Smallest motorized saw for straight cuts? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 04:46 AM Thread Starter
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Smallest motorized saw for straight cuts?

Hi,

A hobby of mine is making DIY speakers. My first project was a big subwoofer (64x60x54cm), and I had a carpenter build the cabinet because I had no tools.

My next project will most likely be a center channel speaker, so it'd be much smaller than the first one. It would still require some tools, though. What I'm missing right now is the ability to make straight cuts. I have a Dremel 3000 now, which can make circle cuts with the Dremel 678-01 accessory (up to 30cm in diameter). This accessory can also make straight cuts, but it's not long enough to work with a typical MDF panel, which are huge, but only up to 15cm from the edge of the board or so.

Of course, a tablet saw would be perfect. So will a band saw. But these things are "machines" rather than just "tools", and are expensive and also require permanent space for storage (ie, you can't put them in a closet when they're not in use). So what would be a decent hand-held alternative, for use with a guide for example? Something affordable for a hobbyist.

Thanks.
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post #2 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 05:35 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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Used a circular saw ...

When I started out I made some large cabinets using a circular saw, some saw horses and a straight edge to cut the panels. You can use folding saw horses to make them easier to store, but the large sheets must be stable when you are working with the saw for safety sake.

Circular saws are not terribly expensive if you are on a budget. I would look into the newer, smaller versions of a worm drive like the Rockwell Versacut:




Here's one being used with a the edge guide for keeping the cut straight:


The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-04-2017 at 06:45 AM.
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post #3 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 05:57 AM
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In the US, $50 circular saws are available that with a suitable blade and a straight edge guide would serve your occasional needs.
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post #4 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 06:29 AM Thread Starter
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A circular saw starts at $165 where I live. Straight edge guides are limited to a certain length from the edge, so what if I need to cut a small panel of wood?

Also, do you happen to know how deep into plywood/mdf a Dremel 3000 can cut with the straight edge guide? By that I mean, can it cut 3/4 inch wood (which is common for speakers)?
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post #5 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 06:44 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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The Dremel is NOT a saw it's a .....

The Dremel is a rotary grinding/polishing tool, not a saw. It won;t have enough power to use a saw blade, it's just not the right tool. If you search for a circular saw, new or used you can probably find something you can afford. You will just want a new blade if you buy used.

Possibly you could use a jig/saber saw, but it won't leave a smooth enough cut for cabinetry like speaker boxes. You have to realize at some point you don't have the proper tools for the job. Save your money and put the project on hold. We all have had to do this as we get more involved in woodworking. I've been collecting tools and machines for 50 years and I still don't have all I would like to have.:frown2:

I searched a bit more and found this compact circular saw by Worx:

https://www.amazon.com/WORX-WORXSAW-...t+circular+saw

Some of the sellers offer free shipping also....

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-04-2017 at 06:51 AM.
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post #6 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 07:06 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
The Dremel is a rotary grinding/polishing tool, not a saw. It won;t have enough power to use a saw blade, it's just not the right tool. If you search for a circular saw, new or used you can probably find something you can afford. You will just want a new blade if you buy used.

Possibly you could use a jig/saber saw, but it won't leave a smooth enough cut for cabinetry like speaker boxes. You have to realize at some point you don't have the proper tools for the job. Save your money and put the project on hold. We all have had to do this as we get more involved in woodworking. I've been collecting tools and machines for 50 years and I still don't have all I would like to have.:frown2:

I searched a bit more and found this compact circular saw by Worx:

https://www.amazon.com/WORX-WORXSAW-...t+circular+saw

Some of the sellers offer free shipping also....
Oddly enough I bought a Dremel for the occasional DIY project, since it has all kinds of attachments.
There are no saw blades for Dremel's rotary tools. Instead, there are router bits (to be used with a plunge router attachment), while drill bits are used with the straight/circle cutting guide.
Please have a look at this video (I think it's Spanish, but you don't really need to hear it to understand):

I wonder if this tool (that's the 678-01 straight/circle guide) can cut 3/4" MDF. If it can then I should be set. This tool also does circles up to 30cm, more than enough for woofers.
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post #7 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 07:20 AM
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Not enough power!

I will take you forever IF it will work at all? A rotary tool is not as efficient for cutting as a saw blade. The small router bits that will work for making a circle would require a number of partial depth cuts to it make all the way through ..... taking forever. Longer straight cuts would be even worse. BTW, I also own a Dremel like tool and for my first hand experience, I only use it for grinding or sharpening very small pieces.

