What to look for when buying a used table saw.

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mdawson2

New User
Mike
I have been looking to purchase a table saw for quite some time. I had always thought I would buy new but based on what I want and trying to keep the price down I think I need to go used. Buying used brings an entirely new set of questions though. While I have been around tools all my life I do not know the ins and outs of a table saw. I don't know what to check specifically. I won't buy a saw that I can't turn on, run, and test, but what kind of things should I check? What kind of questions should I ask the seller? Are there any red flags to look for?

Thanks for your responses.
 

Rick M

Rick
Corporate Member
I don't have enough experience with used saws to help much but to me the most important thing on a saw is the fence so unless you are willing to replace it, a quality fence would be a go/no-go.
 

Gotcha6

Dennis
Corporate Member
I can only advise based on a story my dad still tells (and I enjoy). If you see a man trading his mule, and he looks at the new mule's teeth, he's had a mule with mouth problems. If he looks at his hoofs, he's had a mule with hoof problems......
Moral of the story, we sometimes don't know what flaws to look for in an item (or animal) unless we've had bad experiences in that realm. Rick is correct in that the fence is a vital part of the equation. Other areas to check out are arbor shaft wobble, blade alignment to miter slot/fence, belt alignment, condition of blade adjustment mechanisms, condition of switch & cord, table wing alignment, proper motor size/type just to name a few. Almost all of these except the wobbly arbor shaft can be readily corrected by competent setup. That would be the only one I would shy away from on a used machine.
 

FlyingRon

Board of Directors, Webmaster
Ron
Staff member
Corporate Member
I agree with Dennis...while you can often adjust the mitre slot to blade parallelism, it can be a pain if the saw has been abused to the point of not being able to brought into a alignment. My first saw (a delta contractors saw) got screwed by the movers. I could never get it right again. Fences are usually fixable and if not replaceable.
 

gator

George
Corporate Member
One of the best things you can do is 'use the saw'. Take some boards with you when you go to look at it. Make several cuts, rip, crosscut, angle, bevel - all of the type cuts you would normally use. After you cut a 45 degree bevel can you easily bring the blade back to 90? Then look a the saw marks on the sides of the boards. Are they smooth or do they show signs of burning or 'waviness'? After ripping (one side and then the other), check the width at both ends of the board. If you routinely cut thick stock, then take some thick stock with you also to test. Just put it through it's paces.

George
 

mdawson2

New User
Mike
I don't have enough experience with used saws to help much but to me the most important thing on a saw is the fence so unless you are willing to replace it, a quality fence would be a go/no-go.
Thanks Rick. Having used both a Unisaw with the Biesemeyer as well as a cheap table top saw I can say that I will NOT be skimping on the fence! ;)
I can only advise based on a story my dad still tells (and I enjoy). If you see a man trading his mule, and he looks at the new mule's teeth, he's had a mule with mouth problems. If he looks at his hoofs, he's had a mule with hoof problems......
Moral of the story, we sometimes don't know what flaws to look for in an item (or animal) unless we've had bad experiences in that realm. Rick is correct in that the fence is a vital part of the equation. Other areas to check out are arbor shaft wobble, blade alignment to miter slot/fence, belt alignment, condition of blade adjustment mechanisms, condition of switch & cord, table wing alignment, proper motor size/type just to name a few. Almost all of these except the wobbly arbor shaft can be readily corrected by competent setup. That would be the only one I would shy away from on a used machine.
Thanks Dennis. What is the proper way to check for arbor shaft wobble? I've read up on how to set up a new saw so I'm fairly confident on how to check and deal with each of those items.
I agree with Dennis...while you can often adjust the mitre slot to blade parallelism, it can be a pain if the saw has been abused to the point of not being able to brought into a alignment. My first saw (a delta contractors saw) got screwed by the movers. I could never get it right again. Fences are usually fixable and if not replaceable.
Thanks Ron. I'm a bit OCD and I take care of my tools. If the saw showed any signs of abuse I wouldn't even consider it.
One of the best things you can do is 'use the saw'. Take some boards with you when you go to look at it. Make several cuts, rip, crosscut, angle, bevel - all of the type cuts you would normally use. After you cut a 45 degree bevel can you easily bring the blade back to 90? Then look a the saw marks on the sides of the boards. Are they smooth or do they show signs of burning or 'waviness'? After ripping (one side and then the other), check the width at both ends of the board. If you routinely cut thick stock, then take some thick stock with you also to test. Just put it through it's paces.

George
Thanks George. Great ideas here!
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Look on RDU CL, under tools, for a Rockwell Model 10 for $95. Enter Rockwell in search box. I have the original type stand that came with saw, if you want it - FREE.
 

anna_seth

New User
Anna
Choosing a second hand tool can mean savings on your end if you choose the right one and expense when you bought something that wouldn't last long. I personally look for the brand first before anything. I research on the quality of the brand and the reviews that people say about it. Dewalt, Bosch and Makita are my top picks for the brand. After that I ask/research on the model. Some oldies are still better than the new ones. The physical condition is your third concern. Look if there are rusts, bangs and broken parts on the exterior and lastly, do not forget to test the table saw before purchasing. If you hear any sound that isn't normal don't settle. It must be of good quality even if it's second hand after all you will still be paying for it. - Anne
 
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tarheelz

Dave
Corporate Member
Look for a pretty flat table with a noisy, spinny, sharp wheely thing sticking out of it. (Don't touch the spinning wheely thing. Just assume it's sharp.)

If it's marked "router table" or "jointer", then that's not what you want (even though those kind of match my description above too, I suppose.)
 

red f

New User
Blaine
Make sure the trunion isn't cracked. I discovered mine was cracked after having it for a while and it cost about $300 for the part. Also I had to completely disassemble the saw to replace it.

Check the arbor for wobble. Make sure the table is flat with a straight edge. Listen for excessive bearing noise (take the blade off, turn the saw on, place large screwdriver tip on bearing housing carefully, and handle against your ear carefully)
 
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