When it comes to purchasing table saws, I understand that it can be hard …I understand, because at one point in time, I was in your shoes, and didn’t know what I was looking for. I spent weeks, maybe even months studying table saws before I made my first purchase. Back then, they didn’t have any of these handy buying guides, but that is okay, it just meant I had to dig a little deeper. In this case, I’m going to save you the long hours of digging by offering you the ultimate buying guide for table saws …
Table Saws Compared
Different Types of Table Saws
When you walk into a woodshop, surely, you’re going to find some type of table saw sitting around. This is because it is a useful tool that is capable of making a variety of cuts for many different wood projects. Sure, you could get by without having one in your woodshop, but if you’re the type of person that wants to speed up the process, then a table saw is going to come in handy. After you purchase one, if you do a lot of wood working projects, you’ll find yourself using it with most of your projects.
Starting out, we’re going to introduce you to the different types of table saws. This way, you’ll be able to make an educated decision as to the type of table saw that would be suitable for you.
Table saws can be broken down into two separate categories, and within these categories, you’ll find that there are sub-types. We’ll get into that shortly, but right now, I want you to understand that most of the portable table saws are going to be easy to transport and light in weight, but may leave you wanting more power. On the other side, the table saws that have the most powerful are going to be hard to move around.
The least portable saws may require a couple of people to move it around the wood shop, while the portable ones can be carried by one person. Regardless of the category you choose from, whether it’s portable, or stationary, you’re going to find many to choose from. Just keep in mind that the more portable the saw is the less powerful and functional it is going to be, and vice versa.
Stationary Table Saws
Stationary table saws have been designed to stay in one place. Sure, you can move them around if you want, but you’ll probably need some help moving around. In this category, I’m going to discuss two sub-types of saws. You have contractor saws, and cabinet saws.
If you’re looking for the most powerful saw on the market, then that would be a cabinet saw. Each component has been designed to be robust and durable and are capable of heavy-duty use. Cabinet saws are made to last for many years and this is why many professional contractors are using them, as well as factory shops.
Cabinet saws get their name because their base is fully enclosed, like a cabinet. These type of saws are built using more steel and cast iron and have heavier gearing, and motors that are more powerful than the other types of saws. They run on 240V and are capable of producing between 3 to 5 HP. Really, I cannot think of anything a cabinet saw couldn’t cut through – pressure-treated wood, hardwood, plywood, pine, large material sheets, you name it.
These saws are capable of slicing through even the most thickest hardwood all day long. There are numerous features that set the cabinet saw apart from the rest. For starters, the motor is inside the cabinet base, and in return, this makes it a saw that is quieter than most. Plus, the enclosed base makes it so that the dust collection is easier.
Cabinet saws have tables that are flatter, their pulleys and bearings are heavier and they’re usually equipped with a fence system that is more reliable.
Take note that the weight of the cabinet saw can easily surpass 500 pounds, and this add to their stability. If you need to move the cabinet saw around on a routine basis, you could mount them to a mobile base.
Who is the Cabinet Saw Suitable for?
Cabinet saws are suitable for professional contractors, workshops, and schools that are looking for the highest quality results. Due to the fact that they are a bit on the bulky side, you should have a good amount of space to house them. Since they weigh up to 500 pounds, they’re hard to move around, making them the least portable type of table saw out there. So, once the saw is set up (unless you have one on a mobile base), you will probably want it to stay in the same place for quite some time.
I also want to mention that cabinet saws have a super long lifespan – they can last generations. In summary, a cabinet saw would be great for the most serious professional woodworker, or a factory.
At one point in time, contractor saws were the go-to saw for professionals – they feature large outboard induction motors as well as a belt drive. Initially, they were more portable than the full-size cabinet saws. As time passed, and their design changed, the units became heavier, weighing in as high as 300 pounds, and their motors became more powerful. Their outboard motors began to need longer belts, and in return, this increase the vibration that was produced.
They’re less expensive than the cabinet saw, and more powerful than the portable models you find on the market. Mind you, contractor table saws that have outboard motors are rare, so if you find one that has an outboard motor, it will be an older model.
Comparing the contractor table saw to portable table saws , the contractor saws are much more powerful and have large belt driven motors. Yes, they can weigh up to 300 pounds, so it’s obvious that they don’t belong in the portable category.
