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Buying Tools for beginner: Router, Router Table, Table Saw - Price Matrix Reference

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  • Aug 21st, 2011 2:22 am
[OP]
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Feb 9, 2009
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Buying Tools for beginner: Router, Router Table, Table Saw - Price Matrix Reference

Im slowly getting tools for woodworking / repair in general. I did a price matrix to compare the prices and see if some tools have a good rebate. Like the topic say It's for occasional use, I dont need the best of the best, but I dont want to buy something that will break and will need a higher quality in a year or 2.

Im planning to get a Router/Table and a table saw this summer (or later). Of course the price is not everything and I usually read tons of reviews, but I though I could share with peoples here, it's far from full proof, I used canadapost to see the prices history. (I also put some Sheds there, Im hoping to see price drop at the end of the season).

I will add other kind of tools from time to time, the idea is to gather data over a long period of time. I already have stuff like Mitre Saw, Circular Saw, Jig Saw, Compressor/Nailgun, Sanders so you wont see a matrix for it from me.

Update 28 May 2011:
Router, Router Table, Table Saw

Update 29 May 2011:
Joiner, Planer

Update 31: Fine Tuning, Online retailer URL
https://spreadsheets.google.com/spreads ... utput=html

I think I will aim for:
The Ridgid Router if I can get it at 159$ (strong reviews, lift option)
A Table at 79.99$ or something like that.
For the table saw, the CT one have really bad reviews, not sure at all about them.

Suggestion ?
17 replies
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Dec 26, 2005
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Hi,

I have a Mastercraft Maximum router and table... worked well for me while building closets, and doing the hardwood floors. No complaints. The router speed is good and it has soft-start which is pretty useful... could be a little more accurate in adjusting the plunge depth though. Router table is wide for bigger pieces, but really nothing special. Had to drill a bunch of holes into an adapter plate to get it to fit this router... was a pain, even though I used a drill press.

My table saw is a portable one (legs fold and you wheel it around like a wheelbarrel). Craftsman, about $300. I think as long as everything is straight on the table saw you'll just need a good blade. When shopping around, I also checked the Mastercrafts and they weren't anywhere as good as this one. If buying again, I would consider stationary, as I haven't moved it from the garage since I bought it.

bjl
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I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to tools but own my share of Ryobi and Mastercraft items for non-critical or seldom-used tools. A router is not one of those, however, and I would highly recommend that you move upscale a bit. For a router table, I wouldn't consider anything under 2 hp unless I never wanted to tackle hardwoods with larger bits (such as panel bits). The ideal set-up is to have two routers - one, a smaller, lower hp fixed-based unit when it's better to bring the tool to the workpiece (such as putting a bead on the side of a door; and the other to be (almost) permanently mounted under your table. My old Bosch plunge router (it's about 17 y.o.) is 2 3/4 hp, variable speed, soft-start, etc. - it's been used regularly over that life and I still turn to it in confidence that it's going to give me reliable performance.

When it comes to router tables, I wouldn't cheap out here either - you want a good-sized table with an adjustable and secure fence and a good hook-up for your shop vac. That MasterCraft table is way too cheaply made and small, IMO, but the Freud and BusyBee units look good - check out Lee Valley as well. I made my own way back when and, when I retire and return to woodworking a big way, I'll look at the Kreg unit at Lee Valley - or whatever is out on the market at the time (it's still a ways off).
[OP]
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Thanks for the advices. My brother own the Mastercraft Maximum Router, it work quite good with the MC table. If I was an heavy user I would probably go for the Bosch 1619EVS at 430$ but Im not. I dont want 2 routers really. I will use it once in a while. The Ridgid got really strong reviews, the nice thing also is that you can adjust the bit height with a key from the top (peoples say its so useful). It's 2HP and seem a good balance for me. Just not sure if it will get back in rebate soon. I read quite a lots on router bits, Lee Valley are among the best, the Busybeetools blue tornado seem quite good also from reviews (the previous version were not terrible). Price wise I will probably go with their 12 starter bits set.

For the Table, I'm not sure really. I like the Kreg one a lots from LV or BB, I saw it somewhere else too but its 229$ for the table top, it seem a bit expensive for me. But I know it will last very long. My goal is to find a good deal somewhere so I will see. (It bug me a bit also that it's far from me, dont have any local stores)

Table saw, my brother own a Mastercraft and after 7-9 years its all shaky and very bad. Still work but not terrible. I rather put an extra 150$ so It wont shake and will last. It seem I wont have choice to put 300$ on a Ridgid or DeWalt. Hopefully I get a good deal somewhere too. Maybe a CT liquidation would do (I got the Mitra Saw 12in for 49$).

