DIY-ers love this type due to its simplistic yet effective operation. However, it’s not unusual for professionals to invest in these in order to avoid investing in cabinet models and save some money. Speaking of money, you should prepare yourself for a hefty investment if you opt for this particular type. However, most models are well-worth the money. These things last for years and don’t require a lot of maintenance apart from occasional blade replacements and minor adjustments. They are not as easy to use as portable models, but you’ll learn how to use them in a matter of hours or days, as long as you follow the rules written in the user manual.
I’m not crazy about one feature, and it’s common to three of these five saws: to tip the blade, you unlock a lever behind the blade height hand wheel, then swing the undercarriage up to the angle you need before re-locking the lever. A geared bevel control would make this process a little easier. But, once tipped, Bosch held its angle setting well through my test cuts.
As for extensions, I have added the TS1002 and TS1003 outfeeds (rear and left side respectively) – They do a great job supporting the workpieces without making the saw the least bit tippy. For my use, I don’t get much use from the left side support, but the rear outfeed is great. Much nicer than setting up an outfeed stand and trying to dial it in.
Ridgid notches a third place finish as the only saw to include an independent blade height lock. The adjustment wheel raises and lowers with multiple full turns like most saws, but integrates a lock into the center. For the bevel adjustment, the outside of the height adjustment wheel turns a rack and pinion style system to accurately change the blade angle – a feature Makita shares.
About three paces from where I tested these portable table saws sits my late-model cabinet saw. As a serious woodworker and magazine editor, I can’t imagine not having it. Its powerful 3hp motor, spacious cast-iron tabletop and almost hair-splitting precision makes most other saw options pale by comparison. But all this said, a cabinet saw isn’t everything. The thought of moving that behemoth down the steps to a basement shop sends chills up my spine. I sure can’t toss it into a car trunk to help a friend down the road. My saw takes up a huge footprint of shop floor, and it cost a small fortune. I don’t know of any stationary table saw that sells for less than $700 new these days, and that can empty the coffer of a modest tool budget.
We spent a lot of time setting up and taking down the saws to see how well the stands worked and how easy it was to install and remove the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls. Then we ran a torturous ripping test with 3-in.-thick slabs of oak to find the best table saw. And finally, we used the saws for more conventional tasks like cutting plywood and ripping framing lumber as another test to determine the best table saw.
Before we get into some of the top features, we want to take a look at the design of this cabinet. As it uses an enclosed cabinet, you’ll find that the motor lasts longer because it doesn’t wear down due to constant exposure to dust. This cabinet also features convenient hand wheels on the front and sides that help you make quick adjustments before cutting or as you work.
A splitter is a piece of metal that keeps the blade from binding in whatever material you are cutting if the saw kerf starts to close up. The splitter is vertical and sits directly behind the blade. This plays a big part in preventing kickback and should be mounted on the motor assembly so it rises and falls with the saw blades movements. You can also get splitters that can be adjusted to fit the width of the kerf.
The quiet, 220-volt motors in these saws cut through the hardest stock, hour after hour, without bogging down. Cabinets are metal and extend to the floor for the best dust collection. The tops are cast iron, wide, and stable, which makes it easy to cut sheet goods. The trunnions are cabinet-mounted, so you get minimal vibration and maximum accuracy. They're also heavy; some weigh over 600 pounds. Once a cabinet saw's in place, that's where it stays.
When you’re thinking about build quality, you should consider how often, and how intensively you’ll be using your portable table saw. The more you’ll use it, the more you should invest in a sturdy unit that’s built to handle all that use. If you’re only an occasional DIYer, on the other hand, you can probably stand to have a few more plastic parts on your unit, since you aren’t going to be putting it to the rest as often.
By the late 18th century, a new tool had been created that would eventually have the sawyers out of work: the circular saw. These early rotating saws were powered by a range of different forces, often including running water or wind, and sometimes driven by animal power. By the early 1800s, the sawmill was replacing the saw pit and its hardworking manual sawyers.
Both saws were almost equally quick to setup for use, with the DeWalt coming out slightly ahead. The throat plate, which is thicker and sturdier than Bosch's, is slightly easier to remove and reinsert. The DeWalt's blade cavity offers greater clearance, which makes locking down and loosening the riving knife easier without scraping a knuckle. Dewalt's riving knife adjustment required less wiggling and hunting to get it set properly.
The Bosch weighs in at 52 lbs. While you could carry it one-handed, and it feels well-balanced, it would throw your personal balance way off and tire your arm. The DeWalt is a little lighter at 45 lbs., but it feels even lighter than that, and its weight distribution makes it feel less fatiguing to carry back and forth. (You can also carry the Dewalt saw one-handed by its handle or roll cage, but you probably won't want to.)
Bosch engineers deserve kudos for the Gravity-Rise stand, and it’s a design some other manufacturers should emulate. Twist one lever, and the sturdy, steel frame folds up or down fluidly to convert from sawing to transport or storage. Eight-inch wheels and lugged rubber tires make this base easy to steer overland or pull up steps. Plus, the base’s stance is wide, giving it sure footing if you are pushing long planks or heavy sheet goods through. It will not tip. But, the stand when erected sets the saw’s tabletop quite high, at 38-1⁄2″. Shorter users may find this to be a bit too tall for comfort.
