There were some good Sears Contractor Table Saws; there were some bad Sears saws. This post contains some advice when buying a used Sears Table Saw.
Background: I am a hobbyist/home owner that has owned my Sears Contractor Table saw for almost 40 years. I use my saw for a few days; then it sits until I use it next. I have cut not only wood, but plastic, aluminum and steel on my saw. I have even cut ceramic tiles on the saw – just need to use the correct blades for the material and take time when doing the cut.
The posted picture entitled “Sears/Craftsman 10” Table Saw Front View” is a picture of my saw from the saw manual. This saw is movable within a shop but is not easily moved from job site to site. For a frequently moved saw – I would recommend getting a job site saw. A contractor saw is movable – not luggable.
My contractor saw has a cast iron top, cast iron cradle which holds the blade, and the motor is on the back of the saw as shown in the Figure entitled “Sears/Craftsman 10” Table Saw Back View” (which was taken from the saw manual).
Used Sears Contractor Saw Recommendations
1. Blade Size: 10 or 12 inch blades are most useful in the home shop. There is a big selection of blades in 10” or 12” including dado blades.
2. Table Material: Buy cast iron - there were some aluminum tables but the aluminum models were lower priced and lower quality.
3. Do not buy shaft drive models – eventually the shaft brakes and parts are hard to find and expensive when found. “Friends do not let friends buy shaft drive table saws.”
4. Saw Operational Condition: Does the saw work. Does the blade go up and down; can the blade be tilted; does the motor work; does the arbor freely spin.
5. Table Condition: Surface rust on the cast iron top is ok but deep pits are not ok. The rust
on the cast iron tables will need to be cleaned up as part of normal maintenance. I use scotchbrite and some automotive chrome cleaner to remove the surface rust on my table saw. I recommend removing rust when the first sign of a brown haze appears on the table. After removing the rust, apply a couple of coats of wax. There are many YouTube heavy rust removal videos that might be useful.
6. Saw Prices: Watch for deals – The Den Of Tools has a YouTube video entitled “Stupid Prices on Craigslist, Table Saw Edition!” which discussed some excessive used table saw prices. Ebay also suffers from the same problem. When I bought my saw almost forty years ago – I paid just over $300 new. There is no reason to pay that much now for a 40 year old saw.
Make sure that everything comes with the saw such as the insert, miter gauge, or motor. When negotiating the deal – see what blades and accessories that might be included in the deal -- could sweeten the deal.
7. Other Manufacturers: There are some other manufacturers who could be worth looking at: Delta, Jet, and Powermatic had good contractor saws. When I was shopping for my saw, Delta had an even better saw than Sears (in the 70’s); Delta also had a price tag almost double the Sears. I would be leery of plastic body saws and saws with internal induction motors. Recently, Delta also had manufactured some junk – so do research.
Finally, whatever saw you buy -- get a copy of manual -- electronic copies are easy to find on the web. Contains instructions to align saw and exploded assembly diagrams for the saw.
Common Sear Contractor Table Saw Upgrades
The Sears Table can be improved. This can be done over time as budgets allow. The most common upgrades are:
1. Saw Blade. The saw blade is the most important item that determines the saw cut. I use a quality, high tooth count, combination blade on my saw. There are many brands that are good.
2. Fence. One of the weakest parts of the Sears Contractor saw is the fence (see the front view photograph for a picture of the fence that came on my saw).
The original fence did not stay parallel with the saw blade. In order to keep the fence parallel, I had to measure the distance from the blade to fence, then measure the distance to a miter slot at the front and the back of the saw.
I now have a long Vega fence but there are many vendors that make quality fences. DIYDaddy-o had a post about and several pictures of his recently purchased Sears Table Saw (post dated 04Apr2019). That fence might work – his fence can’t be as bad as my original fence.
3. Wheels – If you have a small shop, the saw needs to be mobile so it can be moved out of the way when not being used. The casters that I bought with my saw were attached to the legs. Those casters were hard to raise and lower. Now, my saw is now on a mobile base which works much better. I would check out the bases that the feet go up and down while the wheels are in a fixed position.
4. Table extensions -- replace sheet metal ones with cast iron. The problem with the sheet metal extensions is that thin material gets caught between the extension indentions and the fence.