Crafsman or Rockwell Delta Table Saw

txmatMarch 18, 2009

I am comparing a couple of used Table Saws. One is a 5 year old Craftsman 10 inch contractor type with a 3HP (according to Sears) motor that has been heavily used in a sole proprietor cabinet shop. It has a 50 inch extension. Owner says paid $800 new. The other is an older Rockwell Delta Model 62-273 with a 1 HP 110 volt motor in the rear like a contractor. 9 inch blade and a table approximately 2 ft square. The table appears to have been used as a base for staining and is heavily stained.

I will use it for some cabinet/bookcase work and other home projects.

Your thoughts? What should I be looking for and which one would be better for my purposes?

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On paper, the craftsman sounds like a good saw. Bad news is that craftsman doesn't make really good machine tools anymore. Service and replacement parts can be a problem. many years ago, I picked up a big heavy used craftsman table saw for the low price of $50. What a sweet deal for a working cabinet saw! I even did a test cut before loading it up to make sure it worked. It cut fine and sounded OK, so I took it home. As soon as I got it home i was anxious to start making cabinets. Well, the first sheet of plywood, about halfway through the cut, the motor died. I tried to find a replacement motor, the electrician took all the info off the motor and saw, but the motor he got was completely different. I ended up throwing the Craftsman saw away. We couldn't tell for sure what model saw it was or what motor it should have. The motor on the saw when i got it may have been a replacement from the original. The model and make of the saw could have been printed somewhere on a piece that was taken off and discarded. If you don't know exactly the make and model, don't buy it. And if you do know the make and model, do some research about the availability of replacement parts. At least try and find a repair manual on the internet. My lesson learned: If you can't fix it don't buy it used.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 6:12PM
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Thanks Aidan for the tip. I can find out the model number and the owners manual comes with it. I will have to check and see if Sears still has parts available. I have a email request to Delta for the same information. The Rockwell Delta saw is model 62-273.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 7:08PM
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My dad always said,"when you buy used, you're buying someone else's headache"!

Not that you cant get good used tools, but it's always a gamble.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 8:14PM
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I can't really tell you which is "better"; however, a few random thoughts:

The Craftsman: is it a direct drive (ie, no belts from the motor to the blade arbor)? If so, I would definitely pass on it, as a blade accident (past or future) can bend the motor shaft and render the saw junk.

If there's any play/rattle in the arbor, I'd walk away.

If the fence isn't solid when locked down and adjustable, I'd walk away. (Sloppy fences are both dangerous and produce nasty output.) You probably don't want to have to take out your tape and check the fence against both ends of the blade every time you set the fence.

Double-check the arbor size on the delta to make sure it's 5/8". Even then, 9" blades are a little harder to come by, so will cost more over the life of the tool. If it was me, I'd use decent 7-1/4" blades when I didn't need the depth of cut.

Good luck with the purchase.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 4:51AM
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Without seeing them, I'd lean towards the Delta/Rockwell, if only because every late model Craftsman tool I've tried or examined has been disappointing.

Also, you should know that not all horsepower is created equal. Particularly on newer machines made for homeowners, horsepower claims often refer to bogus "peak" or "maximum developed" horsepower, which has little to do with the work the motor is actually capable of doing. Motor amperage ratings are probably a better index of performance.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 7:57AM
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I am aware you don't particularly want to hear the following advice, but I am a member of a woodworking website owned by a company then publishes three woodworking magazines. This site has over 28,000 members and I have literally seen hundreds of folks ask this same type question. I myself asked it when I started. The following is a synopsis of the best advice we have found.

Keep looking.

To make cabinets/bookcases, you need a large surface area on the saw top and as heavy a base as possible. Making a bookcase is not a job for inexpensive tools---I speak from experience.

I made several oak ply desks and bookcases using a Ryobi BT3000 table saw----it is actually a benchtop model(small and portable) put on a stand and advertised as a real saw. I actually burned out the motor. Not to mention how dangerous it was every time the saw tipped/moved as I was cutting plywood.

Minimum saw for your wants will be a Rigid/Delta/Jet/Steel City/Grizzly/etc. contractor saw. Not a jobsite saw---a big contractor model. Retail new starts at around $450 to $750. Used models would be fine and about half new prices. But, difficult to find. I have a Rigid TS24243 contractor model---there have been four updates so far, but none so great I feel I need to sell the one I have---it is fine.

This area is one of those 'Do it right the first time' areas. Buying cheap/inexpensive tools that have to be replaced is actually more expensive than buying good stuff first.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 9:57AM
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I am not risk adverse; I manufacture explosives. However table saws scare me. After two friends, who are experienced woodworkers, lost parts their hands to table saws I sold my highly modified old Craftsman and purchased a SawStop Cabinet saw. The SawStop is WAY more than you want to spend, but if you amortize the cost over the number of years you will use it is a very good investment and it may save a finger or two. SawStop does make a contractor saw, at least check out the technology.

Here is a link that might be useful: SawStop info

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:12AM
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Thanks for the great advice. The Craftsman is belt driven on a stand with the motor off the rear like a contractor saw. The stand has rollers on the rear and the whole thing is very heavy. I will check out the arbor and the fence. I don't know how old the Delta Rockwell is or if parts are available. I received and email back from Delta stating they could not give me that information over the internet. I would have to call them and they would have to go into their archives. Obviously it is old.

