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A table saw will allow you to perform a great deal of different woodworking tasks, and is an essential tool for most home DIY projects as well as most contractor jobs.
There are literally dozens of different models one can select from, so finding the right model for your needs can be somewhat challenging.
To help out in your selection, we have created our website to act as a comprehensive buyer’s guide for table saws, including reviews, buying criteria, safety tips, technical discussion and more.
What is a Table saw?
A tablesaw is an essential woodworking tool that uses a circular saw blade to cut sections of wood into different sizes. The circular saw blade is activated by an electric motor, and rotates through the center of a cutting platform (table).
The platform or table, is the feature that provides the support for the material, most typically wood, being cut by the machine.
The blade may be lowered or raised to change the depth of the cut. The higher the blade of the saw is raised, the deeper the saw will cut into the wood or other material being cut. Lowering the blade will lessen the depth the saw will cut into the wood. Also, the angle of the cut may be controlled by adjusting the angle of the saw blade.
For example, if you need to cut an angled edge you can simply adjust the saw blade to the chosen angle.
Different blades can be affixed to the table saw to provide different cutting outcomes. Various jigs and attachments can be used to modify a table saw.
For example, it may be used as a jigsaw by simply attaching a jigsaw blade.
A fence is also a critical component with each saw. The fence provides a guide for the material being cut, ensuring a straight cut by the operator as long as the material is flush against the fence. A quality fence will ensure the best cut, and will minimize flex.
Types of Table Saws
There are four different types of tablesaws:
Each of the different types of saw perform different jobs or tasks, and may not be appropriate for every type of cutting situation.
Benchtop Table Saws (AKA Job-Site Tablesaws)
These benchtop table saws, like their name, are made to be set on top of a table or bench to support their operating. These saws are usually lighter in weight and easily portable, making them ideal for transporting from jobsite to jobsite.
The benchtop motor is direct drive, which simply means the motor drives the blade directly without the use of a belt or pulley system.
Benchtop tablesaws are the most inexpensive type, and are capable of performing the least amount of different cutting tasks of the three varieties.
With that said, the benchtop saw is perfect in the right situation.
For example, a benchtop saw will be an ideal table saw if you are an average homeowner or real estate investor performing minor home rehabilitation work.
Benchtops are the smallest of the four types, and have the least amount of cutting space. Obviously, if you are cutting large pieces of material or have a need for an overly deep cut or long cut, the benchtop tablesaw will not be the right choice of saw.
Contractor Table Saws
These contractor models are much heavier, and more durable than the benchtops.
The motor may be either direct drive or belt-driven.
These contractor saws are often the choice of homeowners, as they are adequately powered by standard home electrical circuits, and are relatively inexpensive models to purchase.
Cabinet Table Saws
These are heavy duty machines, made with high quality cast iron and steel providing for a heavy and durable tablesaw.
The cabinet saw will be more expensive than a benchtop or contractor saw, however will have a longer useful life and is capable of performing a wider variety of tasks.
Also because of the steel parts, the saw will operate with much less vibration and noise than a benchtop or contractor saw.
The cabinet tablesaw gets its name simply because the saw has a closed base that houses the motor.
This type is not the best choice for most homeowners, as the motor will usually require a heavy-duty circuit, 220V outlet, to power the machine.
Hybrid Table Saws
Often the hybrid tablesaw offers the best of both the worlds, providing the exceptional capabilities of high-end contractor or cabinet versions at a less expensive cost.
The hybrid saw will have an enclosed (cabinet) base that houses the motor, and tend to be heavier than the contractor versions but lighter than most cabinet tablesaws.
Many hybrid saws will feature a sliding table that provides improved cross-cutting ability.
Finally, hybrid tablesaws are belt-driven.
Table Saw Safety
Safety is a highly important consideration for one using any power tool. People are injured daily using saws due to the nature of the saws operation, and great precaution and attention must be applied when operating your saw. Whether you are an occasional homeowner user, or an experienced contractor, you simply cannot afford to cut corners when it comes to tablesaw safety.
First and foremost, wear safety goggles. Debris is going to necessarily fly from the machine, and protecting your eyes is of utmost importance.
Second, you need to make sure to use the proper blade for the type of cut and material being worked with.
Improper blades and material can create a blade jam, and cause the material to kickback at the operator.
In fact, kickback can occur at such a velocity that the object or material thrown from the machine can become embedded in a nearby wall.
The blade should be clean and sharp, and an available blade guard should be used at all times.
Do not take any chances, double-check to make sure you are using the right blade for the chosen material, and do not stand in a direct line between the blade and tablesaw fence when cutting.
Other Safety Features
Dust Extractor: A dust extractor will remove the sawdust that accumulates underneath the cutting blade, thereby reducing the risk of explosion and inhalation of dust while using the table saw.
Automatic Braking: The blade is blocked immediately if and when an electrical current change is detected.
The blade is monitored during use by a small electrical charge, and if an electrical current change is sensed, by contacting the blade with a body part for example, the blade will stop immediately.
Here’s a bit more help for those visual learners of us: