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Saw preferences

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  • Saw preferences

    I am new to "Woodworking" and am currently using a friends radial arm saw for most of my cutting. Great friend but soon I need to return it and am looking for a professional's preference on saws. Over the holidays, I have looked at:

    1. the Craftsman cabinet table saws
    2. the Craftsman contractor table saws and
    3. the Craftsman 15" Band saw

    With brief instruction, I've been using the RAS since April and it does ok until I have to rip a 4x8 sheet and then it gets alittle crazy.

    I was making repairs on the house, but am now trying to finish up some trim details and there must be a better way to get a more accurate cut. Could the above options be better than the radial? I am willing to spend to get a good workhorse, but just don't want to find out later that this is not the saw for me. My biggest concern is that I have purchased two sheets of expanded PVC, it's expensive and I need every bit of it to frame the windows and create an exterior front door surround since it will not rot. Right now I'm stuck since I cannot accurately rip these sheets.


  • #2
    Re: Saw preferences

    4x8 sheets will be difficult for one person to rip using the tools you listed. If it were me, I'd just use a circular saw equipped with the proper blade and a straight edge to rip those sheets down to size.
    I decided to change calling the bathroom the "John" and renamed it the "Jim". I feel so much better saying I went to the Jim this morning.


    • #3
      Re: Saw preferences

      I totally agree with Badger Dave on using circular saw to rip 4 x 8 sheets. Even with a good, stable table saw, 4 x 8 sheets can be tough to handle and if you get a jam or bind while you're trying to handle a big sheet into the saw, you're in trouble as there's no way you can get to the switch!

      Properly setting up a full sheet on a good supporting table (a couple of saw horses, with some good stiff support under the ply) will work very well and you'd be happy with how efficient that can be.

      I use a "factory edge" (a long outside edge left over from a previous 8-ft sheet). Measure from the blade to the outer edge of the circular saw base, and use that edge of the saw's base against the "factory edge" which you have clamped into position on the sheet you wish to cut.

      Year's ago, I ripped full sheets on my RAS (I'm a big fan, it's my favorite tool), but only after I built a supporting "rail" system to support the outer edge of the sheet.... a "project" all by itself! That was long ago and I've gotten a lot smarter about such things.

      Now I use the "factory edge" method and my circular saw. It is just so much easier and far more efficient and much less risky. I now keep the "edge" hung in the garage (I have it marked, so I don't absent-mindedly cut it for something else) and ready to go.

      Once a full sheet is cut down to smaller, more manageable size, my preferred "ripping" tool is my table saw! I still have the RAS and it is my preferred crosscut tool.

      I hope this helps,



      • #4
        Re: Saw preferences

        You could also get a track saw. They are more expensive than a circular saw and a guide, but the cut quality is way better and the rail can be used to guide a router if/when you have one. Another plus is that if you hook up your shop-vac, you will capture close to 99% of the sawdust.

        Here's on on building your own guide to fit your existing saw.

        Here's a video of a DeWalt tracksaw.

        But, you can get good results with a guide rail you build yourself. One on which your circular saw with a good quality blade rides on top of instead of along side. The advantage is that there is no offset to take into account and there is some support for the top side of the cut which will help to reduce splintering. This reduction in splintering will be mostly for the side of the cut that is under the guide.

        Here's a DIY tracksaw. Not as good as a real tracksaw but it would work.

        Here's a manufactured guide system for use with a circ saw, router, and other tools.

        Using a sheet of foam insulation under your workpiece is a great way to support both sides of the cut. It also buries the blade in the foam so you don't have any exposed blade on the underside.
        "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006


        1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


        • #5
          Re: Saw preferences

          I have been able to find stock 100 % blades for my Craftsman xcept for the Old ham brand. Since I'm lazy about changing blades, I seldom change to a wider blade. Besides I couldn't get the cutaway curve in a Tele body with a 5/8" blade. If 0 .50 %blade is good enough for Norm, it's good enough for me.
          Dell coupon code


          • #6
            Re: Saw preferences

            A TS is the primary tool in most shops, though some prefer a BS. It depends alot on what you do and how you want to do it. A heavy (300#+) full size cast iron or granite table saw will have a much easier time with sheetgoods than a smaller lightweight table saw, but if you don't have one available, the circ saw with a straight edge will do nicely. Another option is to have your sheetgood supplier cut the sheet in manageable pieces, then trim those to size.

            If you decide to pursue a TS, I'd bone up on the types available today, and would expand your list quite a bit. Craftsman has some decent saws available, but not all are suitable, plus other brands like Steel City, Delta, Jet, Ridgid, Grizzly, Shop Fox, Hitachi, PM, and Porter Cable have some suitable saws as well. More to choose from means better opportunity to get the most for you money.

            Buying The Right Tablesaw