I'm just gettting started into woodworking and I have about 300$ to spend on tools to get me started. So what I wanted to do was purchase a couple of items that would serve me the most for my money. I opted to get a Ryobi CMS and a Delta Table Saw, but after examining the saw after I had it together I realized something. This saw is kinda cheesy! Can it really accomplish much? Would I have been better off buying a circular saw and a jig saw and some saw horses? I would think for simple straight ripping the table saw would be great as long as it was for small things. I did not want to spend 500$ on a table saw, but I am not sure about this little one I bought. Do any of feel these small 15amp direct drive table saws are worth owning, and can they really be very usefull?
I donít want to turn you off or anything but $300 isnít very much for woodworking tools. You donít say which model of delta you have, from the rest of your post Iíll infer that it is one of the cheapest benchtop saws. You actually can make things with these but it takes a whole lot more effort and skill on your part. These machines are toys compared even to a job site saw like the dw744. Also, the lack of precision and capability can be very frustrating which is not really something you want to add when you are starting out here.
If you donít want to spend $500, there still are some saws out there that will be a lot better than al elcheapo benchtop. A $500 limit is kind of tough though, there are a lot a even better saws right at $500 or a little above. If you have about $300 budgeted for a saw, a used contractor saw or new ryobi bt3100 will be good options.
I'll have to agree that $300 won't go far, but, it can get you started. IMHO I'd look at a decent circular saw, a good jig saw, and a router. I went a long time without anything to cut curves with (jig/bandsaw) and I found that really limited things that I felt I could do. Rather than go buy big things that you won't be happy with, I'd buy some smaller stuff that is higher quality that you will not have/want to replace in the near future.
My first thing was a Delta CMS and that was great for chopping 2x4's and doing the trim work in my house but now it hardly gets used. I find now that I can cut things (miters and bevels) just as well on my TS as long as the work is reasonably easy to handle. It seems my jig saw is getting used alot now days since it is easy to grab and requires little set-up as opposed to the CMS. My shop is still small enough that I work in my 3 car garage and I keep 3 cars in it (only one when the shop is open) with all my tools, so set-up tear down time is always important to me. Of course one more tool that takes up floor space and one car will have to be demoted to the driveway.
Don't be afraid to be patient and watch the used market in your area. Often, you can get older but still quality tools such as table saws. I've seen complete older Shopsmith systems in good shape for as little as $175, and beautiful older Craftsman and Delta table saws for as little as $25. You may have to use a little elbow grease on older tools, but that's part of the fun. Realigning, cleaning, scrubbing, lubing etc., is also a good process to become familiar with the tool.
If you're unfamiliar with Shopsmith, it's a system that's inclusive of a table saw, drill press (vertical and horizontal), lathe, and other options such as band saw, belt/disc sander, jointer, extension tables etc. The modules pop on and off, all sharing the motor and rail system. Although I'm not as much a fan of Shopsmith as dedicated tools, it's a great solution for people who must compromise a little. Budget or space constraints make a used Shopsmith a worthwhile consideration. One of the drawbacks of the Shopsmith in my opinion, is the work height. Others don't feel it's a concern.
Although you can build most anything with hand power tools, you'll have a much easier time doing it with stationary tools. You can eliminate several steps of each operation, and cutting quality is superior.
Watch eBay and the Recycler for bargains, you might get lucky.
My first purchase was a table saw, the $150 special at Home Depot. It think it's a Skill saw, contractor type. Anyway, you really can't beat a table saw for making straight, well measured cuts, especially if you have multiple cuts to do. They are also wonderful for doing stuff like dados and rabbets.
The bad news? Well, you get what you pay for. The saw I got has a fairly (ok, very) inaccurate fence. I can't rely on what measurement it says its at, I have to mark the boards well, measure by hand, and always do a test cut on some scrap to make sure it's what I want. Also, trying to do something like an angle cut is equally tough. If I want a 10 degree angle, I need to use some external device to make sure the angle is right, and can't rely on the saw's markings. And the biggest downside? The table is small. Very small. Fine if you are making a stool or a small cabinet maybe. Bad if you want to make a chair or bed or dresser. You'll have to get creative for larger projects.
