Getting back into woodworking after a while away, I’m at a point where I’m thinking about buying a table saw. Marc Spagnuolo (a.k.a. the Wood Whisperer) posed an interesting question on the Facebook a while back: could you live without a table saw? Most woodworkers probably couldn't. There are hand tool folks who would say they absolutely could (and do). I've lived without one for years, but I have the random lumber sitting around to show that I haven't made much either. I like to use hand tools, but mostly to cut joints – not doing major dimensioning of lumber.
A table saw makes quick work of ripping and grooving. I’ve already got a good crosscut saw, which is a big chunk of what table saws can also do. And there are plenty of options for ripping wood to width. I could use my band saw and then clean up the edge with a hand plane. For small pieces for things like boxes, I could use my crosscut saw to cut to length and width, especially with a little jig I have in mind. Aside from that, I want to explore what I can safely do with a router table. For you folks who know tons about router safety, my idea is to use a straight bit and route a groove in the material to the width I need, then cut outside of that with a band saw and follow up by using a flush bearing bit to ride along the previously routed edge and clean up the unrouted part. That would work, wouldn't it? It certainly wouldn't be the most efficient operation in the world, especially if I had to change bits back and forth. Again, not ideal but it would work.
One of the things driving my interest is a table saw someone has for sale on craigslist here in Nashville. It is one of the models I’m interested in (more on that in a future post), is less than a year old and is priced fairly cheaply. The other thing is that the seller is moving away on Dec. 27, so they have to get rid of the thing. I don’t want to take advantage of people, but that definitely makes this a buyer’s market.
I do think a table saw would make basic tasks more efficient and that would make the whole woodworking experience more enjoyable and in turn inspire me to make more things. Any time I drop money on something, I try to think of how I can make it pay for itself. I’ve got lots of ideas for small, marketable things that I could sell online and if I could sell a few here and there I think I would be in good shape. The other thing I think about when buying a new tool is how that tool will lead me to the next, better tool. That’s always the quest, isn’t it?
In the next few days I’m going to compare a couple models of table saws and would love to hear feedback from anyone who owns one of them. I’m interested to hear what people have to say.