Upgrade existing table saw or buy Delta
I have a 20 year old Craftsman table saw that was purchased in 1996. It’s the 315 model with cast iron router wing. I’ve been thinking about replacing the Align-A-Rip fence with a Biesemeyer & upgrading to a link belt. My biggest drawback is the cost. A new fence is around $350. The other issue I have is the saw does not have a riving knife.
Is it worth it to upgrade the saw or go buy a Delta which already comes with a Biesemeyer fence, riving knife?
If I go with the Delta, there are 3 saws that interest me. The 36-725 because it is good price, the 36-5000 because it has the single rail fence and extra wing, or the 36-5100 because it has the cast iron wings.
Is it worth the price jump for the cast iron wings vs the stamped steel?
Granted all 3 saws can be had for a little under $1k.
Where would I get the most bang for the buck?
I have a Delta 36-979 with CI wings. I have never used a saw with the stamped steel wings but, I think I would spend the extra for the CI if I had to do it again. The CI wings are solid, smooth, and flat. The stamped steel ones look like they could be a problem in that regard.
If you upgrade, I can vouch for the link belts. I have put them on all my belt driven tools and they are very smooth. As nearly as I can tell, the less costly ones from Harbor Freight are no different.
At the risk of telling you something you do not want to hear, the best bang for your buck might well be the SawStop contractor saw instead of the Delta. Consider over the next 20 years you will be paying ~ $50 a year more. The riving knife is a huge step up in safety, but there are plenty of table saw accidents for other reasons than kickback - over its lifespan, the difference you pay for the flesh detecting technology is an extremely low-priced insurance policy, probably far less than your deductible/out of pocket should a single incident occur. Seriously, the product they are offering has a great value proposition when you think long-term and price in the inherent risk of this hobby. I'm not with SawStop, but am an owner of one - I went with a cabinet saw, but did a lot of thinking about pros/cons of Sawstop and its price premium. As another consideration, I have heard people say, try to buy your last table saw, not just your next one - trading up costs a lot. Will this Delta be your last saw, is it everything you think you will ever want in a saw? Not trying to start any fights, just offering advice for what its worth.
All that said, my prior saw was a Delta contractor saw that had cast iron wings and had a Biesemeyer fence - a nice fence that I liked very much, best thing about the entire saw frankly. I have heard others mention in recent posts that Biesemeyer fences are not what they used to be - that could just be baseless noise, you have likely checked out reviews. If you do go the Delta route, I think you will want the cast iron. I think stamped steel probably stays flat, but CI wings add heft and help dampen vibration. Even with the cast iron extensions, you will have to check with straight edge and may need to shim at the seam. If you upgrade, I can give another yea vote on the link belt - I put one on the Delta. No experience with HF's product. I would offer that you may want to watch for sales/use % off coupons from woodworking stores - I would consider them a bit pricey for the relative performance increase they give, but I have seen them on sale occasionally. If you upgrade the Craftsman (which would be my last pick of all the options available to you, but only you can know what the best option is at the end of the day), I would urge you to consider Microjig's splitter product - its no riving knife, but I found it to be easy to install and a nice safety addition for my Delta when ripping. I also put Jess'ems Clearcut roller guides on the Delta - good for any table saw really. One other thought on the Delta - I mostly used a thin kerf Freud Fusion combo saw blade in mine. It seemed like the thin-kerf blade gave the saw a performance boost and the Fusion is a sweet blade. But with riving knife, the thickness of the knife must match up with the blade thickness. Many saws have thin-kerf riving knife available as accessories (for extra $). I don't know if you can get a thin-kerf riving knife for these saws or not, might be something you want to check on.
I’ve thought about the SawStop too, as well as shopping for my last table saw. If I were going to buy my “last” table saw, it would have to be a cabinet style saw. Honestly, I love the safety features of the sawstop.
I have not heard about the Biesemeyer fence issues. Will have to check into that.
