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cstrasz 03-01-2012 07:06 PM

New to tools, is a table saw worthwhile?
I'm just starting the process of getting some basic tools together and learning how to do more DIY projects including carpentry. My first few projects include trim work and door installation.

I picked up a miter saw for the trim cuts. In one of the books I purchased on trim carpentry, they recommend creating a good miter saw workstation that's anchored over two horses.

They include instructions on how to make it, and one of the things that popped up were some cuts that didn't seem to make sense with a miter or circular saw (specifically, having certain plank widths for some support pieces be a given width).

Which made me wonder - that seems like a task that a table saw would best handle. Is that correct? Or is there just as easy a way to cut the width of planks shorter with a miter or circular saw? Seems like most of the difficulty would be keeping the line straight along the entire plank - something I assume is easiest with an edge guide that's standard on the table saws I see.

I'm new to a lot of this so I could be way off. Just trying to assess if it's a tool worth getting and something I should invest in. Thanks.

CplDevilDog 03-01-2012 07:14 PM

IMHO a table saw is one of the last things you'll need. Unless you're doing cabinetry or lots of custom trim work you'll be much better off with a circular saw and a few straight edges and guides.

Table saw is good for precise ripping and cross-cutting and very nice to have if you have to rip a lot of narrow pieces but I found little use for one for 3 or 4 years of Framing and light trim work.

cstrasz 03-01-2012 07:19 PM

Sounds good. So what is the best method for dealing with planks that need their width adjusted short of asking Home Depot or Lowes to do this (do they even do tha like the book says or is that more a lumber yard type deal)? Here's the part in the book that had me wondering:

"The miter saw stand shown her is made from three main parts. Only one part needs to be cut precisely. The base and top can be cut to any length and width, but the supports must be ripped to exactly the right height. If the material you're using for the top extension wings is 3/4 in. thick, then make the supports exactly the height of your miter saw table minus 3/4 in. If you don't have a tablesaw or can't make these rips yourself, have your local material supplier rip a piece of 1x4 or 1x6 to that width. You'll be able to cut all the pieces needed from one 8 foot board."

woodworkbykirk 03-01-2012 08:30 PM

if your getting serious about woodworking a table saw is a must, if your going to be ripping peices of wood into narrow strips you have to have it.. unless your going to buy a track saw which is a circular saw with a guide.

with the mitre saw station your building, you dont have to match the design exactly.. if you dont have access to a table saw or feel comfortable using one... modify the design of the stand based on what material you can get your hands on.. most big box stores will have various widths and thicknesses of pine . just make a sketch based on the design in the book and make your modifications on paper first.. then build off that

ben's plumbing 03-01-2012 08:37 PM

could not work without my tabletop....I make alot of our own trim and other board goods ..ripping to size is a must...

DexterII 03-02-2012 02:35 PM

In my opinion, a table saw is the centerpiece of a well equipped shop, but a good one is not necessarily inexpensive, there are a lot of projects that can be completed without a table saw, and even for those of us who have worked with tools for many years, there is always some tool that we still yearn for, so I would never suggest running out to buy a table saw for one particular project (unless of course that "one particualr project" starts to become a once a month thing). That said, look closely at your plans, to see which rip cuts are critical, becaues, as Kirk suggested, often you can deviate, and may be able to use what you have available. Then, for the rips that do matter, do you know someone who might have a table saw? Woodworkers are generally a friendly lot, and often willing and eager to assist and teach each other. Do you have a piece of plywood or other straight stock that you can use as a guide for your circular saw? Do you have a lumber yard (not big box, but real lumber yard) nearby? One more thought, not to take away from your project, but have you looked at the miter saw stands that are available? For a long time, I used one that I built, probably somewhat similar to what you are looking at, and it worked great. And, a friend of mine who does a LOT of trim work, still knocks down and transports the one that he built to various jobsites. But, I finally bought one, mine happens to be a Dewalt, with telescoping end supports, easy knock down, etc., and find it much easier to transport, particulary when I am working up or down stairs.

princelake 03-02-2012 05:03 PM

you can do pretty much everything with 3 tools a hammer, drill, and a table saw. you can rip wood, cross cut, you can cut miters, etc etc. i say a table saw is a must.

Msradell 03-02-2012 09:55 PM

The table saw is certainly one of the first pieces any good workshop needs! Buy the best quality one you can afford and you won't regret it.

joecaption 03-02-2012 11:24 PM

I have my compound saw set up on one of these.

I by far use my ciruler saw and compound mitre saw more then the table saws I own.
You could build a whole house without ever using a table saw.
Calm down guys, not saying there not nice to have, and there great for some jobs but for someone just starting out there's other tools more useful.

bcgfdc3 03-05-2012 10:30 PM

What about a radial arm saw? Obviously it is not portable as most of you seem to be in the field and on jobsites, but what about it for the home workshop? I think it covers the best of both world of a moter saw and a table saw. It does have its limitations, as does any tool, to its ripping ability but can perform a good bit. Any thoughts?

princelake 03-06-2012 08:52 AM

no just no

Msradell 03-06-2012 10:39 AM

radial arm saw. NO! They look great but are really useless. A good compound miter saw is much more efficient, cheaper and lighter for cross cutting. Radial arm saws are also terrible for ripping, their tables are wood solid piece you're cutting does not slide smoothly in unless you're very careful they have a tendency to pull the wood in uncontrollably!:whistling2:

woodworkbykirk 03-06-2012 07:02 PM


Originally Posted by Msradell (Post 871877)
radial arm saw. NO! They look great but are really useless. A good compound miter saw is much more efficient, cheaper and lighter for cross cutting. Radial arm saws are also terrible for ripping, their tables are wood solid piece you're cutting does not slide smoothly in unless you're very careful they have a tendency to pull the wood in uncontrollably!:whistling2:

all valid points. and to add very rare to see in stores anymore.. the only time i see them for sale is on kijiji when old timers can no longer use their tools and need the money so they sell them off..

7echo 03-06-2012 09:48 PM

One of the things about how versatile a table saw is is that it needs to be set up carefully to be really accurate. You can do a lot of things with a table saw, but a lot of the versatility comes from really well made jigs and fixtures.

I have set up a bunch of shops. One of the most important things is to understand what you want to do in the space. Once you figure that out you can choose the appropriate tools. And speaking of space, a table saw needs a lot of room. woodworkbykirk mentioned tracksaws. Check those out, Dewalt, Makita, and if money isn't an object, Festool. I don't own one(yet) but am considering it. I don't like radial arm saws for several reasons, including that they are clawing at the wood toward the operator.

AirdrieHandyman 03-07-2012 10:05 AM

I would spend your money on a good set of horses. If you have a good surface to make your cut on it makes a huge difference.
I like these ones because then have a ton of uses. The med one works good as a strong stable table.

With a set like that if you take your time you can make cuts as good with a skill saw as a table saw.

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