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Small table saw that is worth the trouble?

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
I have a Unisaw at work, but it is not exactly portable or space efficient

I have basically hated every other table saw I have owned, or at least once I bought the Unisaw I did. It is like everyone in the world uses an XY table on a drill press and suddenly you use a bridgeport and realize, oh, yeah, this is what it is supposed to be like

Anyway, need something for the garage at home and am wondering if any of the small contractor saws are worth owning.
I am down to ripping some stock with a router table..........I love my Delta RAS, but some stuff I would rather do on a table saw
 

elitts

Plastic
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
I can't profess any expertise with the newer contractor saws, but the older (like <1990s) Pro grade Craftsman 10" belt drive saws with cast iron wings are pretty decent with an upgraded motor and available at reasonable prices. I run one of them with a 1.5HP motor on it and as long as I remember to put a splitter in so the wood doesn't bind, I can tear through 2" hardwoods without too much effort.

Of course, if you really want "portable" in the sense of taking it to different locations as opposed to moving it around your shop, that's a whole different story.
 

nopoint

Aluminum
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Location
Wisconsin USA
The dewalt ones are fairly decent. We have a portable sawstop at work, its okay but expensive. But I guess not expensive if it keeps one from hacking off a digit or two.
 

rons

Diamond
Joined
Mar 5, 2009
Location
California, USA
I own a Unisaw and have compared it with a Powermatic. Powermatic is better.
This regards the machines made on native soil, hi how are ya, hi how are ya....
 

Rob F.

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2012
Location
California, Central Coast
I asked the same question to some old wood guys here. They both thought these old cast iron saws were still decent for a little saw. I think made by King Seeley for Sears?
Here is a link to one on ebay, disregard the stupid high price, only posting for the picture. those are usually $40 here on CL, working.
I ended up with two of them, each free. If you were closer you could have one.

Vintage Craftsman 113.29730 tilting arbor 8" bench top table saw collectible | eBay
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
I own a Unisaw and have compared it with a Powermatic. Powermatic is better.
This regards the machines made on native soil, hi how are ya, hi how are ya....

That's what the pros tell me
I think there are actual cabinet saws and then everything else and a big gap in between

I just need something to zing out work at home that won't make me smash it to tiny pieces with a big hammer
 

elitts

Plastic
Joined
Oct 13, 2020
I asked the same question to some old wood guys here. They both thought these old cast iron saws were still decent for a little saw. I think made by King Seeley for Sears?
Here is a link to one on ebay, disregard the stupid high price, only posting for the picture. those are usually $40 here on CL, working.
I ended up with two of them, each free. If you were closer you could have one.

Vintage Craftsman 113.29730 tilting arbor 8" bench top table saw collectible | eBay

Yes, they are solid little saws too. You'll want the cast iron wings for weight though, unless it's bolted down. And you need to keep your saw blade real sharp and feed slowly if you try and cut hardwood over 1". And I agree, you can find them for basically nothing pretty much all over the place as long as you aren't concerned with "pretty".
 

gustafson

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2002
Location
People's Republic
I asked the same question to some old wood guys here. They both thought these old cast iron saws were still decent for a little saw. I think made by King Seeley for Sears?
Here is a link to one on ebay, disregard the stupid high price, only posting for the picture. those are usually $40 here on CL, working.
I ended up with two of them, each free. If you were closer you could have one.

Vintage Craftsman 113.29730 tilting arbor 8" bench top table saw collectible | eBay

Thank you for the effort

I had an even older Craftsman table saw. My grandfather repaired violins etc as a hobby and I inherited a drill press, 24 inch jig saw, table saw, 6" belt/disc sander, wood bench vises, and a real bench vise. I stored it at a friends house when I moved out after high school and when I returned for it what was left was on the back porch. missing pieces, and the table saw was gone.
The drill press is an immaculate delta bench from the 40's that we used as a tapping machine for decades here, the vise is still the bench vise here. The jig saw frame served time as a tapping fixture, helicoil insertion fixture. Belt sander is under the bench here, having been worn out and awaiting bushings it may never get.

The table saw was tiny and the table tilted instead of the motor.
 

Newman109

Diamond
Joined
Sep 4, 2006
Location
Sacramento County, California, USA California
I've had a 10" Delta-Rockwell since 1971. It's the type with a belt drive. Mine has a 1 hp 3,450 rpm motor and has the accessory wings, blade guard and gate. In all that time, it only needed 2 new arbor bearings. It's been an excellent saw and I still have all of my fingers. LOL.

There are a few on eBay right now.
 