Handymac, thanks for the sage advice. If I didn't want advice from those with experience I would not have posted the question. So while it would be great if you had told me to buy one or the other, your honest advice if far more important to me.

I have used a SawStop and it was great and I really like the safety feature. If I had an extra $1,800 or even if I knew I will enjoy woodworking enough to really get into it, I would go for a SawStop contractor model.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 6:06PM
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I'm not sure I agree with, "My dad always said,when you buy used, you're buying someone else's headache'!" Woodworking seems to be one of those hobbies where folks get into it and then find out that you really can't make a table in 30 minutes like they did on TV. So there can be good deals to be found if you know what you are looking for.

With that said, a tablesaw is the center of any woodworking shop and not the place to skimp. I started woodworking with a 1950's Craftsman saw with an 8" (yes, eight inch) rip capacity and a 4" jointer (it was an early combo machine). It wasn't a bad saw, just a little small. I wish I had kept it now.

I don't know what your budget is, but whatever you can spend on a high quality saw will be a good investment.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2009 at 11:24PM
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Also said, "Not that you cant get good used tools, but it's always a gamble."

Any novice should always start out with quality tools/machinery because no matter how experienced or how much a craftsman you might think you are, decent tools/machinery are a big part of the equation. A novice is not going to know what to look for in a piece of equipment unless they do their research. Getting familiar with equipment is called experience. Anyone that thinks that experience comes from the watching t.v. is fooling themselves and can lead to getting hurt. Most towns have small colleges or high schools that offer beggining wood working classes at night. It typically involves proper and safe use of all tools /machinery and is generally a good place to start.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2009 at 10:51AM
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We did the same thing last fall: hubby decided to buy an old Rockwell 9" from a friend because it was cheaper. Got it home, discovered it had a 7 1/4" blade in it as the previous owner didn't have another 9" blade, so he used it mainly for cutting plywood, etc. Local stores don't stock 9" blades anymore and the friend suggested we buy a 10" and adjust the opening on the tabletop enough for it to clear... IMO, bad advice for someone new to woodworking anyway. Made him purchase the correct size, he's just stuck with the saw for now, until we can afford a good one. Long story short, we finally located some on Amazon in a 3 pack, except it took over 3 weeks to receive them.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2009 at 2:01PM
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"Well, the first sheet of plywood, about halfway through the cut, the motor died. I tried to find a replacement motor, the electrician took all the info off the motor and saw, but the motor he got was completely different."

An exact fit for older motors (especially anything Craftsman) can be impossible to find.

You just adapt the exiting plate to fit a new motor of the correct speed and horsepower.

Nearly any replacement motor is going to be far better than than anything Sears supplied after the early 1960s.

The really old Craftsman stuff was very good (I have a 1/2 inch drill dating from the late 1940s that is still going strong) but the newer stuff is absolute junk, just like Black & Decker did to their tools.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 10:17AM
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The places cabinetmakers get plywood do not offer cutting service (in my experience). I think being able to handle and cut a 4x8 sheet is a must for any cabinetmaker's table saw set-up. Sure, Lowes or HD sells shop grade ply in birch or oak for about $50 a sheet and they'll cut it for $0.50 a cut. But why limit yourself to the box stores?

I get most of my material at a place called Aura Hardwood Lumber in San Jose, CA. It is a one of a kind establishment serving cabinetmakers from all over the Northern CA. I drive 50 miles to go there, when there are about 100 box stores closer. The prices are wholesale- the $50 sheet at HD cost $30 at Aura, and there are so many species and grades to choose from. Every cabinetmaker needs to find the Aura in their area.

Do some homework; ask other woodworkers. As important as having the right equipment is knowing where to get the right material. But if you need all your ply's cut in half before taking them, you can't even shop there. If you don't have a truck or van to transport materials, how can you even get started? Not being able to cut a full 4x8 sheet on your tablesaw is like not having the right vehicle. You would need to pay some decent $ to get a truck or van. Same thing with a tablesaw. Buy a $1,500 cabinet saw and you will never regret the purchase, nor will you ever need to upgrade it. If you are saying, "$1,500 is not in my budget" then think of it like a truck. If you need a truck you need a truck, you have to find the budget for it, or forget about doing the things you need a truck for. You can't just buy a used sedan and call it a truck. Same thing with buying a table saw for making cabinets. Also keep in mind, if you can save $20 per sheet by shopping at a wholesale place like Aura, after 75 sheets the saw will pay for itself!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 10:42AM
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"I think being able to handle and cut a 4x8 sheet is a must for any cabinetmaker's table saw set-up."

Most of the shops I have seen all switched to panel saws over the past 10-15 years.

A single person can easily handle placing the sheet on the saw frame and then moving the saw.

It takes a very large table setup for a single person to handle 4x8 sheets on a cabinet saw since you need a full size in feed as well as out feed table for safety.

A single person struggling to control a 4x8 sheet on a cabinet saw is a recipe for kickback and injury.

Safety Speed Cut makes very reasonably priced saws, and even a cheap model (~$750) for the more causal user not wanting to go for a C4 model (~$1300).

    Bookmark   April 19, 2009 at 2:16PM
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