Since these saws aren’t aimed at being portable, you’ll find that they are very functional and robust. The table area is large and the fence will more than likely be much easier to use and more reliable – resulting in professional-grade cuts.
Who is the Contractor Saw Suitable for?
If a professional woodworker were to place a contractor saw in their workshop, then it certainly wouldn’t be out of place. Mind you, it isn’t just good for professionals – home woodworkers have also turned to contractor saws to use in their serious projects. If you’re looking for an affordable stationary table saw, this is it.
Hybrid Table Saws
These table saws are a lot like contractor saws, but they have a tendency to be more powerful, not to mention more functional. They are also capable of making more precise cuts, have a larger rip capacity, better fences, and much better dust collection.
Basically, long story short, a hybrid saw is like a contractor saw with some upgrades that are similar to the cabinet saw features, but they keep the hybrid table saw around the same price as the contractor saw.
Who is the Hybrid Saw Suitable for?
A hybrid saw would be suitable for both woodworkers and professional contractors. They offer a whole lot of power, usability, and functionality. They’re around the same reasonable price as the contract table saw, but they have upgraded features like the cabinet saw.
Portable Table Saws
Within the portable table saw category, you’re going to find some sub-types of saws, just like the stationary table saws. Online, you will come across various definition, but basically it boils down to two options – the jobsite and the bench top.
Bench Top Saws
If you’re looking for a compact table saw, then you’re going to want to take a look at some bench top saws. They are light in weight, designed to be as compact as a table saw can be, and they are very affordable. Mostly, they’re for users that are looking to get some light-duty wood work done in their workshop.
They do not have transport wheels or a stand, but bench top saws are still considered portable due to the fact that they are light in weight – they’re so light that almost anyone can carry them. The tip capacity is limited and their tables are much smaller than stationary saws. Still, if you would like to cut softer woods like pine or some plywood, and you don’t have any intentions on using full-sized material sheets, then the bench top saw will do just fine.
Who is the Bench Top Saw Suitable for?
The bench top table saw will be suitable for the DIY woodworker that operates in a workshop or garage. They’re small and light, so you can use them in limited space. They are also one of the cheapest table saws on the market.
Since they’re small in size, they’re not going to come in handy for working with material sheets that are full-size, and it will be a struggle to work with hard and thick woods.
So, if you are limited on money and space and you don’t plan on working with thick or hard woods, then the bench top saw would be a suitable choice for you.
Compact Table Saws
The compact table saw is a bit more than the bench top table saw. They have similar characteristics, like the lightweight construction and the direct drive universal motors, but they come equipped with additional features like table surfaces that are made of cast iron, and stands. Some compact table saws on the market can even look like full-size table saws, but the rip capacity and tables are a lot smaller.
Due to the name “jobsite saw,” you may have already guessed what they’re for – they are designed for withstanding life on the job. They are a giant leap forward from the bench top saws, and are more suitable than the bench top saw for some DIY woodworkers. Yet, they are still portable and most come with a foldable stand, and sometimes wheels, making them easier to move around.
They’re not as light in weight as the bench top saws. They’re designed to be able to produce accurate results and have nice features like riving knives and dust collection ports – these are features that tend to be missing from some of the bench top saws.
Jobsite saws have bigger rip capacities, more reliable fences, and have a tendency to be more functional.
Jobsite saws have direct drive motors, but they are more durable and powerful, making them great for heavy-duty usage.
Who is the Jobsite Saw Suitable for?
Jobsite saws are suitable for professionals, but this doesn’t mean the normal DIY woodworker can’t use them. They offer a good mixture of functionality and portability and as an additional bonus, they are more powerful than a bench top saw.
They’re also on the heavy side, but you get more functionality. They have the functionality and power that many professionals crave on the jobsite.
DIY woodworkers may also turn to the jobsite saw due to the extra functionality and power. Having better features like dust collection ports, extra power, and a better fence, is more than enough to turn the heads of woodworkers that aren’t quite ready for the stationery version just yet.
Table Saw Features
Have you already elected the type of saw you want? If so, it is now time to get down to the nitty gritty and choose a specific saw. Here is a look at the common features you should consider:
Fence Type – If you find a saw you like, and a good fence doesn’t come with it, you could get an upgraded one for it. The fence should be parallel with the blade.
