Saw buying advice

Happy new homeowner here, looking to put another power tool into the collection. Will it be a table saw or a slide miter saw?

Upcoming projects in the “honeydo” jar are an oak fireplace surround and laying seemingly acres of laminate flooring (eg: Pergo-type planks)

A basic “chop saw” miter box doesn’t have a big enough bite to cut the flooring, or the 1x6 and 1x8 boards for the fireplace. The slide miter saws will easily manage this - starting prices are about $500 for a decent one with a decent blade.

Entry point on table saws is much less - I can pick one up at the local big “S” for starting at $170. I used to have (sold it when there was no place for it in an apartment) a saw in this price range before and it was well, a saw.

How much better off would I be stepping up to the “jobsite” or “contractor” saws in the $400-500 range? One thing I do know is my previous cheapie didn’t have the capacity to accept a dado blade. OTOH, that’s not been a problem for me yet, but for all I know, three months from now, I might need to make a bunch of dados and smack myself for getting a saw that can’t do it. I’m not a cabinetmaker - just a busy do-it-myselfer

I don’t currently need a highly portable saw, but the idea of being able to dust the thing off after use and storing it on a stout shelf, rather than having a stand-mounted saw eat floor space is attractive.

So - where should I spend the hypothetical $500? A slide miter box or a contractor table saw?

I’d say a slider miter saw.

I just spent 2 weekends ripping out carpet and installing hardwood laminate in 2 of my rooms. The table saw was absolutely fantastic for cutting that last piece to fit nicely against the wall. It was less adequate for accuate cuts on the short side. Even with the guide, sliding the laminate through the blade on the short side was a bit on the tough and awkward side. Getting a perfect 90 degree cut was something I gave up on at about the 3rd cut, figuring the quarter round would hide my imperfections. I was right.

But speaking of quarter round, there was no way in hell my table saw would cut it at a perfect 45. I got a cheap $100 compound miter saw for that job, and ended up using that almost exclusively for my next room. It wasn’t a slider, so I had to do 1 cut, flip, and cut the other side. Even using this technique, I got straighter, more accurate, and faster cuts. I used my table saw only for the last strip.

For your fireplace, I would imagine if the slider miter saw has enough reach to get through your wood, it’ll be all you need.

Tough one to answer as I’m kind of picky about tools. If you want to get something you’ll be using a long time from now don’t even consider a direct drive table saw but go for a good contractor saw at the very least. Not all are created equal so do your research. Mine is the Delta original contractor model which has stronger trunnions than the contractor II and I’ve added a cast iron table extension and a Biesemeyer fence. With a 30" fence you’re talking about a lot of footprint so I don’t think this is the solution for you.

Unfortunately crosscuts on long stock are a weakness of table saws. In your case I’d go with a miter saw. A 12" non-sliding miter saw will do a 90º cut in 2x8 stock.

Preferably I would get both. Not in one swoop but definitely for the future of your home shop. Secondly, I would buy Delta, I like Dewalt and Craftsman but it’s my experience that Delta is the best of the best…something to hand down to your kids. Check out this website for full details and pricing.

Moldings. I forgot all about those little beggars. Those could be a pain on a table saw.

I know that in times past, and in Norm Abrams’ budget range, Delta makes good stuff, but I’ve heard less than kind words about their lower-end stuff in my price range.

A 10" slide miter saw’s not much more expensive than a 12" non-slide. Assuming they were the same price, which would you pick? I just noticed the comment that the 12" will do 8" on a 90, but if I want to do 45, I’d be gnashing my teeth, apparently. For $550, I can pick up a 12" slide - best of both worlds, perhaps?

One thing that’s got me a little concerned is how that saw’s D-handle favors right-handers - the trigger is at the far left of the grip. I’m not a right-hander, and I don’t want a power tool mishap turning me into one.

And yes, I’m a bit fussy about my tools. I’ve still got, and still use, my grandfather’s Craftsman hammer. Guess what brand of hand tools I buy? DeWalt’s also been my pick for portable power tools.

I’m currently leaning toward a Hitachi C10FSB for $400. They’ve done a good job building our mainframe computers, so saws should be a piece of cake for them, and this saw has a solid 5-star rating at amazon. Or, for $470, their C10FSH adds a bonus 72-point carbide blade and laser.

Speaking of lasers - truly useful, or just a “neato!” gizmo? That bonus blade is $40 on its own, making the comparison $440 for no laser and $470 with.

