Table saws have long been a popular feature in many home and professional workshops. Portable models sacrifice little in terms of capacity but can be taken to the job site or moved around the home.
Given their convenience, it’s no surprise that a wide variety of tools are available. While having many choices is good, it can make shopping a bit confusing. Learn about the technical aspects of these versatile tools and take a closer look at some of the best portable table saws currently on the market.
What is a table saw used for? Here’s the process:
After taking a board through the power jointer (to flatten & square up a face and edge) and thickness planer (to obtain a uniform thickness), the last machine that I use to square up my boards is a table saw. First I run the board lengthwise between the fence and saw blade to “rip” the board to the desired width. The jointed edge rides along the fence. Thus, the rip cut gives a uniform width to the whole board. Then I can make crosscuts on the table saw using a miter gauge or shop-made crosscut sled to cut the board to it’s final length.
What are the different types of table saws?
Table saws are categorized based on their design, power requirements, and capabilities. Here we will be dividing the different types of table saws into two main categories: Portable Table Saws and Stationary Table Saws.
Portable table saw
Portable table saws, as the name suggests, are portable power tools. These saws are constructed using lightweight materials, and they are mostly powered using 15amp, 120 volts motors.
Now, let’s take a look at the different types of portable table saws.
Bench table saw
Bench table saws are compact and many times are used by DIYers, beginners, and hobbyists.
These types of table saws do not take much space as they are designed to be fitted in a home garage or workshop. They are also light as they are made of lightweight weight materials. Among all this, the most distinguishing feature of these table saws is that they are usually mounted and often bolted to the workbench.
In addition to this, bench table saws are perfect for cutting materials like plywood, softwood, and plastic. When shopping online for table saws it is easy to confuse them with full-size table saws, to prevent this from happening, we advise you to always check their rip capacity, which is usually around 18 inches for bench table saws.
Jobsite table saw
This type of table saw is common with contractors, and for this reason, it can also be called a contractor’s table saw. Like the bench table saw, these are also portable but are far more durable and power-efficient. These saws can deliver more precise and deeper cuts than their bench counterparts.
Additionally, they feature foldable stands or legs and even wheels that make moving them around the workshop or job site easy.
Stationary table saw
Stationary table saws pack more robust accessories; they are bigger than portable table saws and are generally more suited for detailed professional cuts and jobs.
In addition to this, saws in this category have tables measuring 27 x 20 inches. It also makes sense to notify you that they are driven and powered by Belt drive motors. Here are the two popular types of stationary table saws.
Hybrid table saw
From the name, you should know that this table saw is a combination of two different types. In this case, we have the combination of the cabinet table saw and the portable table saw.
Knowing this, it’s safe to say that the hybrid table saw is a combination of the advantages of job site table saws and that of cabinet table saws into one durable tool. These table saws are designed to look and function like cabinet table saws, but they weigh less.
Cabinet table saw
Cabinet table saws are very popular, and the reason for this is due to the amount of power they pack and their ability to cut through the thickest wood logs.
Table saws in this category are powered by 220-volt motors. These table saws are used in professional jobs. They also have their motor enclosed in the cabinet, which is below the surface of the extendable cast iron table. The length of the table here is more than enough to support large workpieces.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Table Saws
Some fixed table saws have a very large working platform, but portable models must be smaller. However, considerable variation exists in their size and cutting capacities. The following section discusses the key features that impact choice.
You often find that many contractors have a love hate relationship with blade guards. Many contractors and woodworkers simply find they often get in the way and can often get wood stuck in them. But many manufacturers are improving these guard’s year on year and now many of them are very advanced and will help keep your fingers from getting hurt, we always advise you to consider the table saw blade feature on any table saw in detail as it could one day help saw you.
Table Saw Splitters
One of the biggest issues and potential hazards when working with table saws is kickback. Table saw kickback occurs when wood is ejected from the saw at extremely high speed. You can imagine the sort of injuries this can cause. Table splitters are effectively small vertical bits of metal or sometimes plastic that are designed to stop the wood flying back if there is a kickback. Attached to the splitter are anti kickback pawls either side, they look like table saw blades themselves but they are in fact there to grip the wood at stick into it in case of kickback.
One thing manufactures noticed over the years was that when people used the splitters in normal straight cuts it worked well but it’s biggest downfall came when contractors wanted to do cross cuts. What would happen is that people would remove the splitters to make the cross cuts but then forget to fixed them back in place. One brilliant table saw safety feature is the riving knife. The Riving knife is attached directly to the blade mechanism, this allows it to always be attached not matter where or what angle the blade is.
