Guide To The Ratings

5=Excellent; 4=Very Good; 3=Good; 2=Fair; 1=Poor

Power—Ability of saw to cut through different materials without bogging down.

Fence—Straightness and squareness to table, parallelism to blade, scale readability, ease of use.

Fit & finish—Flatness of table and extension-table surfaces, quality of machining, overall fit of parts.

Miter gauge—Precision, squareness to table, ease of operation.

Hands-on—Overall ease of use, including convenience and safety of switch, blade bevel and height adjustments, blade-guard operation, vibration.

single-stage dust collector. We found that the open backs on these saws made vacuum pickup less effective than on cabinet saws. You can expect some sawdust to escape out the back of the saw when cutting, due to the turbulence generated by the blade. And sawdust will accumulate on ledges inside the sheet-metal case. But our dust collector kept most of the sawdust off the floor. The verdict: The dust-collection panels and ports were welcome additions on the saws we tested.

Features to Consider

The tablcsaw is the most important machinc in just about any woodworking shop, so buying a new one is a major decision. We'll discuss what's important, and explain the procedures we used to rate the models in our test.

Price—Affordability is a big reason for the popularity of contractor's saws. The fully-equipped models in this test cost between $498 and $928. To buy a similarly equipped cabinet saw, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000.

Power—Here's where you'll find the biggest difference between contractor's saws and cabinet saws. To measure power, we made test cuts in plywood, hardwood and softwood of different thicknesses. We used identical 50-tooth, carbide-tipped combination blades from Amana—the type of blade that many woodworkers keep on their saws for general-purpose use.

Here's what our test cuts turned up: The 1 Vi' and 2-HP motors on these saws had no trouble powering through 3/4-in. plywood and 1-in.-thick hardwood. But getting through 2-in.-thick hardwood required slower feed rates. And we were able to stop the blade on all of our test saws by increasing feed pressure. Some saws stopped because a circuit breaker tripped—either on the motor or at the breaker box. Others stopped because the saw's V-belt began to slip on its pulleys, creating the telltale smell and smoke of burning rubber.

It took our test saws between 13 and 17 seconds to rip through a hard maple board 2 in. thick and 36 in. long. Cutting the same stock on a 3-HP cabinet saw took an average of 6 seconds— two to three times faster. If you often cut dense hardwood that's thicker than 2 in., it makes sense to save up your money and buy a cabinet saw. (See AW #49.) But if you work primarily in thinner stock, you'll find that all of the saws in


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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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