Is there any such thing as a good ($300 table saw

dinkledoodleJune 7, 2009

capable of accurately ripping 4x8 sheets of 3/4 in veneer plywood. Or am I better off renting? TIA

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Let me elaborate on the prior post. About 20 years ago, I lost a great woodworking shop as part of a divorce settlement that turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. For all that time, I've lived a bachelor life in apartments and condos and pretty much forgot everything I ever knew about woodworking.

I've now met and married the most wonderful woman in the world. We've recently purchased a fixer-upper and are planning to do most of the work ourselves. Hence, I've found my woodworking muse again. Now comes the long process of rebuilding my workshop.

I thought I'd start with building some custom bookcases/storage cabinets, hence the table saw. Unfortunately, I don't know anything about what's happening out there in the tool world today. Please be patient with me and wish me luck.

Good to be back in the fold and to have found such a great resource. For the young whippersnappers out there, no such thing as this forum existed 20 years ago. This is definitely a blessing to be counted.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:13PM
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I'd rather see you spend half that on a good circular saw, excellent blade, and a straight edge guide. Trying to wrestle a 4x8 sheet on anything but a large table saw with side and outfeed tables is a balancing act. Your results would likely be no better than a circular saw. If you asked me the best way to cut parts for storage cabinets, I'd suggest using a circular saw to cut them to 1/16" over-size and trim on a good table saw.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 7:18PM
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A panel saw is about the best thing for large sheet goods.

A table saw needs extension tables, in-feed rollers, out-feed rollers, and takes up a very large amount of space.

Decent panel saws are around $2,000.

The ones with plastic tubing on U-bolts are crap.

Unless you are going to do a lot of large sheet work, a decent portable circular saw to break panels down is a good alternative.

Cutting slightly oversize (1/4 inch) with finish cuts on a table saw using a cross cut sled and a good rip fence works pretty well.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 8:36PM
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Third to the circular saw and edge guide. I have done sheet goods both ways---the circ. saw method takes more time, but is WAAAAAAY safer!!!!!!!!!

A good circ. saw is a DeWalt/PC/Makita/Bosch----not a B&D/cheap Skil/Ryobi/etc.

The straight edge can be anything from a piece of plywood(factory edge) to a several hundred dollar system. I have a really old two piece(8+' long when assembled) aluminum straight edge that has to be clamped in place. I also have a clamp type straight edge that is 50" long.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 12:13AM
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The short answer is no. Ripping a 4x8 sheet good requires a full size saw and infeed/outfeed table/rollers and perhaps a helper. Use a circular saw, a good blade, and a straight edge. You can also use a piece of rigid foam insulation as a base.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 8:22AM
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I have a Craftsman saw I tried to rip 4x8. After doing it with 1 sheet, I went back to the circ saw and a straight edge. I keep hearing recommendations about using the foam sheet under the saw and I think I'll try that the next time I need to rip big sheets.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 1:12PM
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Or you could go whole hog (see the link). Frankly, I'd have to have a persistent and critical need for something like that to shell out table saw money for a circular saw. It won't do 10% of what a table saw can do.

I have one of their sanders and it works extremely well. Whether it works 3 times as well as a Bosch, I'm not sure, but it costs about three times as much.

Here is a link that might be useful: Festool

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 2:12PM
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I've never tried using foam as a base when ripping mainly because didn't have a place to store it after I was done. I wouldn't throw out a perfectly good piece of foam. ;-)

Certainly a Festool saw would be the perfect solution but it would probably cost twice the original budget. I think the saw alone is in the neighborhood of $500 and then you'd need another rail.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:26AM
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The hard foam---blue insulating kind---is used and you set the circular saw blade so it just clears the material being cut. That piece of foam can last for years.

The Festool folks have a package deal---saw/straight edge with saw mounting plate to fit the straight edge---they also have router mounting plates as well.

There are less expensive alternates as well.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 9:33AM
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I made this bookcase last summer. The photo below is just before I put the finish on it and some of the edge banding for the shelves had not been completed. I used a circular and aluminum straight edge to cut the beaded knotty pine plywood in the back. I have a pretty nice Jet contractor's saw and it was too dangerous for me to try to feed the plywood through the saw. I realized that if I was going to cut a lot of plywood with a table saw, I was going to have to spend time to upgrade my shop with proper stands and outfeed tables (I have a outfeed table that was too small to do this). So, if you are going to cut plywood every now and then, it is easier and safer to go with a circular saw. Or, buy the plywood from a home center like Lowes or Home Depot and get them to make initial cuts on the panel saw in their store.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 7:03PM
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