If a woodworker only plans to have one shop saw tool in his workshop, the tool will mostly probably be a table saw. Of course, other power tools are also very useful, but a table saw is a must-have tool. All the cuts you use a circular saw to do can also be done by a table saw. However, you cannot use other types of saws to do them nearly the accuracy. For example, if you need to get a straight cut, no saws can compete with a table saw.
Therefore, a table saw is really versatile and can do many jobs for. Although they are designed mainly for ripping wood, you also can use for miter cuts or crosscutting cuts. There is a fence on the saw for ripping and a miter gauge is also included for miter and crosscutting cuts.
Some people disagree that a table saw is able to deal with accurate crosscutting, but I don’t agree with them. Of course, it is much easier to use a radial arm saw or a miter saw to do accurate crosscutting. However, using a table saw to do accurate miter cuts is also true. They can also be used to make picture frames with expensive moldings. No all tool can meet this level of requirements.
If you need a table saw to do may miter cutting, a high quality gauge is needed and you may need to buy one separately. This is because all the table saws only come with a very simple miter gauge, but you can buy a much larger and more accurate miter gauge to replace the current one.
Like other power tools, table saws never stop evolving. The latest saws have been improved and offer more useful features than before. They are designed to be more accurate. The accuracy is very important, so you can use it to do any type of cabinet work.
However, before making a buying decision when a table saw catches your first eyesight, you really ask yourself what you want to get from a table saw. If the large rip capacity is not essential, you don’t need to pay for this feature. On the contrary, a small table saw cannot have the same rip capacity as a high dollar one. Therefore, knowing what you really want is very important.
If you are a little frustrated and don’t know which one to choose, you can take some time to our buying guide. These buying tips can give you some inspirations and help you know which type of table saws can meet your current needs.
Table Saw Buying Guide
For most woolworkers, a table saw is a must-have tool in their workshop. Of course, there are many types of different saws on the market. For example, some people think radial arm saws are more universal. However, this opinion has become irrelevant, because power miter saws (especially sliding miter saws) have taken the place of them. Therefore, radial arm saws are inevitable to die out. Well, we don’t discuss radial arm saws here. Generally, table saws are more universal.
The obvious advantage of a table saw is its size. The larger size makes it easy to cut sheet goods accurately. Typically, cutting a sheet of plywood can be easily done by a table saw. If you have used a circular saw to cut a sheet of plywood in half, you will find it is so difficult to get a straight cut, but a table saw can do it much easier. Besides using to cut materials, the main function of a table saw is ripping. If adjusted or used properly, a table saw can rip a 1/16 inch slice and all the slices still stay together off a hardwood board. The fence should be exactly parallel to its blade, or the blade will wobble. The table should be precise ground. To a table saw, the fence, table and the blade are very important.
Table Saw Types
On the market, there are many different types of table saws. We will talk about them one by one. And each type is designed for a special purpose.
Benchtop Table Saw – Benchtop Table saws are the smallest table saws and they are designed for building contractors to use on-site. Although they are compact, this doesn’t mean they are cheap. They are designed to provide accurate cuts. An obvious disadvantage is the size. Because of the short fence and small table caused by the small size, accurately ripping sheet goods become very difficult.
Portable Table Saw – When a benchtop saw is considered to be small and a building contractor needs a large table saw, a portable table saw is designed for this purpose. They tend to be a little larger than benchtop table saws, which can overcome the problems benchtop saws have. Generally, they will come with an stand/cart, making the movement much easier.
Cheap Table Saw – They have the same size as the benchtop or portable table saws. Due to their lower prices, they are perfect for homeowners who only use a saw not too often. Cheap Table Saws are mostly fixed saws with a stationary stand. Some models’ stands can be collapsible for easy storage. Compared with expensive table saws, their fences and tables are not well made. Therefore, they may not provide accurate cuts. However, don’t expect such a cheap model to perform the same as a higher cost table saw.
Contractor Table Saw – Contractor table saws are different form portable table saws. They are designed for using in a shop rather than using for a jobsite. Therefore, they have larger tables and stationary bases. Thanks to their larger sizes, they can cut larger pieces, so you can get more accurate cuts. For serious woodworkers, a contractor table saw is a must-have tool in their workshops.
Hybrid Table Saw – Hybrid table saws are in the middle between cabinet saws and contractor saws. They are ideal for those who need a cabinet table saw but cannot afford one. Compared with contractor tables saws, they have a larger table and fence, a larger motor and better bearings, which are helpful to provide more accuracy. Of course, they are smaller than cabinet table saws.
Cabinet Table Saw – Cabinet table saws are the most expensive table saws. They tend to be very large and have table extensions. Larger motors are also equipped with, and heavy-duty bearings are also included, which help to avoid vibration and wobble. They can be used to cut sheet goods extremely straight, and they can maximally reduce waste.
How to choose the best table saw?
If you are looking for the best table saw, you really need to know what you plan to use a table saw for. The intended use determines which type of table saws will be the perfect choice. If you are a contractor and need to take a saw to do many projects at some remote locations, a station table saw is obviously not a good choice. If you don’t have enough space to store a saw, a much larger table saw is also not a good choice.
When it comes to choosing the best table saw, there are other factors that may influence the accuracy, which is mainly determined by the following 3 things:
- How flat the table is
- The quality of the fence
- The adjustment of the blade arbor and motor
The main difference among different table saws is how easy and how accurate it can make a cut. High-end table saws feature a high quality fence that locks in place perfectly, is parallel to its blade and perpendicular to its fence rail. This is why we need to pay much for an expensive saw. Generally, low cost table saws cannot perform the same as high dollar saws. Choosing which type depends on your real needs.
The fence is very important to a table saw. As the most important part of a table saw, the quality can tell you more about the rest of the saw you plan to purchase. The fence should slide smoothly and accurately lock in place, or it will not provide you with more accurate cuts.
What the table is made of and how flat the table is also matter. This can determine how easily the workpiece can slide across the table, which also affects how accurate cuts are. The table is very important when you want to rip hardwood plywood.
When you choose a table saw, you also need to know the capacity. This means how large a rip a saw can be use d to make in sheet goods. Of course, if the capacity is large, you need to pay more for it.