We made a few test cuts with ¾-inch plywood just to get a feel of the motors we were working with. It became clear pretty quickly that not all 15 amp motors are equal. Once we knew what to expect, we moved to pressure treated 2x pine material in 7-1/2 foot lengths. Why 7-1/2? Our test material started at 15 feet and it seemed silly to have some at 8 feet and others at 6.
In order to measure the blade speed we used a digital laser non-contact tachometer. A piece of reflective tape was adhered to each saw blade just behind the carbide tooth, so that the tape would be just above the top of the wood cutting surface, allowing us to capture the blade speed during the cuts. We used a power-feeder to ensure that all the material was pushed through each saw at the same feed rate. In the photo above you can see our test set-up with the power feeder, a decibel meter to the left, the digital tachometer in the center, and the amp meter on the right. If you look really closely at the saw blade, the piece of reflective tape is to the left side of the blade near the power feeder.
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.
One of the biggest issues and potential hazards when working with table saws is kickback. Table saw kickback occurs when wood is ejected from the saw at extremely high speed. You can imagine the sort of injuries this can cause. Table splitters are effectively small vertical bits of metal or sometimes plastic that are designed to stop the wood flying back if there is a kickback. Attached to the splitter are anti kickback pawls either side, they look like table saw blades themselves but they are in fact there to grip the wood at stick into it in case of kickback.
Under the table, you’ll find plenty of space to store away your accessories. This is valuable if you’re working on site and don’t want to keep hunting down bits and pieces. You’ll be able to stash your arbor wrench and Allen wrenches close to hand. The rip fence also flips upside down and can be stored under the table. It’s this kind of attention to detail for a jobsite saw that’s always appreciated.
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.
For ideal usage, the on/off switch needs to be mounted on the front of the saw and should be easy to turn off with your knee or a swat without having to look at it to locate it. Most table saw models have a safety feature that is a plastic key that has to be inserted before the table saw can be turned on. Some may even have a way to padlock the switch.
Cabinet saws are the prime choice for professional woodworkers. A more powerful induction motor, usually 3 to 5 HP, is enclosed in a cabinet, as part of a super-sturdy overall construction. This type of table saw is ideal for making smooth, straight cuts through hardwoods without worrying about excessive vibration. All that power and stability comes at a price, though. Low-end cabinet saws start around $2,300 and can go past $5,000 for industrial table saws.
All table saws sold in the U.S. come with a riving knife, anti-kickback pawls, and a split blade guard. Because some cuts can’t be made with these safety features installed, they are removable. If you’re looking for a fun party game, see who of your uninitiated friends can install both correctly without a manual. While each one is different, their nature means you can use the saw without them installed. I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you those cuts are more dangerous, so avoid it if you can.
A table saw can be classified in many ways, and I’ve come across terms like contractor, folding, featherboard, hobby, induction, sliding and zero clearance. However, I will conform to the most basic and clear classification and range the tables accordingly. That means I’ll order them by benchtop table saws, jobsite table saws, cabinet saws and hybrid table saws.
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.
If you’re going to have a quality product, you need a fence system that’s perfectly square to the table so your cut is perfectly parallel to the edge. Obviously, framers have a bit more leeway than jobsite carpenters and there’s plenty of variance in fence quality. Cheaper saws have fences that can easily move out of square as they slide along the surface of the table. Avoid these if you want quality results. The fence system needs to be easy to keep square to the blade.
The quality of cut is as good as I can get with a cabinet saw, with one key exception: It takes more time to get it set up just right. There isn’t as much lead up before the blade, so getting the wood to track true is harder with less fence. I kind of wish they had backed the blade up an inch or two assuming they couldn’t make the saw a bit deeper.
With a single cast iron trunnion system, the Delta UNISAW offers dependable accuracy, smooth and continuous operation, but also vibration free control. Thanks to the fact that it features a fifty-two inch fence system, it’s the perfect choice for woodworking pros, but also people who are just starting out in the woodworking industry, such as hobbyists. Since it also comes with an upfront bevel dial to easily fine tune the blade level, you get a striking accuracy within a quarter of a degree, ensuring precision setups cut after cut.
There are a few nice conveniences which we don’t always see on affordable units like this. The Grizzly has a built-in miter guide, made from cast iron, which slides easily in the worktop. The left-tilting blade is coordinated with a digital display, which gives you an accurate, real-time readout on your bevel angle as you cut! The motor has a starting amperage of 13, which is safer for your breakers than 15 amp models. There’s a standard 4” dust collection port, and
Each one has different power, capabilities, mobility and price points as well. If you’re not sure which type you need, we have outline some specifics on each below that will help you choose. When you begin the search for your table saw, you will need to know the answers to a few questions that will narrow down the choices for you and make choosing much easier.
