The world of technology is getting more and more complex, and every day you will hear tools with newer features and functionalities are replacing older ones. Don’t get confused. You have the basic rules to select the one that has been prepared just for you.
Knowing the Types
Table saws are essential tools for woodworkers. So you cannot just go and get one for you. There are so many things to consider before you buy one.
Table saws come in different types. They can be broken down into two basic categories.
Portable Table Saw
There are two subtypes of portable table saws.
Benchtop: The lightest and smallest of all these table saws are designed to sit on a bench and cater to light-duty works. As they don’t have stands underneath, you’ll always have to provide a bench or platform to use them on. On average, they have less table surface area than the other types and, therefore, the rip capacity is limited.
The biggest drawback with these saws is that the fences are not that strong to ensure a professional straight cutting.
These types of table saws are perfect for the hobbyist woodworker.
Jobsite: These saws are for the professionals who are mostly busy working ‘on the spots.’ It is a bit heavier than the benchtops and offers a broader range of ruggedness and functionality. These saws are designed for life on the job.
Besides its being portable, it has got collapsible stands of different types, some of which have wheels making it easier to transport.
With more significant rip capacities, better and stronger fences, and more functionality, these table saws are best for those who don’t run large scale business and often have to move around with their tools.
Stationary Table Saw
For those who run larger businesses and usually have to manage a wide variety of tasks, stationary table saws are ideal. They offer all the functionalities a woodworker usually requires and supports heavy-duty jobs.
The best feature I’ve found is that there are several extra useful tools and accessories, mostly for the stationary table saws, to increase the functionalities.
There are three common subtypes of stationary table saws:
Contractor: It is a bit more professional than a job site table saw and less costly than a large cabinet table saw. Along with having larger table areas, they have more robust and larger belt-driven motors.
They are the cheapest of all the stationary table saws.
Hybrid: As the name suggests, this type of table saw is mixed and offers almost all the cabinet type and contractor type’s features and functionalities.
Same for the price. The price range falls between the contractor and cabinet types, i.e., it’s cheaper than the cabinet saws and a bit more expensive than the contractor saws.
The reality is, it was developed to upgrade the contractor saws with some features from cabinet saws like more power, more functional, more precise cuts, larger rip capacity, and better dust collection and yet keep the price less than the cabinet saws. So those who want to do some serious jobs can be satisfied using a hybrid table saw.
Cabinet: This is the real professional beast, an all-rounder in the woodworking world, and the large-scale woodworking industries’ ultimate choice. The cabinet table saw has everything that someone in this profession can think of— great power (between 3 and 5hp), versatility, a lot of functionality, large rip capacity, and many more.
The most outstanding feature of a cabinet table saw is that it can cut anything for you— from hardwoods to pressure-treated or thick lumber and even most of the material sheets of any size.
Which One to Buy, After All?
No one can define precisely what a particular person needs. Making picture frames and small decorative furniture pieces do not require a heavy-duty job site saw. Neither does a tradesman building barns on sites need a saw with a rip capacity of only 12inch.
That’s why now we’re going to make an approach from a functional standpoint and leave the decision on what to choose for individual consumers.
Most of the table saws in the market come with 15 amp motors. Though there are some products with 10 or 13 amp, they usually come with limited rip capacity. When you cut two by fours lengthwise or sheets of ¾inch plywood, you’ll feel what lack of power means.
Table Size and Extension
This is another crucial factor when selecting a table saw. If you have to cut any piece which is longer than your table size and the hanging portions on both sides are more than two or three feet, you’ll have to have someone holding it for you, or you’ll have to get some table or stand or extension to keep it from falling over and make it stable enough for cutting.
Easily understandable, if you are looking to cut larger sheet goods, you’ll need a larger rip capacity. A rip capacity of 26 and a quarter inches can cut almost any regular size, large or small. While working on these larger rip capacities, the center of gravity of large workpieces remains on the table.
Off Feed Extension
If you have to handle several larger workpieces by yourself, you may want to use this feature. This makes it easier to handle larger workpieces and is more likely to keep the center of gravity on the table while you are working.
The Miter Gauges
You need to be very particular and critical about the quality of the miter gauges that come with even the more expensive job site saws. Some are there with a short leg. Others have such increments that are hard to read. Some are lacking the slots so that you could extend the width of the miter gauge.
If you are thinking of using a third party miter gauge, you want to get a saw whose miter slots are standard.
Some of the fences have minimal clamping surfaces, which is not enough to register against the fence control mechanism. The larger the clamping surface, its less likely to shift as you lock it down.
There are so many other things to consider, and you need to be watchful while choosing the right one for you.
Good luck with your woodwork!