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How to select a good table saw

You can spend a small fortune on a good table saw, but good ones last if they are cared for properly. My advice: Shop carefully. You don't want to go cheap so the machine is worthless, nor do you want to spend a fortune for something that won't be used. Al Heavens, Philadelphia Inquirer

Good fences, best blades: Nothing is more important to successful table-saw use than the fence — the guide that is adjusted to handle the material you are cutting. No matter how good the guide, it needs to be checked regularly for proper adjustment. And never skimp on blades. Buy and use ones designed for the kind of material — plywood, hardwood — you are cutting.

Portable saws: Also called "job-site" saws because of their use by contractors, these are better for people with little room to maneuver or who need to store the machines when they aren't in use, although they are not as sturdy as stationary models. They are portable because they are made of aluminum rather than cast iron. Several models come with stands, some on wheels, for easy transport and setup.

One major difference between and stationary saws is that the former often vibrate more. Stationary saws tend to weigh 250 pounds and up, and that, and cast-iron construction, tends to steady them.

Stationary saws: Some sources call these "contractor saws," but in my mind, the typical contractor saw has more bells and whistles than what the typical do-it-yourselfer needs. My 20-year-old Delta is a stationary saw that cost $400 new ($700 in today's dollars). There have been periods since 1989 when I used it just about every day and times when it sat collecting regular dust for months. Consider that when choosing a saw.

At other times — most notably, when I was redoing a kitchen — I wished the saw had more accessories. As you shop, look at models that can be accessorized, including ones that permit expansion of the table surface to handle bigger pieces and that accommodate quick changes to dado heads and other specialty blades.

How to select a good table saw 12/22/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 22, 2009 3:30am]
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