Flat Top – For those cuts to be accurate, you will need a flat table.
Dust Collection – If you plan on using your saw inside, then make sure the saw you’re using has what is called a dust port. You can connect a dust collector or vacuum to the dust port.
Miter Gauge – While shopping for a table saw, look for a miter gauge that is accurate – one that has stops at 45 and 90 degrees would be great. The miter gauge should be parallel to the blade.
Wing Additions – For cabinet and contractor saws, it would be a good idea to check the outfeed tables and auxiliary side to see if they can be easily attached.
Power – While looking for a table saw, it is important that you know what you plan on cutting in the future. You need to make sure the saw is powerful enough to help with all of your projects.
Blade Factors – Think about how the blade will be changed. Do you plan on switching blades often? If so, then you will want the process to be simple. If you plan on making grooved cuts, make sure the table is capable of handling a dado blade.
Table Saw Features – As long as table saws are properly used with all of the guards in place, they are safe to use. However, if you’re looking for something with a bit more safety added to it, then go for a saw that has one of those automatic blade brakes. The automatic blade brakes is a good safety feature to have, because the blades will automatically stop when they have encountered skin.
Table Saw Features – Most of the table saws will allow you to tilt the blade to the left so that you can make nice angled cuts. Some also allow you to tilt the blade to the right, but this is all a matter of personal preference. Regardless of the side, adjusting it should be easy and straight forward.
Table Extensions – A table surface that is larger in size will allow you to work with bigger sheets of wood, not to mention a larger rip capacity. Many table saws have extensions on them, so you can slice through large boards.
On/Off Switch – Back in the day, I remember when table saws didn’t come with that on/off switch, but today, they do. In fact, table saws usually have an on/off switch that is easy to reach. These switches can normally be found at the front of the saw. The off button should be large so that it can be pushed with your hand, knee, or elbow. The easier it is for the user to turn the table saw off, the better.
Table Inserts – Table inserts, often referred to as throat plates, are thing pieces of wood, or metal, that have been mounted around the blade. They are level with the table surface. They exist in order to prevent small pieces of wood from falling inside.
Accessory Storage – Onboard storage comes in handy as you can store your tools and accessories that you plan on using while you’re working. Some table saw units have the capabilities of storing additional blades, fences, miter gauges, and other items.
Elevation and Tilt Wheels –There’s a blade elevation hand wheel that you can usually find on the front of the saw. This is there so that you can control the blades height, which will control the depth of the cut you will be making. If you have a blade that is 10-inches, then it should have about 3-5/8 inches of exposure at its maximum height – this will make it so that you can cut through a 4×4 in one pass.
The tilt hand wheel can normally be found on the side of the saw – this will allow the user to tilt the blade away from the fence – it can tilt up to 45 degrees. Take note that if you want a lot of control, then you would want to go for a professional cabinet saw, as they tend to combine tilt adjustment and elevation in one wheel – portable table saws usually aren’t going to give you as much control.
Table Saw Safety Tips
In almost any woodshop, you’re going to find a table saw of some type, and if there isn’t one, surely they plan on getting one. While it’s one of the most popular machines in the woodshop, it is also one of the most dangerous, as statistics show more injuries come from the table saw than any other power tool in the woodshop.
Mind you, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use the table saw correctly – as long as you take safety precautions, you can use the table saw in your shop every day and not withstand any injuries. Let me give you some safety tips that you as a woodworker should keep in mind before you start up your table saw…
Keep Your Area Clean
When you’re using a table saw, it is important that you keep the area surrounding you clean and free of extra sawdust. An area that is not clean can wreck havoc on your project and impair your ability to make safe cuts. Take a loose piece of stock as an example – if it touches the moving blade, it could become a projectile.
Wear Safety Equipment
By all means, don’t forget about the safety equipment. When you’re using power tools, regardless of what you’re doing, safety equipment is considered mandatory in my book. When you’re working with wood, use safety glasses, and wear appropriate clothing. Clothing that is loose fitting, jewelry and neckties are hazards that you should avoid wearing while operating a table saw. Also, you should invest in a good pair of ear plugs for when you’re using the table saw, and other loud power tools.