Table saw flesh sensors are a brilliant and clever piece of engineering. Sawstop revolutionised the industry when they came up with this technology. Human skin is a good conductor of electricity where is wood isn’t. So, the system works by passing an electric current through the table saw blade its self and when it’s cutting wood it’s fine as there is no conductivity between the wood and the blade but as soon as it hits human skin and becomes conductive it triggers an electric brake that stops in the blade in only 0.02 seconds.
You may end up with a small cut but at least you won’t lose your finger or worse. There are quite a few different versions now on the market so we would advise you to read plenty of table saw reviews and do you research into the different systems to find the best one for you.
Magnetic Table Saw Switch
Another important safety feature to consider is a magnetic switch. Magnetic switches are there in case of power cuts or outages and will also protect the table saw motor from over load. Effectively it will switch off the power supply the instant the power goes off ensuring you don’t have a saw blade spinning away in the dark! As you can imagine this is a very useful and must have safety feature when looking to purchase a new table saw.
Our Top Picks
Having learned the technical aspects of the best portable table saws, it’s time to look at some practical examples. The following picks are categorized, so potential buyers can quickly identify specific features.
The DeWalt offers a combination of job-site toughness, good capacity, and the potential for precise accuracy, all of which make it a popular choice with trade professionals.
Like most table saws, it’s fitted with a general-purpose 24-tooth carbide-tipped blade. The maximum depth of cut at 90 degrees is 3⅛ inches; at 45 degrees, it’s 2¼ inches. Its ripping capability is 22 inches to the left of the blade and a class-leading 32½ inches to the right. The sturdy extending fence works on a precise rack-and-pinion track.
There’s little to criticize about this table saw. However, while the wheeled cart provides very good stability, it makes it heavier than some. The miter guide’s quality doesn’t match the rest of the machine, and its price may put it beyond the range of some DIY users.
The Craftsman brand has long been recognized for reliable, value-for-money tools, and this 10-inch portable table saw is no exception. For a modest outlay, this Craftsman offers the same depth of cut as many more expensive saws: 3⅛ inches at 90 degrees and 2¼ inches at 45 degrees.
However, it saves cost in its ripping capacity. The table saw lacks an extending fence, which provides just 10 inches to the left of the blade and 12 inches to the right.
The detachable stand folds flat for compact storage, and it provides reasonable support. When large pieces of material are used, it flexes a little; however, this saw is not designed for heavy-duty cutting.
Not everyone needs a top-of-the-line table saw, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for a so-so tool. If your needs are simple, and you just use the saw for occasional basic tasks, you’ll find that the Ryobi RTS12 handles everything you ask of it, and for a very reasonable price. It includes a folding stand so you can easily store the saw when not in use.
This 10-inch jobsite table saw has a 15-amp motor that spins the blade at up to 5,000 rpm. You can rip boards up to 12 inches to the right and 8 inches to the left of the blade. Unlike many higher-priced table saws, there are no extending rails, although you could use a separate stand to support larger materials. Still, for the price, it’s hard to beat the performance of this sturdy tool.
The SawStop table saw has a 20-inch-wide by 27-inch-deep table, but with the extensions, allows you to make rip cuts as wide as 30.5 inches to the right and 16.5 inches to the left.
The blade tilts up to 45 degrees to the left for making bevel cuts, and can cut up to 2-¼-inch deep at that angle. With the blade straight, you can make cuts up to 3-⅛ inches deep. There’s a built-in, highly accurate miter gauge and two miter slots for holding boards steady.
While any table saw is potentially dangerous, this one takes safety to new heights with a sensor that detects human skin, bringing the blade to a complete stop in less than 5 milliseconds should that occur. All in all, this is a tool for both professionals and serious hobbyists who want the utmost in saw performance.
Possessing a nearly perfect combination of power, safety, and durability, the Shop Fox W1819 easily took our top pick. It’s one of the easiest cabinet-style table saws that we’ve ever assembled, especially given the ample power from its 3-horsepower motor. If you want a table saw that will become the centerpiece of your woodshop for years to come, this is definitely a top contender!
Shop Fox’s quality control system guarantees that you’ll receive a tabletop that’s truly flat, made from precision-ground and polished cast iron. Even the table wings we tested were remarkably flat and true – a difficult feat to accomplish in a table of this size with a 29½-inch rip capacity!
Safety features include a clear and durable polycarbonate shield, riving knife, and anti-kickback protection on each side of the spreader. A combination miter fence and flip stop make it ideal for longer cuts, as well as multiple cuts of the same width. In short, this is truly a table saw that can do it all!
Equally at home on the jobsite or a home workbench, this table saw from Milwaukee Electric combines some of our favorite features of portable and cabinet-style saws into one lightweight and powerful package. In addition, it comes with an exceptionally long 5-year warranty, making it an excellent investment even at its higher price point.
