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Thread: Belt drive on a table saw. Important?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Windsor, MO

    Belt drive on a table saw. Important?

    I am looking at upgrading my table saw and was considering a delta ts350, affordable, not a ton of HP but cast iron top and wings. Okay fence (afaik). Then I got to looking at Grizzly's stuff, like the 0444Z and thinking well heck for 200 more I could get more HP and belt drive and what appears to be a much nicer fence. Is it worth it? Is the belt drive definitely a must have, and if so, why? I understand HP. Maybe I'm just looking for y'all to give me a justification to buy the bigger machine.


  2. #2
    Direct drive saws usually have a 'universal' (uses brushes) motor - the same sort used in routers, circular saws, etc. They make a lot of noise, but do produce the horsepower in a somewhat smaller package than an induction motor.

    An induction motor is (generally) longer-lived, runs cooler, and is much quieter than its universal counterpart. It is generaly much larger in size - particularly diameter - than a universal, so it's used with a pulley and arbor system that allows greater cutting depth than a simple shaft-mounted blade would.

    That said, you'll often find that a 10" saw with an induction motor and belt(s)/pulleys will cut to about a 3" depth, whereas the universal motor saw, with shaft mounted blade (direct drive) will have somewhat less cutting depth.

    I'm not familiar with either of the two models you mention, and the above info is not intended to describe either of them. It's just a broad generalization of the two types of saw.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Columbus, Ohio
    You might also want to see if someone is selling any used Table saw's here or in your area. I got a 70's era Craftsman/Emerson with a Biesmeyer fence for 400.00, like the guy said I bought the fence and got the saw for free. It has been a champ so far.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Shelby Township, MI
    I have the Delta TS350, and Jim brought up some valid points.

    The Delta TS350 does actually have an induction motor, not a noisely universal motor, which is nice, its a quiet running, decent motor. However, it does suffer in that it can only cut to a depth of about 2 3/8 or so, due to the motor size. And since its only 1hp, cutting thick boards is really a workout for it, I've cut 2+in oak with it, but it does struggle some.

    The second think with the TS350 is, although it does have cast iron extensions, I don't believe the overall size is the same as a contractor saw, I believe the deep of the table top is smaller.

    The fence on the TS350 is Ok, and gets the job done, its not all that great.

    Lastly, if you need to adjust the blade parellel to the miter slot on the TS350, its not a very easy think to do, since the motor is mounted under there, and gets in the way. However, I don't know how easy this is done on a normal contractors saw either.

    In my opinion, unless your getting a really good deal on the TS350 (I got mine on clearace at Lowes for $250) I would get the Grizzly.


  5. #5
    horsepower and cast iron ....02 tod

  6. #6
    Belt drive is far superior to direct. The two motors ar completely different and the belt drivews usually outlast the others by years. The last direct drive saw I'll ever own was burned up on the job by someone who pushed it way too hard cutting Cedar (softest wood we work with). It made me realize that if I had bought a belt drive saw, that wouldn't have happened as early in life as it did (the saw was 4 years old).

  7. #7
    Don't forget that the belt absorbs vibration, and a link belt will absorb even more without distortion.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Lancaster, PA
    Another thing to consider is that any force/resistance applied to the blade is also applied directly to the motor bearings versus the arbor bearings on a belt drive saw. By isolating the motor with the belt, its life is extended.

    When I replaced the arbor bearings on my 35 year old Delta/Rockwell (abused in a prior life ) the cost was minor (less than $15) and the motor is still humming away.

    Food for thought.


  9. #9
    I don't know about the delta but I know that the Makita direct drive saw I used to have would not accept a Dado blade so that might be another consideration.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Rochester, NY
    Hi Marcus - IIRC the going retail price on the TS350 is ~ $399...not a great price for a saw with some capacity limitations. There are sale prices that bring full size contractor and hybrids into that same price range, and if you're able to spend a bit more, I think you'll end up with alot more saw...possibly one you'll never grow out of that should last a lifetime. My first saw was a cousin to the TS350...a 36-600 which is now called the TS300...steel wings, universal motor. It was a decent starter saw that I outgrew in a year or it for $247....sold it for $190. My second saw should have been my first saw!

    The full size saws add 5" of depth...all in front of the blade which gives you a larger area to work with...which is alot safer. Most are a standard basic size (27"d x 40"w)...some vary a bit with extensions or larger wings, but nearly all will accept standard aftermarket fences, jigs, and miter gauges. The TS350 may not. The belts contribute to a cleaner overall cut by reducing the vibration...not necessarily a must have, but a measurable improvement nonetheless. The Griz fences are among the best (or the best IMO) in the $500 price range. The fence (or miter gauge depending on the cut), the blade, and the alignment are the most significant contributors. Since a fence can be pretty expensive, most people prefer to get a good one when they buy the saw if they's alot cheaper that way. (The Griz fences is essentially a good value $200 fence that's similar to the Biese, so that alone justifies the cost difference IMO). The added mass, table size, lower vibration, longevity, and more horsepower are really all a bonus!

    Contractor saws are no picnic to align either, but most of us have done it and get through it in an hour or so. There's a $20 device called PALS that helps with the alignment and holds it better too. The Sears hybrids actually have cabinet mounted trunnions that are a snap to align...the 22104 was on sale last week for $399, then Saturday for $360. That might be worth investigating and seeing if you can still swing a deal...speak with a manager and ask for last week's sale price.

    Good luck and let us know how you're making out!
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  11. #11
    Markus, having gone down the "little direct-drive saw to bigger contractor-style saw" path myself, I can say your money will be better spent getting the better saw now than later, especially if you can swing the extra couple hundred dollars you mentioned. There's a pretty good assortment of $500 to $600 tablesaws out there, and I think pretty much any of them will serve you better in the long (and short) run. I ended up choosing the Ridgid TS3650, but there are several others in that same price range that have loyal followings, and for good reasons.

    - Vaughn

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Windsor, MO
    All excellent advice, and pretty much what I was thinking, but in more concrete terms than I had. I'm leaning really hard towards the griz, I think it's affordable and will keep me going for a long time. So what do you get when you move up to a cabinet saw?

  13. #13
    Rob Will Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by tod evans
    horsepower and cast iron ....02 tod
    I second that motion......
    3hp 220v Uni with 50" Biesemeyer......hard to beat.
    Free mobile base...... $1850 more or less
    Sounds like a sewing machine.

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