Highs And Lows





FLATTEST TABLE SURFACE: Delta Contractor's Saw

BEST FIT & FINISH: Craftsman, Delta Contractor's Saw, Delta Contractor's II and Jet

BEST SWITCH: Delta Contractor's II


LEAST RIP CAPACITY: Sunhill (24 in.)




Delta Contractor Saw Dust CoverDelta Contractor Saw Dust CoverDelta Table Saw Dust Collection

DELTA CONTRACTOR'S SAW 34-445 «oo> 438-24M c*»

Street price: $928. Includes 30-in. Unifence, extension table and legs.

CONS: 5-in.-dia. dust-collection opening needs adaptor to fit standard 4-in.-dia. pipe.

FINAL CUT: The "original" contractor's saw at a premium price. You couldn't ask for a better fence than Delta's Unifence, itself an Editors' Choice winner. Overall, this saw is as solid as a contractor's saw can be.

All photos show saws equipped .is tested.

JET JWTS-10CW-PF (800) 274-6848 Circle #609

Street price: $799. Includes Xacta Home Shop Fence and extension table.

PROS: Top-rated fence; top-rated fit and finish; very good miter gauge; minimal vibration; only saw in test with solid cast-iron extension wing.

CONS: No saw blade supplied; extension table legs are optional ($49).

FINAL CUT: This saw got excellent all-around scores. The top-rated fence, highly polished tabletop and cast-iron extension wing just might fool you into thinking you're working on a cabinet saw.

DELTA CONTRACTOR'S SAW II 36-640 (800) 438-2486 Circle

Street price: $628. Includes 29-in. Precision Saw Guide fence and extension table.

PROS: Top-rated fence; best controls; top-rated fit and finish; minimal vibration;

good miter gauge; blade bevel-adjustment screws on tabletop; safety lock on switch; very good instruction manual.

CONS: Difficult blade changing; dust-collection panel is optional (S15); extension table legs are optional ($45).

FINAL CUT: Delta's lighter-weight version of their Contractor's Saw delivers comparable quality and performance at a lower price. We were suspicious of the lighter-weight trunnion and motor support assembly on the "Con II/' but we couldn't induce any failings in performance or precision. A top-notch saw.

PROS: Top-rated fence; top-rated fit and finish; flattest table; minimal vibration; very good miter gauge; blade bevel-adjustment screws on tabletop; largest tabletop surface in test; lockable switch; good instruction manual.

Shop Fox Fence ManualThroat Plate Table Saw Guard

POWERMATIC ARTISAN 64 (800) 248-0144 Circle

Street price: $760. Includes Home Shop Accu-Fence.

PROS: Top-rated fence; above-average power; good instruction manual; two wrenches make blade changing easy.

CONS: Throat plate difficult to remove; blade guard is sturdy but blocks view of blade; inconvenient switch location.

FINAL CUT: An average saw with a top-rated fence.

GRIZZLY G1022ZF (8oo)541 -5537or(800)523-4777arde^w

Street price: $599. Includes Shop Fox Fence.

PROS: Very good fence; least vibration among test models; best miter gauge in test; large handwheels make blade adjustments easy; only saw in test with machined pulleys and link-belt drive; very good instruction manual.

CONS: Fence difficult to remove from saw; throat plate difficult to remove; 230V wiring required for best performance.

FINAL CUT: This saw ran like a top. Excellent controls, a great miter gauge and a smooth-working fence make the Grizzly a Best Buy, even though it's not the lowest-priced model.

CRAFTSMAN 29951 See your local Sears store. Circle #6\2

Mini Hobby Table Saw

Street price: $799. Includes Exact-I-Rip fence.

CONS: Too many turns (59) to tilt blade from 90* to 45*; quality of cut slightly below that of other saws; throat plate difficult to remove.

FINAL CUT: Good safety features—the lockable switch is a plus, and the blade guard is a cut above the others in this test. The Craftsman 29951 is the only model in our test group with a left-tilting blade, so if you favor that feature, give this model a serious look.

PROS: Very good fence; top-rated fit and finish; very good-quality miter gauge comes with hold-down clamp;

bevel-adjustment screws on tabletop; large handwheels are easy to use; safety lock-out key on switch; best blade guard.


