Choosing the best table saw to suit your needs is perhaps one of the important decisions you’ll make while building your workshop. Table saws are very versatile, accurate and useful machines. While you can do many of the same tasks with a circular or other saw, a table saw offers stability and accuracy that other woodworking toolsdo not.
What is a table saw?
A tablesaw is usually a blade mounted beneath a bench, or table. The blade rises up above the surface of the table, allowing you to maneuver the wood instead of the saw itself. There is usually a guide, or fence, which can be preset to cut a determined width of wood. Most table sawsare stationary, though there are portable models available on the market. There are three types of table saws: portable, contractor, and cabinet saws. So which tablesawshould you choose?
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Table Saw
There are several factors to consider when choosing your table saw. Because everyone’s woodworking needs are different, review your options to decide which features work best for you. Some criteria may include:
- The size of your workshop
- Whether your project requires portability
- The ventilation of your workshop
- Your budget
- The reputation of the brand of your table saw
Also take into account reviews by other consumers and consumer reporting agencies regarding the reliability of a particular brand or model. With this information in mind, you can choose between the three types of table saws.
Portable Table Saws
Portable table saws are an excellent choice for those who need to be able to easily move the saw from one location to another. For example, a contractor on a construction site may need to move from one side of a property to another. Or a home woodworker building a garage may need to move the saw from the front to the back of the house. Mobile and lightweight, portable table saws offer flexibility and convenience. However, they may not have as good a reputation for stability as some heavier tablesaws.
Contractor Table Saws
Contractor tablesaws are sturdy, heavy, and generally built to stay in one place. Generally mounted on a metal table with four sturdy legs, these table saws are meant for heavy duty cutting of lumber, but can also make miter, bevel, and many other types of cuts. They may offer more features than a standard portable tablesaw, but take up more space in your workshop.
Cabinet Table Saws
Cabinet table saws are slightly different than portable and contractor tablesaws in that the motor is enclosed in a cabinet under the table. The table itself is generally as big as, or bigger than, the contractor table saw, and are usually more powerful, offering 1 to 1.5 horsepower. They are also known to be quieter than other tablesaws. Cabinet tablesaws are not meant to be moved, and will take up a semi-permanent or permanent space in your workshop. If you have a large space and are planning to do projects which require heavy duty cutting, a cabinet table saw might be the best option for you.
There are several features that a table saw might have. Consider which features fit within your needs and your budget. These might include dust collection options to protect your lungs, eyes and body. Your table saw might have a series of interchangeable blades, allowing you to perform more woodworking tasks than just straight cutting. The horsepower of your table saw will be a factor to consider, as will the strength of the power feed, which will help to guide your wood through the blade.
Choosing the Best Table Saw
Only you can decide which tablesaw is the best fit for you. Once you choose the size and features you like best, be sure to check reviews or talk to an experienced woodworker who has purchased and used these woodworking tools. But rest assured, no matter what model you choose, your table saw will soon be an integral part of your workshop.