Almost all of us would agree that a table saw is the most used centerpiece of home or woodworking shops, thanks to its versatility and widespread use. However, the most intriguing question is, how do we select a table saw that best fits our budget, necessity, and convenience?
These questions become even more inevitable as the market is full of thousands of table saw each claiming to be the best. Doesn't it sound confusing?
Well, erase your confusion since we have prepared the most comprehensive table saw buying guide for you in today's write-up. Our discussion on the table includes its types, basic factors to focus on while purchasing power tools, accessories, safety features, and convenience.Hence, read-on the guideline if you plan to get the perfect table saw for your DIY, professional and construction site projects.
Table of Contents
- Factors to Consider When Buying a Table Saw
- Types of Table Saws
- Basic Functions
- Motor and Drive Configuration: Belt vs. Drive
- Other Features
- Table Saw Accessories
- Safety Features
Factors to Consider When Buying a Table Saw
Table saws are available in many types, variations, sizes and budgets. Hence, we have divided the buying guide for table saws into different sections. It will help you better understand the factors. Also, it will require less time and attention.
Types of Table Saws
Before we head to the leading buying guide, let's discuss the table's fundamental differences and functions saw types. It would help you understand their applications in different projects better.
Mini and Micro Table Saws
These table saws have truly fulfilled the hobbyists' dreams thanks to its compactness and budget-friendly pricing. Also, the mini table saws are the latest of all types of table saws. It can quickly make accurate cuts and comes in handy for portability.
The mini and micro table saws are lightweight yet stable for premiere precision at work.
Benchtop Table Saws
The benchtop table saws are like the mini table's immediate big brother saws with their larger size and enhanced cutting capacity. This saw is a one-step upgrade from the mini table saw in durability, size, and motor power.
It can accomplish the basic home repair works in a snap, although it lacks the power to cut through the large boards. What's more, you can use the benchtop table saw to cut metal and plastics with the installation of a high-quality blade.
Its most common uses are seen in crafting small furniture and smaller constructional projects.
Compact Table Saw
Although the compact table saws are larger and heavier than the benchtop style, it is still light enough for quick portability. Also, it supports larger project completion thanks to its enhanced power and stability.
The construction is sturdier and more rugged too. It is almost like a miniature version of the large and commercially used cabinet table saws. It supports small furniture building, medium to large DIY projects and medium-duty construction projects. The tradeoff is its expensiveness.
Jobsite Table Saws
As the name suggests, the Jobsite table saws are specially designed to meet the professionals and construction workers' demand in the workshop and construction sites. Its biggest advantage is the excellent portability despite being a sturdier and potent table saw type.
In fact, the Jobsite table saws are the best option for a go-anywhere function with its lightweight yet rugged design. You can use the job site saw to accomplish your homemade patio setup and complete the medium to large projects.
The saw comes with an integrated stand for ergonomic use. Also, it has remarkable versatility and design variations.
Contractor Table Saw
The contractor table saws are the real choice of professionals. It lacks portability and standstill in a permanent position. It features a large table and a powerful blade. These two help you in getting accurate and smoother cuts always.
You can use the contractor table saws for completing complex, large and high-demand woodworking and metal cutting jobs. Although made primarily for professional carpenters, DIYers can also use it with a few adjustments.
Hybrid Table Saw
The hybrid table saw got its name because it fills the gap between the enormous cabinet table and contractor table saws with perfection. You will love its low-vibrating motor with belt-drive feature and additional durability. These advantages come at an affordable cost too.
The downside of the hybrid table saw is that it compromises with the rip cutting capacity to offer you those benefits. However, professionals pick the hybrid table saw if they lack a large workshop's budget or space.
Cabinet Table Saw
These table saw types are the largest, heaviest and most powerful saw you will mostly find in the market. It offers a perfect combination of rip cutting capacity, smoothness, accuracy and versatility at work.
The cabinet table saw offers the most powerful motor to complete large projects and construction sites in a snap. In a commercial workshop, the cabinet table saw is the hub of all sorts of woodworking functions.
Sliding Table Saw
As the name suggests, the sliding table saw comes with a sliding table underneath the blade. It is folded and can be retrieved whenever necessary. It provides additional space to accommodate large wood blocks or boards to cut them swiftly.
The sliding table saw is commonly known as the European table saw too. So don't get confused with the name.