Use Stands When Appropriate
When you’re cutting a full sheet of plywood, or other forms of large pieces of stock, you should use a stand, or an outfeed table in order to help support the material. By using these, it will help you be able to make more stable cuts.
Make Sure the Blade Isn’t Engaged
Before you start using the saw, double check to make sure the blade is freely spinning and it isn’t engaged in the stock. Once you have turned the motor on, give it time to reach its full speed before you start to cut the wood.
Disconnect the Power before You Change the Blade
Before you choose to make internal adjustments to your table saw, or change your blade, it is important that you disconnect the power, because there have been cases where the power saw turned back on, while the user was working on the saw.
Never Reach Over the Blade
Just as the power should be disconnected before you change the blade, you should never reach over a moving blade. When the blade is still moving, don’t make any blade or fence adjustments. Before, disconnect the power and let the blade come to a full stop before making any adjustments or reaching over it.
Keep a Good Position
When you’re working at the table saw, make sure you maintain a solid stance and keep good balance. Don’t stand right in front of the blade either, because if a kickback occurs, and you’re right in front of the blade, it will kick back right into your body.
When you’re using a table saw, you need to use the proper zero-clearance blade inserts. If you’re not using a blade insert, a piece of wood could fall into the saw cabinet and sling out at you.
No matter who you are, when you’re using your table saw, don’t attempt a free-hand cut. Instead, in order to guide the stock, use a miter gauge or fence. Just don’t use the miter gauge and fence together, because the end grain of the piece of stock could end up binding against the fence.
Use a Push Stick
If the stock you’re working with has less than six inches of wood away from the blade, then you will want to use a stick in order to push the wood through the blade. This will help ensure that your fingers are kept safely away from the blade. You can build proper push sticks in the shop, or you can buy them at a woodworking supplier.
Check Stock for Objects
You never really know what’s in the wood you’re working with. So, before you start cutting at it, thoroughly check the board from top to bottom and make sure there are no foreign objects like a nail, screw, staple, or a loose knot on the wood. For example, imagine cutting a piece of wood that had a nail in it – once the nail hits the blade, it could come loose and become a dangerous projectile. You could get a metal detector specially designed for this type of thing – this is a great way for you to check your wood for foreign objects.
Read Those Instructions
Even if you have used a table saw before, it is important that you take time to read the instructions that came with it. If you have it hidden away in your drawer, dig it out and read it – familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s precautions and recommendations.
Keep the Saw Tuned Up
In order to ensure not only personal safety, but also the quality of your work, it would be a good idea to make sure you keep your saw adjusted and in good condition.
Tuning Your Table Saw
As I told you in the safety tips, tuning your table saw is important, and I realize that some of you may not know what I mean when I talk about tuning the table saw. Think about your vehicle – when it acts up, you know that it’s time for you to make some adjustments under the hood. Likewise, if you don’t keep up with your power tools and keep them in tune, the quality of the cuts aren’t going to be as good. Or worse, you could end up having a bad accident. In order to prevent this, and to help with your cutting performance, I am going to tell you how to keep your table saw in good shape …
I’m going to teach you how to tune up your table saw – from replacing that stock blade to making adjustments to the fence and reducing friction to protecting your fingers. These tips are great ways for you to maximize the performance of your saw.
Don’t Forget about Safety
Before you start to tune up your saw, or use any other tool, you need to think about safety first. Make sure you protect your ears with hearing protections, eyes with safety glasses, and breathing with a good respirator. And of course, unplug your tool before making any adjustments.
Replacing the Stock Blade
Most of the cuts you’ll be making with that table saw will more than likely be rip cuts. Rip cuts are made along the length of the wood, or with the grain of the wood. As a rule of the thumb, when you’re doing rip cuts, you’ll want to use a blade that has fewer teeth and that is why most table saws come equipped with a blade that doesn’t have many teeth.
Saw blades that have more teeth will usually produce crisper, cleaner cuts. Those blades that have fewer teeth will usually produce chippy, rougher cuts. For this reason, I personally swap out the stock blade that doesn’t have many teeth with a blade that as more teeth because I feel that the blade with more teeth makes better cuts.
One of the simplest ways for you to tune up that table saw without having to do much would be to upgrade that blade.
