A table saw is an important tool used in the woodshop to perform different types of cuts such as straight cuts, groove cuts or joint cuts. This is one of the amazingly essential additions in the workplace to perform many tasks within a very short time. You may be thinking how hard it can be to just buy a table saw for you from the markets. Although the table saw has a simple construction, it is really a tough job to find out the right one for you as there are so many additional features not only to increase its functionality but also to perform different tasks as a versatile tool. If you are a serious woodworker, you need to pay special consideration to those features that are important for your individual need. To help you narrow down your choices, we have selected some of the best table saws of the market based on our own research and customer’s feedback on using these table saws.
While working with a table saw, you really need to know some of the safety measures that are equally important to maintain a safe work setting. These equipment are too dangerous if used carelessly and may injure your eyes and hands. Wearing safety glasses and paying full concentration is highly suggested to ensure the safety of workers. Powerful table saws need enough care to handle with. You should not dare to play with a 10 to 12-inch blade you are working with by keeping your hands on a negligible distance and not really taking all the safety measures you can. Here are some of the details of the safety options that you should consider while buying a table saw for you.
The Blade guard:
One of the most important features of a table saw is the blade guard to ensure your safety while working with a sharp blade.
- Using the blade guard can save you from any major injuries.
- Though most of the workers are not comfortable using it because it may cause disturbance to measure the cuts accurately.
- Some of the improved blade guards are clear and will allow you to take measurements easily.
Splitters and anti-kickback pawls:
Kickback can often cause major injuries and the piece coming back to the operators may hit them with a high-speed. These splitters and anti-kickback pawls can save you from these kinds of injury by holding the kerf open at the back of the blade.
These improved features can save you from a serious hit
- A vertical metal blade splitter with two anti-kickback pawls help you get protection from the wood.
- When a kickback occurs, these anti-kickback pawls will keep the wood from catapulting.
- You may need to learn the uses of these features to know when to insert or remove them.
Riving knife is quite useful comparing to the splitters as you do not need to remove them like the splitters when trying cross cuts or others. They are movable with the blade and that is really essential for the workers to maintain the continuity of their work.
- It is attached to the blade and moves along with it.
- The operator gets a safety from the back of the blade.
- It does not cause any disturbance of your work.
This is quite a different system available now in improved table saws. These systems target the human skin that is much more conductive than the wood to stop that aluminum brake at once and prevent major injuries.
- You may get little scratches, but it saves you from the bigger one.
- It cannot stop the wood as the wood is not conductive enough to respond to sensors
- You need to replace the brake and blade to replace after the strong resulting jerk.
Another important safety feature to prevent any accidents.
- This is to automatically turn off the saw when the motor gets overloaded
- It also sets the saw into an off position to avoid any accidents due to sudden power failure.
You can always go for a push stick handy tool if you do not own the luxury of other tools
- This can also save you from going near the blade
- You can push the wood easily by using a push stick
- Easy and available tool and you can make them as well.
Some quick safety tips:
- Avoid wearing gloves that may lose your grip over while working with a table saw
- Keep your way free from all the small things that may cause you an injury
- Wear some good protection for your eye and ear and make sure you do not get a lifetime injury
- Wear something proper that will not hamper your work speed, or avoid extra jewelry or loose-fitting clothes.
- Give a concentration to the balance of your body while starting the momentum and wear something non-slippery for your feet.
- Avoid any operation with an unbalanced position that may lead you to fall upon the blade accidentally
- It is recommended to use a push stick every time
- Always try to stay in a position that will save you from kickback and any other hits coming directly in the opposite direction of the saw
- Do not make any adjustments until you know that the rotation is totally stopped
- Concentrate fully on your work while operating a table saw
- An adjustment to the fence is necessary while the saw is functioning
- Avoid free-hand cuts on a table saw
- Check all the improved features and the blade position before starting your work
- Do not release your work when it is way over the blade
Table saw types and their features:
There are mainly four types of table saws. They are:
- Portable or Benchtop table saws
- Contractor table saws
- Hybrid table saws
- Cabinet table saws
Portable or Benchtop Table Saws
These types of table saws are designed to be portable enough to carry. They are smaller and have been proven beneficial to the users because of its efficiency. You can perfectly fit them in your benchtop or carry them to different workplaces easily. These types of saw have smaller cuts, to make them portable and hence, its cutting capacity is quite limited than the others. You may need to plan an additional support when going for a cross-cut on a larger piece of material. Moreover, they are not really expensive and so become the perfect fit for woodworkers with a low budget, but this also means these table saws do not have a powerful motor to run the saw. So, you can assume it very well that these table saws with a highly-efficient feature of portability and low price, come with some limitations.
- A perfect fit for versatile use in different workplaces.
- Easy to carry and move around
- You can target a smaller area for more accuracy
- Comes with a very low price
- High-end models can allow you to 25.5inches rip capacity
- Due to its lighter weight, it causes more vibration
- Not very durable
- Some basic features may lead to inaccuracy of function.
- The Smaller size may lead to limitation of cutting accuracy.
- Low-end saws allow only 12inches rip capacity
- Low price comes with a low-quality universal motor with less efficiency
A contractor saw is just the next improved version of portable or benchtop saws. These are also somewhat portable and have a range of 13-4 horsepower motor. It comes with a bigger table with fixed legs. However, difficulties may arise when trying to move around the contractor saw in the workplace. If you are a little real estate business and looking for something with more accuracy than the portable one, this is surely for you.
- A good cost for a quality product
- Motor with enough horsepower and efficiency for a regular woodworker
- All contractor saws are wired for high voltage
- It comes with an upgraded fence for all contractor saws.
- Maintenance is easy.