The primary functions that you must consider when getting a table saw are of various kinds. The most common features include the following.
The Cutting Depth and Blade Size
The table's blade is one of its essential aspects that largely controls the cutting accuracy, smoothness, and cutting depth. To start with, you will have to determine the blade size. The most standard blade size used for the table saw is 10". It has a cutting capacity of 3-1/2" at a 90° angle. However, some high-end blades might have 12" to 14" sizes too.
Another consideration for the blade size is the teeth per inch (TPI). Ideally, all table saw blade equips with 24 to 60 TPI. Few teeth are ideal for quick and rip cuts. On the contrary, 60 or more teeth for the blade is suitable for crosscuts. Also, it works slowly.
The blade types used in the table saw are determined by the material they are made to work on different materials and conditions. You will see mostly three types of table saw blade in terms of construction materials. These are-
- Steel blade:
The blade is made of regular steel. It has an optimal bending resistance and is ideal for DIY works mostly. You will see the steel blades in mini, benchtop and Jobsite table saws mostly.
- High-steel blade:
These blades are made of premium stainless steel with a little carbon mixture. It offers an added durability against bending. It is used in the professional table saws and can cut the most rugged materials at ease.
These blades facilitate standard tungsten carbide cover for excellent durability. Also, it is used to cut the hardest materials, including plastics and metals. It even has a non-abrasive coating to work fine for long working hours.
Rip Fence and Capacity
The rip fence of the table saw is mostly known as a fence only. It provides a cutting guide for the table saw. The cutting guide or bar runs across the entire table length from the top to the back. The cutting plane of the blade is positioned paralleled with the rip fence.
You will see a standard T-square fence in most table saws. It is sufficient for most average and non-professional users and supports good accuracy too. The rip cuts using the table saw is impossible without the rip fence.
The rip fence capacity is also an essential consideration for the table saw. Ideally, a professional table saw should have at least a 24" rip capacity. Anything below this rip capacity isn't good for professional uses.
Miter Gauge Capacity
When you want to perform the bevel cuts, you will have to push the material at a specific angle through the table saw blade. The miter gauge will hold the material I such a particular angle and guide it for such accurate cuts.
Some table saws offer only right or left-hand miter gauge, while some high-end table saws offer dual miter gauge capacity. It will tilt from minus 45° to plus 45° on the left and right sides of the blade. The miter gauge provides adjustments for miter and bevel angles.
The tabletop build refers to the table on which the blade operates for the top table saws. The table must be sturdily built and facilitate stability for cutting large materials. Most tabletop material is made of cast iron or aluminum.
It needs to be durable so that the blade can operate smoothly. Also, its evenness determines cutting accuracy. Thereby, make sure you get the tabletop with the premium build quality and stability for professional and large construction site projects.
The soft start of the motor will enhance its durability. What's more, the engine with a smooth start and the brushless feature ensures a lasting service from the table saw. When a table saw has a soft start, you get more control over the saw.
It further lessens the vibration of the tabletop and results in smoother and more accurate cutting results.
Speed and Control
The blade speed of the table saw is essential since it determines the cutting smoothness and accuracy. Ideally, a professional table saw should have 130fps consistently to 150fps speed. The RPM range can be anywhere from 3000RPM to 50,000RPM.
For DIY and homeowners, getting a table saw with 3000RPM to 4500RPM is suitable. You must obtain a table saw over 5000RPM speed, at least for professional use.
Also, look for speed control. Ideally, you must get a table saw with multiple blade speed adjustments. The speed control should be comfortable with a knob dial.
Physical Strength and Comfort Level
The physical strength of the table saw refers to the base construction. It should be made of cast iron aluminum or stainless steel. The aluminum base is lightweight and is still sturdy enough to last the heavy-duty jobs. The stainless steel base is the heaviest and most rugged of all. Similarly, it will last the longest period too.
Visibility and Dust Collection
The visibility means how clearly you can see the cutting material and blade of the table saw. Some modern manufacturers use LED light and porthole to accommodate the best visibility.
The dust collection using the porthole is another added feature. If your table saw lacks a dust collection porthole, it will soon transform the workplace into a messy area.
Corded or Cordless
There's nothing much to consider really when it comes to the power particulars of the table saw. The portable table saws are cordless or battery-powered. These have less power and are usable for home repairs and DIY works.
