I am relatively new to woodworking and I've been looking for a used table saw on e-bay. I saw one that was a Craftsman 10" flex-drive table saw. Instead of a belt, it uses a flexible shaft from the motor to the blade. I am not familiar with the flex-drive system and was wondering if anyone could tell me what they know about this saw. Do you get the same power and rpm with it? Is the flexible shaft durable, or does it tend to wear out quickly? Does it operate smoothly? etc... I would appreciate any advice, like I said, I'm pretty new to woodworking.
Pedro, If you are going to buy used, go for the high end equipment. I bought used, a Delta Unisaw ($1500 new), Delta cabinet shaper ($1500 new), Delta planer ($1300 new), Delta drill press ($2700 new), and Delta turret arm saw ($1500 new) all for about $500 each. They all needed cleaning up and some minor repair but equipment like this is rebuildable and well worth the time spent. Look in the paper, high school shop closings, small wood working businesses going out of business, farm sales etc. Also, don't pass up three phase equipment. It usually goes for a lot less. Buy a good single phase to three phase converter (I bought mine used for $200).
I had a flex drive for about 18yrs, it worked fine the whole time, did everything I asked of it. I think the flex drive was better than a belt drive, with a caveat. The flex drive must be working properly. ***** only made the flex for a few years at most, they had alot of problems with it. My fence just wore out and couldn't in the end keep it in alignment, so I just decided to get rid of the whole thing and bought a unisaw.
I cannot speak about the flex drive but I owned a conventional Craftsman belt drive machine for about 25 years. It got me by but it certainly was not a high end machine. I saw an earlier post regarding Delta machinery but there are other excellent choices, particularly if you are serious about your future in woodworking.
Take a look at Grizzly. They have some very nice 3HP, multiple belt drive cabinet saws (models 1023...) that can be purchased for much less than the $1,500 Unisaw. A basic 1023S with motor cover, and rolling base can be bought in the $925 range - including shipping. I have owned one for two years and love it. If you want to add the long rails and table you can still get by for much less than the Unisaw.
Some people bad mouth Grizzly because of its off-shore origin. However, Grizzly is a US importer that maintains a distribution system, product support and stores in the US. Their industrial customers are the "who's - who" of US manufacturing and musical instrument industries. Well worth a look.