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Discussion Starter #1
This seems to be the most common question asked on this site?

I'll stick my neck out here and consider myself an expert at table saw operation but not an expert on all the different brands and models. In a shop environment I've used mostly Powermatic, Grizzly, Delta and at job sites I've used too many different brands to list.

The table saw is the most used machine in my shop followed at a close second by the band saw. The most important aspect of successful table saw operation is the "SET UP". By "set up", I mean how it is arranged in your work area, out feed, side support etc. Most of us work in our shops by ourselves, myself included, so I have my TS "set up" to be operated easily by myself. A good fence that stays square to the blade and stays solidly where you set it is more important than the quality of the rest of the saw. I would prefer to use a cheap saw that has a good fence and a proper "set up" over a high-end saw with a poor "set up".

If you do not have the luxury of keeping a TS permanently set up and ready to use then your "set up" will have to be easy to put up and stowed away. Getting a 100lbs sheet of 3/4" MDF onto the TS run-off table is the much more difficult than actually cutting it up, but I've made it as easy as I cam by storing my sheet goods vertically and I am able to roll the sheet out to horizontal on edge and then simply pivot it over to the saw table then work my way over to the edge of the sheet and lay it down, phew!, this used to be much easier when I was younger. I have my side and out-feed surfaces set just slightly below the cast iron top of the TS and then these surfaces slope away from that height about 1/8" per foot. I keep the entire surface of the "set up" coated with "J" wax so I can slide the sheet up against the fence and feed it through the saw without help. Once I am through the cut, I have my "set up" sized so that both pieces are supported and will not fall on the floor until removed by me. This out-feed arrangement works well for dado use as well.

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Note the miter gauge slot extensions. You can see that my "set up" uses a significant portion of my shop space but the out-fed also is used as a work bench and tools storage.

I use the TS for ripping and re-sawing as well as many other operations. There is no substitute for horse power. I frequently ask my TS to rip a full 3" through hardwood lumber and I would always recommend the most powerful saw you can afford, and preferably using a 220v power source. My saw has 3hp and is adequate for everything I do. I will use a power feeder to do a lot of repetitious ripping which is faster and safer than feeding by hand.

A good general rule-of-thumb when evaluating table saws is weight, and generally the heavier the better. When using the saw it is important that the saw and "set up" so that it does not move while in use. For a portable "set up" I would recommend devising a way to bolt it to the floor when in use. Sometimes you need to push pretty hard and pushing the saw over would not be a good thing. My "set up" includes two heavy table saws and about 16 drawers full of heavy tools all fastened together into one big heavy immovable mass which I cannot move no matter how hard I push.

I use the TS for many delicate precision operations as well and I have several specialized sleds that I have built for those purposes. Weight and mass is nice for these more delicate operations because of it's ability to absorb vibration.

If you don't have 3 phase power available, don't buy a three phase saw unless you have a converter although that's where you will find the best deals.

And obviously, use a good sharp blade. Using a thin kerf blade will increase the effective power of your saw.

Happy sawing, Bret
 

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where's my table saw?
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That's a great setup!

I have a few questions, Bret:
Do you have a "dedicated" rip saw with a 24T rip blade installed and which saw is it?
Which saw do you use for dados OR do you use a router on a guide rail?
Does the other saw have a crosscut blade 60 T or a general purpose 40T?
How often do you find your self crosscutting a 4 X 8 panel using the fence?
Do you also have a panel saw for wider crosscutting?
Why did you choose a staggered arrangement rather than a side by side setup?
Is there a front saw and a back saw in your shop, or a main saw and a secondary one?

You probably know that I have a 3 saw setup, side by side with a dado, crosscut/general purpose, and a rip blade from right to left. I don't have to change blades that way. One of my router tables in an extension on the far right also. My outfeed is also a work table and that means I have to keep it cleared off., an issue in the middle of a project. :yes:
I agree that the fence is the most important and frequently used "accessory" on a table saw and when it's not "right on" and easy to slide and comes in square each time it's a PITA! :thumbdown:
My older Craftsman direct drive 12" saws are not top of the line heavy duty cabinet saws like yours, but I seldom rip 3" thick material, so I don't need a lot of raw power. They do get the job done and the price was right way back when in the '80's when I bought them.
I would recommend anyone who has the space to gang them together in any way that's feasable. Instead of selling that old one when you upgrade keep it around for ripping or dados if possible.

Your shop is the envy of most folks here as is your work! :yes::thumbsup:
 

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Your table saw setup looks bigger then my whole shop! Great write up you did.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have a few questions, Bret:
Do you have a "dedicated" rip saw with a 24T rip blade installed and which saw is it?

