table saw showdown
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Table Saw Showdown

Shopsmith Model 510 vs. Top Quality Contractor Saw

In this corner... A vintage Model 500 with 510 upgrade

Serial #7540 Manufactured in 1980—original motor

10” blade, 50” rip capacity, 22” X 40.5” table top

13.5 amp motor

Speed: 700 to 5200 rpm (variable)

Table size:
front to back: 22”
width: variable (up to 102” with extensions)
as pictured: 40.5”

And in this corner... A General International left-tilt contractor saw

10” blade, 29” rip capacity

15 amp motor

Speed: 2760 RPM

Table size:
front to back: 27”
width: 39.75"

Those of you who read woodworking magazines are aware that the GI has been picked as the top tool in various table saw tests.

Quality of Cut

General International (top)
Very good
Slight burning
minor, almost invisible tearout
Shopsmith (bottom)
No burning
No tearout

Difference: Variable speed

Anti-Kickback Splitting Device

General International
Type: splitter
Only gets close to the blade when
blade is raised to the max.
Requires two wrenches to remove the
three bolts that hold it in place.

Type: riving knife
ALWAYS remains close to the blade.

Easily removes with one thumbscrew.

Because the riving knife is close to the blade, it reduces the chance that the kerf will close up and cause the wood to kick back.

Dust Collection
The dust you see is the result of making identical cuts on the same piece of wood.

General International
Aftermarket Additions:
      Collection bag
      Excalibur blade guard
      Jet two stage (4” Hose)

Aftermarket Additions:

      Shop Vac (2 1/2” hose)

The Shopsmith collects dust much better than the contractor saw, even with the aftermarket upgrades. The Shopsmith collects dust incredibly better than the contractor saw as it came from the factory.

Rip Fence

General International
Minor deflection

No deflection

Reason: Shopsmith fence locks at both ends.

The Bottom Line

Both machines are sitting within a few feet of each in my shop, yet I usually find myself walking past the contractor saw and cutting wood on the Shopsmith. Why? For one thing, I hate cleaning up sawdust, and the Shopsmith dust a much better job of keeping things clean. Also, I often rip narrow strips, and the featherboards on the Shopsmith make that a much safer operation. I’m not going to get rid of my contractor saw, but to do it all over again I’d just have the Shopsmith and no other table saw.

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This page last updated 11/11/05
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