New to power tools — purchase recommendation


New User
Hi there! My name is Laura, and I’m new to this forum. I’ve been teaching myself to make sawdust over the course of the past three years, and I’ve mostly kept to hand tools. (It’s been a blast because my small budget meant I also had to teach myself how to turn dusty junk-store rust-buckets into beautiful, sharp, and functional tools.)

That said, I was given a rusty old craftsman 113, and the SPEED at which you can cut wood when aided by a little electricity blew my damn mind.

Something is shot on that old thing — it gave me a little zap a couple times last week (wire is frayed), and prospect of teaching myself anything about electricity is just… I’m not sure I’m ready to cross that threshold. I’ve unplugged it, and I think I’ve said my final goodbye.

This is a very long-winded way of saying that I’m looking for a table saw recommendation. My budget is sub-$400, and I’d love to get something that’ll stand the test of time (aka: that will hopefully not need to be upgraded as my skill set develops).

I’m also looking for a thickness planer, but this is secondary for now (unless theres a great one for a solid deal sooner than I find the right table saw for my needs).

Photos of two in-progress, hand-tool’d projects just for fun!

Thanks, y’all.


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Board of Directors, Development Director
Staff member
Corporate Member
Welcome to NCWW Laura, We are glad you found us. I am sure you will like it here!
NICE work on the tool tote and the bowl!
I think at "Sub-$400" and "stand the test of time" you will be looking at something used.
The problem is that it may require some "Sweat equity" and part of that could be electrical...

New saws at the $400 range tend to be starter saws that WILL be replaced.

You might save your $400, work with a member here and get some more life out of the Craftsman contractor saw. It could be as simple as you have a grounding problem. (missing or detached ground wire) Once you save $600 to $1000 you WILL find a life-time tool. There has been a lot of fine furniture made on those old saws!

Also keep checking back here and watch @Martin Roper and a few others who troll FB marketplace and Craigslist and find some FANTASTIC deals! but again it is buyer beware, since sometimes someone is getting rid of something and it is "not quite" in as good of shape as advertised...


Corporate Member
Welcome Laura ! you will like our group.

Getting a saw is highly determined on budget.

I look at table saws in 3 categories - Contractor type Mobile collapsible or semi mobile.
The cordless table saw fall in this category and are not recommended as a primary saw.
The others, like Rigid contractor or jobsite saw is a good general saw about 600-700 bucks now.
Hybrid saws are the next level and many are pretty good saws, usually with a 1.5-2 hp motor. You can buy these used for 300-1000 range, just depends on condition. These are what probably all of us wood workers owned at one time. Lots of brands Jet, Grizzly and others.

Cabinet saws are what most serious woodworkers use. Main reason is there is less transient vibration in the table which, translates to better more accurate/straighter cutting
If you get new, this cost 3500-6000- used 500-1500 range. The Unisaw by Delta is a classic cabinet saw and most on the market based their designs after this saw. The main advantage of this saw is parts are readily available. I currently own on of these.

If you can affod new and monet is a not an issue per se then, look at the saw stop usually 3500-4000 great saw with anti cut/injury safety feature.

My advice is if you buy used get someone who is familiar with saw to help inspect the condition. Hope that helps.


New User
Post some photos of your current saw, the 113 line in various forms spanned over 50 years. Given some photos and the full part number we might be able to help out further. It might just need a new power cord!

Also posting your general location may help locate someone nearby who might be able to help!

Mike Davis

Corporate Member
Hi Laura,

Welcome and compliments on your beautiful work.

It sounds like your saw needs new wiring, there are several here who have helped others in the past and are generally happy to help. A location will determine whether someone is close enough to travel. If not close then a little gasoline incentive may help. I would definitely go that route before buying something else. Maybe your saw is good enough to last a few years giving you time to save for a much better choice. Or that planer…


Corporate Member
Welcome! and nice projects. I’d like to see more of that tool tote.

As for tools, definitely look into getting your current saw wiring back in order.
Beyond that, patiently looking for deals on used equipment and a little TLC will help your $ go a long way.
I (as well as many others here) could go on at length on this subject.
Suffice it to say in my shop there are table saw, bandsaw, drill press, thickness planer, (2) full sized lathes and associated accessories.
Most I’ve spent at one time was a used lathe chuck (thanks Hank)
Some of these deals I found here, some on Craigslist and some from acquaintances who were upgrading.

