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.
The larger the motor, the higher the voltage as well, usually 240V. In some cases, you may be lucky and have a garage or workshop that’s wired for 240V, so that is why it’s very important that you check this prior to getting the table saw. In terms of the material thickness it can handle, it’s a minimum of three inches. One thing to bear in mind is that safety is an essential consideration with these saws and that’s because the powerful motors are prone to higher kickback.
We’re not alone in loving the Jet’s guard system. We read lots of reviews from pros who said they’d used lots of table saws in their time, but this was the first time they didn’t absolutely hate the guard. In fact, many wrote that they started working with the guard onboard for the first time, simply because it worked so well. It’s certainly one of the most unobtrusive ones we’ve seen!
The design is not bad. The height of this particular table saw is around 35 inches. While some people don’t mind it, we think it could have been designed better. However, the best thing about the design is the fact that you can get both contractor and cabinet style table saws in one unit. Dust control is well-designed. The large 4-inch dust port offers a no-hassle setup, especially with vacuums of lower quality. In simpler words, you don’t need to purchase a super-expensive vacuum for this particular unit; any affordable one should do the job well.
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.
The DeWalt DWE7480 is a 10 in. compact job site table saw powered by a powerful 15 A motor that has top speeds of up to 4,800 RPM. When this power is paired with its 24 in. rip capacity and 47 degree bevel, this table saw is able to power through even the hardest woods with great accuracy, so you can use it for projects ranging from shelving to trim to hardwood flooring. And despite all its power, this table saw is a lightweight at only 48 lbs. No matter what woodworking project you have in front of you, this DeWalt table saw is able to power through it!
We don’t always post the point totals when we do a shootout like this because it gets complicated – you have to decide what the important features and performance categories are, determine how much weight each one should hold, and then actually hash out the scores with the team. That said, some of these table saws scored so close to each other that I didn’t feel it was fair to just leave it up to the rankings.
Skilsaw produced the only worm drive table saw in our group and we had high expectations, especially given the high RPM count. In the end, the power is definitely at the professional level and settled in tied for fourth overall with DeWalt. This was the lightest, most compact saw in the group. Like DeWalt, the lack of an outer housing leads to more efficient cooling but drops storage for an extra blade.
Outfeed capacity is almost always the depth of the table. Pros using a jobsite table saw can opt to put a sawhorse or other support to hold the material after it passes the blade. There are a few models running around that give you some extra outfeed support, though. Most of the time, you’ll just have a buddy help guide the cut through from a safe stance on the behind the saw.
Ryobi’s RTS21G comes in as the only table saw in the group under $200. It’s lightweight, reasonably compact, and we got acceptable jobsite cuts with the upgraded Diablo blade. The throat plate uses magnets to hold it in place while leaving it easy to remove for blade access. Using a threaded rod to push the height adjustment up, you’ll notice it’s easier and smoother on the way down. The stand folds up and can be Velcro-strapped to the back, though it’s a bit wobbly compared to the others when ready for action.
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.
The dual extension tables (rear and side) offer 50% more table space than most rectangular units. We also appreciate that Grizzly have put all the space under the worktop to use, with steel-frame shelving built in as standard. You can use it for scrap wood, tools, and accessories: you can even fit a full tool chest under there! It’s a good space-saving touch for busy shops.
If you’re going to use your table saw every day, make sure you spend a bit more money for something of the heaviest build quality, with extended warranty coverage from a company with a great reputation for service. If you’re going to be using your cabinet unit only periodically, you probably don’t need to buy something premium. You’ll be able to get by with something around the $2,000, since you won’t be spending enough time cutting to really appreciate the design touches and tweaks that make the more expensive units more of a pleasure to use.
If you are making a cut that will require your hands to get close to the blade, (within 6 inches) use a push stick or two to eliminate the chances of your hand touching the blade. If this is a big concern for you, maybe consider a saw that uses flesh detection to stop the blade. The additional cost of the saw will be instantly appreciated the first time you need it.
A dedicated writer and communications professional spending his days lost in the intricacies of both proposal and freelance writing. When not sharing the knowledge of both fully and self-insured medical benefits to employer groups of all industries within California, Jeff Newburgh can be found at home spending time with his family and 3 dogs, pondering the next chew toy to be thrown, while kicking back and relaxing with a nice glass of red wine.
If you’re looking to use a wheeled base, you’ll want a standard rectangular unit, not a cabinet with multi-directional extension tables. Double check to make sure the model is compatible with wheeled bases, and make sure you buy your base from the same manufacturer, so you have a guarantee that they’ll work together. No matter what, don’t skimp on your base! Remember that the frame and wheels have to hold up a machine that weighs 1/4 ton or more, so it needs to be incredibly sturdy.
First off, consider how often you’ll put your table saw to use. If you work in the fields of contracting or carpentry, there’s a chance you’ll be using your new machine pretty often — so you may as well invest in a more expensive, heavy-duty table saw that’s sure to last longer than the average model. On the other hand, hobbyists and weekend woodworkers won’t need a pricey piece of machinery — a more compact and inexpensive model should do just fine, especially if you’re only working on smaller projects like birdhouses and DIY wooden models.
Home Depot sells around 60 models of table saws on its website, and the top models get hundreds of reviews from users. We found four portable saws with ratings of 4.5 stars or better from 250 users or more, and one contractor saw gets ratings just shy of 4.5 stars overall from more than 650 owners. Individual reviews are fairly short and include ratings for quality and value.