I am asking for your help in identifying a table saw that meets my needs. I have been searching over the last couple years for a good quality replacement table saw that has a small footprint.
When I was 16 years old, I purchased a Rockwell/Delta table saw. About two years ago, it reached a point that, while I could use it, it essentially is not safe. However, after 48 years of service, I feel it served me well. The Rockwell/ Delta saw had a 15-in. x 15-in. footprint. The table, with extensions was 22 x 25 in. The table depth including the motor that extended out the back was 32-in. and the total width with extension bars was 40-in.
The problem is that my shop is a small, one-man shop; every tool, especially the larger power tools, are put back immediately after use. Over the years of acquiring new tools, what once was an adequate space, it is no longer; there is no more room. When I pull out the table saw, the space where I place the saw is limited to about 44 inches. I have more usable width but the saw cannot exceed that amount. It appears that the current belief is that bigger is better and if you have a large shop, it’s probably true. Even the contractor saws, with the “mobile” bases, have a very large footprint. Some saws have a potentially workable table size but very long extensions e.g., JET and the new Delta saws. I have seen a couple other saws that were potentially workable if I build or completely rebuild a mobile stand but I was not always impressed with the quality of the saws.
I am hoping you know of a saw or have a workable solution to my size dilemma. Any suggestions would be appreciated. – Tom Scherphorn
Rob Johnstone: I’ve had to part with a few trusty tools over the years and it is a challenge, especially when it is as central to your shop as a table saw. There are a few portable table saws that might fit your needs, as is seems space is paramount in your shop. Chris Marshall reviewed a bunch of them not too long ago (click here). His top picks of the group were the Bosch and the RIDGID — both on their rolling/fold-down stands. While they are not as sophisticated as the new stationary table saws, if you are comparing them to a machine that is 48 years old, I think they will suit your needs.
Since that saw has come out, SawStop has come up with a Jobsite Saw in the same vein as those we reviewed, but it has the SawStop skin-sensing safety components as part of the package. For that reason it is much more expensive than the portable saws — costing about $1,300. We are doing an article on that saw in our upcoming September/October 2015 print issue, so I can’t give you much more information than that I am sure it is a very nice saw.
Chris Marshall: Tom, a 15 x 15-in. footprint is going to be tough to find on any of today’s portable table saws! That’s a VERY compact saw you have. But, regarding the table saw review Rob is suggesting here, take a look at DeWALT’s DW744X (shown in the two photos here). I liked that saw quite a bit. It’s on the heavy side, and the scissor-type stand would be more useful for jobsite users than woodworkers. But, it cut well, it has a good rip fence and it’s quite compact. You could build a rolling base for it pretty easily, and you might have a real winner there. On the whole, I’ve found that DeWALT builds some very respectable tools, regardless of whether they’re for contractors or woodworkers. And, at around $500 these days, I still think it’s a good buy.
Tim Inman: Other than shopping with a ruler in hand, I don’t have any obvious recommendations. There is truth to the “bigger is better” point of view. A table saw that is small might not be as safe as a bigger one. Big inertia in a little saw gets my attention. As for footprint, again, bigger is probably better (safer). Big boards can cause leverage, which might offset the balance of the saw. The center of gravity is pretty high, too. So, I would opt for the biggest, heaviest saw I could possibly accommodate. Which one? Start shopping around.