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Thread: What are the best contractor / hybrid saws in the $500 - $1K range?

  1. #1

    What are the best contractor / hybrid saws in the $500 - $1K range?

    For weeks now I've been trying to rehab my Grandfather's old Craftsman 113, and I've finally reached the point where I have to admit to myself that the time and money it will take to fix the badly worn innards just won't be worth it. Trust me, I've weighed my options carefully and done everything I can. It's time to say goodbye.

    This means that I'm now in the market for a new, decent contractor or hybrid-type saw. And for the sake of this discussion, let's focus on new saws. With the obvious caveats about how you get what you pay for, I'm hoping you can point me towards the sweet spot, and I understand that this means compromises. I just want to make some decent, simple furniture out of hardwoods. Here are some priorities, in rough order:

    1.Budget. $1K is the TOP of my budget. Lower is better. Much better. Sorry, this is where I'm at. I'm a hobbyist at best, not a pro or anywhere close to it.
    2. Enough precision to make some decent furniture. Tables and such.
    3. Power. Currently, my shop is only wired up for normal 120, and keeping it that way is preferable for now, but not required. But I don't want to be constantly struggling to rip through 4/4 or 5/4 oak, and I need the ability to handle a dado.
    5. Portability. This is last for a reason. I don't need to be able to move it across town, but I do need to be able to move it across my shop.

    One last consideration. I already have an unused, uninstalled Delta T2 Fence sitting here from my failed 113 project. So, if there's a new saw out there that can do all this for a good price, but the fence is weak, that might be perfect for me. So fire away.

    Thanks so much for your help. I really appreciate it.
    Last edited by Josh Saul; 03-18-2015 at 2:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    I don't follow these things too closely, but unless things have changed drastically in the past year or so, there are only two hybrid saws that stand our from the others, one is a Craftsman the other is made by Powermatic. What makes them stand out is the way they mount the motor/arbor to the cabinet like you would find on a "professional" cabinet saw. The others hang the motor off the table. The reason this is important has to do with blade alignment, accuracy and rigidity. Somebody else can probably explain it better. I replaced an old Rockwell cabinet saw with a Powermatic hybrid and have had it for over a year now and am very happy with it; plenty of power and has stayed accurate since initial setup.

  3. #3
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    I saw a contractors saw at Lowes made by Delta. I know Delta is on everybody's complaint list for their failure in the after market parts market, but the reason they have that problem is there are a lot of happy Delta owners.

    On to the saw. I have a Craftsman and it is built well but the fence set up sucks. This new Delta had a stable fence and scale. It has the one step riving knife removal and an easy to use blade guard. The thing I liked about it was the stand was STURDY and had a well located dust port. It has all the things you would expect in a good contractors saw. Look it up at Lowes. I also noticed it was in the new mailer Delta put out about 2 weeks ago. I have heard it run and it is fairly quiet. I have NOT used the saw. It was $599 That's all I have.
    Last edited by Chuck Hart; 03-18-2015 at 4:24 AM. Reason: add price

  4. #4
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    I've been pleased with my steel city saw. The trunions are cabinet mounted. The granite top now comes with metal miter slots to eliminate the chance of chipping/cracking the granite. I've not had it happen to mine so not a worry for me. Many different models to choose from at your price point. Wood werks still has their 25% off an $49 shipping sale going on now too. With the sale you can get a full-on cabinet saw with mobile base for your budget... And if you're outside Ohio, no sales tax to make it easier on your budget.
    http://www.woodwerks.com/brand/steel...able-saws.html

  5. #5
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    Full size hybrid style contractor saws start in the $500-$600 range, and include the Delta 36-725 that's getting very good initial reports, and the Ridgid R4512 and nearly identical Craftsman 21833 that have both been plagued with some sporadic alignment issues....check for that early if you pursue one.

