions.

          Welcome to the forum!

          CWS

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          • #6
            Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

            I have two table saws, and would not want to get rid of either one, of them.

            I think a table saw is the "first" stationary shop tool to get for wood working,
            then I would suggest a 12" miter saw (now days, in years past I would say a radial arm saw), for cross cutting, IN the saw department,

            but there may other tools that one may want before the miter saw, if your jsut starting out. (but that miter saw is very handy).
            but more in the powered hand tool department,
            VSR 3/8" drill, DA sander, router,"skil" type saw, clamps and more clamps and then a few more. Then a lathe, band saw, belt sander, drill press, jointer, planer, shaper or router table, air compressor, and nailers jig saw, recipicing saw, and of course the accessories that go with them. (note not necessarily in that order),
            and when the current space is so full of tools you will need that new shop. (at this point your car has been setting out side for years any way),

            see what your getting your self into and you think your going to save your self a few dollars.
            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
            attributed to Samuel Johnson
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

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            • #7
              Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

              As stated, it really depends on what you're going to build. Even then, there are usually several ways to accomplish a task, so there are many handy tools that aren't "must haves".

              That said, the TS is the traditional primary weapon in most shops, mine included. It also appears that a TS would be very condusive to many of your projects.

              As far as TS choices...you're comparing apples to oranges with the 3650 vs Bosch 4000. One is a full size cast iron saw with a belt drive induction motor, and the other is a smaller portable jobsite saw with a louder direct drive universal motor. Unless you need the portability of a jobsite saw to move the tool from site to site, the 3650, or several comparable full size choices have a clear advantage on several fronts. If you need a portable, Ridgid's offering is the TS2400. All are capable of cutting wood, but the larger saws offer more real estate, more mass/stability, quieter/smoother operation, longer term reliability, more capacity, higher resale, and are simply more condusive to the task at hand. I'd suggest some more research before deciding.

              Good luck and enjoy the journey!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                Thanks for all the suggestions. It has been pretty confusing with all the different tools available. I guess the biggest unknown for me is will I use the table saw on a regular basis. Since I have never operated one, I just don't know all the different things that can be done with one. However, it does appear that it is the primary tool in most shops.

                I'm looking forward to my classes at WoodCraft. I will definately be asking tons of questions on the table saw. Hewood, I really appreciated your comments on the differences between the Bosch 4000-09 and the TS3650. I was leaning toward the TS3650, your comment on the belt drive might have sealed the deal on which table saw to purchase. Are the belt driven table saws that much quieter? I was putting the Bosch on the top of the list due to all the great reviews and the portability. But since I would not be moving it around on jobsites, I guess the TS3650 would be a better choice. I think the TS3650 can be easily moved around the garage also.

                Again, thanks for all the comments, please keep them coming. I am a complete novice that would love to take up the woodworking hobby, but I want to make sure I purchase the best necessary tools for the long haul.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                  The table saw should be your number one purchase. If you plan on getting into woodworking you will find it is the most important tool, even if you don't realize it yet. With the right jigs the table saw will be able to perform a lot of the operations of other important woodworking tools to a certain extent. It's the most versatile tool in the shop.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                    as stated, I have two table saws,
                    one is a old walker turner, cabinet saw, a very nice saw on comparison with the Delta uni saw, and the other is a old 9" delta Rockwell contractors saw, similar to the ridgid table saw, jsut a tad smaller, but if it is jsut ripping both do a fine job, but if I have sheet stock or lumber over 4', I would not definitely want any thing smaller than the contractors saw,

                    The belt drive units have a replaceable motor, and the head of them are normally jsut two bearings, very few things to go wrong, where the normal portable saw is basically a hand power mounted upside down under a table, if it goes out your buying (normally) a new saw, as by the time it happens, parts will no longer be available by most companies. or the cost would be more than it worth.

                    both will get you by,
                    but it is kinda like comparing a s10 pickup (portable table saw), with a one ton model, (contractors saw) and semi truck (cabinet saw),

                    they have there place and they will all cut wood but the quality will increases and the heaviness will increases, less vibration and usually the precision of the work will improve, (and weight in tools makes a difference), and quality and stability and of the units will improve,

                    Just like in trucks each have there place, and there place in the world, I would take the class and get more of a feel for what you need and want, and then go, with it, if space is the big issue the portable that can take up a smaller storage foot print may be better for you, and the lighter weight in moving it, (I would think if you had the choice to use both saws, side by side you would want the contractors type saw over the portable type saw for actual use, but but then you have other things to consider as well.
                    Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                    attributed to Samuel Johnson
                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                      While I agree that the table saw should be the number one priority, I think the router is the most *versatile* tool in the shop.... IMHO.

