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.
However, there were some limitations. The rip fence build, with a thin-metal body, is light-duty. At just 23⁄4″ wide, the saw’s narrow throatplate makes it harder to reach down inside for swapping blades or retrieving a fumbled arbor nut. While the white-on-black bevel scale display is easy to read, the thin red hairline pointer that marks tilt angles disappears over the top of it; the saw needs a larger, brighter indicator. There’s a geared mechanism for tilting the blade that engages when you push the blade height wheel in — a good thing — but the bevel lock lever is too short, and I would use care when bearing down on the plastic handle to tighten it.
Optional portable table saw stands are available for both saws. (Bosch's stand is called the GTA500; DeWalt's is the DW7450.) The Bosch features tool-less connection (after initial assembly), while the DeWalt requires the attachment and tightening of four bolts through the DW745's bottom roll cage— though it's nothing a few after-market knobs couldn't fix.
While DeWALT’s DW744X is the only model here without wheels, the saw is otherwise well appointed. It’s got a unique rip fence design: instead of sliding along front and back rails, the fence is fixed to them. To change rip fence settings, you extend the rails out on rack-and-pinion gears. The design keeps the fence parallel to the blade/miter slots and prevents it from deflecting if pushed laterally. A red hairline cursor makes fence settings easy to read, and it passed my ripping tests with flying colors.
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.
The scales that indicate the width of cut fall into one of two categories: continuous and separate. Of the seven we’re reviewing, DeWalt, Ridgid and Rockwell are continuous. You simply line up the fence with the desired measurement. The other four best table saw options—Bosch, Craftsman, Ryobi and Porter-Cable—require you to lock the fence in a specific position on fully extended rails, and read the dimension on a separate scale. We prefer the continuous scales and really like the tape measure–type scale on the Ridgid.
On the downside, these units are by far the heaviest type of saw, and they’re the most expensive by a long shot. Their cast iron worktops and steel cabinets makes them more of a permanent fixture than nearly any other tool. To move them around your shop, you’ll need an expensive, heavy-duty wheeled base, which can cost even more money up front. They’re best for people who will keep them in one place, and use them on a regular basis.
As we said in the beginning of this section, many of these saws will be used, right out of the box, for rough cutting materials and the fine accuracy may not matter so much in that application. If this is the case for a saw, the quality of the cuts and more importantly, the potential safety of the operator is going to be a function of the as-shipped accuracy of the saw from the manufacturer. So, TBB wanted to see how the various saws compared right out of the box. The results are in and, as a group, these eight saws measured up quite well for out-of-the-box accuracy.
Ridgid’s fence is outstanding for its design. Its large front plate helps stabilize it and the whole thing just feels solid. There’s very little play compared to some of the others and we were consistently able to lock it down perfectly square. We like the pinion style bevel adjustment. It’s not quite a good as a separate adjustment wheel, but a great improvement over simple sliding. We also like the independent locks for both height and bevel. It’s not often that a height lock would be required, but there’s an element of confidence that comes from knowing it won’t be going anywhere.
What if a contractor uses their job site saw for high quality built-ins or high tolerance finished cuts? In that case, saw accuracy is critical for that work. In this use case, if the saw is immediately put into use, success depends upon the out-of-the-box accuracy from the manufacturer. The quality of the cuts and more importantly the potential safety of the operator is going to be a function of the as-shipped accuracy of the saw from the manufacturer.
In the commercial construction business, we typically buy a job site saw for each project and use it up during the course of an 18-month job. When these saws hit the site, they are unboxed, assembled and immediately put into use. We rip stacks and stacks of sheet goods with these saws and the tolerances of the cut materials are not very critical. However, that example represents the portable saw use within our commercial crews’ business.
It’s highly portable. The Dewalt is available with a folding stand, which makes it extremely easy to pack up. The guard assembly lies flat, and the fence can be retracted all the way to the table to keep everything neat and tidy. It’s pretty light, too-at just 45 pounds. We also love that the adjustment tools, accessories like the miter gauge, and even the guard components can be stored inside the saw for transport, or when they’re not being used.
It’s powerful. The blade is hooked up to a 3HP motor which can muster a no-load speed up to 4000 RPM! That’s perfect for all your cutting needs, and it’s much better than other inexpensive units when it comes to slicing hardwoods or thicker stock. While many smaller units advertise similar HP ratings, this one actually lives up to the promise, since it uses 220V power.
Located right next to the hand wheel on the front is a panel that features both a power button and a stop switch. The power button helps the motor come to life quickly without requiring that it heat up first, and you can press down on this button to turn the saw off at the end of the day. The emergency stop switch helps you stop the blade in the middle of a project to prevent accidents caused by clothing or skin coming into contact with the blade.
