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My shop space is very small only 12x16.  My concern is not breaking down large sheet stock.  Most places like HomeDepot and Lowes will do that for you these days for free.  My concern is making good looking face frames and such.  I love Shaker style furniture and while my skills are at novice level now someday I may want to tackle more.  Any suggestions or ideas.???    

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Lumber can be cut using hand hand tools.

A cross-cut saw, a rip saw, and a back saw.

Cut the workpiece a tad oversize and "plane" it smooth.

What did wood workers do before table saws were introduced?

What did wood workers do before the internet?

Go to the library

Read books

makes sketches/drawings

and just make stuff.

Visit furniture stores, and the like, get some ideas.

I did some woodwork, eons ago, with a guy who had a one bedroom apartment.

He had a woodworkers tool box, with the basic essential wood working tools,

and he stored them in his closet.

He was very crafty and made some nice things.

His finished products were very good.

He was skilled at making good joints, and only used "hand tools".

(He did possess an electric drill, for boring holes in wood).

He learned to used hand tools before investing in power tools.

I learned the skill, from him, to cut a 4x4 with a "perfect 90 degree" end, and all done with a handsaw.

Also ripping a board with a handsaw---and it was straight.

(cut the workpiece a tad oversize and plane it to make it smooth and exact).

Just a thought, but Ridgid makes a ver nice portable job site saw that doesn't take up much space and can be rolled out of the way or under something.

For making face frames and such a good 10'' sliding miter saw would be a great addition to your shop, they create alot of dust but you can make square repetative cuts with it. when not in use you can store it on a shelf out of the way. Like Justin said a good fold up contrator saw would also be a great option as compared to a stationary saw.



I saw the Festool rep at Rockler the other day and asked him this same question ... and of course he said "yes" and he sees this "all the time." 

Tonight I was trying to straighten out a drill press jig on my table saw ... and it was very frustrating.  I had a bow in the jig ... about 1/16 th over 4 ft long, and I did all I could to remove it using my table saw fence and straight edges.  I improved it to under 1/32, but I wanted it straight -- something very easy to accomplish with a nice track saw like the Festool has.


I think that question can only be answered by "how accurate do you want to be?  How accurate is your table saw?

As a remodeler turned woodworker I face the limitations of contractor tools every time I walk in my shop.  Accuracy and quality cost money.  Speed also costs money, as does repeatability.

The Festool track saw system is a great tool; however,

$600 is "overkill" for a beginner, DYI, or someone on a limited budget.

They you need the extension, another $200, to cut anything over 3ft---

and the folding table---another $500!

You're in it for a chit load of money.

The primary factor with the Festool saw cutting performance, is the ''sawblade".

Can the Festool track-saw replace a table saw?

I don't believe so. 

A "zero-clearance" 4ft straight edge, proper clamping, adn coupled with a circular saw and a suitable saw blade, will accomplish the same results.


Straightedge from Rockler

Power tool guide (one included with system) rides in the straight edge for total control when cutting or routing.

obtain the optional adaptor kit, mount the circular saw to the auxiliary base---

the bracket rides in the track---

very simple and economical---

less then $100.

Take this tool anywhere---(well almost).

Buy a second adaptor kit for a router---

make rabbets, dado's, grooves, dressing edges, and the like.

Simple, easy to operate and economical.

43476 - Dado Jig for Low Profile Straight Edge Clamp System (Sold Separately)

Even a person in a wheel-chair can work wood, using the Rockler product.

Well I decided to get a compact table saw.  Most likely the Dewalt.  I am also going to get a good straight edge with saw and router adapters.  

Hi Rick, probably a good move. My basement shop isn't much larger and I've got everything mobile, foldable and storable. Gets frustrating sometimes when I need to move 2 or 3 machines to get to the one I want to use or move 4 or 5 to find room to glue up but I'm still happy as a clam with it. Track saw is a good tool but when working on smaller, narrow stuff it falls far short of a small table saw. I use the Ridgid 4510 in the basement shop. It folds up in seconds and has about a 2x3' footprint when folded and it will take a 3/4" dado stack which I don't think the small deWalt will. May want to check before you pick up a deWalt. I've been joining my face frames with half lap joints so the dado was important to me.

Good Luck
Rick said:

Well I decided to get a compact table saw.  Most likely the Dewalt.  I am also going to get a good straight edge with saw and router adapters.  

I would say your choice would depend on what type of material you will be cutting.  If you don't plan on working in hardwoods, and you aren't going to be fussy about how square the cut is, then a portable TS might serve you well.

I have a very small shop as well, about the same size as yours. My contractor saw is very large for the space - which makes it a pain to work around  That said, I don't think I could live without it.  Unfortunately, my saw seems to break down more often that it functions lately and so I have some experience with having to work without a TS. When I need to rip lumber and the TS is down,  I usually turn to the band saw.   I have several other options at my disposal, but the band saw does the best job of filling in for the table saw.  My band saw is not the best - in fact, it might be the worst 14" band saw that was ever sold - but I outfitted it with the Kreg band saw fence and a Wood slicer blade, and now it cuts as true as my table saw.  

So, think about the material you will want to cut now, and in to the future.  I have been disappointed in the past with portable table saws. I have borrowed those machines before, and I couldn't get a high end Makita to cut through 8/4 hard maple without burning the life out of the workpiece (and the motor stopping several times).  Worse, I tried all afternoon to get a perfectly square cut and no amount of tinkering would make it happen.  There was no making the fence perfectly square to the miter slot, nor could I get the blade perfectly square to the miter slot.  Sloppy all over.   A cut that isn't square just frustrates me to death. 

Consider a band saw.  Even an older used one can be made great with the right upgrades.  Although, John makes a good point as well - nice to use a dado stack on the contractor saws...I don't think it is possible on a portable saw, the arbor isn't long enough from what I saw working with one.  Sorry - not sure if this comment helps or just confuses the situation more :)

I've cut lots of sheet stock using a homemade saw guide. Lots of plans out there to make your own; basically attach a square edge of plywood to a piece of hardboard, trim it with your saw, and then clamp it to your workpiece and use it as a guide. With a good circular saw, and a good blade, you can make very accurate cuts. I have two; one for cuts up to 48", and another for 96". Even though I have a bench saw, I find I still haul those out regularly.

Let me add a couple caveats to Derek's comments ...

I too have made many a cut using home made guides, and by the time I clamped my shooter board to a door which needed trimming, I never had enough blade depth to make a clean cut.  A nice guided track would have saved me so much time and improved my quality.

My Makita circular saw is basically a contractor's tool.  One little bump and the base is no longer parallel to the blade.  Hard to set the blade perpendicular to the base ... and have it stay put.  Hard to keep the base guided against the straight edge for the whole cut.  Most circular saws were not made for woodworking.

Guiding a quality saw on a nice track would sure have made for better and more enjoyable work. 

Derek Gould said:

I've cut lots of sheet stock using a homemade saw guide. 

With a good circular saw, and a good blade, you can make very accurate cuts.

Rick,  being very new to working with wood, I kept my tools limited to hand tools, the circular saw and miter saw.  I was intimidated by the tablesaw but every instructional video or book I read to increase my skills and knowledge always pointed to the tablesaw.  I purchased one last year and a family member as well as members here gave me some safety pointers and now feel it is the most important tool in my shop.   Can you get by without it?  Sure, but if you can find the space I doubt that you would regret it.

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