                      Anyway, I concur with nearly everyone else here: buy the best / most table saw you can afford and fit in your space. If you look up some table saw books, you'll find that you can do pretty much anything with a table saw. It just requires a few extra blades (dado), a number of jigs (purchased or homemade), patience, and sometimes some creativity.

                      My friend and I made a custom sized transom window frame for his house last night using nothing but the table saw and a pocket hole jig. It holds a stained glass window and from start to finish it took about 90 minutes. Could we have made it *nicer* with a match rail and stile set on the router, yeah... but he didn't need or want that. Could we have mitered the corners using my miter saw? Yeah, but he was fine with the simplicity of butt joints and pocket hole joinery. So, a table saw was more than sufficient.

                      A table saw can serve as your primary, and perhaps only, power tool for a good while, especially for making the things you mentioned. Bookcases?!? Table saw and maybe a dado blade. Boxes? Table saw and a box jointing jig. Maybe a tenoning jig for the lids?. Murphy bed? Table saw and... I dunno. ;-) Adirondack chairs? Table saw and a homemade taper jig. ... the list goes on and on. About the only thing you really *cannot* do on a table saw, is anything circular. ;-)

                      You won't be able to *make* pens with a table saw, unless you want square bodied pens! You'll need a lathe, too. But the table saw will be handy for trimming them to proper size and length before you hit the lathe.

                      Good luck and good shopping. As BHD mentioned, this is an expensive hobby to get started in. Make sure everyone in your family knows what you want for your birthday and all the holidays!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                        Originally posted by jyzkirk View Post
                        ... Are the belt driven table saws that much quieter? I was putting the Bosch on the top of the list due to all the great reviews and the portability. But since I would not be moving it around on jobsites, I guess the TS3650 would be a better choice. I think the TS3650 can be easily moved around the garage also.
                        The belt helps reduce vibration and tends to have a slightly better cut as a result. It's the induction motor itself found in most belt drives that is much quieter than a universal motor.....think circular saw, router, or miter saw (universal motor) vs a ceiling fan or refrigerator (induction motor).

                        The Bosch is a great example of a jobsite saw, but as you pointed out, you won't be transporting it much, so you don't need to incur the limitations associated with any portable design. Just about any stationary saw can be placed on a mobile base and rolled around the shop pretty easily, but they do tend to take up more real estate. (never a free lunch!) Some saws, like the 3650, come with the mobile base built in...others need an add on base, but it's doable for most tools.

                        Wood Junkie's comment about the versatility of the router is right on the money. It's an excellent all around tool for many tasks....they're so handy that most of us buy 2 or 3!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                          I think most all power tools are not a must have.Look back in history a bit..power drills are less then 100 yrs old..skilsaws started in around 1945.A friend in another country thats whats termed there is a master carpenter..he lays a lot of block as concrete is the normal housing material there.I have seen him get out exactly 1 powertool..a router.I had him build a mission style wardrobe last year a router handsaws a homemade wood miterbox a homemade chalkline home made hand block planes.those were the tools he used that he owned.He did go to a cabinet shop there to plane the wood and borrow their tablesaw to rip the hardwood.As master carpenter he makes about 7$ a day when being a foreman..building furniture he charges about 8$ a day.I took him some nailsets last trip over and some router bits.He had never seen a nailset before..admittedy I looked hard there to find a set and never did.
                          That said I currently have 3 tablesaws here its a most used tool.Its always an equation..powertool vs worth of your labor.In the states even your own labor on a hobby project has a high value.For me powertools rule and buying quality is worth every penny they cost here in the states.Here a good skilsaw on sale is 150$ ish where my friend lives a cheap skilsaw is about 130$ usd.Everything is relative to your needs and money that can be spent.
                          Sam

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                          • #14
                            Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                            Like three creeks said, there is no real must have.