If you want to stay on a very limited budget, you may have to resort to a hand saw and cut to a line. It's not the end of the world, so you can keep moving forward. :smile3:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 02-04-2017 at 07:23 AM.
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post #8 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 07:26 AM Thread Starter
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In the video, the dremel seems to cut through whatever material it is rather fast.
I know it's far from ideal due to its limited power, but is it actually worse than a hand saw?
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post #9 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 07:59 AM Thread Starter
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post #10 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 07:59 AM
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That meterial is sheet rock/drywall, not wood

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yonathan View Post
In the video, the dremel seems to cut through whatever material it is rather fast.
I know it's far from ideal due to its limited power, but is it actually worse than a hand saw?
He's cutting a hole in the drywall, a relatively soft material, for a lighting fixture:
https://youtu.be/OYpQKmHR1So?t=213

Your MDF has glue in it and will heat up the tiny router bit in a hurry.


Here's the deal. I've given you the best advice I have. If you choose to go ahead and disregard it that's OK with me. I have no more to add for you.
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The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #11 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 11:58 AM Thread Starter
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So I took your advice and am sadly selling my Dremel 3000. It could be useful in some scenarios, but I bought it specifically for something it apparently cannot do.

So I already looked into circular saws, and have come up with a list of budget-friendly models:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Power-Saw...s=circular+saw

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Decke...s=circular+saw

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Power-Saw...s=circular+saw

BOSCH GKS190
HYUNDAI HD7800 (half the cost of the GKS190)
MAKITA 5806B
Black Decker KS1300
Kendo 896405 (who the hell is Kendo? it's the cheapest of the bunch)
Einhell TC-CS 1400
SKIL 5265

I have absolutely no idea how to choose one. Sure, there are specs like max RPM and wattage, but you don't choose a car just by its engine. I know that Makita, Bosch and probably Black and Decker are all safe bets, but what about cheaper models like the Hyundai and the Kendo? I couldn't find any used ones in my area, by the way.
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post #12 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 01:59 PM
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Any of the circular saws will work with a good blade, take a look at the different brands in person and see how they feel. Some saws will just feel right to you others will feel awkward, too light, to heavy, handle feels weird. It will be a lot easier to follow a guide to make a straight cut with a saw you are comfortable with, you may even get to the point where you can make a satisfactory cut without a guide.

Make yourself a guide to follow, two styles that I like:

For ripping:
http://sawdustmaking.com/SkillsawGui...llsawguide.htm

For cross cuts:
http://greenthumbgoodies.com/Cutting...utting_box.htm

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #13 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 02:23 PM
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What is available in the UK that sells cheap table saws?
Like the Harbor Freight model. Surely there are other companies that sell those saws.
Harbor Freight
http://www.harborfreight.com/10-in-1...saw-63118.html
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post #14 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 03:55 PM
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since you are probably not going to be using this thing six days a week, 35 hours per day, any of the recognized brands is going to be more that adequate because as FrankC said, it's all the the blade.

the right blade for the job. if you want smooth cuts on MDF / plywood you'll need a higher tooth count blade. the required tooth count depends on the blade diameter - so "X" teeth is meaningless without knowing the diameter.

you have very little chance of making a smooth straight cut without a guide. 'freehand' will not get you where you want to go. if you need strips narrower than a clamp&guide + saw offset allows, you need to plan how to cut the narrow strip off a chunk of wider stock, or rig up a way to 'mount' narrow strips on a wider side piece.

keep track of the 'factory edge' when working with chopped up smaller pieces - typically the factory edge will be straight.

and a strategic tip for straight smooth cuts: cut it twice. first cut to 'almost' the right size, then make a second 'finish' cut at the exact size - but the second cut should be removing just a whisker or three. this allows the saw to move easily, not bind, stick, bog down, etc. using a table saw I aim for maximum 'final trim off' of a saw kerf/blade width.

for plywoods, cut from the "back" side with a circular saw - that way the circular blade teeth are moving 'into' the finish surface and the tear out is minimized.

I understand your need for minimum storage/working space, etc. - but it is rather a bit of realism to accept that one cannot be a fine furniture wood maker out of a closet.
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post #15 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 04:06 PM
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Read the Amazon reviews ....

Each saw you listed has reviews by the purchasers, in one case 189. another 83 and 62. See what they have to say about them rather than asking us which is best, since they are not available here so we won't have any first hand experience. Frank C's advice is great IF you can see them in person, but that may not be practical.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #16 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 04:10 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MT Stringer View Post
What is available in the UK that sells cheap table saws?
Like the Harbor Freight model. Surely there are other companies that sell those saws.
Harbor Freight
http://www.harborfreight.com/10-in-1...saw-63118.html
I'm actually not from the UK, it's just that Amazon.co.uk ships some items to Israel, including some Circular Saw models.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TomCT2 View Post
since you are probably not going to be using this thing six days a week, 35 hours per day, any of the recognized brands is going to be more that adequate because as FrankC said, it's all the the blade.

the right blade for the job. if you want smooth cuts on MDF / plywood you'll need a higher tooth count blade. the required tooth count depends on the blade diameter - so "X" teeth is meaningless without knowing the diameter.

