One of the first things many Pros do is permanently (and intentionally) lose the blade guard and anti-kickback pawls. While they are a pain to install and store onboard, their ability to reduce the risk of injury is significant. Table saws are responsible for thousands of injuries every year and there are plenty of guys running around with stories of how they got injured. So practice installing them until it feels natural and then actually use them onsite.
But if you have the space for the DeWalt to sit upright at a work station or deep storage shelf, then it may be the better choice, thanks to its more comfortable adjustment controls. You won't be able to use a dado blade with the DeWalt (at least not safely), and the rip capacity is slightly smaller, but there's a reason why it's been popular for a while now. It's a great saw that delivers reliable performance.
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.
For the woodworking professional, the 3-horsepower SawStop Professional Cabinet Saw PCS31230-TGP236 is the top pick. Its superior safety features include an excellent riving knife and blade guard system and a unique flesh-sensing blade brake to prevent cuts. Reviewers also praise its performance, exceptional dust control, and overall ease of use. Less expensive versions with 1.75-hp motors are also available (Est. $2,300 and up). The warranty is two years for the saw and five for the motor.
If you’re looking for a machine with high capacity, the SKIL 3410-02 has a 3.5-inch cut height with the ability to cut through four times the material on each pass. The consensus among reviewers is that, for such a low price, you end up compromising on miter gauge and saw blade quality. Luckily both of those things can be replaced if you so choose.
Setup was nearly as simple as SawStop’s with just a narrow margin between them. We only needed to attach the handle and bolt the saw down to the stand. The stand is a gravity rise style, but requires you to bend down to ground level for collapsing and extending it. It’s a reasonably solid platform, though a lot of movement throughout the day will leave your back sore.
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How many teeth a saw blade has will determine how smooth the cut is. Most blades have from 24-80 teeth. The exceptions to these blades are specialty material specific blades (i.e. for masonry) In general, the more teeth a blade has the smoother the cut will be. The higher tooth count means that the cut speed will be slower as well. You cannot overcome a slower cutting speed by pushing harder on the material. This is a common mistake newbies make. All this will do is cause kickbacks when the saw blade catches and tosses the object back towards to the user at dangerously high speeds.
Power protections are also a key safety feature, since they protect both your personal safety and the integrity of your table saw. Look for a magnetic switch in the power switch assembly of your saw. A magnetic switch protects the system from dangerous power fluctuations, and automatically shuts the machine off in case of a surge or drop in flow. It’ll also perform another valuable function when power goes out or a fuse flips: it’ll prevent the saw turning itself back on when power returns!
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.
Perfect for both hobbyists and craftsmen, the PCS31230-TGP252 from SawStop is a 3 HP cabinet saw that delivers excellent performance while featuring the company’s patented safety system to ensure maximum safety during use. The safety system is similar to that of the G0690 from Grizzly where the blade stops in milliseconds after it comes in contact with flesh. Designed and built in order to satisfy the needs of the most demanding users, the PCS31230-TGP252 features an exacting finish and feet and a superior dust collection system. For increased precision and added strength, the PCS31230-TGP252 features a fifty two inch T-Glide fence system, but also an extension table and rails.
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.