The goal of my excel sheet is to see right away if they are good deals or now with the cheapest seen price. I dont mind paying 250$ if I see the DeWalt tablesaw by example. it just bug me if I would see it at that price and I have no idea of the regular deals and I pass on it. (Happened in the past). Also Sears, CT tend to vary rebate % a lot, the router/table combo was in big debate at 199$ for victoria day, it's now 159$. I also remember the local HD guy telling me like dewalt usually get 20% off, but once or sometime twice a year they might get 30%.

I need to add Drill Press also. Hopefully my excel sheet will get bigger and be handy.
Newbie
Sep 30, 2008
46 posts
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Have you considered spending a little more on a table saw and building your own router table extension?
You would only be looking at ~$50 for materials for your router table.

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[OP]
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IRSGNR wrote:
May 29th, 2011 4:14 pm
Have you considered spending a little more on a table saw and building your own router table extension?
You would only be looking at ~$50 for materials for your router table.
Very nice pictures, I actually did some search about it, but I couldn't find anything already "pre-made". Im not sure I trust myself to do something flat that fit perfectly :)

I wonder how much that would cost also vs buying them separate.

That ridgid table saw seem US only and is 550$. Couldnt find the delta after a quick search or anything under 700$. I will recheck a bit later.
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Psycho77 wrote:
May 29th, 2011 4:54 pm
Very nice pictures, I actually did some search about it, but I couldn't find anything already "pre-made". Im not sure I trust myself to do something flat that fit perfectly :)

I wonder how much that would cost also vs buying them separate.

That ridgid table saw seem US only and is 550$. Couldnt find the delta after a quick search or anything under 700$. I will recheck a bit later.

I think I saw a huge RIDGID table saw at HD a few months ago. Not sure of the price or model though.

bjl
What we do in life echoes in Eternity... and in Google cache.
Conquistador wrote:
Jul 1st, 2016 1:07 pm
It's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. :facepalm:
RFD discounts for Schluter products/
[OP]
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t3359 wrote:
May 29th, 2011 8:15 pm
I think I saw a huge RIDGID table saw at HD a few months ago. Not sure of the price or model though.

bjl

I will try to stop at HD tomorow if I have time (its on my way home). Im pretty sure I saw a bigger one not on the website but I believe it was 600$+

Updated my excel sheet to add Biscuit Joiner and planer.
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Psycho77 wrote:
May 30th, 2011 2:46 am
I will try to stop at HD tomorow if I have time (its on my way home). Im pretty sure I saw a bigger one not on the website but I believe it was 600$+

Updated my excel sheet to add Biscuit Joiner and planer.

Please don't even think of buying a cheap biscuit joiner - this is a tool that requires precision, a secure fence and guide locking system, and ease of adjustability for both biscuit size, cut height, and fence angle. If your biscuit grooves are not perfectly aligned (I'm talking about from the face of the board, not along the board's edge), whatever you're joining won't be well aligned. Trust me on this one and do some research here before you pull the trigger.

FWIW, my ~15 y.o. DeWalt (one of the better hobby-grade units IMO - it's virtually professional grade) has been a heavily used tool and I'm still on the original blade! In addition to DeWalt, you should consider looking at Lamello (considered to be the best but priced accordingly) or Freud.
Newbie
Nov 7, 2007
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I got myself a Ridgid 3650 saw when HD still carried it. Paid $599 for it, but ended up with $125 in gift certificates, plus another $100 discount because they took 3+ months to get my gift certificate. Busy Bee Tools still has it, but under a different brand, and its more expensive: http://www.busybeetools.com/products/TA ... P-CSA.html The 3650 has done the job QUITE well for me (I just finished building the kitchen cabinets for my house using it). The only upgrade you'll need to make it a great saw is a good blade. I got a FS Tools combo blade (~$110 after tax), which is an excellent all purpose blade. If you end up dealing with melamine, you'll need a good sharp 80T melamine blade. If you can afford it, I would stay away from contractor saws and go with a fixed-base saw. If you have an extra couple hundred, get yourself a good quality used cabinet saw. You'll never look back or need another saw in your life. When you get the saw, spend some time setting it up and making sure it is square.

I don't have a jointer yet, but I've made do with a router, hand planes, and various jigs. I do plan on buying a jointer one day though. I've the Ridgid planer, and for the money, it beats other planers. It also comes with reversible blades, and an extra set of blades. Got it for sale at HD for $299. I've an old Mastercraft plunge router. Not the greatest machine ever, but does the job well enough.