Bridgewood Table Saw Tsc 10b

SUNHILL MS10BF (800)929-4321 Circle #6/ 4

Street price: $739. Includes 30-in. General Home Shop fence.

PROS: Top-rated fence; very smooth table surface; best instruction manual; only saw with magnetic switch.

CONS: Inconvenient switch location; table extension wings needed to be installed with shims to make table flat; miter gauge not machined square to table.

FINAL CUT: This saw fits solidly into the middle of the pack— a notch below the Grizzly, Delta and jet saws, but a notch above the Star and Sunhill saws.

Street price: $498. Includes Pro form Fence.

PROS: Lowest price of tested saws; two wrenches make blade changing easy.

CONS: Left face of rip fence 0.013 in. out of flat; small plastic handwheels make blade adjustment more difficult than on other saws; dust-collection fitting not included; throat plate difficult to remove; poor instruction manual; saw blade not included.

FINAL CUT: Can't beat the price, but quality and performance are not up to par with other saws.

STAR 3205 (888) 678-8777 Circle #615

Street price: $499. Includes fence and extension table stand.

Chop Saw Dust Collection

CONS: More vibration than other saws; 230V wiring required for best performance; poor miter gauge; dust-collection fitting not included; owner must supply extension tabletop; poor instruction manual; saw blade not included.

FINAL CUT: The Star's dust chute deposits dust and debris to the side of the saw instead of underneath it—a good feature if you're without a dust collector. Otherwise, this saw is an average performer that offers great rip capacity at a low price.

PROS: Long, strong extension table frame and legs;

greatest rip capacity (35 in.); fence has micro-adjustment; two wrenches make blade changing easy.

Hand Sanding Dust Collecting

Bevel stops in tabletops. On the Craftsman saw and both Delta saws, a pair of setscrews in the tabletop lets you set stops for 45° and 90' blade settings without reaching under the table.

surface may require a cleanup pass on the jointer or with a hand plane.

Capacity—The contractor's saws in our test have essentially the same capacities as cabinet saws. Maximum cutting depth is between 3 in. and 3^ in. with the blade at 90*, and between 2 in. and 23/j6 in. with the blade at 45°. The Sunhill saw has the least rip capacity (24 in.), while the Star has the greatest (35 in.). Each saw arbor can accept a ,3/l(j-in.-wide stack-type dado blade and a molding head.

Fit and finish—Well-fitting parts and a smooth, flat tabic surface are important fit and finish considerations with tablcsaws. All our test saws rated good or better in this category. The Craftsman, Delta Contractor's Saw, Delta Contractor's II and the Jet earned the highest fit and finish ratings.

Table wings and extension tables— You'll find three types of table wings on contractor's saws: solid cast iron, "webbed" or gridded cast iron, and sheet steel. (See chart.) Sheet-steel wings make the saw lighter and easier to move around, but they don't have the solid feel of cast wings. Webbed wings offer a good compromise between weight and solidity, but you can't place small parts on them. Also, you can get your fingers pinched in the webbed framework when moving a workpiece through the blade. If heavy weight isn't a problem, you'll appreciate the flat, smoothly machined surface of the Jet's single wing; it's made of solid cast iron.

just like the wings on a cabinet saw. For $100 less, you can buy the Jet with sheet-steel wings.

An important note about wing installation: The wings arc bolted to the edges of the tabletop, which aren't always square to the top surface. To keep the total table surface flat, it may be necessary to insert shims between the wing edge and the tabletop edge. The Bridgcwood and Grizzly instruction manuals describe this procedure clearly.

Four of the saws came with extension tables or stands. (See chart.) The steel channel stand on the Star was by far the sturdiest, but you have to make and install your own extension tabletop. On the Jet and Delta Contractor's II saws, extension tables are supported by the fence rails alone. We recommend buying the optional legs ($49 for the Jet; $45 for Delta) to give these tables extra stability. Or you can simply make your own legs.

Blade guards—Safety is a major concern with tablesaws, but manufacturers aren't sending chat message with their blade guards. The generic design still includes a splitter that is difficult to align with the blade, anti-kickback pawls that can be skinny enough to slip into the saw kerf, and blade covers that block too much of your view. The clear plastic covers on both Delta saws provided a better view. Unfortunately, they won't stay out of the way when you need to change blades. When will manufacturers take the plunge and come up with a decent guard?