- Less weight produces rougher cuts
- Exposed belts are a prime safety concern while using the saw
- Dust and other things can get inside due to an exposed motor
- Horsepower is low for cutting materials for full depth
- Adjustment of a contractor saw can be tougher for the user
- It can be tough to attach out-feed tables
- They are not meant for the long run
If you are looking for a heavier and high-quality performer for your workplace, and if you can afford a good budget for a table saw, a cabinet saw is the best choice of all. It has a heavy weight that reduces the vibration a lot while working. With all the larger parts of it, it gives more accurate cuts and a high-powered efficient motor to perform tasks. These types of saws are generally used by the serious workers in the woodshop or those who tend to perform the heavy duty.
- 3 to 5 HP motors are highly efficient to perform heavy duty
- Chances are less to burn cuts as you do not need to slow down
- Heavy weight helps you get rid of vibration
- Alignment is easier
- The motor of a cabinet saw is sealed to prevent from damaging it by dust or any other thing
- Magnetic switch that is present in most of the saws will ensure your safety after a sudden power failure
- They are really expensive among all the other table saws
- You need to have a 220-volt wiring service to run a cabinet saw (that’s not really a con for most)
What if we really need an efficient one mostly like a cabinet saw, but we cannot afford (actually many of us cannot) the cost? Luckily, here’s an option that’s exactly fit to our need. Hybrid saws are not expensive like the cabinet saws, but more efficient than the contractor saws. It comes with a 1-2hp motor and fit for all the domestic supply. Advanced belt driven system heavy performing trunnions and arbor bearings and not to forget—it has the look of a cabinet saw.
- Hybrid saw allows a fully enclosed base with the motor situated inside
- It has an advanced belt driven system
- Comes with easy alignment facilities
- No need to have a 220-volt wiring as it needs only 110-volt wiring
- Less expensive than the cabinet saws
- Fewer chances to get dust or any other things inside due to enclosed base
- It allows a better fence system than the contractor ones
If you demand the exact performance of a cabinet saw from a hybrid one, you may be disappointed. Else, hybrid saws are great for serious woodworkers with an affordable budget. No such cons.
How to find the best table saw
Earlier in this article, we have discussed the four types of table saws most commonly available and used by the woodworkers with all the pros and cons of them. This is the most important feature to consider while buying a table saw to find out the right type for you. There are some other features you must keep in mind to choose the exact one for you. If you can afford, you can easily add extra features to improve your table saw.
Motor with enough horsepower:
This is the first thing to consider that the motor of the saw have enough horsepower to operate the saw exactly the same way you need. Horsepower has a connection to the voltage available in your workplace. We can categorize them into two:
Motor with 1.5-2 horsepower:
- You need to have a power circuit of 120 volts to operate a motor with 1.5 to 2 horsepower.
- It will allow you a cut of 2inches thicker in the hardwoods
Motor with 3-5 horsepower:
- You need to have a voltage supply of 220 volts to operate such a powerful motor
- These types of powerful saw allow you to make a cut of 3inches thicker.
- It will have a greater kickback problem than the less powerful saws.
Enough protection for kickback:
- Carefully choose your table saw that has a riving knife.
- Some of the table saws are simply featured with splitters that do not move along the blade and may cause harm for replacing again and again.
- The riving knife is not fixed in a position that let you comfortably operate the saw, although you may need to move it for some specific cuts.
Table saw with the sensor:
- Table saws with flesh sensor are quite expensive, but can save you from major injuries.
- As soon as the sensor comes in contact with human skin, it stopped right at that moment and may cause you no major loss except some scratches.
Drive belt design:
- Using a table saw with poly-v belts reduce vibration in a noticeable manner
- Usual contractor saws come with wedge belts or regular belts that create vibration while operating
- Look for a poly-V belt while buying the table saw to avoid unnecessary vibration.
Dust collection system:
- Users often get little injuries from the wood residues, hence a dust collector can reduce the chances of accidents
- It will help you to keep the workplace neat and clean
- You need to take care of the collection bags in a regular manner
- Magnetic switch helps you to prevent accidents by automatically turning off the saw
- The kick switch also works as a great safety feature as it is tough to move the hands always from the wood material
Left blade tilt:
- It is safer to use a left blade tilt to avoid kickback that is produced mostly by the right blade tilt.
- You can choose from both, but if you have no idea of them before, go for a left blade tilt
Choose the one with easy control:
- The operator needs to feel comfortable with the saw
- Look for the one with easy alignment, easy turning hand wheels and other adjustments that you can easily handle with comfort
Know something before you make the final selection
- Voltage: What kind of electric power is available in your workplace? You need 240 volts to operate a cabinet saw and 120-240 volts for the hybrid saw. Go for a portable or benchtop saw if you have 120 volts electric power available
- Space: Cabinet saw is the larger one and you need to make a huge space in your workplace. Portable and benchtop table saws are smaller and movable. The portable one is the best fit you are looking for a smaller one for the basic home shop.
- Power and capacity: Are you planning for a thicker cut of about 3 inches. Simply go for a table saw that has a 3 to 5 HP motor. You can buy within 1.5 to 2 HP motor if the cut is not that thick.
- Look for upgrades: You can upgrade your table saw with a lot of additions, some of which are essential for safety and improve functionality and some of which are to allow some luxury for a smooth operation. You can replace the fence or miter gauge or just add a poly-V belt to reduce vibration. Fill the rough edges or cover the dust collector or making a new surface—all can add a complement and ensure your comfort level while operating your table saw.
- Look for accessories: There are so many accessories of a table saw available in the market that will add efficiency to your table saw. There are various tapering jigs, the tenoning jig, custom molding heads and so many others accessories to perform different tasks.
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