As with your hand tool exploration, you can learn a lot getting these finds up to top working order.


Corporate Member
Laura, welcome to the forum. You have received some very sound advice so there is nothing I can add to what has already been said. I hope you feel encouraged to continue your woodworking journey, I have found it to be a very satisfying hobby; based on the pictures you shared you are already doing quality work!


Corporate Member
I don’t know where you are located, but I might know of a jobsite craftsman tablesaw that you might be able to have.

Michael Mathews

Corporate Member
Laura, welcome to our fun group! BTW, if you're not entirely sure you're completely finished with that 113, I am an Electrical Engineer and I've helped out some other with electrical issues. I can probably help you get that back up to safe working least electrically! As others have already mentioned, it sounds like you may have a ground issue or you just may need new wiring altogether! What area are you located in? If you're not too far from Chapel Hill, I'd be willing to stop by and help figure our the wiring issues.

Martin Roper

Senior User
Also keep checking back here and watch @Martin Roper and a few others who troll FB marketplace and Craigslist and find some FANTASTIC deals! but again it is buyer beware, since sometimes someone is getting rid of something and it is "not quite" in as good of shape as advertised...
There are a lot of folks out there who buy a set of woodworking tools thinking it will be a lifelong hobby, but then lose interest for whatever reason and decide to sell to make room in the garage for their latest interest. Then there are the DIY folks who buy a tool for a specific job and when they're finished sell the tools. Also, there are long-time WWers who have decided they just can't physically do it anymore.

I've bought the majority of my stuff from those three groups.

I have noticed that the number of ads on CL has declined significantly over the past year and there are fewer and fewer good deals on what's left. Maybe they're all using FB now.


Corporate Member
That looks like a great deal. Nice saw with really good fence, not sure if the Forest blade is included, but it’s worth over 100 by itself. I know you hear this all the time, but a good sharp blade can make a big difference.

Depending on what kind of fence & blade you have on the 113…you might consider buying that Delta, fix the 113 and sell it.


Senior User
I agree with the other comments. You might be able to "trade-up" and get a contractors saw a little better than what you have within your budget but you also might not. A riving knife (which the $400 saw above) apparently has is a desirable safety feature. It helps prevent kick back which is how some of us have gotten stitches from a table saw - potentially it can be worse than stitches. On your current saw, it is probably more practical to put on a splitter which would do something similar. It is probably very easy and cheap to eliminate your current electrical issue. If the motor runs, it is likely just the power cord which you note is frayed. A heavy duty extension cord is one way to get a suitable replacement.

Another idea you might want to look for on craigslist or facebook marketplace is a Ryobi 3100 or 3000. I used mine for about 10 years before getting a sawstop. It is a little bigger and more capable than the portable units and the 3100's selling price was within your budget. So used it should be pretty inexpensive. These are NOT the plastic bodied $100 Ryobi table saws. They are belt driven saws with over 3 inch rip capacity. I would not call it a forever saw, however. I eventually wore out the elevation threads in the casting. I could have put in a helicoil but decided just to upgrade to a SawStop instead - major expenditure. This would be another "bridge" to a hybrid or cabinet saw.

A contractors saw like you have is a forever saw for some. Dust collection will not normally be as good as the enclosed cabinet saw and they normally are 120V motors which limits power but I am OK with that, my SawStop is a 120V motor too. If your rip fence can routinely be moved into position for a rip and be parallel to the blade then the saw you have is about as good as you can do with your budget. But fixing it could allow you to get a "lunchbox" planner like I use. The less expensive ones would fit within your budget.

Last thought, I think a tracksaw is a very useful addition for most woodworkers if they work with large pieces of wood. Sheet goods is the normally cited application but large pieces of solid wood are better cut with a track saw in my opinion than on a table saw. I made a 10 foot long dining room table, for instance, with a solid cherry top. I "jointed" the edges fo the boards for glueup with my track saw. Worked great. I think track saws are also much safer than table saws. In my shop, my table saw does relatively small pieces of wood and my track saw cuts the big stuff. You can get a track saw with a $400 budget (including track) but it might be better to save up a bit more for even this tool. I use a DeWalt but a Makita would probably be better choice. These are mid-priced track saws. An Evolution or a Wen would be cheaper and allow you to have a very useful tool for $400 with enough track to rip a 8 foot sheet of plywood.


