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Thread: contractor table saw

  1. #1

    contractor table saw

    I know this subject has been beaten to death, and I have researched a lot of sites and table saws, but I am in the market for a small shop table saw. I have a Delta light weight saw now. In looking at the job site saws, I don't think there are enough advantages in getting one compared to what I have. I am looking for a contractor table saw with a smaller profile as I am installing it in a rolling cart. I looked at Delta 5000 series but the profile is just to big. I don't rip large sheets. I am mainly cutting picture frame material, and for small shelving cuts. It sucks that there are no real woodworking retailers in my area where I can go and compare. Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    My $0.02, take a look at the Skil jobsite saw. It's a nice little saw. The one with the worm drive. I believe it's one of the very few that can cut a 4x4. IF that is important to you. They do have a cheaper saw that can't cut a 4x4.
    I'm sure you know that none of the job site saws are accurate enough to cut picture frames.

  3. #3
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    A "contractors' style" saw takes up about the same room as a cabinet saw. For quite a few years now, the "hybrid" saws have kinda replaced the traditional "contractors' style" saws because they move the motor into the cabinet which helps with footprint. They look like a cabinet saw, but often have a few inches shaved off the footprint. Something like that with a 36" fence would be a better solution than a jobsite saw in a shop-made cabinet for cut quality and a reliable rip fence. There are a few better jobsite saws from Bosch, Milwaukee, Makita and Dewalt...they are higher priced units and have decent fences if you need to go that route.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
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    Won't fit your bench/cart but the Saw Stop jobsite saw is worth a look. Roll cart, accurate, table is a bit larger than most contractor saws and the safety feature if that is a desire. I am in a small shop and usually leave mine folded up. It does have a price tag though. Another route depending on how many frames you cut is a traditional hand miter saw & box with a shooting board to clean and tune the ends.

  5. #5
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    From a size standpoint, a contractor saw and most other cabinet saws have a similar 'footprint' but like Jim mentioned, have motors hanging on the back. Where you might see size differences is the size of the fence someone bolts up to their saw, regardless of type. You didn't mention budget, however most job-site saws are run on direct-drive systems. A belt driven model which should run smoother is going to have at least the foot-print of a contractor model or cabinet saw with a small (30") fence.
    Distraction could lead to dismemberment!

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    I have built and sold/used a Delta contractor saw on a baltic birch base with castors. Had a plan in my head to put a portable planer under the side wing to make a compact shop set up. Have seen lots of saws set up on a movable cabinet like this.

  7. #7
    Like Jim said, most small contractor's saws (with the motor hanging out the back) have gone the wayside, in favor of a hybrid saw. What motor do you want? A "universal" motor is in most of the portable, contractor's saws. I had a Bosch that was OK. You might check out Ron Paulk on YouTube, as he has a small portable one that he takes to jobsites and installs in a knockdown table. If you're going much bigger, then you could get a real, wire wound motor like in a used cabinet saw and take the cast iron wings off it and put it on a mobile base.

    I had a mobile cart on the Bosch. If I had to have one again, I'd get the SawStop version of it(but spendy!), which has a mobile base built in. Avoid anything like a 'Delta' version from Lowes or the like, as they are universal motor versions with wings and cheap bases. A good fence is what's important on any saw for quality woodworking.

  8. #8
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    Adding to Jim Becker, I have a cheap Delta contractor saw and too old to replace it. But it has a machined table, solid mount for blade drive, and with a replacement Biesemeyer fence cuts accurately. I don't think you can get that with a job site saw. The hybrid would also be better for dust control. Getting a good fence and machined table is definitely important for getting quality cuts for frames.

  9. #9
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    The advantages of contractors (not jobsite) saws are in the used market. These days new jobsite and hybrid saws have divided up that niche. But an older cast iron saw that can cut as cleanly as a good cabinet saw (with less power) can be had at low cost if you are willing to put in the tune up time to make sure it works well. If it's a new saw, you might as well go for a hybrid.

    It is true that the motor hanging out the back takes space, but with thought you can store it well. Just make sure that any outfeed you add, folding or otherwise, does not interfere with the path of the motor as you tilt the blade. I could be wrong, but am under the impression that many of the contractor saw problems that cause people to switch to cabinet saws are caused by cranking the bade over to push the motor into an impediment and screw up the alignment.

  10. #10
    There were a couple of issues with them. The motor hung out the back to get weight/tension on the blade. So as a result, people had problems with the belts (usually a single belt). A lot of people went to link belts to help with this. As the back of the saw is open, sawdust goes everywhere. At least with most jobsite saws now, they have a dust shroud built around the blade. My Bosch worked ok with a dust bag, but better with a shop vac.

    But, as you mentioned the second problem was alignment of the blade with the table. On a cabinet saw, the motor is attached to the underside of the table. As a result, you could loosen the screws and adjust the table top relative to the blade. With the contractors saws, you could not.

    That is another reason the hybrid saws became popular - ease of adjustment & dust collection (enclosed).

    I looked yesterday and saw a couple full fledged 3hp cabinet saws on Seattle area CL for around $1k. I'd take one of those on a mobile base with the extra cast iron tables removed before I got an old style contractors saw. More power, more stable, better dust collection & you can put the tables & 52" fence back on, as you grow into it (or acquire the space).

    But, I don't use a 52" fence anymore, either.

  11. #11
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    Rod not sure where you get the idea that you can not adjust contractor saws. You absolutely can adjust them . They are not as easy to adjust but they are adjustable. Instead of moving the top as one does on a cabinet saw because the trunnions are bolted to the base and the top is also bolted separately to the base. Contractor saws have the trunnion hang off the bottom of the saw top. They are bolted up into the saw top ,these bolts are backed off and there is enough play to align these saws.
    Last edited by Mike Kees; 01-09-2022 at 10:43 PM.

  12. #12
    Mike, you're right. I just meant that they were more difficult to adjust, from what I read back when I was looking to first buy one (1999).

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