View Full Version : Craftsman Tools
11-27-2000, 04:07 PM
I am looking to get the craftsman contractor table saw. I am curios as to how other people's experience with craftsman tools have been? I have a crafstman router and drill press and they seem to work great and get the job done.
I am a beginner in wood working just making basic projects... shelves, bookshelfs, small tables...
Your feedback would be appreacaited.
My saw was a Craftsman, about 30 years ago when I bought it. I have not been impressed with the latest models that I have seen in the local Sears store. The most important thing on a saw is the alignment of the blade to the table slot. That has to be checked whenever a saw is moved any distance. (not in the shop but from the store to home for example). The next and almost equal issue is the fence. The fence must be setup accruatly to the blade and be quick to move and set. There are lots of good fences on the market. Many will cost as much as your craftsman saw. When you look at the cost of getting a fence that will allow you to be effective in you woodworking it is sometimes less costly to buy a used machine with the right power and fence to start with.
11-27-2000, 04:48 PM
I've got a new (year old) Craftsman 10" TS. While the basic saw is OK, the Align-a-Rip fence is trash and I just replaced mine with an Incra TS-III and upgraded the miter fence with an Incra M-1000 with 36" extension and ShopStop. The new fence and miter gauge cost as much as the underlying saw but now it cuts like a dream.
The problem with the Align-A-Rip is that the adjustments are under the fence so you can't easily dial it in while it's ON the saw (who's clever idea was that?). My old fence consistently skewed to the left from 1/16" to 1/8". Every cut took extra time to measure the front and back and bang on the side of the far end of the fence to try and coax it back in. If you set the fence tight enough to hold, you couldn't coax it back in. Set it so you can "adjust" it without a mallet and it won't hold tight to a dimension. Lots of sawburn and cussing.
With the new fence I can set an *exact* measurement in seconds and have perfect repeatability to return to a previous setting. Since the fence is parallel to the blade 90% of my sawburn vanished. See my new fence in action:
Of course you never want to put on the "factory" blade. Go out and get a good Freud or Forrest WWII and that will help greatly.
I've upgraded my saw to include the router table insert.
Overall I've been poorly impressed with the Craftsman power tools. They seem to have gone into a steep decline. I got a router for Fathers Day that broke the 2nd time I tried to use it. Just recently I had the 'safety interlock' on the router table fail, I'd pulled the 'safety' out which should prevent the router from starting. Imaging my surprise when the big 3¼HP Freud FT2000E kicked over when I tested the switch!
I'm not buying tools at Sears anymore.
11-28-2000, 03:53 PM
I've had a Craftsman 10" belt driven, contractors table saw for 4 years. It has served me well but I would not buy another one. MadMark's observations on the Align a Rip fence are dead on, its a piece of junk. Ridgid uses the same fence.
The fence is not really my biggest gripe with the saw however. the arbor tilting mechanism is very flimsy. More substantial saws use a worm gear instead of a threaded rod.
For a little more money you can get an imported contractors saw from Grizzley, Jet, or Delta. In hindsight, I would have rather saved my money and waited until I could afford a cabinet saw. They are typically 2x the cost of contractors saw, are much more powerful, and less prone to vibration related problems.
12-05-2000, 09:28 PM
I agree with the other comments on Craftsman tools they have really gone down hill a lot. I bought a 10" table saw about 27 years ago and had to adjust it a lot when I got it home. About 5 years ago decided to buy their 10" radial arm saw and had even more problems to get some good cuts. Also their electric hand tools are not made for anything more than occasional service. I have gone to Porter Cable, DeWalt, Makita and Ryobi for anything I want to last. The Craftsman mechanics hand tools are great, bend a punch and take it back and get a new one.
12-10-2000, 01:35 PM
Looks like you have already received some good adivce so I'll just relate my experience with a Craftsman TS. Bough one new. Thought it was great and I had saved myself a bit of $. Thought being the key word here. (Laughing) Wasn't long until I began to have problems with the blade raising and tilt mechinism. IT's exposed to, and collects all the sawdust. To the point of making it difficult to raise/lower and/or tilt the blade.
Was never really happy with the miter gage either. Was never able to keep it where it would make dead square crosscuts.
After a few years of this I got rid of the Craftsman and got myself a Shopsmith. Still wasn't happy with rip and crosscuts. Finally sprung for a Delt contractors TS. Now I'm a happy camper.The exception being, Unhappy with the fact that I spent so much money learning this lesson. The price of the ShopSmith alone would have given me a pretty decent basic shop setup. The ShopSmith can be adjusted to reasonable accuracy but I spent to much time adjusting and readjusting. I still use it for the bandsaw, lathe, and disk sander.
Hope I've helped some.
Just a note that many Craftsman power tools such as biscuit joiners, drills, sanders, etc. are made by Ryobi.
The quality decline in Craftsman has been beat to death here and I agree wholeheartedly, I will not buy power tools from them. Just one observation though, Ned said "for a little more money" you could get a Grizzly, Jet or Delta. After extensive shopping around online, at stores and at the Woodworkers Show I went with Grizzly because it offered all the same options at a lower price. Although the standard issue fence leaves a lot to be desired, the savings on the saw can be used to fix that problem. Have had my G1022Z for almost a year and have been extremely happy with it. Best advice I can give is to decide what you want to get out of your saw then look at everything before you buy.
