Tablesaw Engineering

I recently started a thread on a woodworking forum bemoaning the lack of good engineering on so many tablesaws out there.

To recap:

“Went for a bit of a tour of what sort of tablesaws were available out there. I haven’t covered the range by any stretch of the imagination, but I was quite surprised how …um…. average so many were.

I saw poor designs, shocking fences, ordinary guards, unwieldy splitters, poorly positioned power boxes (blocking components), and was rather uninspired. Some mitre gauges I saw I couldn’t believe existed – such crummy designs.

Overall, what the hell were the engineers / designers thinking???

I so wish the engineers that came up with the 2000 and all the decisions to optimise design while coping with the significant limitations imposed by working with folded steel had had a chance to have a crack at designing a decent saw table from the ground up. Perhaps that is the sort of thing that resulted in the SawStop. Pity I can’t afford one of them, because they at least look like they were designed properly. I’m sure there are other models out there as well that fit the bill, so I will have to ferret them out.

I mean, a cabinet saw is meant to be a major step up from a Triton WC2000, and I came away wondering why there are so many detractors of it. Ok, a solid top would be great, and a mitre slot an added bonus, but in terms of general functionality, is just the ability to angle the blade the only real gain?

Sure, I know that the solid (flat) top is significant etc etc, I mean, I do plan to get one (soon), but as I said at the start, I was rather dismayed just how many quite expensive table saws would still require me to turn a blind eye or accept compromises that I didn’t expect would be needed after moving up from a Triton.”

It did lead to a number of interesting comments and discussions, some of which directly reinforced my final choice of tablesaw.

It is perhaps then a little surprising (to me as well), that I ended up choosing a tablesaw that I had never actually seen, but such was the strength of argument. Forums are a great resource if you haven’t come across them before!

So I have been unpacking, and looking at the TS10L with a critical eye, and have thus far been very impressed. The build quality is superb, and as yet I haven’t been able to fault the machine (other than the instruction manual, but that is nothing new!) Even when it comes to placement of the switchbox, it doesn’t block any componentry and in fact as it has been placed on a corner which is not 90 degrees, you might expect them to shy away from that location – a bit complicated getting the angles right. Not so here, and that may seem such a minor thing to be impressed by, but it is small details like this that give you an idea that overall a lot of care and consideration has gone into the design and manufacture.

I still haven’t finished assembling the unit – been a bit busy with the shed itself, but I did manage to turn it on for a few seconds and cut some timber! This is not a commissioning of course – as is done in the Navy, you do tests and trials of a new ship before actually commissioning it into the fleet, so I am doing the same here! I think I am going to discover the pleasure of having a tablesaw again! I first found it when I got the Triton workcentre a number of years ago- a world of possibilities opened up, but over time I found that my enjoyment waned and I started not so much shying away from using the saw, but looking forward to other aspects of the project. Sizing the timber was not a stage I found myself enjoying anymore, and looked forward to having the timber cut ready for joining techniques on the router table, or prior to the saw – machining the raw stock.

In doing the couple of test cuts, I rediscovered something that I had forgotten existed – the pleasure of being able to accurately size timber for a project. Now this is not to criticise the Triton Workcentre, or its accuracy (which is still good for a well-tuned setup), but having a machine that you can still talk over while using it, that is HEAVY (yeah, contrary to popular belief, I like heavy machines!) and that has a good solid, flat top with real mitre slots actually tempts me to start new projects again.

I have been finding myself running the Incra 1000SE Mitre gauge up and down the slot just for the fact there is one that it fits, setting angles etc, looking forward to actually getting to use it! I haven’t done a rip as yet – still haven’t set up the rails or fence. (Haven’t even added the cast iron wings yet!) So as I stare into my crystal ball, I see a future with plenty of well cut sawdust approaching!

***Addendum*** I probably should add what annoys me most about poor engineering is in many cases there is only one of two things wrong.  Either a. ‘they’ have gone cheap, and taken a good (or at least reasonable) design and ruined it by using cheap, substandard materials when for a few cents more the right grade of steel/plastic/whatever would have resulted in a perfectly adequate machine (and not just tablesaws – this applies to everything manufactured).  Or b. (and the one that annoys me most) they have taken perfectly good material and ruined it by doing a substandard design.  Of course there is also c. substandard material with incompetent design which seems to be filling the shelves more and more recently.  There is also d. quality material coupled with inspired design which results in a product that is a pleasure to own and use.***

Shed Upgrade part XIX

It’s been a big ANZAC Day, and although I wasn’t doing the traditional ANZAC Day BBQ, I was doing plenty of “Shed Time”! I would have posted this earlier, but I was just a wee bit tired after about 9 hours solid work out there today. For some jobs it is quite a bit harder being only one person so it all takes that extra bit longer.

I had a bit of a deadline today – the weather has been fine for a couple of weeks, but according to the Bureau of Meteorology, it was meant to rain at 6pm or so, and so the pressure was on to get the shed to a watertight state.

Of course, they got it a bit wrong, and it started arriving by about 3pm, but it was initially light, and I was pretty much ready. Still, I was getting little puffs of water from the final few shots with the nailgun as I tacked the final wall panels into position!

So, the obligatory photos:

The weather started off perfectly for the day, and in fact the changing weather was perfect as well (if nothing else, providing the impetus to get the job progressed!) Once the heat had a chance to dry the roof off, I ran a length of aluminium tape along the ridgeline to seal the centreline of the roof (the tape has a sticky rubber backing and is a form of flashing. I have been using small squares of it to cover any holes in the walls and roof panels) I will still be using the ridge cap as seen here (although not yet secured), but this was to stop any water that got blown up under the cap.

Getting the side walls closed in was really good – the shed quickly looked a lot more finished when that job was done! It took a bit of work, getting the panels cut to the required length and angle, but I think it all came out pretty well.

A final shot looking out from the inside through the front wall. It raises the question of whether I would consider fitting windows at a later stage. Perhaps – the jury is out at this stage.

It’s really looking like a shed again, here with all the noggins in place, and some cross bracing for the front walls ready for the panels to be added. Note the sky is changing….. the rain is definitely on its way. Of course the sky has looked like that for much of the week with DSE doing a fuel reduction burnoff in the State’s forests – there has been an inversion layer over Melbourne for the week, trapping the smoke so each day the amount of smoke has been getting worse and worse. Hopefully with the change in weather that will all dissipate as well.

Light has gone, time has run out, and the rain has arrived. Good thing the shed was ready! There is still plenty to be done – all finishing jobs (and of course the minor matter of the door!) The capping has to be secured, guttering done, and why it turned out to be convenient that the rain arrived a little early – it gave me the first indications of how watertight the shed was. There is one leak under the wall – not unexpected, but I was kind of hoping it wouldn’t! Nothing a little sealant, and guttering won’t fix. Certainly the shed remained a lot drier than the earlier version!

The ‘door’. There have been plenty of different ideas provided by visitors to this site – thanks for them all! They included sliding doors, sliding aluminium doors, a vertically hinged door, and there is still the option of the traditionally hinged door. Not sure which way it will go in the end. I’m most tempted by a sliding door, but that will require some significant track which I haven’t found as yet. The cost may be prohibitive as well – hinges are a LOT cheaper!

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