Those who are serious about woodworking know full well that a table saw is a tool that will be relied on heavily in the workshop. There any many types of cut to be made on a table saw, Cross cuts, bevel cuts, compound cuts, rip cuts and more…… add in the functionality you can get from utilizing accessories, it becomes clear how much you can achieve with your table saw.
Obviously a table saw is much different from a standard saw. On a table saw the material is moved towards the blade guided by a fence making cuts as precise as possible and at any angle you desire.
This table saw buying guide includes what i think are the most important points when it comes to choosing a table saw. It will evolve over time and i will edit it periodically to include necessary information while trying to keep it an easy read. Lets begin.
Table Saw Blades
I am going to start with the blades since without them a table saw is useless. Typically, table saw blades are separated by the material used to make them, diameter, number of teeth, speed, arbor size, kerf size and brand. In most cases when shopping for a new table saw the blade size you will come across will likely be 10 or 12 inches. Some table saws utilize sizes as small as 5 inches and as large as 16 inches.
Typically the number of teeth on a blade will be between 24 and 80. The tips of the teeth are hardened these days since table saws are built to cut through other materials. If you have the money, diamoned tipped blades are probably best – cheaper options include carbide and carbon.
Something else to consider with your table saw blades is left and right tilt. There are advantages and disadvantages when it comes to which way the blade tilts – this is something that needs extra explanation so i will write an article for this specifically very soon.
The different types of table saws
You may have noticed, especially recently how popular portable table saws are. Jobsite and Compact table saws come with a stand which more often than not has wheels. Being able to wheel the table saw around and fold it up after finishing a job allows for excellent portability. Each model usually differs in terms of design but they all function in the same way.
As the name suggests ‘Bench top table saws’ require a solid work bench for support. They can still be considered portable however due to the fact they are light weight and small in size. You can carry a bench top table saw from location to location pretty easily.
Now we come to stationary table saws, these include cabinet, hybrid, and contractor saws. The most powerful, robust, and largest of those three is the cabinet saw. Contractor saws often cause confusion especially among people new to woodworking because often the term is used to describe job-site table saws which are the toughest in terms of construction, but are still miles away from being genuine contractor saw. Hybrid table saws also cause some confusion since they are similar to contractor saws and some of their features can be found on cabinet saws.
Table saw fence and miter gauge
The fence on a table saw is very much essential because it allows for excellent accuracy. The T-Square fence is the most common type featuring a robust design and quality precision. Rip cuts simply wouldn’t be possible without it.
I will write a separate guide on fences and miter gauges but what i will say about miter gauges is you will rely on them if you plan on making angled cuts or cross cuts.
The table saw motor
All tables saws have a motor (obviously) but they differ depending on the type of table saw it is. The smaller portable table saws have direct drive motors that function on 120V circuits producing up to 2bhp which is enough for cutting thinner sheet materials.
The more powerful (usually stationary) table saws have motors producing 3-5bhp, they rely on a belt drive to transfer power from motor to blade, and function on 240Volts. Since this subject can be explained in more detail i’ll write a separate guide at a later date.
Table Saw Safety Features
Something that has improved over time is safety with table saws. Safety features on a table saw are there for good reason – to help reduce the risk of serious injury. A table saw blade is super sharp and when spinning at thousands of RPM can make a mess of your hand should you get caught. Kick backs can also happen if the wood binds between blade and fence.
Splitters, riving knives and anti kick back pawls are all in place to minimize the chances of a kick back. Blade guards along with advanced safety systems are also important safety features that help keep your fingers where they belong.
Table Saw Accessories
There are a multitude of ways to turn your table saw into a woodworking beast! Nearly all reputable branded table saws have table extensions, dust collection systems, on-board storage, and the ability to tilt blades or raise them, all these things expand the functionality of the table saw making it simple to use.
Many table saw users upgrade their table saws by using better blades, getting dado blade sets, jigs, molding heads, cross cut sled, and using it as a router table. Care should be taken if you decide to customize your table saw in an unorthodox way. There are many guides on YouTube however to help you along the way.
Table saw buying guide summary
Hopefully I have just saved you hours of research online by writing this table saw buying guide, covering the points i think are most important.
At least i would hope you are now better armed with knowledge so you can pick out a table saw that suits you and your needs.