Guidance to the Helm -- Table Saw Selection

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Guidance to the Helm -- Table Saw Selection
Posted by PVT Kanaka on Monday, March 12, 2018 1:30 AM

Aloha all!

I have been working through this year's strategic purchase with "Chocho Willy" of this column, the crew, and, of course, CINCHOUSE.  I have been leaning towards a 4" table saw based upon some of Bill's suggestions, as this would free me from mail ordering raw material, at least in terms of stringers, planks, and the like for structures and dams and forms for pouring concrete forms.

I've poked around a bit, and there seem to be saws in the $30-$40 range, with rave reviews from the model airplane community, presumably due to their use of balsa wood and mixed to poor reviews elsewere.  The next price grouping seems to be about $150, such as those available mail-order from Big Box stores as well as dedicated hobby sources.  Finally, there are those around $350 which look pretty cool and have all sorts of things in their kits for which I will probably only have a use after I settle on someting cheaper.  There are a number of large 10" contractor saws on our local used market, I should add, but I've no space to store anything like that.

In all seriousness, if the $30 saw will take a piece of fence plank or plastic decking material and make it scal-ish lumber for the next several years, I am all for saving the cash.  A good deal is not a good deal if it won't work for its intended purposes, so I thought I'd solicit the advice of those who've been-there-done-that.

Thanks in advance,

Eric

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Posted by ttrigg on Monday, March 12, 2018 6:23 AM

The $30 saw should do fine until you decide to rip a redwood 2x4 into scale 2x4's. It will die just like mine did many years back.

Let's realign your table saw divisions. This time instaed of 3 or 4 $ divisions we have just 2, direct drive and belt drive.

Direct drive is just that, the saw blade is directly attached to the motor. It will serve you fine as long as you stay with your plans of thin materials. The first time you decide to rip a 2x4 the motor overheats, the blade with a very narrow tooth offset grabs onto that 2x4 and stops in place real fast. Then you notice that some smoke has excaped from the motor. I for one have never been able to get the smoke back into the wireing.

Belt drive, simply put the motor hangs out the back and an automotive fan belt transmits the power to the saw blade. Some will have a pully on the motor shaft with two or three different diameters, allowing you to change blade speed. Along comes that wet 2x4 and the blade jams up, the motor spins on the drive belt but this time no smoke excapes from the wires.

I know, you are thinking, "I'll never cut thicker material with the saw." I said that too, and a sceond time I said that again. Sadly enough I even said that a third time. Then SWMBO stepped in and said "grow up, admit that you will break it again and go for the bigger one."

Tom Trigg

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  • From: Ormond Beach, FL
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Posted by chocho willy on Monday, March 12, 2018 11:58 AM

have to agree with Tom it is easy to overpower a small saw, I don’t use wood any more but now use pvc lumber and plastic sheets on mine. Have had it for over 10 years, just don’t feed fast and let the saw do the work. Think you answered your own ? as “ don’t have the room”

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 12:31 AM

Gents,

Thanks for your thoughts, and "Chocho Willy," I hope you take no umbrage at me taking this discussion public!  This is (was) potentially a big purchase of something sight unseen.

It seems as long as I keep my materials to softer woods and plastic an inch or less thick, then, that I am in the clear with a cheaper, preferably belt driven, model.  If, however, I plan to start ripping up hardwoods, I should consider something bigger.  Do I have that correct?

It seems that the other question I didn't know I had to answer is what materials are available here without a special mail order (the problem I had AFTER I laid out money for my HotWire tools!).  Plastics and vinyls, of course, don't rot, which is nice, but I've no idea what is generally available.  The same goes for woods - all standard sizes and types, I know, but I am not sure which suffer the Jones Act Penalty to an undo extreme.  Back to the hardware store!

Thanks again,

Eric 

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Posted by ttrigg on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:13 AM

Let's begin with a list of available supplies. Do not know what you have at your local lumber srore, so let us begin with a "thumbnail test." Soft woods like fir and pine, hold up a board and attempt to shove your thumbnail between the grain of the wood. If your t'nail makes a good size dent then so will your economy saw, as well as moisture, inscects and rot. Depending on normal ground moisture these woods need to be treated with a cooper base preservative, else it will become compost material in 3~6 years. Redwood is also a "soft" wood but has natural oils that inhibit bugs and rot, untreated will become compost material in 5~10 years, IF you are lucky enough to find "heartwood" (from the core of redwood tree) life time will nearly double, and your $30~$60 saw will become scrap metal very quickly. Cedar, t'nail will make a slight dent with near painful pressure, EXTREAMLY bug and rot resistant. Will also make quick scrap of $125~$150 saw. You can expect these structures to perform well for 12~20 years. Oak, t'nail makes TINY dent, looks very good and lasts quite well 15+ years. Puts a $250 saw in recycle bin in couple years. Mahogany is another soft wood that can last quite well when in dryer locations. Then we have the "hard woods": Teak, $600~$800 saw. Southern Yellow Pine, in 1987 I made a playhouse 6'x8' with SYP 4x4 foundation frame. Still holding up very well, not treated. SYP almost needs pilot hole for all the nails, $1,200+ 12 inch saw. My experience with fake lumber (plastics) is limited, I have found that I need to put the drive belt on the smallest pully on the motor else it tends to start to melt on cuts over 5 feet long. Long story short, base your saw on the type of materials available. If you stay with pine and fir you can get away with a $50~$100 saw that will last many years, and make sure you use a cooper base preservative.

Tom Trigg

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Thursday, March 15, 2018 12:29 AM

Tom,

Thanks for the thumbnail suggestion.  I suspect I can get away with a cheaper saw.  

Aloha,

Eric

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  • From: North, San Diego Co., CA
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Posted by ttrigg on Thursday, March 15, 2018 3:04 AM

If you go with a light duty saw just remember to only use light materials. Not certain, but here on the main land Home Depot has a tool rental section. Check them out if you ever get the urge to cut heavy stuff.

Tom Trigg

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Friday, March 16, 2018 1:20 AM

Tom,

Yes they rent here, too.  In the meantime, I am grateful this latest purchase will not set me back too much as I continue to tinker with what works for us.

 

Aloha,

Eric

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Posted by PVT Kanaka on Sunday, August 12, 2018 6:40 PM

All,

Just to close this thread, after much hemming and hawing and purchased a 4" saw by Rockwell at a the local Lowe's.  While not the cheapest option, being able to get help or a return locally was worth it.  The first project will be a trestle after some landscape work, but that will be another thread!

Thanks to all for the help with this!

Aloha,

Eric

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