                            one could carve what ever you wanted out of a solid block of wood with a pocket knife or a flint stone as far at that goes,

                            but like he stated it is a labor saving device,

                            and more than that it gives one will minimal skill the ability to do thing that probly would be out side of his skill levels with out the tool,

                            lest jsut take ripping a board down, one can do it with a hand saw, and then touch it up with a hand plane, (was done that way for nearly all of the last thousands of years until the last hundred or less), same thing with cutting a rabbit or a dado take a back saw and saw the straight part to depth and chisel or plane the remainder out. really a simple process, to do, and once you have the tools and know how to use them not a hard process, but there is learning curve and precision and skill to do them good and repeatable, the time one would take to make one dado by hand you could cut 30+ on the saw, if you were ready with the stock, yes the set up on the saw will take some time, actually more time than cutting of the dado's,
                            but cost I think one spends less moneys on power tools than one would spend on quality hand tools, take a router and bits, look at the number of molding planes one would have to have or make to match the abilities of one router bit assortment and the router.
                            and then there is the quality of work produced, if your careful and understand your tools one that is a basic novice can produce good work, but try that with hand tools, the learning curve is much greater, to produce the same quality of work IMO,

                            jsut the process of riping a board with the proper blade in a table saw one can cut a square edges Nealy silk smooth and parallel board in seconds,

                            rip that with a hand saw, It take some skill to cut a straight line, then the cut is not smooth, so it will take some hand planing to make it smooth and to keep it square is a silk in it self and then to keep it straight or to make it straight if the saw cut was not perfect, takes more than one thinks, and the time even for some skilled is not as fast by any means.

                            There is no tool that is a must have, but one greatly desired and one of those tools is a high quality table saw.

                            (my first table saw was a Black and Decker 7,1/4" electric hand saw bolted to a piece of ply board and a 2x4 clamped on to it for a fence, with the trigger wired in the on position and the plug as the switch, not very safe but worked, and for a 10 year old boy with no money, it worked, then when I about 14 bought a AMC (?) table saw out of the back of popular mechanics magazine, (for $19.95) it top was about 12" by 16" or so with plans to build a bigger plywood top and base for it, (it is still workable at my sister in laws), then I bought the used walker turner cabinet saw I still use to day.

                            But it was not until I bought the good saw that I turned out very good work, part was my age and skill level and money invested in quality blades.
                            but a lot of it was in the quality of the tools being used,

                            IN jsut like many tools the "Accessories" is that makes the tool, the blades you choose will make a large difference in the type of cut and how it cuts and quality of cuts you get,
                            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                            attributed to Samuel Johnson
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Is a Table Saw a Must Have?

                              Well put, you two.

                              I have a LOT of tools and little gadgets and what-not for woodworking. Drives my wife crazy how many packages I receive in a month and that I have 20 cordless tools (One+ Rulez!). However, with two young children, a full-time job (NOT as a tradesman), and basically two ongoing house renovations (our own house, and partss of my sister's and my mom's) I have ZERO time to be fooling around with hand-tool work and/or futzing around trying to find a creative solution.

                              I have taken to informing my wife that I am buying efficiency. She doesn't want to help me rip long boards on the table saw by catching the end. Okaayyy, need an outfeed support stand. Router setups take a while to dial in and I'm making craploads of moldings. Bam, one router for complicated work and one in a bench-top stand for doing simple stuff (e.g. dedicated to roundovers). Making 6" crown molding, 5" door moldings, and building a deck. Well, a sliding CMS makes short work of all that.. whereas a non-slider would involve jigs and working around the cutting capacity.

                              So, as many have pointed out, you *can* do any woodwork without even a single power tool. Lee Valley sells a tremendous number of really neat, expensive, effective hand tools for making dadoes, rabbets, dovetails. I have no time for that level of craftsmanship (sometimes, to my disappointment).

                              But YOUR time is valuable. Is a $500 tablesaw (e.g. 3650) a better decision than a $150 Ryobi jobbie? If you want to have straight, quality cuts, use a dado blade, have the option of adding a router table extension, integrated dust collection (albeit, somewhat poor), and a damn nice fence... thus saving you tons of time and effort. Yeah!

                              If a close friend asked me what tools to buy, with a max of $1000 I would advise, without hesitation: good table saw (I would wholeheartedly recommend the 3650), a good router, and a drill. If you don't mind paying for "ready to use" lumber, these three will see you through 90% of jobs.. including building a great router table. The rest of the money goes to blades, bits and clamps, hehe. ;-)

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