Parallel the Blade to the Miter Gauge Slot
Since you have changed out the blade, it’s time to tune up the table saw by making some adjustments. Lets start out by checking to make sure the blade is parallel to the miter gauge slot. If you have a blade that isn’t parallel, this can really put a damper on the cut – even worse, it could result in kickback.
You do know about kickback, right? Kickback happens when the workpiece stops moving forward through the blade, and instead, it is propelled in the opposite direction. In easier terminology, the piece will be coming at you, instead of going away from you. Not only will it be coming at you, it’ll be moving at a high rate of speed. For this reason, kickback is dangerous, so we need to try to avoid those.
There are numerous ways you can check to see if the blade is in the right position, but I’m going to tell you my favorite way.
Best Jobsite Table Saw
If you have decided that a job site table saw would be the best for you, then you’ll have to sort through the different stationary saws to find the one that you like the most. In this case, I have labeled the DeWalt DWE749IRS the best jobsite table saw and here’s why …
On Board Storage – The on board storage system comes in handy because it makes for easy access to the riving knife, fence, miter gage, Blade Guard Assembly, push stick, wrenches, and whatever else you need. It also has a cord wrap for when it’s not in use.
Rolling Stand – This one even has a rolling stand, making it easy for you to set up and breakdown. Don’t worry, despite this, it has amazing stability.
Narrow Rip Cuts – Due to the flip over ripping fence, narrow rip cuts are possible.
Adjustments – The rack and pinion telescoping fence system allows the user to make adjustments that are accurate and smooth.
Dust Collection – It has a dust collection port. You can connect this to a vacuum, making it easy to get the dust out. This table saw actually has two dust ports, making it even easier to collect that dust. One of the ports is located right above the blade guard, while the other is located under the table.
Power – This table saw has a 15 amp motor on it. If you compare this one with the other models, you’ll notice a speed increase of 4,800 RPM. It seems as if the higher blade speed has slightly improved the ripping quality. Needles to say, this table saw has a whole lot of power in it.
Mobile Stand – This is one of the best mobile stands I have found. It is very strong, and easy to set up.
Performance – This power saw has amazing performance, or I wouldn’t have labeled it the “best jobsite table saw.” The rack and pinion fence rails are responsible for the accuracy and performance of this saw. It is easy to adjust the fence and it will stay parallel to the blade.
Ripping Capacity – When it comes to the cut capacity on a job site table saw, this one right here is the leader in the industry. To b exact, it offers 32-1/2” rip capacity.
The Dewalt DWE7491RS is one of the best job site table saws I have ever used. The saw has a great amount of power, which is definitely something I look for in table saws, and as an extra bonus, it has the largest rip capacity currently on the market. The mobile stand is top of the line, and it is very well built and accurate. I noticed one minor concern and that had to do with the dust collection. It would have been great if Dewalt offers an effective way of having the dust port on the blade guard. Perhaps a hose package and accessory splitter would do the trick. My concern was the plastic parts that are on the fence that connects to the table. I feel as if those plastic parts could break if you were to remove the fence and toss it in the back of a truck.
Regardless of who you are, if you’re searching for a new job site table, then this one right here is the one to go for.
Top Cabinet Table Saw
If you’re searching for a top of the line cabinet saw, then I recommend the Grizzly G0690. Of course, before you put money into something like this, it would be a good idea to learn about it in order to make sure it’s worth the investment. There are many models currently available, but not all of them are worth looking into. Nowadays, table saws either do not fulfill the basic requirements, or they’re cheaply made. The Grizzly G0690 might just be the one you’re looking for, so I encourage you to take a moment and check it out …
In terms of smooth operation and powerful performance, this power saw should be at the top of your list. There are so many useful features on it, allowing you to be able to tackle almost any project without a whole lot of hassle. The 3hp motor is more than enough power to be able to handle those woodworking tasks.
Precision – Precision is a strong selling point of this cabinet table saw. Yes, there are some other models out there that may offer slightly better accuracy, but it’s not going to be that big of a difference. In other words, this machine is accurate enough to use in any type of wood working project.
Stability – One of the strongest points of this saw would be the stability. The table saw is made of cast iron, which is a very durable material. Also, instead of being on four legs, which puts a damper on stability, the base of the table saw is square, which makes it a very stable unit.