Conrad Hoffman

Titanium
Joined
May 10, 2009
Location
Canandaigua, NY, USA
I've had a Powermatic "Artisan" with cast iron wings for many years. Like any import machinery, it required hours of fiddling and correcting before I was happy with it, but it's served me well. IMO, the fence system on a table saw is as important as the saw itself. Get a good one.
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
Older cast Iron Sears or Delta work fine and with a good well-tuned fence can do decent work.

The key is to do a full tuneup which involves cleaning, aligning, and lube. I have an old Rockwell/Delta buider's saw and for the worms and sectors I use Dri-Slide with moly, poured into a cup and brushed on. At first it makes a light coating but as the solvent evaporates from the stuff in the cup it gets thicker and darker, eventually leaving a coating that looks like black paint. Sawdust brushes off easily and it remains easy to adjust for a year or more depending on use. Make sure to cycle the mechanisms fully several times during the lube process.

Fine Woodworking had an article years ago on dust control for these saws. Basically you fasten a box to the bottom with a dust port and use thin plywood, cut to clear the belt and motor bracket as it tilts, to seal up much of the open back. Cutting down the amount of incoming air dramatically increases the efficiency of dust collection. Some users also mount a felt-backed plate over the tilt opening at the front to reduce sawdust escape.

PS: These smaller saws work real well with a homemade extension wing that can double as a router table using one of the drop-in plates.
 

memphisjed

Stainless
Joined
Jan 21, 2019
Location
Memphis
I have used a dewalt job site contractor saw and thought a skill saw was better. Coming from almost solely using a powermatic cabinet saw so bar is set a little/lot high; got a ryobi portable for one project, and even with the wimpist plastic frame it is ok (far better than dewalt). It dances around the table it sits on but motor yoke is firmly fitted to the table, no real shaking between blade and table. Decent cut finish. Extremely small, light, and open box is sub 100 dollars. Do not compare it to your big saw, use thin kerf blades, and it’ll be good enough for use what you got levels.
 

LKeithR

Stainless
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Location
Langley, B.C.
Were the Rockwell "Beaver" table saws available in the States? They were built like a brick sh*t-house
and would be perfect for what you need. I bought one brand new in '68 and it's still going strong. The pic
is just one I grabbed off the net but it's the identical saw...

image_110398.jpg
 

Ries

Diamond
Joined
Mar 15, 2004
Location
Edison Washington USA
I would try to find an old Inca, if you dont need to move it much. All the actual contractors I know use either Makita's or Ryobis, or if they dont use them themselves but just hire guys who dont care, Dewalts. But I am keeping my Unisaw.
 

richard newman

Titanium
Joined
Jul 28, 2006
Location
rochester, ny
From what I remember, the Inca machines were very nicely engineered and manufactured. But I think the tables were aluminum, so be sure to pull all the nails from your stock or you'll scar the table :-)

edit - Also, their smaller saws have tilting tables rather than tilting arbors, which is kinda dangerous, especially for larger parts.
 

dkmc

Diamond
Machining and metal working here, not much wood work goes on. But now & then a table saw is handier than the 30 year old B&D plastic circular saw.
Finally about 10-12 years ago, I found an old Delta Homecraft 8" tangled in a pile of hedge row iron at the local scrap yard. $20 and it came home with me. Minimal tinkering, and it's been very handy ever since. I still smile when I'm able to rip a 2x4 or random piece of plywood......or aluminum.
 

PeteM

Diamond
Joined
Jan 15, 2002
Location
West Coast, USA
Makita was the go-to portable table saw for many.

Frankly, for a garage, you're not throwing this into the back of a pickup every day. The slight extra floor space to have a larger table seems worth it to me. You can put the saw on rollers and don't need to have a mile of extensions. Portable set of rollers will do if you have to rip or crosscut really long stuff.

First table saw I owned, back in college, was a Craftsman 8" with cast iron table etc. It was fine for what it was, except the crappy fence. Before graduating, I bought a Delta contractors saw (not sure of the exact name) but it had the table top of a Delta Unisaw but a belt drive motor hanging off the back. I made a baffle so it could sort of do dust collection - and it only had a (real) 2hp motor -- but it was excellent in every other respect. It was replaced years ago by a tricked-out Unisaw.

That model was compact and was light enough it might go on a folding stand if you're really stuck for space. A friend has my old saw now - and loves it. Been cutting accurately for over 50 years.

Bottom line - for a garage I'd get something with a larger table, a belt drive motor, and put it on wheels or make a folding stand. A good fence makes a big difference if you have a bit of room. I've also put some tools (horizontal bandsaw etc.) on things like motorcycle lifts so they can roll UNDER a bench, then roll out, be jacked up to a comfortable height and locked into place.

Different story, of course, if you're building a second home or something and need to cart this to a job site. Then something like the Makita that folds down, rolls away, and is light enough to easily pitch into the back of a truck makes sense.
 








 
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