I’m mostly a DIYer with little woodworking experience. I won’t be doing much fine cabinetry type stuff (mostly general carpentry), but it would be nice to make accurate cuts.
Also, what safety advice do you have for me? I always wear goggles, but am unfamiliar with the dangers involved these saws other than the kickback phenomena on table saws and be sure to always use push sticks on any stock anywhere near the blade.
I’ve got the non-sliding version of that Hitachi saw, and it’s very good. Wish I’d sprung for the slider, but otherwise no complaints. If you look around and find a saw without a laser, they are sometimes a little less expensive and you don’t really need a laser on a CMS. A little care in your set-up will get you perfect cuts every time.
For safety, the goggles and push-sticks are a good start. If you do a lot of work with small pieces, you might want to buy or make a featherboard. I’d also recommend breathing protection any time you’re cutting. A dust mask at least, though a respirator is best.
I had the 4009 version of the Bosch table saw, and deeply regret having to get rid of it when we moved. Pretty much the only way it would have fit in the truck would be if I held it in my lap.
As saws go, it was better than middlingly decent, but the stand is what really made it worthwhile. I believe you can still buy the stand separately if you’d rather have some other saw, or already have a compact contractor-style saw and just want to give it wheels.
I do have the LS1013 SCM, and it’s served me well for trim work and flooring. I can only hope the LS1016 is just as solid.
I’ve tried lasers in the past and didn’t really appreciate the alleged usefulness. The projected line was always much fatter than anything I’d mark with a .03 pencil or a knife, and useless to me when I’m cutting trim that will be stained and varnished - it’s impossible to hide boo-boos with caulk, putty or paint. It was like “measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an ax.”
Given what you’ve described I’d propose a very simple solution to your table saw dilemma. Don’t get one. Build a couple of saw guides for common sizes of sheet products you work with and use them to get straight cuts. Table saws are far and away the most dangerous tool in a woodworking shop. And that’s including the cabinet saws which are permanently affixed to the shop floor and have large surface tables to support the sheet products you’ll be cutting. A portable saw with a small table that you’ll have to balance the work across while you cut increases the risk of binding the blade, burning the blade, kickback, and having to guide the work closely by hand, increasing the risk of hand and finger injury. We use saw guides in my shop frequently and we have a space we keep them stacked up in a corner. It takes a lot less space and far less cash than our cabinet saw does. A step up from the basic saw guide is a portable panel saw system which is basically a saw guide but with a rail and mounting hardware for your saw so it will stay true to the guide. With a simple saw guide you can drift away from the straightedge, that’s not really possible with these kinds of panel systems.
If you must have a table saw, please don’t settle for less than the only saw on the market with real anti-injury protection. The SawStop line of saws have remarkable technology that must be seen to be believed. They have videos on their site or they’re easily youtubed. The hot dog video has always impressed the heck out of me.
If money AND space is no object, then buy a panel saw and never look back.
As for a miter saw, I’ve used them for years and I can say it’s not really the saw that makes a difference, it’s the table it’s installed in. Some tables are terrible, with no straight edges or only a tiny ear on either side of the blade, on a base that rises above your work surface, leaving you to balance the work yourself. Those are nightmares to use. If you need a nice clean cut, invest the time and energy to build a good solid table. The one I use is similar to this, but larger, with locking wheels and permanent wings out to about six foot length with additional drop leaf ends which add an addtional six feet or so. I can cut 8’ boards with only a foot or two unsupported and I have a rail which runs the full length that I can use as a straightedge and clamp to if I need to put a stop for repeated cuts. Most of the big brands make a good chop saw. I’ve recently used Ryobi, Ridgid(my main workhorse) and DeWalt. All of them are servicable tools. I don’t have a table for my Ryobi(I take it to job sites), I have a really good table for my Ridgid, and a slapped together table for my DeWalt. I’ll probably use the DeWalt more once I get the time to re-build the table and make it better.
I’m sorry, but there’s no way that a circular saw cutting a panel balanced on saw horses is more safe than a table saw. The setup you described requires moving a heavy saw with a blade smoothly while making sure the cord doesn’t bind and the saw runs smoothly against the guide and doesn’t kick back. It’s also only useful if you’re cutting panels, but hopeless if you want to cut thin pieces of stock.
Small contractor table saws are quite safe if used in a proper manner (e.g. keeping the splitter and blade guard on, not using them when you’re tired or pissed off, etc…) The Saw Stop technology is excellent, but it’s quite expensive (and gets more expensive if the mechanism fires, as it destroys the blade, although if it’s your fingers on the line, you pay that cost gladly.)
Different stock calls for different conditions. Any flexible product like masonite or thin paneling should be properly supported. I’d never suggest using a saw guide on a sagging arc of masonite between two sawhorses. But clamping a sheet of masonite down to a work table and clamping a saw guide into place is an effective and safe way of making straight cuts. Always tailor your cutting technique to the stock you’re using. This is just as true if you’re using a table saw or contractor saw.
And SawStop saws are well worth it. The cost of a blade and new brake cartridge, or at worst case a dado set and dado cartridge, is still well under the cost of a finger or three.