Do you take woodwork seriously? If you read this table saw buying guide, you will understand what to look for when buying the best table saw.
The table saw is an essential aspect of any serious power tool collection, but as obvious as it might be that you need one, it’s not always so obvious which is best for your needs. There are a lot of options out there, and they are available for a wide range of prices so getting the right one is not only prudent for your woodworking but also your wallet.
That’s where this guide comes into play. In the proceeding paragraphs, we will tell you everything that you need to know about table saws so that you can make an informed purchasing decision. Enjoy our Table Saw Buying Guide!
Table of Contents
Table Saw Buying Guide
Why You Need A Table Saw
Strictly speaking, there are other tools out there that can accomplish some of the same things as a table saw. However, there is a repeatability and precision factor to the table saw that is difficult to replicate elsewhere, and while you might be able to say, break down sheet goods with a track saw, there is still a stability factor to the table saw that anyone who works regularly with wood is going to cherish.
I’ll put this rather surprising recommendation right out on the front street: if you are casual about your woodwork you probably don’t need a table saw and may even better without one. It’s a heavy-duty tool that takes up a lot of space, costs a lot of money, and is indeed somewhat dangerous when used without proper safety gear. If you are worried about safety when using a table saw, read over our table saw usage basics as well as some common woodworking safety tips.
However, if you work regularly with wood and value the ability to make easy bevel cuts as well as a wide variety of other useful techniques, the table saw is necessary.
Different Type of Table Saw
There are multiple types of table saws on the market that are all designed to meet the unique needs of different woodworkers. We will now take a look at some of the options you will encounter as you begin the shopping process to make sure that you buy the perfect table saw for you.
Benchtop Table Saws
The benchtop table saw is in many ways similar to a circular saw. It mounts to your benchtop, it is light (relative to the weight of most power tools) and therefore portable which are all useful qualities for the woodworker on the move.
Despite the portable and lightweight nature of this tool, it is also very accurate (even more so than the circular saw) and it can be quite effective.
The problem many people have with the benchtop table saw comes in the form of its limitations. Due to its lightweight nature, you won’t be able to rip larger pieces of wood or break down sheet material.
If you plan to use your table saw casually, the benchtop saw might be a good option, otherwise you should probably look at what else is out there.
Cabinet Table Saws
The cabinet saw is something of a powerhouse. If you know your table saws you are probably already well-aware of this option, and considering a budget for it.
They are expensive, but what they lack in affordability they more than makeup for in performance.
The power of a cabinet saw gives you more options. Wood of any size or hardness isn’t going to be a problem with the powerful motor that these models feature. If you need to cut through tougher materials this is a good go-to tool.
The same way that the benchtop table saw isn’t a great option for serious woodworkers, the cabinet table saw isn’t going to be a good option for the casual user. However, if you have the passion, the space, and the money it is a great way to invest in your woodworking.
Name is indicative of function when it comes to the contractor saw. This tool is made to be portable which is why it is a frequent choice for, you guessed it, contractors.
The contractor saw is not as powerful as a cabinet model but it certainly can be of use to the serious DIY that needs to bring their table to the job site.
On the other hand, if you aren’t extremely mobile with your woodworking this probably is not the right table saw for you.
Hybrid Table Saw
The hybrid offers a combination of qualities from both the cabinet saw and the contractor model. The trunnion construction of a typical hybrid unit is going to most resemble that of a contractor saw in that it is built to be mounted from the bottom of the table and also tends to be of a lighter construction.
The motor, on the other hand, is most reminiscent of a cabinet table saw.
What does this combination yield? A powerful tool that is available at a relatively affordable price. It is a good choice for those looking for a more lightweight unit that still utilizes a powerful motor.
Once you choose what type of table saw you want there are still a few decisions left to make. We will now examine several additional factors that you can expect to encounter as you go about choosing a table saw.
A table saw’s capacity to collect dust is a very important attribute. Excessive dust is bad for your equipment, and it can also make your workspace more difficult to operate around.
More importantly, however, it can also be detrimental to your health. Breathing in excessive dust has been linked to health risks that include cancer so this is definitely something that you want to avoid.
For this reason, a good table saw (particularly those, like the cabinet saw that are used exclusively indoors) should feature a port from which you will be able to hook up a dust collection system.
Make sure that if you plan to use your saw indoors, you have options that allow you to safely encounter as little dust as possible.
Fence and Meter Gauge
The fence and miter gauge features are both standard aspects of all table saws, but despite their ubiquitous nature, their quality can vary.
The miter gauge is what will hold your workpieces in place as you use your saw, so you will want it to be both sturdy and easily adjustable. The same is true of the fence. In fact, a low-quality fence can result in kickbacks that can be very dangerous so you want to be sure to make sure both features are of a high-quality.
The table saw is very obviously a heavy-duty piece of equipment. Safety is and should be a primary concern when dealing with any power tools, which is why safety features are so important as you consider what tool will be right for you.
Riving knives, antikickback pawls, and blade guards are all features that can save you some fingers so don’t discount their value.
As you can see there is a lot to consider, but now that you have a comprehensive understanding of the options you might find on a table saw, you are well equipped to make an informed buying decision. If you assess your needs and look for the best possible quality you won’t go wrong.