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Suggestions on Selecting Saws
1) Select a blade size
Saw blades are very expensive, the less saw blades you buy, the better off you will be. If you are planning on getting a miter saw, table saw, a radial arm saw, or some assemblage of these, pick a size and stay with it. While there are several sizes available, the usual sizes are 12″ and 10″. If you stick with the same size blade for all of your different types of saws, you’ll be able to use the same blades with all your saw. Over time, this will save you a lot of money.
2) Corded or cordless?
Cordless tool battery technology has made noteworthy advances over the last several years. Tools that you would typically not think of being cordless, such as circular saws and miter saws, now offering cordless models. If you are thinking about purchasing a cordless saw and you have, or may someday have, other cordless tools, consider staying with a single manufacturer/battery system — that way you can share batteries amongst your tools. Extra batteries are often extremely expensive — it is usually cheaper to get a new tool than to buy replacement batteries. If you purchase several tools from the same manufacturer all with swappable battery systems, you’ll have additional batteries at your disposal to finish your job, this can significantly increase the amount of work you can complete.
Before deciding to purchase a cordless saw, don’t forget that battery lifetime can limit the amount of work you can get done in a single work period. If you are a hobbyist or you don’t use your saw for long periods of time, a cordless saw may be the perfect solution. But if you are a contractor or someone who’ll be using your saw all day long, you may want to bypass cordless technology for tools that draw excessive amounts of power when cutting.
Cordless saws are also more costly to purchase and maintain. While your cordless saw may last for 10 or 20 years; but the batteries won’t. On top of the steeper cost up-front of a battery operated saw, you can plan on spending more money in the future too, perhaps repeatedly, as the batteries need to be replaced.
3) Read before you purchase
Saws are a big investment — they are costly and they get a lot of use in most workshops. Getting the right saw is important and it is also important to avoid purchasing a saw that doesn’t work for how you want to use it. Before buying any saw, check the web for opinions, rankings, and reviews for the kind of saw you are thinking about getting. If you get the chance to use a saw for a week or so, you’ll form an opinion about the saw. But it is nearly impossible to get the correct feel for a saw just by reading the specifications. When you check the internet for saw reviews and rankings, you’ll be getting the opinions of people who have worked with the saw and who have an informed opinion. When people have problems with their expensive new purchases, they are more than happy to vent and warn others. Let their bad luck save you from the same fate.
Before you get any type of large tool, take a close look at the user manual. You can discover a lot about how easy or hard a saw is to use by reading the manual. If it takes 20 steps and an iterative process to ensure that the table and blade are square, you can probably be sure that this will lead to frustration in your future. If you are considering a saw that has different cutting configurations, look at the manual to find out how much effort is required to change the cutting configuration. If the process is complicated and not easy to understand, it could be more trouble than it is worth and you will just not use these additional configurations. So even though the saw has some great features, if they are too much trouble to use, you will not use them. So why pay extra for them? You can run across a lot of these sorts of difficulties just buy reading the manual before you purchase it.