you have very little chance of making a smooth straight cut without a guide. 'freehand' will not get you where you want to go. if you need strips narrower than a clamp&guide + saw offset allows, you need to plan how to cut the narrow strip off a chunk of wider stock, or rig up a way to 'mount' narrow strips on a wider side piece.

keep track of the 'factory edge' when working with chopped up smaller pieces - typically the factory edge will be straight.

and a strategic tip for straight smooth cuts: cut it twice. first cut to 'almost' the right size, then make a second 'finish' cut at the exact size - but the second cut should be removing just a whisker or three. this allows the saw to move easily, not bind, stick, bog down, etc. using a table saw I aim for maximum 'final trim off' of a saw kerf/blade width.

for plywoods, cut from the "back" side with a circular saw - that way the circular blade teeth are moving 'into' the finish surface and the tear out is minimized.

I understand your need for minimum storage/working space, etc. - but it is rather a bit of realism to accept that one cannot be a fine furniture wood maker out of a closet.
I was told to opt for a circular saw with a cast basket for better precision. I do not know how necessary that is but they seem to start at $173 (price includes delivery and import taxes in my country) for two Makita models (5704RK and 5806B). In fact, anything by a recognized brand start at $140 or so. Otherwise, my options are the Evolution, Hyundai or other lesser-known brands. Should I skip these brands altogether?

And what about smaller circular saws? Are they cheaper, or just more compact with less power/depth?
The aforementioned Rockwell Versacut is 240 pounds on amazon.co.uk, so way out of budget.
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post #17 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 04:15 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
Each saw you listed has reviews by the purchasers, in one case 189. another 83 and 62. See what they have to say about them rather than asking us which is best, since they are not available here so we won't have any first hand experience. Frank C's advice is great IF you can see them in person, but that may not be practical.
The thing is, these models cost similarly, but the reviews don't compare them against each other. Perhaps you could help me understand the naming scheme of these companies? For example Makita, is the 5806B higher in the range than the 5704RK, or is it not that simple?

Lastly, would you say that for the reputable brands, similarly-priced tools will have similar performance (ie a $100 Makita vs a $100 Bosch c.saw)?

The saws cannot be tested, unfortunately.

Thanks.

EDIT: Nevermind! Two minutes into reading reviews on ~50 pound saws, I saw at least one review for each about the base not being properly aligned with the saw, one mentioned a 1.5 degree angle and another 5 degrees.

Then I checked the Makita reviews and what a difference it is! No negative reviews at all. I know what I'll be getting - the 5704RK.

Is a wheel with more teeth required for accuracy, or is it only for faster cutting?

Thanks.

Last edited by Yonathan; 02-04-2017 at 05:13 PM.
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post #18 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 05:26 PM
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In a post above Frank mentions the importance of a good blade. This can't be over-emphasized.
Most of the cheaper saws come with a junk blade. Will it cut? Of course it will, but not smooth. Most portable circular saws are sold to be used in rough construction work. And for your speaker cabinets you need to make clean cuts.
A smaller saw should meet your needs, but if you plan to build cabinets out of plywood or veneered woods, you should consider starting off with a good finish blade. A good blade can make a cheap saw cut very well.
When you check out the various brands of portable circular saws (commonly called Skilsaws in America),
You will find saws with blade diameters from 4 1/2" up.
Name brands may offer more accessories or have a better parts department but you don't need many accessories and hopefully no new parts, so a generic brand may suit your needs just fine.
But remember the quality blade.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #19 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Well, these smaller saws are about the same price as the Makita, and the reviews are not as good overall. I'll stick to the bigger ones.

What is a good blade, though? Is it the brand or the type, or both? For example the one that comes with the Makita 5704RK, I assume it's good quality because it's a Makita, but is it the right one for cutting wood/MDF panels?
Does it have to be with more teeth?
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post #20 of 52 Old 02-04-2017, 05:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yonathan View Post
Well, these smaller saws are about the same price as the Makita, and the reviews are not as good overall. I'll stick to the bigger ones.

What is a good blade, though? Is it the brand or the type, or both? For example the one that comes with the Makita 5704RK, I assume it's good quality because it's a Makita, but is it the right one for cutting wood/MDF panels?
Does it have to be with more teeth?
A blade with fewer teeth will cut faster and rougher. (Takes out bigger bites)
More teeth on a blade will cut slower but smoother. (Takes out smaller bites)
Blades are either high speed steel or carbide tipped. Carbide last much longer but is more expensive. Most name brand blades have packaging that tells you the features of the blade. Look for key words like Plywood, Fine Cut or Finish if you want to cut plywoods clean and smooth.
Expensive blades can be re-sharpened when necessary. Cheap blades aren't worth the cost of re-sharpening and will be discarded.
I hope this helps.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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