The body of the blade is made from hardened steel, helping to extend the lifespan and keep up with the tooth quality. The kerf is a crazy-thin 0.098 inch—narrow to keep the cuts fast by reducing the amount of material that needs to be removed. Like most Diablo blades, you’ll pay a bit of a premium up front, but the blade lasts so much longer than others on the market that the cost per cut is much lower.
Even though the trunnion mechanism from Powermatic has been known to be the best there is, further refinements have been made to it in order to make it even better. The conically shaped worm gear drive with better surface area, the high end bearings, but also the cast iron, box style construction combine with the solid and smooth feel of the height and tilt adjustments. Thanks to the adjustable backlash, it’s very easy for users to adjust the mechanism back to the factory fresh feel and clearances.
One of the lightest and most compact table saws was also the most stable: Skilsaw. There’s no wheel base to the stand and the outward angled legs provide a wider platform than it may appear against its colleagues. In second place was DeWalt, also offering a wide platform, but without the amount of rigidity that Skilsaw has in their stand. Coming up in third was Bosch with its gravity rise stand followed closely by Ridgid. It’s important to note that none of the professional class table saws had any stability issues inherent to their extension locking—it was all in the stand.
The bench table saw is the least expensive of the four types of saws. Some models come with a folding stand that is on wheels which makes it very easy to move or reposition without having to lift it all the time. Even though it is relatively light, constant lifting can become tiresome. You can mount these on your workbench which will give it more stability and could possibly reduce the amount of vibration as well. These smaller table saws generally have a 1 hp motor or even smaller and can run on a normal household circuit with no issues.
While you may be tempted to skip straight to the reviews, they are a bit on the technical side and contain plenty of terms you might not be familiar with just yet. My suggestion would be to start by reading the informational articles which will provide you with a decent amount of knowledge on table saws. After that, I sincerely doubt you would be caught off-guard while reading anything in the review section.
This is the smallest of all the table saws, typically weighing about 50 pounds or so and designed to sit on top of a table or workbench. Bench style table saws are usually made of steel, plastic and aluminum. They are good for light to medium duty cutting and would not be a good choice if you do a lot of cutting or if you have a professional business. Because it can be lifted by one person and moved around with relative ease, this type of saw is often called a portable table saw. Due to the size of these saws which measure approximately 19” x 27”, they are not designed to rip large pieces of wood. It is also not easy to make mitered cuts. You will notice that there might be more vibration when using this saw as compared to other, larger models. This is due to the lighter weight of the saw. Unfortunately, the vibration can affect the accuracy of the cuts you’re making.
Todd Fratzel is the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and the President of Front Steps Media, LLC, a web based media company focused on the Home Improvement and Construction Industry.He is also the Principal Engineer for United Construction Corp., located in Newport, NH. In his capacity at United he oversees the Residential and Commercial Building Division along with all Design-Build projects.He is also the editor of Home Construction & Improvement.
You can’t talk about the best portable jobsite table saw without talking about portability. Portability boils down to a couple of important features. First and foremost, weight has a huge impact on how easily you can transport the saw, especially if it has to go into the bed of a truck rather than a trailer. If you’ve got a trailer, then a wheeled stand becomes your best friend. We looked at both.
The old designs of table saws did not have the angled capability that newer models have now with their ability to have the blades angled at 45 and 90 degrees. Before these upgraded styles, the table itself had to be tilted which made cutting extremely unsafe. The new styles that accommodate angling the blade for the beveled cuts make things much easier and safer for the user.
In recent years, there has been a cloud of controversy surrounding the inherent safety issues surrounding the table saw. SawStop developed a flesh detection technology that pulls the blade below the table surface 3 milliseconds after coming into contact with skin. It really created a new class of table saw that, as of June 1st, finally has some competition in the form of Bosch’s REAXX.
We compiled this set of data and created a ranked set of results by assigning a 1-2-3 rating to the relative values of the test measurements. Then we ranked the saws for overall as-manufactured table flatness. As a point of interest, a typical sheet of copy paper is approximately .004 inches thick. Flatness measurements varied from 0.0 to .09 inches.
Even though is seems pretty irrelevant, the position of the On/Off switch is quite important, especially if you’re a frequent user of these tools. In today’s models, the switch is usually leveled with your knees. The main thing you should look for is the size of the OFF switch. It has to be big enough so that you can turn the unit off immediately either with your knees, elbows, or hands. The so-called panic button is one of the crucial elements of every unit, even if it doesn’t seem like it.
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.
The DEWALT DW745 and the Bosch 4100 are pretty evenly matched in having plenty of power and not-so-hot dust collection. I you’re looking for a light weight saw, the DEWALT comes in ahead since it weighs almost half as much as the Bosch. It is also the less expensive choice by far. The large work table, expanded cutting capability, and its Gravity Rise feature (with solid rubber wheels that make it easy to be rolling across rugged terrain at a jobsite) make the Bosch a Cadillac among Pintos, but, of course, that luxury comes with a price tag.