12-21-2000, 01:17 PM
Do youself a favor and go look at the rigid tablesaws
I got one about 3 mos ago and it is ten times the saw compared to craftsman it cost nearly twice as much but you get a great factory fence with it. If you do buy craftsman you will need to spend $300-$400 on a good fence if you want any kind o accuracy
Three things about Craftsman;
They're not the tools they used to be (just cause your Dad's Craftsman TS lasted 30 years, doesn't mean your's will)
If I have a tool from almost any other mfctr, I can go to ANY store for accessories, batteries, parts. If I buy from Sears, it's back to Sears I go.
Lastly (and this means no offense if there are Sears employees in the Forum), no one at Sears knows anything about the products. They know which ones are on sale, and the warranties, etc., but that's about it. I've been trying for about 6 months to buy a replacement kerf table for my radial arm, and have failed because out of 40,000 employees, not one knows what a kerf table is. The real kicker is that if I had about a 1/2 inch more clearance on my Craftsman Drill Press, I could make it myself.
For me, Craftsman is a "wrenches and screwdrivers" store from now on.
12-22-2000, 01:02 AM
I made a kerf table for my Craftsman 10" RAS about a year ago. I don't understand what you would need a drill press for. I glued up two sheets of particle board, 3/4" and 1/2" with yellow glue. I used my drill press as a clamp (Heavy Weight) and let the borads set up for a week. If you can get 1" or 1 1/2" particle board you can skip this step.
I was able to use a router to cut out the knuckle clearance on the underneath side. To drill the hold down bolt holde I used the old kerf board as a template. First I used a 1/4" bit to mark each of the six holes. Then I used either an auger or spade bit to drill the screw head clearance hole and finally a 1/4" bit to completely drill through the kerf board. The center, table straightening adjustment only needs a 5/16" hole and "T" nut on the bottom side.
It wasn't difficult, just time consuming.
12-22-2000, 02:40 PM
After all the posts on this subject you summerized it perfectly.
When I was in Engineering school, my Univeristy had a moto of Learn by doing. We had all the engineering and math just like all the other programs but we also had shop classes. I learned to weld, and run a metal lathe and even how to operate a milling machine. The idea was that as an engineer you needed to understand how the stuff you desigened might get built. My major was Electronics but it didn't matter, we still had to weld.
That was over 30 years ago, and why do I spend the time telling you all this? Well in my shop classes the instructors would give us guidence on tool purchases. I still remember this old guy saying "Always buy Craftsman quality tools, that way you will only have to buy it once." Thirty years ago, the Craftsman brand name meant Quality. It still does for wrenchs and sockets. The power tools 30 years ago were good for the home user.
It is sad that when I have looked at their stuff over the past 10 years it has become something that I would not use if it were given to me for free. The pain and trouble in using it would be worse than using a bow saw and energy.
I thought of that, but worried that if I drilled the holes even slightly off axis, they would pull the table out of true when tightened. And as I'm sure you know, a Craftsman RAS requires enough hand-holding with a perfect surface.
Also, and this may be for lack of trying, I haven't seen particle board that's as dense anywhere. For all of Craftsman's faults, they do give you a really high quality board to start with. Any thoughts?
Thanks for the advice.
12-23-2000, 01:04 AM
Your trials and tribulations with Sears parts are most familiar. I received the head locking block from Sears yesterday. Today I tear the saw apart and go to install the new part. I figure that I should try the yoke locking pin in the new block. Damn, the pin is too big. Get out the drill guage and measure the pin. Hummmm, it's between 7/16 and 29/64 and sort of sloppy in the 29/64 hole. Try it again in the old locking block and it's a really nice, well engineered fit. The damn thing must be metric! But the saw was made in 1972 and BTGMF. (Before The Great Metric-ization Fiasco) Off to tool speciality store and it seems that there is a 11.2 and 11.5 milimeter size bits but this guy only stocks the 11.5 MM. $8.35 later I'm on my way. Test drill in a piece of scrap aluminum and the pin fits almost perfect. I spent the next hour or so cleaning and re-aligning the saw. It's not bad but not perfect anymore. (Too many kick backs and crashes.)
Then I tore apart the table looking for the serial number for the recall. I can't find it anywhere. Oh well, that's a fight for next week on the toll free number to Emerson / a.k.a. Ridgid.
12-23-2000, 10:47 AM
Judging from my personal experience and from those of my friends, 1965 was about the last year that you could buy a good Sears table or radial arm saw.
David F. Eisan
12-24-2000, 10:50 AM
While I am not sure what specific models you are looking at, I will comment on the current line of contractors saws that only vary in detail, and because I own one and since I am wearing my Nomex underwear, I will say so in public.
The current contractor style table saws sold by Sears are made by Ryobi in Taiwan and are different from the saws made a few years ago by Emerson that have now be reincarnated into Ridgid tools.