The only reason battery-powered table saws like this one don’t routinely make #1 in our reviews is that they rarely hold up for a whole day of hard construction work. While they’re charged, they produce an outstanding 6300 RPM blade speed – but you’ll have to keep an eye on the battery life with an integrated smartphone app that links to the saw.
Power, portability, and convenience are the Milwaukee Electric’s strong points, while affordability and duration of battery life are its most obvious weaknesses. Talk to anyone who owns one, though, and they’ll let you know how much going cordless has made their work faster and easier.
The worm drive gearing in the SKILSAW SPT70WT-01 creates maximum torque and power for cutting through any medium. You can feel the torque, as this saw doesn’t ever bog down, even when pushing your material through quickly. The max RPM of 5300 isn’t the best on the market though. The arms do extend to allow for a 25-inch rip with the fence, which is nice.
Unfortunately, nothing seemed to be completely aligned from the factory, so right off the bat, we got cuts that were far from straight. After quite a bit of adjusting and fiddling, we managed to get some pretty decent cuts, though not the cleanest or straightest of the saws we tested. We also weren’t thrilled about how long the blade took to slow down once the saw was powered off. Sometimes you want to turn the saw off, adjust your piece, and make a new cut. When the blade just continues spinning, it starts to reduce your productivity.
Bosch’s 4100-10 Worksite Table Saw is a sure win. Bosch never fails to impress us, and this table saw is no exception. It’s a 10 in. saw with a 25 in (right) rip capacity and a 47 degree left bevel.
This Bosch table saw is powered by a 15A motor that reaches top speeds up to 3,650 RPM. Another feature we appreciate: its constant response circuits which continuously adapt the speed under load, giving you a continuous blade speed.
Power by a 5 Amp motor with 4,500 RPMs, the Metabo HPT C10RJM Table Saw can cut through wood, hardwood, plywood, and composite wood materials. The Saw features soft start, an electric brake, and a telescoping table extension that can support a max rip capacity of 35″.
For increased jobsite performance, the Table Saw Stand feature wheels that allow users to maneuver through tough terrain with ease. Also, the sturdy legs on the fold and roll stand provides extra stability easy set up/breakdown.
The SKIL 3410-02 is an ideal choice for the beginning woodworker, the home hobbyist, or anyone either just starting out or trying to maintain a modest workshop.
At a mere 45 pounds, the SKIL 3410-02 is an incredibly lightweight and mobile option.
It’s also easy to travel with, as it features folding legs. When it is set up, it supports a 20 x 26 cast aluminum table, which can also extend another 6 inches for cutting long strips of wood.
Despite being one of the lightest table saws around, the stand and legs are made of heavy-duty steel. This makes this saw more durable than some others at the same price point. It also helps cut down on shakiness and vibration during use.
As far as power is concerned, the SKIL 3410-02’s 15-amp motor is a pretty standard amount of power for this size saw, yet it runs at an impressive 5,000 no-load RPM. With this kind of power under the hood, the 3410-02 will be able to handle most standard home improvement jobs.
How We Evaluated
In evaluating a broad range of table saws, I started by drawing on my own firsthand experience. I was the co-owner of a construction business for more than 10 years and am also a hard-core DIYer who has used a variety of table saws of varying styles and sizes. I personally tend to prefer the more compact models that are easier to store and transport, but professionals who handle big jobs involving large pieces of wood or thick materials would likely need a larger model like a cabinet style.
We obtained details like rip capacity and machine weight from manufacturer spec sheets and retailer listings. We also considered reviews submitted by hundreds of Amazon and Home Depot customers, along with reviews on manufacturer websites.
How to safely use a table saw
Table saws’ design makes them one of the more dangerous woodworking machines you can use, and their exposed blade must be treated with the utmost respect. You should always be aware of your surroundings, since slips and falls while cutting are a common cause of table saw injuries.
You should also research push blocks and push sticks, which are safety tools that can help keep your fingers away from the blade when you’re pushing wood through the saw. Auto-shutoff features are also good for safety, as they’ll turn the tool off in the event of a power outage.
If you’ve never used a table saw before, either get an experienced friend to walk you through the best practices or watch some tutorial videos on YouTube.
Can a table saw blade be sharpened?
Yes, although how easy it is to sharpen a blade depends on the material. If you have a steel saw blade, you can sharpen it yourself using a file or blade sharpening tool. If the blade is carbide, then you’ll likely need to have a professional sharpen it since this requires a special set of tools.
Can an inexpensive table saw be used to cut metal and stone?
You should not use a budget table saw, which is designed for cutting wood, to cut through metal or stone. This will not only damage your blade, but can put a lot of wear and tear on your saw’s motor.