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My father is a casual woodworker, and rarely deals with something as precise as fine joinery, and has been using his father's old table saw for his whole life. I believe it is a 1960s craftsmen with a cast-iron top.

Though I think it is fair quality, age has taken its toll and the saw can be a pain to use. Part of the track for the fence has sunk and it does not operate smoothly, the bevel has been broken as long as I can remember, and truthfully it may just die entirely.

The family is thinking about replacing it however, for the amount of use it would get, I think a cabinet or hybrid saw would be out of the budget.

My questions are, would a new jobsite saw be a big step down from the current machine in quality? Would building a nice bench to house it and expand the top help rectify that? Or are we better off working with the old saw?

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    A table saw that doesn't have a reliable fence is just going to kickback one day. It can be fun to restore old tools, but like anything else this is a trade-off between your time and your money. Similarly, it takes time to modify a new saw, and may even void your warranty (which is a good reason to buy new). At the end of the day only you can decide what is worth more: your time or your money. You probably ought to think about the specs you need: blade size, safety features, the electrical service you can run it on, etc. Then you can see what sort of budget you are really talking about. – jdv Jun 4 at 14:20
  • Just to clarify - a fence does not prevent kick-back. It's function is to guide the timber through the saw. A riving knife (splitter) will be more effective in mitigating the effect of the up running part of the saw contacting the timber and throwing the work forward (kick-back - one cause) and a sliding sub fence on the rip fence is a major safety feature, enabling cut material to drift free of the blade. – Andrea Williams Jun 5 at 15:48
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Whilst I don't know, I believe Craftsman made quality tools before the cost accountants got hold of them.

Your questions are really centred on two things:

  1. Safety
  2. Accuracy

IS it still electrically safe?

  • No aged or worn insulation
  • No-volt release switch present?
  • Blade guard and slitting knife in place and working (Though I know many Americans don't understand the part that slitters play in preventing kick back and blade binding)
  • It certainly won't have electrical braking to stop it within (whatever) number of seconds

But if it is accurate:

  • No play in the main bearings
  • No play in the fence alignments

Then it will be good to do another half century.

As for the job site saw.

If he's used to an iron table and the stability of a static table saw the site saw will seem flimsy. You say casual woodworker. What type of work is it used for? Have a discussion; maybe a bandsaw would do the job for less footprint and be much more versatile as it is able to do everything a table saw does apart from cutting up sheet goods.

Cut material may need a swipe over with a plane when a cut from an accurate and sharp circular saw wouldn't. But for a casual woodworker this is only a couple of more minutes and there is great satisfaction in producing wispy curly shavings without needing ear defenders.

A bit of attention to the track and the bevel should fix it. Or you could look at making a sled and discover a whole new world of saw capability.

  • As far as casual goes, I would say he does a project at most once every month, during which time it sees fairly heavy use but then not for awhile again. Upon second thought, I suppose it would be possible to fit some of these things to it, and fix it up a little. And I know in the end you would be hard pressed to find a jobsite saw with comparable quality to this quality, so maybe I should just give it some TLC – Quentin Jun 5 at 5:31

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