But all in all, to start out with, its ok. Like you said, for $300, you can grab a table saw, a router, a sander, maybe some other small hand tools. You also can't beat the portability of a circular saw, and they can be found cheap.
Indeed, I was patient and got a (pretty old) powermatic 66, a very high quality saw, for $250 (plus $100 in some motor work that it needed). Don't know where you live but there's a powermatic on auction now in CA:
I'm sure it'll close much higher but at the moment it's at $11 ;)
A circular saw and a jig saw are a good place to start. They'll be useful for all kinds of home improvement tasks if nothing else, and even with a garage full of tools I constantly use both of them. But you will find that it is difficult to make accurate cuts with a circular saw. Cabinet and furniture making generally requires accuracy to within about 1/32" and with a circular saw this can be difficult to acheive, much less getting perfectly square cuts.
I would advise you start cruising estate sales, classified ads, auctions, etc. With classified ads, my advise is, be the first one to call. I check the classifieds online first thing every morning and often once or twice during the day if I'm prowling for something (currently looking for a big ol bandsaw)
I echo what others have said, especially, dubdrvrkev. With a budget of $300, you should focus on getting a decent set of hobbyist level hand tools: a circular saw, a cordless drill, a plunge router, a random orbit sander and a jig saw. Any money left over should be spent on clamps, measuring and marking tools. I'd even return that CMS you bought. I'm sure it's a nice tool, but the money is better spent elsewhere right now.
Spending $50 on a circular saw instead of $140 for a pro model will still give you functionality and a tool you can live with for several years. But spending $150 instead of at least $300 for a new table saw will buy you a frustrating, cheap machine that you will outgrow in a matter of months.
You can do a lot of good work with hand tools and they will still serve you well after you start getting some good shop tools.
The other recommendation I can make is to enroll in a woodworking class through your local adult community education program. I do that on a regular basis. Any actual instruction is incidental to the real benefit, which is access to things like three Unisaws, one with a 50" fence, one dedicated to a dado stack, and the other set up for large panel cuts with a sliding table.
I want to own some nice tools someday, but that day is while off and I'll never have a shop with a 20" bandsaw, an oscillating spindle sander and a 16" surface planer. So the adult education option gives me access to all that yet relieves me of the financial burden of even trying.
1) Ryobi BT 3000?? Think its around 2 to 3 hundered bucks and has been a fave of our good ol Moderator MarC
2) USED. I bought my Rockwell contractors with a 6 foot beismeyer fence for 400. GRANTED it turned out to need a bit more work and money to not be worth the cost - BUT I see Craftsman contractors all the time in the paper goin for 150 or 200. I sold mine for 100 to a friend. Downsides with this option - delay in finding what you want AND risk - like I said I ended spending at least 300 bucs more to get my saw to where I wanted it - this included a new arbor and motor as the old ones were in bad shape :(.
The Circ saw I have is a cheapo Skill and its MORE than served its purpose. Figure they go for 50 bucks and mines lasted 4 years - cutting ply, MDF, stud framing, Rebar, and Concrete! Still going strong and when it dies I'll drop the 50 bucks again in a heart beat to get another.
OK, well this has all been good info and very much just like what I've been getting from another forum I'm visiting. Here's what I decided though. I'm keeping the TS, it's a Delta TS220LS only 140$ obvioulsy not a great saw but for little jobs. I feel it should do the trick and somehow out of pure luck I guess, it cuts right on the money but only to 19". I also built a work bench that sits at the exact height as the TS bench so I can place the saw next to it and push larger sheets through it and have the xtra support. I also bought a Ryobi CMS, I've used this model in the past borrowing it from freinds and it works good and was only 100$. Then I bought a Ryobi Circ Saw 50$ and Skill Jig saw 30$, plus HomeDepot has these real nice aluminum guide rails with clamps designed for use with a circ and it was only 15$. I was real unsure about that ts but again I have no plans to build kitchens in my garage so I think this will do. Grand total only (335$) and I got quit a few tools, next thing I want is a router and router table......oh and a orbit sander, then a ...then a...on and on and on, crap I need a bigger garage!
Just yesterday, we used clamps after glue simply to take the bow out of the wood we were using, and it straightened everything out for us. Usually though, any time you lay up a project the clamps are...