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This Old Saw

This Old Saw
By Bob Filipczak, Online Editor: Woodworkers' Journal

We don't need to talk about woodworkers' frugal nature. It's well documented. But this conversation caught our attention because a simple question had such a wide diversity of answers: The question, concering purchasing a used table saw, concluded: "if I can find something used and save some money, I'll consider it seriously. I've been looking in the local papers, and I see a couple of used Unisaw's listed. My question is: how can I evaluate whether the saws are in good shape?"

The responses contained some great tips, but the predominant piece of advice was, "ask them why they are selling it." Now we know woodworkers are frugal, but it also seems like they are very, very cautious. We wonder what their investment portfolio looks like.

The first controversy came when some in the group wrote that you shouldn't buy old saws from professional shops because they are likely worn out and the pros are trying to get rid of them because they can't cut it anymore (sorry about that). A pro joined the discussion to disabuse them of these prejudices. He wrote:

"As a full-time woodworker, I buy and sell a lot of equipment. Usually it is a desire to change and almost never because the tool is worn out. Example: I bought a Delta Contractor's saw and put a Delta sliding table on it to use as a cross-cut saw. A few months later, I decided that an Inca Radial would do a better job. After a while, I decided that a Unisaw with an Excaliber table would be better. The tools that I sold were in excellent condition. Another thought: if you are counting on the tools for a living, you're going to take better care of them."

There were many who wrote that, since there is no guarantee, the used tool should be priced between 25-50% less than getting it new. Here are some other tips:

1. Check the table for excessive gouges
2. Ask if you can cut a few pieces of wood
3. Check the squareness of the fence
4. Check the runout on the blade and arbor

So, if you're going out shopping for used table saws, there was a strong recommendation that you get yourself a dial indicator and take that with you.

(c) 2002, Woodworkers Journal. All Rights Reserved.