    For more money, Grizzly has two offerings...the G0715P and the newer G0771. The G0715P has a similar table mounted trunnion system as the R4512/21833, as well as the same alignment issues. The G0771 offers cabinet mounted trunnions, a full enclosure, solid cast wings, and an average aluminum fence for ~ $675 plus $99 shipping if you can't pick it up...that one might be a good choice for you because you already have a fence upgrade....that saw with your T2 fence could make for a pretty darn nice setup. Sell the stock fence and buy a mobile base and/or better blade(s).



    Steel City has, or at least had the 35990 with cabinet mounted trunnions came with steel, cast iron, or granite top/wings at varying prices through HD and Lowes....I think SC has new offerings though, so I'm not sure if the 35990 is still available. The Cman 22116 is made by Steel City/Orion, has a granite top, cabinet mounted trunnions, decent Biese clone fence, and a full enclosure....it retails near the top of your price range, but sale prices can make it attractive.

    Just about all the other hybrids I know of cost more...PM64B, PM1000, Jet Proshop, Laguna Fusion, Baleigh, Rikon, GI 50-200R. The end cutting ability for any of them is largely setup and blade dependent....all have 1.5 to 2hp motors....obviously 2hp should have somewhat more power depending on a few variables.
    Last edited by scott spencer; 03-18-2015 at 7:41 AM.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  6. #6
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    The Lowes saw I touched had a junk fence and stamped tables and was flimsy. Id go 1023 grizzly or equiv before that. a cabinet saw can take no more room than a hybrid and on a mobile base is portable. You have a 240v circuit you can use?
    Glad its my shop I am responsible for - I only have to make me happy.

  7. #7
    The Rigid R4512 is around $600 and thus well within your budget. It's drawback has been that the angle of the blade to the top changed as the blade moved up and down. The height/angle adjust mechanism attaches to the top as has been noted above and this has been blamed. Cabinet mounted adjustment mechanism is how "real" table saws do it and is preferable. I've been following the issue with the R4512 and the recent reports are that Rigid has resolved the issue with their mechanism. There is a new casting used in the most recent saws that results in a blade going up and down without the angle changing (according to user reports). You might want to Google the saw and issue and see what you think. Other than this issue, reviews I've seen are favorable. It's available at Home Depot so it isn't hard to find. It has a movable base included in the price. Even on the older saws, some apparently work well. There is also at least one U-tube where an owner claims to have found a way to fix the issue.

    I've always used a table saw on 120V. I've been making sawdust for about 40 years. I've built 5 or 6 full bedroom sets plus lots of other pieces. I have ripped over 3 inches deep in hardwood with my saws. I do it whenever I need to. The only "secret" is to make sure the blade is clean and sharp. A ripping blade really helps. I do not find that the kerf of the blade makes a big difference. I use full width blades but also have some thin kerf. Being clean and sharp is definitely more important.

    My current saw is a Ryobi BT3100. It is no longer available new. The Craftsman version on the rolling stand may be. I bought mine new for about $300. It will do precision work and the fence is actually pretty good. But it has a really small top and no slots for a miter gauge. So it's kind of a quirky little saw. It looks somewhat like a jobsite saw - something you can throw into the back of a pickup. I look at the Rigid as a possible upgrade at some point. But since I started using a track saw, I see less need for a "better" table saw. The track saw does all wide rips and produces results that do not need trimmed with the table saw. When I get my MFT workbench set up, it will do wider crosscuts too. That leaves the table saw doing narrow rips and joints.

  8. #8
    "I've been pleased with my steel city saw. The trunions are cabinet mounted. The granite top now comes with metal miter slots to eliminate the chance of chipping/cracking the granite. I've not had it happen to mine so not a worry for me. Many different models to choose from at your price point. Wood werks still has their 25% off an $49 shipping sale going on now too. With the sale you can get a full-on cabinet saw with mobile base for your budget... And if you're outside Ohio, no sales tax to make it easier on your budget.
    http://www.woodwerks.com/brand/steel...able-saws.html"


    I would also recommend the Steel City hybrid. i have owned the Sears Craftsman version (zipcode 22124) for over 5 years without a hiccup. After the original setup i have not needed to make any adjustments. With a decent thin kerf blade it will handle your needs. I am currently doing a lot of machining of 1 1/2" black walnut and the cuts are smooth and the saw does not appear to under load