Honestly, it is going to come down to my wife helping me make a decision along with me. If she sees the saw stop and says it is worth the extra money to get the saw stop, then it will be the saw stop.
What is the difference between a 3hp and 1.5hp motor? Is it that much more noticeable? I watched a video where the poster said the 1.5hp saw will so everything that a 3hp saw would, but you have to go much slower.
If I do go 3hp, I don’t mind wiring in a 240v circuit. Been thinking of doing that anyway with a 1.5hp and rewiring to 240v, as I heard it is easier on the motor.
First, ditto on post #2. I have the 3hp PCS, upgraded from a 1.5hp contractor. The power diff means never having to think about how slow to go or if you should make a 2-pass cut. 3" thick (insert species here) cuts like buttah. After 30+ years I have my last table saw.
Well said, user-6001446. With regard to 1.5 hp vs 3 hp, the Delta 36-979 is the only table saw I have ever had or probably will have. I can't make a direct comparison. Undoubtedly, the 3 hp motor will cut faster but, I can honestly tell you that my 1.5 hp has never failed to cut anything I have put to it. Yes, probably a bit slower but, I have never bogged it down. It just keeps chugging along. I wouldn't let that alone be a deal killer.
delta is a good one
I recently sold an old powermatic "green" tablesaw that I had for 30 years. It was 3 hp. Sold it because I was getting tired of the dust and it was hard to seal it up. Man do I miss it, it could cut most anything and could power through when kerf started to pinch. Bought a 2hp Grizzley with dust hookups above and below and don't like it except for the dust pickup. Have had to shut it off and back piece out on too many occasions. I'm retired and don't need the power anymore, or can work around it but there's no doubt that a 3hp saw is noticeably stronger then a 1.5 or a 2.
Perhaps your budget or your tradition will say against it but my advice would be to buy what's usually referred to in the US as "a European saw". This is a table saw with a built-in sliding table and cross-cut fence rather than just a slot for a mitre gauge. They also tend to come with very well-designed safety features (guard, riving knife, full dust collection, blade brake and so forth) that are easy to use and won't tempt you to remove them "for convenience" as they're already very convenient in their design.
Such saws tend to be powerful (3HP and up) as well as being engineered to very high standards compared to typical unisaws. They cut all furniture-sized parts easily and with great accuracy.
You can find various reviews of those imported to North America if you trawl the various woodworking websites and magazines.
The disadvantages are a slightly larger footprint and the cost. But here in Blighty a good one can be bought for the equivalent of $2000 - 2500. A very good one can be bought for $3000 - $5000. (Including sales tax).
That's a lot ..... but you get a lot of saw - and no more having to build endless great big jigs for cross-cutting etcetera. Or trips to your rather expensive hospitals.
Saw stop? It seems a cumbersome and expensive way to reduce accidents. The EU table saw accident rate is much lower than that of the US, without any saw stop style safety aid in EU saws. The traditional safety aids of the EU saw design (riving knife, guard et al) work very well.
It doesn't really make sense to upgrade the saw for that amount of money.
I'm not familiar with any of those models, but if they are 3HP cabinet saws, it will definitely be money well spent.
Consider the fact that Delta is no longer in the power tool arena. Having a shop loaded with gray tools trying to get replacement parts from Delta is a crapshoot. You have to get parts from aftermarket sources and not all of those parts are exact copies of the original. If you find old Delta tool (20 years old) they you have a quality tool, the new ones are not up to the same quality.
After my friend hit the blade with his finger on my 3HP PCS SawStop I would have to say it was quite amazing. We did not think his injury even required a band aid. So if your budget constrained then opt for safety first even if you have to move down to the 1.5 HP saw. It only takes one incident to change your life!
I hate to say it but the SawStop is compelling. Regardless of that, I went from a 1.5 hp Delta contractors saw to a 3 hp Delta Unisaw (used) and wow, what a difference. It cuts like butter through 2-1/2" thick Walnut boards without even slightly slowing down. I love that power!
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