The table saw is the most used tool you're going have in your arsenal, but lets face it, good table saws are super expensive and big and heavy and even at best the fence is still well... sub-standard on most of them, forcing yet another expensive purchase to get the accuracy and precision you want and expect from a table saw fence.
So are there any other options for someone that has a small workshop or a small budget? Is the $5000 dream saw out of reach? Well there's something here that might tickle your fancy or just make you say ya right or make you go duh!!
The table Saw here is the Ridgid TS4516 10" portable contractor's saw you can find at Home Depot on sale for a whooping $249.00. Hey!! even the 36T rip blade that comes with it is fairly good, but these portable table saws have their limits and it's the power of motor and the size of the table, but for most smaller projects it's more than adequate.
Ok. On to the good stuff...
I started off by squaring up the blade like it suggests in the manual. It was an easy task with the adjustments on the rear of the chassis. After that I checked the arbor runout with dial indicator. Great news, it hardly moved the needle as I turned the arbor full rotatations. This shows that Ridgid put some quality into the design. With this out of the way, it was time to give this little saw a home inside of a 36 X 24 X 3/4 euro cabinet I found at the local Ikea scratch and dent section for a meager $29. I added wheels and levelers and a 60 X 30 X 1 1/8" high pressure melamine top I cut to fit around the saw table. I fastened down the top using the K4 pocket hole jig, of course, making this top rock solid to the cabinet. Plus, for good measure, I added extra pocket holes and screws at the base making it even stronger.
The Ridgid 36T blade was replaced with the Freud Thin Kerf 60T Ultra fine finish crosscut blade, (NOTE: I recommend the use of 3 1/2 blade stiffeners with a kerf under 1/8 to minimize blade flutter and vibration and of course, blade noise.) Yes, they're worth every penny if you really care about precision like I do.
So what makes this saw so accurate down to .0001? It's the Incra 25" LS Positioner and fence I adapted from my Incra router table system. I just wanted to see if this would work as good as it does on my router table. Oh hell ya!! Even at a full 25" cross cut it's spot on everytime! No matter where you set it. It's very easy to square up to the blade. Just pull the fence to the blade and pull the LS Positioner clamp up half way and use the micro adjuster to dial it in perfect and then lock the LS Positioner clamp all the way and run a test cut. Measure your cut with a digital caliper because this will help you fine tune the fence to perfection. Once you find the sweet spot, slide the magnetic rule strip on the positioner's carriage to read 0 on the curser line in the window on the LS base and forget about ever using a tape measure again. "The measure tap cut and scrap method" that is so frustrating will never plague you again! DO I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION YET? OK, SO WHAT WILL THIS COST YOU?
The Incra LS 25" will run you about $299 for the package or you can buy the LS Positioner on it's own for $200 and add your own fence, or you can get their fence systems for most table saws made today. (more info at www.incra.com. They also have some cool live demos.)
So there you have it! The little Ridgid saw that has machine shop quality cuts you only dream about for the cost of $750 including the blade, (PLEASE NOTE: I did not in any way modify or re-engineer the table saw itself and I don't recommend doing so for safety reasons. I just made it work better.)
Here are some pictures of this setup. By the way, I decided this setup deserves a nice set of birch cabinet doors for the storage area below. I will post the pictures when they're done.
Also, my sweetheart gave me the Incra Miter 1000SE for Christmas. These are just must have items for any table saw.
That looks like a healthy set up there. I have been scouting around for the incra system I will someday own it when I find a great price.
The microadjuster moves the fence in precise .001” increments for repeatable accuracy yes, the cut I made was to show how accurate the fence is from one end of the cut to the other end. If I set my cut for 4" on the scale it will read 4.0000 +/-.0001 on the caliper everytime, sorry my bad on the confusion.
I have their full size contractor saw TS3650, 10” compound miter saw, & a 6” jointer.
They all cut very accurate & perform really well!
For my miter saw I also have Kreg's Precision Track & Stop System which greatly improves it's accuracy & repeatably.