  9. I own a Craftsman 21833, picked it up 6 months ago for $499.00. Things a beast at just under 300lbs. Good set of casters, nice flat cast iron top. Good fence system, but like you had a Shop Fox from my previous saw. Sooo, I switched it out. Overall, she runs quiet, cuts well, no problem with the factory set on the trunnions. Just take your time during setup though and follow the instructions. I spread this saws materials completely out on 2 sheets of plywood, then grouped them according to the assembly steps. Whole thing took 2 days to put together, then finding enough horsepower to turn it over once assembled. But hey, it's just my 2 cents worth.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Cozad View Post
    I've been pleased with my steel city saw.
    I have one of the original Steel City Hybrids. I love it.
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  11. #11
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    I have the new Grizzly G0771 hybrid with the cabinet mounted trunions. It was very easy to adjust the blade to be parallel to the miter slot. I've mostly used it for cutting plywood so far, but I have ripped some 4/4 red oak. It zipped right through without slowing down.

    It does have an aluminum fence, which I was somewhat worried about when I ordered the saw. I have to say that it performs much better than I was expecting. It locks solidly in place and seems to be very accurate. One advantage is the it has t-slots built in to all faces so it's easy to add accessories/jigs to the fence without drilling.

    For the price, especially with the introductory sale, I think it was a great value and a big step up from my grandfathers old Craftsman that I had inherited.

  12. #12
    I'm happy to say that I'm very pleasantly surprised with the options that are available in my price range. Thanks so much for your help. It looks like it's between the Grizzly G0771 and the Steel City saw. The Grizzly is slightly more expensive when factoring in shipping and the mobile base, but does it offer any real advantages to the Steel City, or vice versa? Like, how is the fence on the Steel City? I do notice that the Grizzly appears to be about 100lbs lighter than the Steel City, which could be a plus whenever I have to move it - but then again, that reduced weight probably comes from the aluminum fence system. I have to say, the Grizzly with the Delta fence is looking mighty appealing. Anyone have any additional insights for me?
    Last edited by Josh Saul; 03-19-2015 at 1:41 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Saul View Post
    I'm happy to say that I'm very pleasantly surprised with the options that are available in my price range. Thanks so much for your help. It looks like it's between the Grizzly G0771 and the Steel City saw. The Grizzly is slightly more expensive when factoring in shipping and the mobile base, but does it offer any real advantages to the Steel City, or vice versa? Like, how is the fence on the Steel City? I do notice that the Grizzly appears to be about 100lbs lighter than the Steel City, which could be a plus whenever I have to move it - but then again, that reduced weight probably comes from the aluminum fence system. I have to say, the Grizzly with the Delta fence is looking mighty appealing. Anyone have any additional insights for me?
    I'm not overly familiar with either saw, but both look to be decent choices to me. From a glance, the Steel City fence looks to be roughly comparable to your T2 in design (a Biese Lite) ....beefier than the G0771 fence, but it looks like the front rail is two pieces (worth checking into), which would put it a step behind your T2 fence. The SC has a built in mobile base, but has an open enclosure with legs vs fully enclosed. The motor on the G0771 is rated at 15 amps, while the SC motor is rated at 13 amps. I'm not loving my first impression of what I can see of the SC throat insert. Since both are left tilt saws, you should be able to extend the rip capacity to the right if you ever want to....note that it could be harder to do with a split rail.
    Last edited by scott spencer; 03-19-2015 at 6:55 AM.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  14. #14
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    My SC has a Bies style fence. Very sturdy.

    12406d1208053170-steel-city-pics-100_2715s.jpg
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  15. #15
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    I would recommend the SawStop Contractor's Saw, but even buying it without a fence will put you about $300 over your budget. (Yes, you can buy the SawStop ICS, PCS and CS w/o fences. I doubt if you can get the Jobsite w/o a fence.)
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