Tool Review – The Old Craftsman Table Saw

tool review

Don’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 dark, 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 had no idea what I was doing.

Around that time, 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 that I didn’t really know/care anyway.  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 a collection of furniture with a very Caribbean feel.  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 arsenal 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.  Like me, the table saw was the backbone of the shop.  That is pretty much where the similarities ended.  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 wide open.

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.  I felt immediately sheepish.

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, “They just don’t make tools 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 hour or so of cutting
  • Very loud
  • High electricity consumption (just judging by all the other lights in the house going dim when I power it up

tool reviewIn 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 recommenced 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 the sitka spruce boards I cut for the Bobcat spars.  Faire Winds!!

 

 

 

 

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