Built in portable table saw vs contractor table saw - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Built in portable table saw vs contractor table saw

Hey guys, brand new to the forum, although I've been reading and absorbing posts for probably a year now.

I'm deep into a full house remodel and I'm close to the part that I'm most excited for... built in cabinetry. First thing I'll need to buy is a table saw.

I'm trying to keep my budget under $550 or so. My question is, what would be the pros and cons of getting a $500 contractor saw, or buying a $300 portable saw and building it into a large workbench? Can I get the same accuracy with the two set ups?

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 03:08 PM
where's my table saw?
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There's a third option ....

The accuracy of rip cuts which is the "specialty" of a tablesaw, is dependent on the fence. If the fence is readily adjustable and will "self align" to be parallel to the miter slots when moved, that's the secret to accuracy. Portables saws usually have a very short fence and not much room immediately in front of the blade making both accurate rips and wider crosscuts difficult.

My recommendation, and how I started about 50 years ago, is a contractor type saw with as much side extension and rear outfeed support as you can possibly manage in your shop space. I started with a wing on either side, then 2 on one side, one on the other, then I bolted 2 saws together and had wings on either side... then I bolted 3 saws together, added a long and wide outfeed/assembly table. I think I'm done now. :smile3:

Contractor saws can be had used for around $200.00 or so. They really don't wear out, so the fence is the critical component. Motors are replaceable and upgrades are easy, unbolt the old motor, bolt on the new one.

Put an extension "fence" on your miter gauge and you can accurately crosscut most material. A sled will work much better with more room in the front of the blade.

I also have a darn nice 4000-09 Bosch work site saw, which is accurate and powerful. The fence is just fine also. It has pull out side extensions and a rear extension that pulls out. Cost around $500.00 new, but
factory recons are available for less. It's light enough to carry around, a plus, if you have to do that. A contractor saw is too heavy. :smile3:
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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)

Last edited by woodnthings; 05-18-2016 at 05:39 PM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 03:23 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the reply. The ripping capacity is what I was concerned with on the portable saws. I know I've seen people do DIY fences on their benches, but I'm not sure I would trust the accuracy of that.

I do love the idea of the bigger work surface of a homemade bench though. Maybe I'll do the best of both worlds and build a bench around a larger saw.

Is there a general consensus for what brands to buy? Dewalt, Bosch, Ridgid? From the little research I've done so far, its a little all over the place.
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 03:47 PM
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Unless you just need portability I would stay away from portable saw. They are little which makes it more difficult to cut sheet stock. They also lack the power a contractor saw would have. The only reason I keep a portable saw is just to carry it to a jobsite where I work away from the shop.
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 04:09 PM
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Given your price range I'd look at the Delta 36-725. Retails for about $550, good sized table, excellent fence, pretty portable and one of the best saws, in my opinion, for a weekend warrior to pick up.

I'd avoid portable saws unless you just had to have something you could pick up and toss in a van. Between the small tables, universal motors and iffy fences odds are you'd spend more time trying tk correct the deficiencies than you would actually making those cabinets

I need cheaper hobby
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 04:32 PM Thread Starter
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Yeah the portability isn't an issue at all for me. I'm not a contractor (yet), so this saw will just be staying in my garage. Thanks again everyone!
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 05:23 PM
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If it's going to stay in one place, heavier is better. A used cabinet saw is the first choice.

The three things to look for are weight, power and fence, in that order. They will all improve your learning curve.

"When I have your wounded." -- Major Charles L. Kelley, callsign "Dustoff", refusing to recognize that an LZ was too hot, moments before before being killed by a single shot, July 1, 1964.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-18-2016, 09:51 PM
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Good used contractor saw is the way to go.

If you are not going to move the saw alot. Like, everyday!! I would get a Contractors saw. About a year ago I purchased a Jet contractors saw for $350. Nice saw. Just tonight on Craigslist I saw a Delta Contractors that was a little rusty and had the motor taken off, but came with a motor for $75. The Contractors Saw have 1 1/2hp motors and are built like a tank. You can build outfeed tables for the Contractors Saw. If you are patient you can buy a Contractors Saw, delta, craftsman, jet, etc. for between $200 to $400 very often.
I owned a Dewalt, Ridgid and Makita portable saws. Of those I would get another Makita. That was a decent saw. The Makita lasted 17 years of tough, tough work. Then I got a Ridgid and I just sold my Ridgid for $200. That saw was totally underpowered. The Dewalt was stolen out of our trailer. That was an Ok saw. I ordered a new Skil Worm Drive table saw. I should see it in a few days. I am a Worm Drive fan so I want to see what it is like. I"ll use it on the jobsite everyday.
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-19-2016, 05:37 AM
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It's like comparing a full size pickup to a compact car. The biggest (and nearly only) benefit of a portable is portability. If you don't NEED portability, the rest of the advantages go to a decent full size belt drive contractor saw. The contractor saw will have a lot more operating room in front of the blade, and the motor is much quieter with a lot more torque. The contractor saw has a lot more mass, lower vibration, is easy to upgrade, easier to fix, more reliable, more accurate, and you're far less likely to outgrow it any time soon.

A good blade and good alignment are the keys to good performance from any saw.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-19-2016, 11:40 AM
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Everyone pretty much nailed all the important parts. Spend your money on a good used contractor saw on craigslist. The belt drive vs direct drive is a HUGE improvement. I started with a small portable DeWalt, which was just ok, and later upgraded to an older Craftsman contractor saw I bought for $150. If you can find one with an upgraded biesemeyer-style fence (mine had a vega which was also great) go for that, or allow for it in the budget. The accuracy and ease of cuts is well worth the price.
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-22-2016, 11:20 AM
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Have you looked into track saws?

If your insisting on a table saw I would look for a good used one. You should be able to find a use one in your price range.
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-22-2016, 12:58 PM
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Though I don't recommend this I thought it's pretty cool this guy is definitely thinking outside the box

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post #13 of 14 Old 06-08-2016, 02:53 PM
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If you don't need to move it from room to room, consider a small cabinet saw; larger fence and work surface. I picked up a used Grizzly G0715P, for 400. It stays in my basement/ garage but is damn accurate.
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post #14 of 14 Old 06-08-2016, 05:34 PM
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For cutting sheet goods to size, as Sancho mentioned, a track saw is an awesome tool. I have a Delta contractor saw with an upgraded fence, but when plywood comes home with me, I break it down with my Makita track saw. If you measurements are exact, your cuts will be, too.

I got my track saw because when I have to cut plywood, I'm frequently by myself. I don't have the space in my garage for a dedicated outfeed table for my saw, so the track saw is a MUCH safer alternative. Hooked up to a Dust Deputy and shop vac, the amount of sawdust created is easily captured, creating less mess. My lungs appreciate that part!
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