Popular Woodworking 2002-02 № 126, страница 43

Popular Woodworking 2002-02 № 126, страница 43

CHOOSING A CONTRACTOR

rable Saw

Today's contractor saws offer performance and quality at a price that makes woodworking possible for all.

Recently a subscriber asked us to simplify our tool reviews and recommend only one tool as the "Editor's Choice." While that might seem to make things easier for our tool-buying readers, it isn't the right thing to do. Our test of premium contractor saws is a prime example of why.

Of the nine saws we tested in our shop, all performed the routine woodworking tasks assigned to them. Certainly some machines were a little easier to use and some performed a bit better. But they are all pretty good saws and a few of them are simply excellent machines.

Another complication is determining the saw that's the "Best Value." With some tools, the low-price leader isn't worth buying no matter what the price. However, with better manufacturing overseas and increased competition there are now lower-priced tools available that can save you hundreds of dollars without sacrificing enough performance or convenience to outweigh the bargain.

Motors and Fences

A table saw needs to do two things well. First, it needs the guts to

It's a pretty unusual sight to see a monster power feeder on a contractor saw. But that's the machine we chose to feed boards through each of the nine saws we tested. The power feeder ensured that all the boards were fed at the same speed and with the same pressure.

perform what would be considered normal operations. That's not to say it won't bog down in 8/4 hard maple — most contractor saws will. The saw also must be equipped with a fence system that allows easily repeated, accurate set-ups without a lot of fuss. And it must be easily adjustable so you can set it at 90°

to the table and parallel to the miter slot. Some saws make it difficult to calibrate the fence. All three "Editor's Choice" saws have very simple and intuitive fence adjustments. Beyond the fence and motor, everything else is gravy. I like gravy, but sometimes a pad of butter is enough.

For the test, we assembled each

by David Thiel

Questions or comments? You can contact David at 513-531-2690 ext.255 or at david.thiel@fwpubs.com.

saw according to the manufacturers' instructions (whether good or bad). We set the blades and fences square and parallel. We then checked each machine for noise, vibration, ergonomics and fence accuracy.

Next we tested the motors. To level the playing field, all nine saws were equipped with a new Freud 40-tooth Teflon-coated finishing blade — an excellent carbide blade. All the saws were wired for 110-volt operation. Using a Grizzly power feeder (shown at left), we ran 7/s"-thick poplar boards through each saw at a speed slightly above standard hand feeding. We then observed how much more amperage the motor pulled from the wall and how much the motor's rpm decreased under that load. All of these statistics are listed on the accompanying chart.

Niceties and Oddities

Aside from the motor and fence, we also noted differences in the other features on these saws. First, the miter gauges are frequently not worth keeping. Of all the gauges, only those on the General and Grizzly were pretty good.

On the subject of blade guards, most of them are a hindrance to woodworking. But there have

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