Contractor units are the next step up from portable (or jobsite) table saws. A contractor table saw has a worktop and motor assembly that looks a lot like a cabinet model, only it’s missing the cabinet! Contractor units aren’t quite as portable as a job site saw, but they’re about half the weight of a cabinet saw. They pack a lot more power than a portable unit, and their cutaway stands make them fairly manageable for folks who have helpers to assist in getting the saw off the truck and set up at the site.
Having only owned saws with cast iron tops this is a new experience for me. First let me note that the right side extension is not aluminum like the rest of the top. It is steel, painted to match. The entire top appears to be powder coated with a textured grey coating. No telling how durable it will be but it does allow wood to slide easily over it. Since the top is aluminum, it lets you know that by transferring all the motor noise and vibration throughout the saw. Not a big deal really but definitely different if you are used to the cast iron absorbing much of this on bigger saws.
The RK7241S has two sturdy tubular legsets that fold down and lock, and one becomes a convenient handle for transport. The stand stayed put during heavy ripping operations, and lawnmowerstyle wheels make the tool easy to roll. But, once set up, you have to drag or lift the saw to move it, unlike other portables that keep the wheels on the floor during use.
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.
When you’re deciding how much to spend, think about how often you use your saw, whether you’re using it as part of a professional workshop or as an avid hobbyist, and whether or not you can expect any return on your investments through your work. We recommend that DIYer spend closer to the $2000 mark, while professionals are more likely to get their money’s worth from something more premium.
Portable table saws, or “jobsite” models, as they’re often called, are your best bet for working with larger stock or longer cuts on the go. These units provide the cutting width and depth of a big table saw in a compact, portable package that’s easy to throw in the back of the pickup after a day’s work. They’re ideal for pros working on smaller jobs, handymen who need a basic table saw that won’t break the bank, or home DIYers looking for a tool that’s easy to pack away during the workweek.
You will need specialty blades for cutting materials such as plywood, masonry, hardwood and metals. Other specialty blades are used for dado cuts. Most dado sets have multiple rows of teeth and chippers and they are typically much wider than traditional blades. Be sure that the model of table saw you have can accommodate the type of specialty blades you want to get so you don’t waste your money on a blade that won’t fit.
We rotated the blade to the rear of the saw to enable the dial indicator to contact the same location of the same tooth behind the carbide portion. We positioned the dial indicator to the rear of the saw placed onto the blade and the reading recorded. If the blade and the miter slot were closer together at the rear of the saw, the dial indicator has a negative reading. If the blade and the miter slot were father apart at the rear of the saw, the dial indicator showed a positive reading.
One very popular alternative to the Dewalt is this Bosch unit. It’s a bit more rugged than the yellow saw, and it’s very well-regarded by working woodworkers. We particularly like the machined aluminum table, which is a big step up from the Dewalt’s molded surface. It also has the best rolling stand we’ve seen on the market to date, so it’s a superb choice for folks who work on a lot of jobs sites with mixed terrain.
Let’s face it: guys get in each other's’ way at a job site. It’s not always easy to find room to work, so portability is a serious advantage when it comes to making the most out of your space. Luckily for the professionals out there — not to mention hobbyists who prefer to move around rather than work in the same spot everyday — RIDGID’s 15-amp table saw comes with a convenient mobile cart for stress-free transportation.
Editor and "serious woodworker" Chris Marshall tests five "premium" portable table saws. After equipping each saw with a new Freud thin-kerf blade, he uses them to rip lengths of medium-density fiberboard (MDF) and yellow pine, as well as making long dado cuts in MDF. Marshall considers the saws' stability, cutting accuracy, efficiency, dust collection, and general ease of use to choose his top picks. Unfortunately, two of his three favorites are discontinued.
Rockwell diverged from the crowd with this offering. For starters, the riving knife, anti-kickback pawls and blade guard are connected and remove as a unit. If you do remove them to make a non-through cut, you have to install the separate riving knife first. It’s not difficult, just different. This is the only saw with a right-tilting motor. We prefer left-tilting motors because it’s safer to make bevel cuts with the fence on the right side of the blade. There’s no port for attaching a vacuum cleaner, but there’s a large dust bag that does a good job of collecting sawdust. This saw cuts 3-9/16 in. at 90 degrees, 1/16 in. more than the next closest competitors, allowing you to rip a 4×4 in one pass. And like the Ryobi saw, it has a 30-in.-wide rip capacity.
You have to know the amount of money you are willing to spend for the right saw. The truth is that the price will vary significantly depending on where you are buying the saw, the brand and the features it comes with. However, with a good budget, you can easily narrow down the options you may have. You will have a smaller range to work with and you will know what features to expect within that price range. Always be willing to spend a little more on the table saw you want in your workshop especially if you work on wood every day.