So I think I’m about set to trade up in table saws.
One of the first things I did when starting out with the woodworking thing was get a saw. I read on the This Old House website that Norm’s advice was to get the best table saw that you can afford as the first thing you had to do. So I went surfing for table saws and quickly found that they’re all pretty much way out of my price range. So I put the Delta TS200, at about a hundred bucks, on my Christmas list, hoping my Dad would buy it for me, and he did. I figured that was all the saw I was ever going to have, so I’d make do.
But since then I’ve gained an appreciation for what I can and can’t do with the Delta saw, and I think I need something better. So I’m stepping up all of one notch to the Ryobi BTS20R. Or I’m thinking and hoping to step up, but, after discussions with Dawn, I think it’s going to happen, as some sort of birthday present in June.
More accurately I suppose we should compare it to the Bosch 4000-09. The tool test for portable saws in Fine Homebuilding in July 2005 rated the Bosch the best of the bunch (Editor’s Choice), and it was the Readers’ Choice as well. But it’s $550, folks, way way out of my price range. The Ryobi was the Best Buy. Of it they said: “This saw has it all: power, portability, good peripheral equipment, great onboard storage, and an excellent price.” The one downside that they noted was that the side-support wing is tightened with knobs rather than a lever, something they said was inconvenient. But it’s hardly a deal breaker.
But in comparing it to the Delta that I have now, there are a load of differences. The Ryobi motor is 15 amps, versus the Delta at 13 amps, and will cut to a depth of 3.625 inches, versus the Delta’s 3 inches. The Ryobi is twice the weight of the Delta but comes in a collapsible stand with wheels, so it’s bigger yet more portable and will save precious shop space. Getting even more important is the rip capacity with that side-support wing, giving me 27 inches to the right versus Delta’s 9.5 inches (or 17.5 with the extension that I’ve got on it). Even better is the Ryobi’s built-in outfeed support that the Delta simply doesn’t have. And the Ryobi’s dust collection port that the Delta lacks as well — right now I have a cardboard box sitting under the Delta to catch sawdust, but it doesn’t catch much.
But the most critical items that the Ryobi has are a standard throat plate and standard 3/8″ x 3/4″ miter gauge slots. The Delta is simply more dangerous when cutting small or thin pieces that fall through the throat, and I can’t use aftermarket accessories like locking featherboards because they won’t fit into the Delta’s smaller, non-standard slots. And I have to just take out the Delta’s throat plate and go commando when using the dado set, whereas Ryobi offers an actual dado insert as an accessory. And the Delta miter gauge broke but I can’t replace it with an aftermarket gauge, so I’ve just forcibly screwed it back together. The Ryobi miter gauge looks and feels beefier and better, but I could replace it with an Incra V27 if I want. Or at the very least, it looks like the Ryobi miter gauge will more readily take an auxillary fence; the Delta doesn’t have holes all the way through to screw a fence through, so I’ve had to use little nuts and bolts that fit inside the damn thing.
And I can’t use a tenoning jig with the Delta, if I decide to get something like that, or the nifty-looking Leichtung Universal Table Saw Jig that seems to be both a tenoning jig and a kind of sliding crosscut sled for under sixty bucks. Not with those miter gauge slots that I’ve got now. But, honestly, it’s not like I’m going to be doing production work making Arts & Crafts furniture or anything like that, so I don’t know if I really need that kind of tenon making capability.
But the throat plate and miter gauge are a big deal. I would just feel safer and better with standard. And the fold-down portability is pretty cool too. That’ll save space. And I’m thinking that I could hold a router table insert in the gap between the table and the extension wing, with the insert resting on the two extension rails, and as long as it’s flush with the top and wing I could make use of the saw’s fence, so then I can get rid of the little video cabinet that I’ve been trying to turn into a router table-y type deal. That’ll save more shop space.
So, safety and space, what better reasons can there be?
We’ll see if we can swing this in June. It’s not like $200 will break our budget, but it’s not pocket change for us either.
Late Update: During dinner, Dawn turns to me and asks, “So when do you want to get your saw?” So not June, but now.