The hands-on rating—Our hands-on rating gives an idea of what it's like to use the machine day in and day out. To comc up with the hands-on rating, we considered switches, bevel and blade-height adjustments, blade changing, blade guards and vibration.

The highest hands-on scores went to the Grizzly, Jet, Delta Contractor's and Delta Contractor's II saws. The Grizzly ran with the lowest vibration of any of our tested saws, thanks to a link-belt drive and pulleys that arc machincd rather than cast. Link belts and machincd pulleys to fit most contractor's saws arc available from In-Linc Industries (800-533-6709).

The Delta Contractor's II earned high marks for its switch, which is super-accessible and very easy to turn off—a good safety feature. On both Delta saws and the Craftsman saw, we liked the ease of setting stops for 90° and 45* blade angles—you simply adjust a pair of setscrews in each saw's tabletop. (Sec photo, left.) On the other saws, you've got to reach underneath the tabletop with a wrench to set the stops.

On the downside, we didn't like the 59 handwheel revolutions necessary to tilt the Craftsman's blade to 45*. You can reach maximum bevel on the other saws in about 30 turns. Blade changing is easiest on the Powermatic, Star and Sunhill saws because these saws use two wrenches—one to hold the arbor and the other to loosen the arbor nut. To adjust the arbor nut on the "single-wrench" saws, you have to hold the blade with a rag or jam it against a scrap block of wood.


Three contractor's saws earned our Editors' Choice award—best overall performance regardless of price—the

Jet JWTS-10CW-PF, the Delta 34-445 Contractor's Saw, and the Delta 36-640 Contractor's Saw II. The identical overall scores of these three winners tell the whole story. (See chart, page 48.) They were all a pleasure to use, and they'd stand up well as the mainstay of any small or medium-size workshop.

The Best Buy award—best performance for the price—goes to the Grizzly G1022ZF. The fence and miter gauge are a winning combination on this saw, and all our testers appreciated how smoothly this machine ran. It's a great deal for $599. ▲

Seal Contractor Saw Back Dust

Hardwood slides complement a finely crafted drawer. These ingenious drawer slides allow the drawer to extend completely. You can make them with offcuts, and they don't require painstaking precision.

Wooden Drawer Slides

Shop-built, full-extension "hardware"fit for the finest drawer by Sandor Nagyszalanczy

I love the convenience of full-extension drawer slides on a chcsr or cabinet. They let you easily reach in and get at the stuff that inevitably ends up all the way at the back of the drawer.

Unfortunately» nothing can ruin the look of a custom-made wood desk more than using metal full-extension slides for the drawer hardware. I know one cxccllcnt craftsman whose stunning figured-maple desk was juried out of a very prestigious show simply because he had fitted metal full-extension slides on its drawers.

But what's a woodworker to do? Traditional designs for all-wood, full-extension slides usually involve complex interlocking parts, such as butterfly keys that fit between dovetail-slotted strips mounted on the carcase and drawers. Even if you make and fit these with great care, the wooden mechanism can bind up with rises in humidity» making it difficult or impossible to open and close a drawer.

That's why I was excitcd to discover the clcvcr all-wood, full-extension drawer slide system shown in the photo above. I found it on a dining-room cre-denza I was measuring for reproduction. The piece was designed by William Purccll around 1912. Extension slides were necessary because the credenza's top overhangs the drawer fronts by several inches, making access to drawer contents difficult otherwise.

To my great delight, I found that this attractive extension slide system works well on both frameless and face-frame cabincts—although it's a little easier to install on frameless cabincts.

The beauty of this system is that the connecting parts don't have to fit snugly to work properly: A small amount of clearance between parts allows for expansion and contraction in the wood, c preventing binding. 2

I'll show you how to build this full- z extension slide system and dimension £ the parts to work for the basic boxlikc x (parallel-sided) drawers used in most £ dressers, desks and cabinets. I'd say that £ the minimum drawer size for this sys- | tcm is about 10 in. long and a few i

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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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