Tool Review – Craftsman Table Saw

DSC_1634Don’t ask me why, but I love Craftsman tools, especially the older ones.  I read horror stories about them here and there, but it seems as though everything I have purchased with the Craftsman name on it has performed well for me.  When I was first putting my shop together in a dingy, damp basement of our old house in Acton, MA, I knew that the table saw was really the backbone of the shop.  I searched craigslist for a deal every couple of days.  Sure, I wanted to go spend $2000 on a nice Craftsman Pro model, but I knew that wasn’t in the budget.  I found a number of saws in my price range, but they did not seem as though they were good enough despite the fact that I did not even know what “good enough” meant.

My wife and I were on Cape Cod looking for furniture of some sort.  I don’t remember what piece of furniture we were looking for and the odds are I didn’t really know what we were looking for that day either.  I was just along for the ride.  We went into a small shop in Harwich, MA and it opened my eyes to the “good enough” label I was stuck on.  In the shop was furniture with a very Caribbean mojo.  There was wicker mixed in with exotic woods and funky designs.  I opened up some of the cabinets and explored some of the joints and found it exceptionally well-constructed.  The exterior was made to look rough and antique-ish, but inside I could see that they were built by craftsmen with likely a coral of high-end tools.  I found the owner of the shop and got to chatting with her about the furniture.  She pulled out a photo album and began to explain.

The furniture came from a family business in Haiti.  I started to peruse through the photos.  The table of the table saw was an old door with a slot cut in it.  The rusty circular blade looked to be one of those monstrous blades you see at a timber mill.  The power for this contraption was provided by a belt wrapped around the bare rim of a small motorcycle.  The picture was of a man standing at the foot off the door ripping a board of some dark wood while a kid sat smiling on the motorcycle holding the throttle.

Good enough?!  Here I was a rookie woodworker wondering if a $500 table saw was good enough for me and this family in Haiti was churning out beautiful furniture with a moped-powered mill saw made from an old door.  So I ended up with an old Craftsman 10″ table saw.   You know, the kind you come across occasionally at a yard sale and think to yourself, “The just don’t make budget table saws like that anymore.”

So for this tool review, I would break this one into pros and cons:

Pros:

  • Price (About $300 in good condition)
  • Construction.  This is an old school craftsman with lots of iron.  It is a challenge to lift with 2 strong guys.
  • Simplicity.  Everything is open and adjustable.  It is easy to clean and use.
  • Reliability.  Judging by the age of this machine and the use that I (the 3rd owner) have put it through, it is a reliable work horse

Cons:

  • Needs to be re-calibrated about every 3-4 hours of cutting
  • Very loud
  • High electricity consumption (just judging by all the other lights in the house going dim when I power it up

In summary, I got exactly what I paid for.  I love the weight and construction of the saw.  I have no need to move it anywhere or to bring it with me for any reason so it is a true shop saw.  If you stumble on one of these beauties on craigslist or at a yard sale and you are in the market for a fair priced, work-horse saw, this is a great piece of machinery.  I would recomend either making or buying a feather board to keep those long rips straight.  I have had this feather board for years and use it for almost every cut.  Some other must-have accessories for any table saw are a dado blade (I use this one from Amazon) and some roller stands for cutting long boards like masts.  Faire Winds!!

DSC_1635