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I want to build a book shelf for my first project.  I would like to purchase my first saw, but I am not sure what to get.  I was looking at an orbital jig saw and a circular saw.  Not sure what I should get.  Any advice?

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Hi Amelia,

a jigsaw is a great tool if you want to do curvy cuts .. A circular saw is a good and quick way of cutting a lot of boards ..... I started with a quality handsaw like a Dewalt but it sound like you want something that is more powerful both types of saws that you mentioned can crosscut boards but the jigsaw has an added benefit of being capable of doing intricate designs... I am not that big a fan of the circular saw because they are heavy and kind of hard to control

But if you are thinking of getting a tablesaw you will not be disappointed but hat is only if you plan and taking woodworking to the next level....

At the end of the day everyone finds what is comfortable for them... From someone that might only use hand tools to the person that loves the machinery toys like tablesaw, routers, drill presses etc etc and the like anyway best of luck...

One thing that i can tell you is pice what your comfort level is at and then go from there

I'm going to suggest going an alternative route that has served me VERY well over the last few years ... I recommend that you consider a track saw. 

For many years I struggled with cutting plywood. I tried a table saw (not a very expensive one), a circular saw with a homemade plywood guide and none of it worked well. About six years ago I stumbled upon a track saw company named Eurekazone, and their track system completely changed my woodworking world. Their tracks are very strong and their track connectors have a dovetail-like channel that ensures they align every time. The saw base and the track edges provide VERY clean cuts on both sides. The track edge allows you to align exactly to the blade's cut edge.

Put a thick sheet of rigid foam on a table, put the plywood on top of that, and cut away.

I would suggest you consider purchasing the following to start:

  $179 -- EZ Smart EZ Ready Saw (I actually use the $220 Hitachi version)

  $132 -- EZ Smart Guide Rail Extension 64" (sold under Track Saw System Components)

  $ 28 -- EZ Smart Clamp - Set of 2 (sold under Track Saw System Accessories)

Total: $339 ... yeah its more than a circular saw or a jig saw, but with this setup and a Kreg Jig you can do amazing things with excellent precision.

If you want to cut longer lengths then add:

  $ 92 -- 48" of EZ Smart Rail Guide Extrusion by the foot (sold under Self Aligning Extrusion)

  $ 22 -- EZ Smart Anti-Chip Edge 64" Trio Pack (sold under Track Saw System Components)

  $ 30 -- EZ Smart Guide Rail Connectors - Outside Channel - set of 2 (sold under T S Components) 

If you want to cut smaller material they sell a EZ Smart Clamp System ($80) that allows you to attach the track to very small pieces of material - even 1x2's - very safely. 

Add to that an EZ Smart Square ($120) that acts sort of like a miter saw.

They even have a routing kit that works with a router (recommend a plunge router) to make precise rabbets, dadoes and grooves.

... though personally I'd recommend you put the Clamp System and Square money toward a decent sliding compound miter saw, which put together with the track(s) makes a very very powerful combination.

Now, if you do need to cut curves ... a decent jig saw is the thing you'll want.

By the way, I have nothing to do with the Eurekazone company. Just a very VERY happy customer who wanted an easier, safer, and more accurate way to cut plywood ... and found it.

 Hi, Amelia.

 Welcome to the community. I would first look at the price that you could afford. I then look at all the different kinds of jigsaws and circular saws on the market. Go up on sites like there is all kinds of makes and models of saws and read the reviews on each of the saw. Then I would asked myself what skill level would better to start with of the brand because there are many different brands to choose from like the Black and Decker brand, the craftsman, just to name a few. If you are just starting out in woodworking I would start with a circular saw and also get a jigsaw. The circular saw would help you get the sheet of plywood down to where you could handle it yourself. If you don't have anyone to help you I would also invest with some "C" clamps which could hold your wood down while you are cutting. I would also get eye protection and gloves for your hands. It is always best to use these safety items for your eyes and hands. I hope this would help you in your decision on what to buy.

Check out the Bosch Portable job-site 10" table saw.


Bosch GTS1031 10 in. Portable Jobsite Table Saw

Great machine for portability and limited space.

It's reasonably priced, compact, portable, easy to carry and takes up minimal space.

Very useful for those who are on the go, as well as those with limited floor space.

The machine is furnished with the basic accessories associated with a table saw.

It can be stored horizontal or vertical on either end.

This machine can be used on a floor, on a work bench, portable work stand, or fastened any stable platform, for easy machining.  

(Fastening and securing the machine on a stable platform can be accomplished using suitable clamps, or bolting in place, for safety reasons).

This machine has great reviews. 

This machine works great for me, when I don't need to use a large table saw.

For cutting-up sheet goods, a hand-held electric circular saw, using a straight-edge guide, is the way to go.

Don't attemp to cut large sheet goods on a table saw, without suitable extentions and supports.  There's a high risk of damage when machining a work piece, or more serious---injury to oneself or others.

Other very useful power tools for machining wood, are a good jig saw and a router.

There's also other portable & compact job site saws,  that one may want to look into.


Porter Cable


You'll find several reviews on the web. 

Review each and compare features and highlights of each.

Visit a dealer near your---peruse each unit.  Discussed the models and features with a knowledgeable sales person.  Ask them to point out the feature hightlights of the unit.

Perhaps the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Look over the units, and decide what you like most of each.

Select the unit and go for it.

As you progress in your wood working skills and expand, you can also upgrade to a larger saw,

if you have room for it and justify the costs.

A good quality jig saw and quality blades and a straight edge will suffice, until you can find and afford a table saw.

When purchasing a table saw, consider the OEM warranty and available servicing, 

As well as the sellers return policy---most are 30 days, some are up to 90 days.

TIP--- peruse the owners/operators manual, before making the purchase.

Also, consider purchasing a separate table saw handbook.

The manuals are pretty basic, and don't get into all the details of what a table saw is capabile of.

Everyone has their own particular saw that they like, some have circular saws, some jigsaws, and some have went a step farther a got a table saw. I have all of the above, but for my favorite go to saw I have a mini circular saw called a VersaCut by Rockwell . It is small enough to be able to use easily and fairly powerful, of course it does not have the cutting depth of a full sized circular saw but it will cut just about anything if used correctly, including metal, tile, plastic and wood of course. Do a little research on one of them it might fit you perfectly.



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