- There are three basic models of contractors saws, all have the same base, motor, trunion and table top. The differences are in the wing type, fence rail length and included dust collection.
- Wings - Base model comes with stamped sheet metal wings, mid level with grid cast iron wings, top level with solid cast iron wings. The Craftsman has the largest table top I have seen at 44" wide, while most are 40" wide (I am pretty sure, corrections or clarification anyone?). The sheet metal wings both##### and blow. They are really hard to get and keep level, and well, I just plain didn't like 'em, so I replaced mine with cheapie cast grid ones for $70.00 CND.
- Fence - Base has the 12x24 fence, mid 24x24, top 24x32 (or 24x36?). First number is to the left, second is to the right. The top level also has a micro adjust, but for other than the length of rails and the micro adjust on the top of the line, all three fences are the same. The fence is a front and rear locking type. Not bad, but not up to the Biesmeyer or Unifence type (understatement). The cursor is too big (almost 1/16") and so accuracy and repeatability are difficult. The rails are too short as well. I initially shifted mine over and put a new tape on it so give me around 40" for sheet goods, but I still wasn't happy with the fence. At a wood show I saw the 52" Mule fence and bought one.
(http://www.mulecab.com/accusquare_fence.htm) Major improvement in repeatability and accuracy, no burning like I was getting because the wasn't perpendicular to the front rail when I locked it down.
- Dust collection - Base, none, mid and top level have a shroud that encloses the blade and has a 2.5" dust port on it for connection to a shop vac. That said, I went to Sears, asked to see the manual for the higher priced saw, copied down the part numbers for the all the dust shroud parts and since all the trunion parts are the same on all three saws, the parts bolted up to my base model. This table saw has the best built in dust collection of ANY contractor style saw that I have seen (except Dewalt, which dust collects in a similar way). Combined with the Sears autoswitch, dust collection is a snap. You put the auto switch into a wall outlet then your saw and vac into the marked sockets. When I turn my saw on, the vac comes on and stays on for 10 seconds after I turn my saw off. Great dust collection.
- Trunion - big hunk of cast iron, oddly has 6 bolts to the table rather than the usual 4. The saw is a left tilt.
- Table top - Has standard mitre slots, but they are not 'T' slots, was a problem on big cross cuts until I built a big cross sled for cutting table top glue ups to length (which only an idiot would try with the mitre gauge anyway, DAMHIKT).
- Motor - Sears breaks new ground by selling the only table saw I have ever seen that does not come with a TEFC motor (totally enclosed fan cooled). It is rated at 1.5 hp, but is likely less as it is only a 13 amp motor, other 1.5 hp saws range from 15-18 amps, unless of course the Sears is usually efficient, but I somehow doubt it.
Am I happy with it? It is a serviceable solution until I buy a cabinet saw. I could have saved some time and effort, but not money, by buying the next level up with the better wings and included dust collection parts, but like most entry level contractor saws, the fence leaves a lot to be desired. Would I buy it again, no. I am getting rather serious at this and had I known then what I know now, I would have bought a Delta contractors saw with a 52" Biesmeyer or Unifence as my first saw. But even that would have been a stop gap measure as I now want a cabinet saw.
Feel free to ask me any further questions,
David F. Eisan
David F. Eisan
12-24-2000, 11:07 AM
You have got to be kidding about the Ridgid being a better TS than the Craftsman right?
They are BOTH##### heavily on the bottom of the barrel.
Emmerson used to make the Craftsman up until about 2 years ago when Sears ditched them and went with Ryobi. Home Depot had asked Emmerson to make tools for them for a while, and after the split with Sears, Emmerson was able too.
Both saws set new lows,
- tin foil sheet metal sides, when you hit the dead stop for 90º or 45º the sides bow in allowing you to give at least another full crank to tha tilt wheel
- the only two saws on the planet I know of that have non TEFC motors. All ww'ing equipment should have TEFC motors.
- the tilt mech is a threaded rod and captured nut, yuck. Everyone else uses a worm gear and rack gear (much better).
- the brackets that hold the trunion to the table top and that the trunion swing on during tilt are pot metal, NOT cast iron.
- both fences are truly horrible and you can easily lock it down crooked in any direction.
I can go on and on with this if you would like.
I work at a large indepentant power tool dealer that sells Delta, General and our own house brand Taiwaneese line of tools, I also am a semi pro ww'er, after having spoken to 1000's of ww'ers I have yet to meet one who knew what they were talking about and had anything good to saw about the Ridgid or Craftsmand table saw.
David F. Eisan
12-24-2000, 01:10 PM
Your story is a lot like mine, but I bought my Sears over 30 years ago and spent time and money making it work for real woodworking. Two other things I would recomend. You can find a link type belt and a ballanced set of pullies that will improve the saw a lot.
I built a large cabinet that supports my 52 inch Biesemeyer fence and the saw all on one moble system Helps to make the whole system more stable. A 2 hp Beldon motor will be a much better solution.
For what I have spent I could have bought a Powermatic 66, If you take into account my Labor, I could have bought a model 66 and a Unisaw.
01-04-2001, 01:17 PM
Bottom line............... you get what you pay for!