No. I am lazy and do not put a different blade on for ripping so its usually a 60 ATB Diablo blade by Frued. If Im doing a lot of ripping I'll switch to a thin kerf rip blade or even an eight inch blade to increase the effective power.

Which saw do you use for dados OR do you use a router on a guide rail?
Does the other saw have a crosscut blade 60 T or a general purpose 40T?

Depends on what I am dadoing. If I were building kitchen cabinets I use the "main saw" (Grizzly 1023SLX) which also has a router hole in the right wing and then I can just use the saw fence. 90 percent of my cutting is done with main. The secondary saw is usually set up with some sort of dado or tenon cutting when I don't want to tie up the main saw.

How often do you find your self crosscutting a 4 X 8 panel using the fence?

If you build cabinets, 35-1/4" is a very common rip width and being able to rip 48-1/2" gets you to the center of a 97 x 49 panel. So the answer is, frequently.

Do you also have a panel saw for wider crosscutting?

I cut all my panels with this setup. When cross cutting 12" or narrower rips, I'll use a sled.

Why did you choose a staggered arrangement rather than a side by side setup?

So I don't run into the other saw.

Is there a front saw and a back saw in your shop, or a main saw and a secondary one?

Yeah, the Grizz is the main saw. The secondary saw in the corner is my vintage Jr. Unisaw 8-1/2" blade max. whcih I bought when I was a teenager.

Bill, I've studied the photos you have posted of your shop and it's probably the same for others who look at my shop. I am not quite sure why it's efficient for you. I'd have to see it in use to fully understand. I have mine set up as is to accomodate a place for the user to stand and infeed. Both of my saw can be used at the same time by seperate people.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nice set up if you can tolerate the walk around. I couldn't.
If you think about it it is the only way it will work otherwise you would be standing in the work area of the shop. From the front edge of the saw blade to the wall in front of the saw it's 10' and for longer rips I open the door that is situated in line with the blade. Also, I need that space back there when working through a cutting list. I need open wall space for leaning stacks of cabinet partitions and to walk the panels through the saw.
 

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where's my table saw?
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efficient? hah hah

No, it's probably only efficient for me and that's only when it's cleared off. I use the center saw for almost all my cuts and that's where I have the most length for in and out feed. My "setup" was more about, OK I'll get a spare saw just like the other two, but where should I store it? I know, I'll just add it on to the 2 others as a rip saw. I have had to rip 12 footers and that's when I open the French doors and let it roll outside on the hand rail. Most of my work is 8 ft and under so that's not usually an issue.

Anyway, thanks for your detailed replies! :thumbsup:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Clearly, I do not have enough space for a properly set up shop.

Hey Bret, can I borrow your shop?
Thanks. It does not have to be like mine to be properly "set up". I have had the advantage of having set up several shops throughout my career and I know my work habits. I also had the advantage of designing my present shop and then building it to my specifications.

I realize most of us woodworkers are using limited space that is available and must make a lot of compromises which effects efficiency. If your work space is in a closet, a TS might not be usable. The minimum space requirement for a "set up" like mine is 16' wide x 18' long. So maybe a circular power hand saw with a good guide system might be the answer for someone with limited space rather than a table saw. Or if you wanted to set up a portable cut station in your driveway then you might consider a lighter weight saw and collapsible extension tables.

The reason for my OP was to explain that we don't all need the same saw. If you don't have the space to cut up panels like I do then a saw "set up" like mine would be a waste. I used my shop professionally before I retired so while it seems quite luxurious as a hobby shop it is somewhat minimum as a professional layout.

A workshop is always a "work in progress" and changes to match your work methods. I am not really building kitchen cabinets these days but it is very nice to be able to handle cutting large panels easily when the need does arise.

Bret
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Bill,

In my endeavor to impart woodworking knowledge to others I almost always learn something in return. So hopefully these posts are a win-win.

When I retired I had to get rid of a lot of excess tools that I needed to furnish my employees. I sold many of them off on CL which included three or four used table saws. I kept one small portable saw that is easy to take with me places.

I only keep tools in my shop that are used regularly. If it never gets used, it's gone. Ha, at least that's the theory if not exactly adhered to.:no:

Bret
 

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Bill, I've studied the photos you have posted of your shop and it's probably the same for others who look at my shop. I am not quite sure why it's efficient for you. I'd have to see it in use to fully understand. I have mine set up as is to accomodate a place for the user to stand and infeed. Both of my saw can be used at the same time by seperate people.
+1. :yes: As one works in a shop, tool configuration is arranged for the convenience of the user. I also have qualms about three saws in a row, but whatever turns him on I say.:laughing:

It's pretty common for shops that do casework, to have a large table around their saw. Full sheets are sized on the table saw. Most of my setups were to have the saw out in the open. There was one shop, that I parked the right end (with a 52" rail and table) near the wall.






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