Senior User
I've owned the 113 saw, and currently use a Delta Contractor's saw, circia 1984. Have an identical saw that we used to take to job sites, after all it's called a contractor's saw. Also have a 110V Uni that is still where I unloaded it back in the early 2000's. It's still there because the contractor's saw has met my needs. For around 20+ years I built a ton of fixtures for local Y's using my CS. Give us a general location, and maybe one of us could help you get your 113 fixed.

bob vaughan

Bob Vaughan
Senior User
A photo of the saw (and even better, the motor plate) will go a long way in determining whether or not that saw is worth the effort. 113 means made by Emerson Electric. There were many different model of table saws made for Sears by Emerson.

Fixing faulty motor/switch wiring is about as simple an 'electrical' problem can get. Woodworking machines are mostly electrically run. Its no more complicated of a new learning experience than entry level woodworking.


Corporate Member
Be very wary about cheap power tools. They are expensive as you will want to upgrade.
Personally, I will not use most benchtop tools. They scare me. I also will not use a table saw without a real riving knife.
Woodworking in NOT cheap unfortunately, but we can be smart and buy once :)

FWIW, a Makita Track saw ( corded) on Amazon is under $400. Hard to beat for cutting sheet goods to size.

A lot more money, but SawStop just introduced a smaller site-size table saw. Expense, but so is losing a finger.

I have stationary jointer and planer, but have been moving back to hand tools. A $20 modified Stanly #4 scrub and a $40 Bailey #6 can do a lot of very fine work. I use my band saw more than my table saw. Learning to use my router for things I used to do on the TS.

Unless working outside, dust collection is critical and very expensive. But so is emphysema.


Corporate Member
Laura's location is available in her membership info. She is located in an area where there should be a ton of help.

Laura, your problem may be simple and not expensive to repair. This would give you time to find a saw or save more money to upgrade. If you find a used saw I would be very surprised if a member would not go with you to inspect it.


New User
Hi all. First, I am blown away by the kind, thoughtful, generous, and incredibly helpful responses from you all!

So I am eyeing this Delta Contractor Saw for sale that several of you mentioned, but I think I might be willing to take another look at the 113 after reading all of your advice. I went outside last night to check out the cord, and I realized something that may be a game changer. So the cord to the machine is pretty frayed, but I had no idea that my extension cord had been just about chewed to death (likely from some baby possums I didn't kick out in the late summer -- they were very cute, but they were not polite garage-guests). Exposed copper and everything! I changed it out to a brand new heavy duty cord, and I didn't feel any zaps. Granted, I was wearing my thickest rubber-sole boots just for a little extra peace of mind.

If I do go the fix-it route, I'm located in Alamance County, so I might take one of you up on the offer to help or field questions.

To get more specific than I was in the original post: With the budget I have now, my goal was to find an old machine in a condition that was good enough to work with now (mostly to push off the inevitable having to learn to service it). I'm not super interested in a brand new saw -- even with the holiday discounting, my hand-tool experience so far has fostered an affection for pre-loved tools from pre-plastic times.

The one other thing I forgot to mention was that my craftsman doesn't have a working fence. I can't conjure it up without going outside (and I'm technically "working" right now -- ha!), but there was a piece of it that was bent when I got it. So even if I were able to get it clamped down solidly, I can only cut straight until it hits the bent part.

Would the need to purchase a new fence play into any of your suggestions to keep what I got and get to learning? In the bright light of day, I'm feeling less intimidated, but I don't want to get too far down the road without doing a solid cost-benefit analysis.

Finally, I'm trying to learn about how to compare saws. The two I'm looking at seem like they're in the same "family" -- the Delta Contractor 36-485 and a Delta Contractor 36-725 that made it's way into my inbox this morning. I'm going to attach my notes (and questions) here.

When I look one saw next to another, I'm realizing I am not sure what it is I'm even comparing...

Again, I really appreciate all of this help. I feel like I'm already learning so much!


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