Nonetheless, the professional ones such as contractor and cabinet table saws are mostly corded electric table saw. It offers the maximum cutting capacity and is permanently positioned in the workshops.
Motor and Drive Configuration: Belt vs. Drive
As their name suggests, direct-drive motors are attached directly with the table saw blade. It allows the motor to transfer most of its energy to the table saw blade and decreases energy loss. So, the saw blade performs more efficiently. It needs less maintenance and inexpensive too.
The belt drive motors are attached with a belt to the table saw blade. The belt system is a pulley and V-system that connects the motor with the blade. It is less energy efficient as the belt losses some amount of power on the way.
Nonetheless, the belt drive motor is empowered with more energy and does a brilliant job for professional projects. However, the downside of belt-drive motors is that it is more expensive, and the belt wears out soon.
So, decide what you need, more power at more expense of less ability at a lesser cost.
We have already discussed essential factors to consider to buy the table saw of your requirement. However, there're some non-essential but essential features too for thoughts. These are-
An electric brake of the table saw contributes to the blade's overall cutting precision as it reverses the electricity. And the saw motor does it with the on and off switch. When you get the table saw, make sure that you reach the on/off switch conveniently.
It also should have a cover to protect it from damage and accidental turns.
People measure the table saw power with the volts and Amps. Higher amps and volts means the saw blade will cut fast and lower amps means slower cuts. You need to opt for 110V to 230V with multiple amperage adjustments when buying a contractor or job site table saw.
If the table saw has an additional storage slot, it will do a great favor for you. It will help you store extra gear during the cutting jobs. Thus carrying a wrench or vacuum will become a brisk task for you while working in outdoor locations.
The arbor size refers to the actual capacity of the table saw to accommodate a blade. Also, the arbor must be made of stainless steel or aluminum for durability. It is crucial because when the blade rotates, the arbor takes much of its toll.
Elevation and Tilt Wheels
When you work with the job site or large cabinet and contractor table saws, you should be able to elevate the height if need be. Also, for bevel cuts, you might want to adjust the tilting facility. Both the height elevation and tilting should be convenient with the wheel. It plays a key role in the overall ergonomics of the table saw.
Table Saw Accessories
The table saw accessories would make your cutting times comfortable. Also, it will help you in achieving greater accuracy during various cuts.
A dust chute is an additional part that will collect the dust creating during the sawing time. It doesn't come ready with all the table saw. You may want to buy one to keep the workplace clean.
A stand works as the base of the table saw. It should be sturdy enough to accommodate the extensive cutting power of the table saw blade. If it vibrates, the cutting accuracy won't be satisfactory.
It allows you to extend the table while working with the large wood blocks and plywood boards. It is mostly available with the workshop table saws and is foldable underneath the blade.
If you regularly make dado cuts get a dado blade with the table saw. When you use a dado blade, always follow the manufacturers' instructions and use a 'zero clearance insert' for accurate cuts.
The feather board actually holds the cutting material against the table saw fence. It prevents kickbacks and serves as a safety accessory. Although these are available in the market, you can make them using wood at home too.
You must focus on the safety features while operating with the table saw. It is essential to prevent injuries and accidents.
Riving Knife and Splitter
The riving knife moves up and down as it keeps the same distance from the blade. The splitter has a fixed position. The modern-day table saw equips with the riving knife mostly to ensure safe cutting with accuracy.
This safety feature is a must-have for the table saw. It reduces the kickback created from the cutting vibrations. Furthermore, the pawls safeguard you from the kickbacks.
Push Stick and Blade Guard
The blade guard covers the blade and prevents your finger from coming across the blade directly. On the contrary, the push stick helps you push the cutting material towards the blade while keeping your hands away. Both features ensure that your hand and finger remain safe from accidental cuts.
Table saws are so incredible, versatile, and widely used that almost all prominent and trustworthy power tool manufacturers have produced several models of them. Hence, most users get overwhelmed with surprising variations.
When you follow this detailed table saw buying guide, you should quickly understand which table saw best fits your necessity. Remember that you won't be able to get all the features in a single table saw no matter how much you spend on it.
Hence, it is recommended that you make the best adjustments between the budget, project requirements, and table saw features to maximize your productivity and safety with the table saw.