I’ve narrowed down the major features I want in a table saw:
Cast iron top (stamped wings are ok) which rules out all the portable ones
Good dust collection and sound reduction (enclosed motor would be ideal)
$300 to $500 range
The saws that include all of these features are actually the same saw – at least they are made from the same factory to similar specifications and marketed under different brands. Those are the Ridgid 4512, the Steel City 35990C (the C stands for cast iron; there is also a granite version) and the Craftsman 21833.
They do look pretty darn similar except the paint and the bottom part of the stand. I’m not sure if quality varies from brand to brand. I also have to check into warranties. So now I’m going to see what I can find used and also keep my eyes on these saws in the hopes of finding one on sale. For the Craftsman, there is a chance I could get one at a discount from their outlet store. Not sure if that would be more trouble than the savings are worth. All the other saws I looked at, especially the Ridgid 3650, seem great. But I think I would regret not buying a high quality saw with the safety features I want. When I mentioned that to my wife, she asked if I was going to buy a hotdog saw, meaning the SawStop contractor saw. (See the famous hotdog video here.) That would be ideal but I can’t shell out the bones for a $1,300 saw at the moment. I’ll be patient and see what Craigslist can do for me.