If I were in your position, I would buy most tools used. Table saws, jointers, and planers are the three biggest candidates for used tools, provided you get a good brand. Routers you need to be a bit more careful about, but provided you don't get one that's abused, it will last you a long time. If you plan on using your tools, I would also stay far away from Ryobi and Mastercraft. They're cheap tools, poorly built, and have next to no precision. Even after you spend hours setting them up, they're so poorly built that they'll shift within minutes of use.

As for a router table, I would buy the plate insert, but build the rest of the table as an attachment to the saw. Its an easy project, and its a good one to start yourself out with. The best part about shop projects is that you're really the only one who sees them, and you can always rebuild them if you want to.

One final word of advice - when starting out, only buy the tools you need. I don't own a plate/biscuit joiner. I've made do with other alternatives/jigs when needed. I would start out with a table saw and router. If you plan on using hardwood that isn't planed, you'll need the planer. You don't need a jointer right away, as you can buy wood that's already surfaced on two sides (bottom/side), or you can build a jig to straighten the board, and do the rest with the planer/table saw. Unless you take on a project needing a jointer, skip buying it until you need it. Invest the money into higher quality tools instead.
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Nov 26, 2003
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You’ve put a lot of work into your price matrix but I think you may be taking the wrong approach. Many of the better tools can be purchased from dedicated tool shops with better pricing (with a little haggling) and much more knowledgeable service/advice. This way you can get the best tool without having to play the games of the big retailers with sales, rebates etc.

Don’t forget the hand tools with all of your power tool research. Here a few basics that I use very often: Block plane, Jointer plane, Butt chisels, Rip saw, Japanese detail saw. None of them need be expensive, just kept sharp.

You might want to look here for reference:
http://www.normand.ca/Outillage/e-index.html
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/index.aspx

P.s. I hope you heed the advice given by others so far. I’ll try to summarize:
Don’t cheap out on the tools that you will use often or that require precision. Until you are more experienced, buy the fewest number of tools required to get the job done.
Jr. Member
Jul 20, 2007
191 posts
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I got the DeWalt DW745 tablesaw on a Home Depot pricematch for $280 plus tax. It was on sale at the time for $300 at Summit Tools here locally.

Great saw. Fence is on a rack/pinion and locks in square with no user intervention. I like it alot.
[OP]
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I stopped at HD today and I saw the R4512 at 599$ (Craftman carry the same model under a different SKU also in the US), very nice indeed but so expensive. (I like it very much dammit :) )
This bring me to the question, why would a 599$ table saw have a 13amp 3450rpm, when the "portables model" are 15amp 4000-5000rpm ? does it matter or it's just useless number ?

As for all the tips, some are very good, some doesnt fit me but hopefully fit other peoples - Always appreciated ! I must say I hate used stuff, I cannot put any trust in them usually, but for a bigger table saw I might do it. Most of the tools I want new (I get satisfaction from buying new). Also, Im a really light user right now, I dont see myself in any big projects. I might use some of these tools 1-3 times a year. So sometime even if its not high quality, it will be "enough". (I understand the need if you use them all the time).

Like for the biscuit joiner I have no need for now, I'm going to look up the other brands. I agree that I wont buy anything I don't need, my goal is to have prices handy when needed. Especially if there is a liquidation or big rebate, I want to know if the prices are good and if the tools are good. I like shopping and I always try to get the best deals possible, I'm not in a hurry to buy thing most of the time.

I know my matrix is a bit wrong, in a way that I cannot really match different tools, quality vs price like from dedicated shop or follow their rebates. Still, I have yet to find really good deals in any of them.
When I was looking for a circular saw, I saw the Milwaukee 6390-20 was 99$ at HD, at other dedicated shops that I looked 199$, 219$, 109$ (Mississauga hardware was not bad). But if I try to look for a circ. saw around 99$ in these stores, they have nothing. Especially that model was really well reviewed (even over some 200$ models).

I checked most of them online I think, actually I will probably go to Normand this weekend if I can. I'm going to build a list of online Canadian retailers / shop to put in my sheet to check from time to time:
http://www.jccayer.com/
http://www.mississaugahardware.com/
http://www.elitetools.ca/
http://www.normand.ca/Outillage/e-index.html
http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/index.aspx
http://www.busybeetools.com/
http://www.tegstools.com/
http://diytoolsca.com/
http://www.atlas-machinery.com/
http://store.thesawshop.com/
http://store.workshopsupply.com/

Thanks dynamiteroll, I added that in my sheet so If I see it around that price, I can pull the trigger :)
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Wow ... kudos to OP.

I've just bought our first family home and I also need to build up a tool set. I still don't even own a hammer or a screwdriver set!

Any brands people would recommend? I don't mind spending money if I know it'll last until I die ... seriously ... my dad has some tools that are older than me that still look and function like they did when he first bought them.
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