The Design – I personally love the design of this table saw. Like I said above, the base of the saw is made of cast iron, so you can rest with the satisfaction of knowing your table saw is going to last for many years to come, and if you take real good care of it, it’ll last even longer. On a side note, maintenance is important, especially with power tools like this. The more you keep it in good condition, the longer it’s going to last.
The Gliding Fence – Looking at the gliding fence, I can’t help but to notice how well it is made. There are many models out there that struggle with the T-glide fence and miter gauge because the manufacturer obviously doesn’t put much focus towards those elements. However, with this table saw, when it comes to precision and accuracy, it’s not going to let you down.
Safety – When it comes to table saws, or any power tools for that matter, you shouldn’t forget about safety. In this case, the safety is okay. It could have been better in my opinion, but this doesn’t mean it’s labeled unsafe. In fact, even for those that aren’t experts in wood working, it’s safe. However, before you use it, just make sure you read the manual and you know what you’re doing before you turn it on. Also, when it arrives, it’s going to require some assembly, so if you’re not an expert, you either need to thoroughly follow those directions, or get someone that knows about table saws to give you a helping hand.
Dust Collecting – This table saw happens to have a 4-inch port for collecting dust. You can take an industrial vacuum and connect it, and never have to worry about sawdust again. You don’t have to have one of those expensive vacuums either, an affordable one will work just fine.
If you’re looking for a good cabinet table saw, then I recommend the Grizzly G0690 for all of the above reasons. This model has it all – everything you need for tackling your projects is right here. I cannot say the price is cheap, but for a top of the line cabinet table saw, the price is unbeatable. The cast iron body makes it resistant to sudden bumps and the motor is powerful.
Best Budget-Friendly Portable Table Saw
SKIL 3410-02 10-Inch
When it comes to a table saw, if you plan on moving it around from one work place to the next, then portability and convenience are two crucial parts that you need to pay attention to when shopping for a table saw. Once you have decided it’s time to go out and buy one, you need to make sure you choose one that suits your requirements. There are so many different models on the market, but as I said before, only a portion of them are worth the money. Many people make the mistake of buying the first one they come across, only to find that they have made a big mistake. In order to avoid this, you need to gather as much information as possible so that you know exactly what to expect from the unit. In this particular section, I’m going to introduce you to one of the best budget-friendly portable table saws I can find – the Skil 3410-02 10-inch.
Build Quality – The table and fence are well made, so you’re not going to have any issues when it comes to cutting with this unit. It is fully capable of making precise measurements. Even if you have never used a table saw before, this one should be pretty easy for you.
Storage Options – Yes, this is a portable saw, but that doesn’t mean you should skip past those storage options. In this case, this table saw has good onboard storage, so you should be able to store the items you’ll need while doing your projects.
Safety – I really like how this one has a riving knife. It’s there in order to stop kickback from happening. This unit is also equipped with a handy blade guard, which increases the level of safety while you’re using the saw. The guard has a fast disconnect mechanism, so that you can attach or detach it in no time at all.
Heavy-Duty Steel – This benchtop table saw is made of heavy-duty steel. Yes, it is a tad bit heavier than most portable table saws, but it is also more durable. Many times, I feel that those portable table saws are too flimsy and light, making them less stable, but with this one, that is not the case, which is why I chose it.
Foldable Stand – I absolutely love the foldable stand. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t come with wheels, so carrying it around may be a problem if you cannot lift 67 pounds. However, if 67 pounds isn’t a challenge for you, this isn’t going to be an issue.
Size – This saw measures in at 28.9 x 13 x 20.9 inches. If you’re familiar with table saws and their sizes, you’ll automatically understand that this is one of the most compact table saws currently on the market. The surface is made of cast aluminum.
Motor – This table relies on a 15-amp motor, which is actually quite powerful – it puts off 5,000 RMP. The motor is pretty much capable of handling almost anything you toss its way.
This is a powerful table saw that is compact and portable. It is capable of taking part in all of those basic DIY woodworking projects. It’s suitable for beginners, but I know some experts that wouldn’t mind using it. I really like how the engine is mounted on heavy-duty steel and really, I believe this unit is a hidden gem and deserves more attention that it has.
Now that you know all about table saws and what to look for, you will be able to pick out the one that is the most suitable for you. Mind you, I introduced you to some good table saws, but it is up to you whether you choose them or not. If not, at least now you know what to look for.