For any kind of professional woodworking and large scale construction work, the cabinet table saw is the one for the job. These types of table saws are often called stationary saws. The motor is protected in a cast iron and steel cabinet that reduces noise and vibration as well. With reduced vibration comes better accuracy which is always the desired effect, especially for professionals. The motor us a powerful 3-5 hp and requires a 220-volt outlet. If you are using it in a home workshop, a special outlet may need to be installed if 220s are not already installed in your garage or shop. Measuring about 28” x 43” and weighing in at over 400 pounds, these table saws were not designed to be portable. The large work surface is ideal for cutting large pieces with ease. Cabinet saws can use a 12” blade with no problem, although a 10” blade is the most commonly used. It is the most expensive of all of the styles of table saws.
Table saws will continue to be popular and much sought after tools in any workshop or construction site. There are many terrific styles on the market which is why it is important to do some research and look at the reviews provided here as well as the tips contained in this guide to help you choose the right table saw for your needs, whether you are a professional or a DIYer who loves to work in the workshop making things for enjoyment.
It’s expensive. This one will cost you over $3000. That’s no casual purchase, and the high price tag makes this cost-prohibitive for some buyers. However, you really can’t put a price on the peace of mind that comes with having a unit with this sort of safety system onboard. Our advice? If you can muster the cash, and will get your money’s worth out of the machine, it’s well-worth the price.
Dust capture from this saw is pretty bad. I was shocked that a European brand would ignore the dust collection to this extent – at least I was until I discovered that their version of the 4100 does have quite a few more pieces that help pull most of the dust from the airstream. There is a plate that encloses the rear around the vacuum port and a bottom grid that allow airflow to the motor while still shaping the airstream to drive the dust to the vac. I added the plate, but decided against the grid. Instead, I added a sheet of ¼” plywood and put a 4” vacuum port in it that I hook up to my dust collector. I also replaced the blade guard with the European version that has a dust port built in. Minor upgrades, but dust capture has gone from terrible/non-existent to pretty acceptable. Bosch also sell a bag that will capture whatever dust would get tossed out the back of the saw, but that isn’t much, so I consider it a waste. I did buy it, and it works well on other tools, but it is not IMO a must-have for the 4100
For benchtop and jobsite saws with direct drive motors, the motor RPM is the blade RPM. If you’re considering a contractor or cabinet saw, it’s a different story. In any event, Pro table saw RPMs generally range from 4000 – 5000. Don’t let numbers on the lower side dissuade you. There’s a limit to how much power you can draw and each manufacturer has to decide how they’ll channel it between blade speed and torque. So higher isn’t necessarily better.
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.
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.
The Porter-Cable looks like a beefed-up version of the Craftsman, with the same blade guard and anti-kickback pawls. This is the only saw in our test with a blade-tilting handwheel, which makes it easier to dial in a precise bevel angle. The motor mount and blade controls on this saw are very sturdy, without much play, which translates to a good-quality cut. Extending the fence for a wide rip requires a bit of effort on this saw, since the rails are stiff. All in all, this is a great saw for the price.
You can opt to extend the warranty coverage to 3 years, all through an external provider. We actually prefer these third-party warranties for power tools because they allow you to deal with people who are on your side, as opposed to company representatives, who can be frustrating to say the least. We think add-on coverage is a great safeguard for any cabinet table saw, and it’s a very reasonable proposition on this model.
Some table saws go one better than a splitter. Splitters are fixed. They do not move along with the blade. It also needs to be removed if you’re making cross-cuts or dado cuts. A riving knife, on the other hand, is fixed to the same part as the blade. This means it can move along with the blade. Riving knives don’t get in the way either so this is the best option.
Give yourself a reason to be proud of your job by bringing in a table saw that has what it takes to get quality cutting. Just as the name, Powermatic table saw will ensure your cutting is accurate and interesting. It has a poly-v belt, which maximizes motor efficiency and reduces vibration for noise-free performance. The table saw also features massive dust collection to ensure your working space is clean and accommodative. With 30” Accu-fence system, nothing will be impossible to handle. Additionally, the entire unit is designed with quality material for longevity. The design is also portable making it easy for you to move from one job site to the other comfortably.