I’ve never had a laser on a power tool, I’d think the vibration could compromise precision cuts.
As for bring fussy about tools…so am I. That is why I bought high end, as I don’t ever want to get rid of them…

My old 10" chop miter was sold to a buddy. I now have a Bosch 10" compound slide miter, and it’s a great saw. My big old cast iron table saw stays in the shop, cuz it’s too damned heavy to take on the road. :wink:

Table saw all the way. Look for a used one, Delta is my personal choice but at the least you want a cast iron surface and the ability to add outfeed tables.

There’s loads of books that will show you how to whip up simple jigs so you can cut, shape, dado, or otherwise make just about anything you need. If I was allowed one power tool that would be it.

As for mouldings, a simple sliding fence will make mitres a breeze. It’s easy to make and is a good intro to the saw, you can make it on the saw and then use it for years afterwards.

I saw that Sears has a Craftsman 10 inch Jobsite saw on sale right now for under $400 - so if you go that route, fyi. I’ve been online looking for the perfect cordless drill this morning so naturally looked at all things tools. :slight_smile:

If it has a motor on it, stay away from Craftsman. Up until 20 years ago they built good stuff. Now it’s junk.

Yeah this one I mentioned does have a motor. What’s wrong with them or what changed 20 years ago? That’s interesting…

A 12" compound mitre saw will cut a 1x6 easily. I use mine much more than my table saw.

I have a laser on my mitre saw, and I have become quite fond of it. Accuracy seems to be good once you get used to it, and depending on what you are doing, it can cut a step out of your workflow. I lay the measuring tape right on the wood, line up the laser, take the tape off, and make the cut.

I’ve had it for a year now, and the accuracy doesn’t seem to have degraded at all.

The decline in Sears power tools can be summed up in one word: Ryobi.

It’s not entirely Ryobi’s fault. Sears puts out specs for a tool and a price and companies bid to build them. When the primary design specification in a tool is the price, the outcome is never good.

Forgot to mention - I’ve narrowed down the options.

From low to high price, I’m looking at:
DeWalt D705 12" compound miter
Makita LS1030 slide dual compound
DeWalt D708 12" double-bevel slide compound

Price range for these as refurbished is $210-450. Reviews at Amazon make it appear that they’re new tools that didn’t sell for whatever reason and are entirely pristine without so much as fingerprints on them.

For some reason, DeWalt doesn’t make a 10" slide. I looked at Bosch, and they seem wholly unsuitable and possibly dangerous for lefties due to their safety interlocks. I was thinking of the Hitachi saws, but once I saw that their base is puny and the thing is prone to tipping over, I dropped them from consideration.

The DW705 is probably large enough to do what I want, but the single-tilt design may come to haunt me later on. The DW708 is more than I really need at the moment and more than twice the price of the non-slide, but the Tim the Toolman in me says “Awruh! More power!” It’s been a long while since I’ve had my hands on a Makita tool, and my last experience with them was “meh” - are they a world-class act now, or are they still meh?

Get a table saw!

(only my opinion, of course :))

A Delta contractor saw will cost ~400-500 and will serve you for many years.
You can do much more with a table saw than you can do with the other tools.

You may spend a bit of time making a few useful jigs (featherboards, a crosscut “sled”, and a miter jig are my first choices), but once you have them made, you can do many different tasks in a short amount of time.

You can rip lumber to size, cut dados, cut sheets of plywood, all kinds of neat stuff.
Start with a table saw and then specialize with other tools.

Cruise over to Tools of the Trade and check out their evaluations of table, contractor, and miter saws. Not that they’re the end all and be all, but at least it’s an independent evaluation by someone who isn’t a weekend warrior.

Interesting - I hadn’t heard that or experienced that per se. Has anyone else noticed that? Huh.
gotpasswords - what did you end up choosing (your saw)?

Haven’t bought one yet, but I’ve decided to go with a table saw - I’m just waiting for a deal* to come along on either a DeWalt DW744 or a Bosch 4000, preferably with the gravity stand.
I was looking at craigslist the other day, and someone had a “used only three times, then moved to an apartment” DW744 for $325, and someone else has a “new in the box” Bosch for $510 - a decent but not enormous savings.

IMO a 10" slide-compound miter saw may be a better choice than a 12" version - substantially cheaper for equal quality, with blades that are less expensive and stiffer. It’s rather rare to need a cut deeper than can be done with a 10" saw.

If you are looking at table saw, make sure you stay away from the Delta Unisaw - for once you’ve taken a close look at it, nothing less will satisfy you. They are expensive (~ $1800 new) but with much looking you may be able to find a used one (as I did). This is a tool that could easily last 100 years.