Table saws are versatile enough to earn a spot in every home shop—even if that shop shares the garage with the family car. The market offers a range of saws, from $200 portable, less accurate saws to heavy and very accurate cabinet saws costing thousands. All the table saws shown here have 10-inch blades that can cut though stock up to 3 inches thick, and they meet the Underwriters Laboratories' safety standards to prevent kickback. Keep reading for an extensive roundup of table saws, from portables to hybrid models.
I knew there were jobsite table saws on the market for less than $250, but I never thought they were good enough to get my recommendation. Sure, the SKIL 3410-02 is not a professional saw and may not be versatile enough for contractors, but the stand, power, accuracy and build quality of this table saw are much better than I thought possible in this class.
If you want to have a quick and accurate cut of wood, look no further than a table saw. When buying a table saw the main thing you put into consideration is its power. A good table saw should have enough power to cut through wet timber as well as hardwood. However, there are certain features which help in foreseeing the overall performance of a table saw.
Previous buyers said they were at a loss to find materials that the Jet couldn’t cut! They said it went like butter, with no lag whatsoever, and almost no vibration at all. Reviewers raved about the motor’s power, and especially complimented how steadily it ran. This is an excellent choice for hardwoods, thick softwoods, and composite boards: absolutely anything that’ll fit.
Rockwell is the “freshman” brand among the other longer-standing benchtop power tool companies represented here, and its table saw revealed some “first rodeo” shortcomings. While the motor was amply powerful for my cutting tests, the blade arbor assembly was 1/16″ out of parallel with the miter slots. It’s a condition called “heeling” without easy adjustment in the manual. So, for my testing purposes I had to set the rip fence askew in order to align it parallel to the blade. The problem would need to be addressed on this sample saw for long-term use.
The miter gauge gets an “its fine” grade. Ok to support a narrow piece for a crosscut, but not long enough to do much more than that. I upgraded to an Incra miter 1000SE and never looked back. Although a crosscut sled is pretty easy to make (and I highly recommend getting one) I picked up an Incra Miter Express sled for real cheap at a garage sale, so I am happy to use that.
Safety and precision are usually at a high level. Some models even offer a sliding table as an option to mitigate cross-cutting. Needless to say, hobbyists love the sliding feature because it saves a lot of time and most importantly – nerves. As far as the driving mechanism goes, there are three possible options – single V-belt, serpentine belt, and a multiple V-belts.
You can store and transport the Bosch upright or on either of its sides. In between our tests, we found that the saw neatly stored away on its side on a workbench shelf. On the other hand, the DeWalt can only be stored or transported in its upright position. While it may possible to rest the saw briefly on one of its sides, there is the potential to damage the power cord, plug, or the ends of the telescoping fence rails.
Once again our team has put some serious time and effort into our Head-to-Head evaluation to bring you the most comprehensive information available. For this evaluation, we broke things into several categories including: Precision & Accuracy, Performance (power), Price, and Ergonomics. For each of these categories we’ll rank the saws and at the end we’ll name the Best Portable Jobsite Table Saw based on all the results combined.
The design is not bad. The height of this particular table saw is around 35 inches. While some people don’t mind it, we think it could have been designed better. However, the best thing about the design is the fact that you can get both contractor and cabinet style table saws in one unit. Dust control is well-designed. The large 4-inch dust port offers a no-hassle setup, especially with vacuums of lower quality. In simpler words, you don’t need to purchase a super-expensive vacuum for this particular unit; any affordable one should do the job well.
There were really two major performance considerations we wanted to look at to help determine the best portable jobsite table saw: cutting power and dust collection. Power is an obvious choice. We want to make clean, straight cuts, but we don’t want to spend all day making them. Any saw can be calibrated to be straight and accurate, but some have to be babied more than others to get professional results.
Speaking of safety, this particular model offers a satisfactory level of it. First of all, the tool-free adjustments come in handy if you’re in a middle of a project. In case you need to make a quick adjustment, you don’t have to stop whatever you’re doing and commit your attention to fine-tuning. Instead, you can do it on the go, without any additional tools. Furthermore, the convenient guarding system keeps your fingers and hands safe at all times. Don’t forget to wear protective gear; it can make a difference between life and death.
Both of these table saws have a port that connects to a shop vacuum for dust collection. The DEWALT features a 2.5” port, while the Bosch has a 2” port. However, neither seems to do all that great a job. The Bosch might fare a little worse as far as the dust port clogging, but the DEWALT has some problems in this area, too. The Bosch is said to spew sawdust on the floor as though there was no dust collection port at all. The DEWALT racks up some complaints about the same problem.
Compared to some of the other miter saws we’ve used – predating the new riving knife requirement, the Bosch GTS1031 guard system is much easier to install and remove when necessary (and to put the saw back into portable mode). We timed ourselves and assembled and tore down the saw in just over 2 minutes – and we were confident that our time would get better with more practice. The table is made of machined cast aluminum and is texture-coated to make it fairly slick – something that really helped when cutting larger pieces of 3/4″ plywood for a workbench surface. As for extending the table – that was super-easy. You just lift the table extension handle upwards and slide the table to the right. This gives you a full 18″ of rip width to the rip fence with your material to the right of the blade. Collapsed, you get up to 10″. Motion of the rip fence and the table extension were smooth. While the fence had some wobble in it at the far end – this completely disappeared when you locked it down – and the shape of the rear of the fence locked it straight every time. It’s a good system and more than adequate for a low-cost portable saw like this. We’ve seen more robust fence systems. But typically the trade-off has been in weight as well as cost.
The obvious starting point for an analysis of which saw is best suited to the needs of a given person (or company, school workshop, and so forth) is the budget at hand. Even the most affordable table saws of a quality meriting serious consideration cost more than 200 dollars; such units are small but still capable of many tasks. The top of the line table saws come with price tags topping out at well over 3,000 dollars and can handle almost any lumber you would ever need cut and then some; more often than not these mighty saws are more tool than needed, so to speak.
Porter-Cable comes in as the most expensive of the value group, but also with the best overall performance in it. Of the three saws in this class, it had the best cutting power and also came in the top spot overall for height and bevel adjustment thanks to independent wheels. This may seem like a small consideration, but when you actually need to cut accurately beveled pieces, the adjustment wheel is a huge benefit over sliding the front height adjustment around.