The first step to take when using a table saw is to don all the appropriate safety gear that a responsible operator should use. This includes, at the bare minimum, eye protection and thick work gloves. It's also a good idea to protect your ears with ear muffs or earplugs and to consider a mask that will cover your mouth and nose to prevent the inhalation of fine saw dust particles.
While a lot of other Dewalt saws let us down in the dust compartment, the company have made big strides with this model. It has an internal canvas housing around the blade chamber, which keeps dust from spraying around inside the machine, without having the limitations of a rigid shield. It’s not perfect, but it does much better than the Bosch or the cheaper Dewalt.
The saw itself is remarkably compact, measuring just 22.5″ square and a little over a foot in height (13″ to be more precise). With a steel “roll cage” that encloses the 4 HP 15-amp motor and a rubber handle that is positioned in the center of the right side of the saw, this is a tool that you’ll find very easy to toss into the back of a pickup or work van and take to any jobsite. When you carry it deck-inward, the weight of the saw presses in slightly against your leg – which actually steadies the saw somewhat, making it more manageable, though at 52-pounds let’s not go so far as to call this saw a breeze to carry. The Bosch GTS1031 included cord wrap, and the simple design of the frame also makes it easy to store up against a wall inside your shop when not in use. This isn’t a tool that really gets in the way much – it’s out of sight until it’s needed.
When using the side extension, a tape moves along so you won’t have to remember what measurement to lock the fence on or read a double marked measurement guide. It’s an innovation we like, but there are questions as to the long term durability of the tape itself. Like Ryobi, Ridgid uses a magnetic throat plate to secure it while leaving access simple.
Kenny Koehler An avid endurance athlete, Kenny has competed in triathlons (he's an Ironman) and various other fitness activities. Still, his passions lie with his faith, family, friends, and his love for well-designed power tools. With a background in science, you'll often find Kenny chatting up engineers at media events to get caught up on the latest tool technology.
I also added in a bicycle saddle bag, that attaches easily to the tube frame of the saw. In it, I keep my PPE, and my Grr-ripper push blocks (great upgrade over regular push blocks). I also have a push stick made of wood that was modeled after the plastic one mounted on the back of the saw. The wood one is there now. I read too many stories of injuries after the blade touched the plastic stick, which to me is the whole point of using a stick – to avoid injuries. These things turning to shrapnel seems like a bad idea.
The miter gauges on these saws range from downright flimsy to cabinet-saw quality. All the saws except the Craftsman and the DeWalt also have T-tracks—a nice feature that captures the miter gauge bar, making it easier to start wider crosscuts. Because the Ryobi and DeWalt saws don’t have a standard miter gauge slot, you can’t use accessories that require a 3/4-in. slot.
Look for guards with two independent panels on each side of the blade, so that while you work on one side, the other side keeps dust in the vacuum system, rather than flying off to the side. High-end cabinet units also have splitter and guard systems which are molded like the internal shrouding to amplify suction, so you should look carefully at those features.
Our table saw review quickly showed that today’s portable table saws are light-years ahead of the small-saw offerings from a decade ago. They feature big-capacity cutting, greatly improved safety features and attached stands for easy setup. And saws in the upper price range rival stationary saws in accuracy and quality of cut. We limited our review to saws that included a stand with wheels and ones that could rip at least 24 in. wide, only the best table saw for our readers!
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.
Kobalt’s KT1015 Table Saw features value pricing with a decent rolling stand. We initially had questions about its dual-locking fence, but found that it actually worked quite well. There’s plenty of wobble in it, but if you follow our Pro Tip on adjustments in the fences section, you can lock the front end in square then stabilize it with the back lock.
Contractor saws weigh quite a bit more than portable saws, averaging between 150 and 350 pounds, but are still somewhat portable. They have a heavier, cast-iron table top, and a motor that is usually more powerful than a jobsite saw. Even so, they’re within prices affordable for more committed hobbyists. Contractor saws can range between $800 and $2,000. They’re good for basic cutting tasks, as well as making home furniture and cabinetry work.
You’ll make most of your miter cuts on a miter saw. But when the material you’re cutting exceeds a miter saw’s cross-cutting capacity, you turn to your table saw miter gauge. These usually aren’t quite as precise, but some manufacturers put more thought and robustness into it than others. If you make a lot of long miter cuts, be sure to pay attention to this accessory.
If you’re looking for the best table saw out there, then there’s no better choice than the Powermatic 1792001K PM2000. This is an amazing cabinet table saw that features a 1-phase, 3 HP motor with rout-R lift and Accu-fence system which set a new standard for innovation through thanks to the saw’s large body design and an incredible range of patented features. Almost each feature of the 1792001K PM2000 sets a new standard by which every other cabinet table saw on the market is judged, so you can have the peace of mind that this is not your regular cabinet table saw.