Richard Romanski of Popular Mechanics names his five favorites among 15-amp portable table saws. A slideshow outlines what he likes best about each saw, as well as any downsides. Although it's clear that Romanski has tested these saws hands-on, he doesn't go into any details about his testing methods or name the other saws that didn't make the cut.
The CNS175-TGP36 SawStop is a 10 in. contractor table saw with a 45 degree bevel and a rip capacity of 36.5 in. Other than that, we think this is a pretty cool table saw for a few different reasons. First, the price is about half of all other SawStop table saws, and we know money talks (actually, it yells)! Second, like all other SawStop table saws, it has the integrated flesh sensing technology, so you can be sure you’re going to keep all your digits. Also, it has some pretty impressive power; it’s powered by 15 A motor so you’ll be able to tackle whatever you need. The last of our favorite features is its portability. For being a contractor saw, it’s pretty easy to pack up and move around.
The GTS1031 is Bosch's newest table saw, designed for portability and intended to be light enough that you could carry it with one hand. Its rip fence is designed for quick and easy movement, and clamps into channels on opposite sides of the table to keep things consistently square without the need for frequent adjustment. Two notable advantages for the GTS1031: Its 5000 RPM max no-load speed compared to the 3850 RPM for the DeWalt, and the fact that you can use a 1/2-inch dado set with it (though it requires separate TS1013 dado throat insert).
If you are an avid hobbyist, this saw is made just for you. The company is known for its uncompromising quality and durability. This saw has a safety system where the blade stops and retracts automatically when it comes into contact with anything that is not wood. The microblade guards keep debris from flying all over your workshop. It is easy to change between blades. You will not require a riving knife to do this. Its award-winning dust collection system ensures that you have a clean and presentable workspace at the end of the day.
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.
The stand strays from the idea that jobsite stands need to be wheeled. We can attribute this to its light weight. While it loses points for portability, Skilsaw’s design created the most stable stand of the entire group. Another benefit to going with this simple stand design is that it is certainly responsible for dropping the price point. Skilsaw is definitely the table saw you want to go with if you’re having to move your saw in and out of a truck bed rather than being able to wheel it up in a trailer.
DeWALT DWE7480 is an excellent table saw, especially if you consider its price. It’s a step up from the highly popular DW745 and slightly more expensive, but I think the larger rip capacity and higher RPM are well worth the extra money. The DWE7480 is still in the lower price region though, and unlike the DW745 you can also get this one with a stand: the DWE7480XA!
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!
A riving knife is a piece of metal that comes included with your new saw. It’s shaped like a surfboard fin. Sadly, not all models come with this crucial part. If you purchase a model without it, make sure you design one for yourself as soon as possible. The construction of this piece is not a big deal at all; you can cut the shape in a matter of minutes and install it. Its purpose is to prevent the wood and debris from getting caught in the back of the blade which consequently kicks back thus jeopardizing your safety.
We used the Freud calibration plate on each of the test saws to measure runout. We removed the new Diablo blade, installed the calibration plate, and raised the trunnion to its maximum vertical adjustment. Before measuring the runout, we placed a black mark on the calibration plate to give a consistent starting position for the runout test. The same iGauging dial indicator provided the test measurements, only this time, the units were set to read out in mm. TBB noticed that in the initial saws, the movements were sufficiently small to need the smaller metric units.
While the sheer price of this Bosch unit might be cost-prohibitive for most buyers, we think it’s the full-time professional’s ideal mobile unit. With the REAXX flesh-detection system onboard, it’s one of the safest table saws on the market, portable or stationary. The system detects flesh and stops itself instantly, without leaving a mark on the hot dog test.
Using the guards the saw came with is crucial for the safety of your hands. If you are working with smaller pieces, make or buy a sled with a work clamp so that you can maintain a safe distance from the blade. The clamped sled can be as simple as a piece of plywood with a track on the bottom that’s responsible for riding in the groove. It’s quite simple to construct, saves time, and most importantly – fingers.
Table saws will use one of two different kinds of drive configurations; Direct-drive motors and Belt-drive motors. In a direct-drive motor, they will link directly to the blade itself and transfer all of the power of the motor to the blade. They tend to last longer than belt drive motors and there is no belt to replace or worry about getting worn out. Belt drive motors transfer power from the motor to the blade through a belt. In this type of configuration, the motor can be offset away from the sawdust which helps the motor last longer. In general, belt drive motors need more preventative maintenance than direct-drive motors do. If you have a belt drive motor, check the tension of your belts as well as checking them for wear periodically to ensure your continued safety.
I do not which is the best table saw, but I can tell you which is the worst. The rigid portable saw is a piece of garbage. I have purchased two in the last 4 years and the motor has failed in both, only to find that they do not sell a replacement motor. The Rigid customer service will not respond to any questions associated with the saw or replacement parts. I will not buy another Rigid tool and currently planning to try the Bosch table saw.
One notable feature on the Bosch is an arbor lock button, enabling easy blade changes. Changing the blade on most table saws is an onerous task, requiring the user to reach under the saw with one wrench to hold the arbor still while using another wrench to loosen the bolt holding the blade in place. Because of the difficulty involved, many users choose to continue using a dull blade, rather than expend the effort to change it. Dull table saw blades can result in poor cutting ability, split-out, burn marks, and possibly dangerous kickbacks. The arbor lock button helps to eliminate some of the difficulty involved in blade changes, taking some of the dread out of the process. Popular Mechanics referred to this feature as, “so handy it ought to be an industry standard”. It is the only manufacturer in the industry to offer this feature.
The integrated blade carries an electrical signal. Once it comes in contact with human skin, the signal changes because of the skin’s conductivity and the blade immediately stop. Although some people don’t like the process of resetting the blade, it’s quite easy, and it takes only a couple of minutes. If you think about it, it’s better to hassle by resetting the blade for five or six minutes instead of losing a few fingers.
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.
Table saws can be tougher to evaluate on paper since they don’t include torque measurements. Each of the table saws we tested have 15 amp motors, but vary widely on no load speed. The ones with lower RPM values are bleeding off speed in exchange for torque. While the right balance is always tough to achieve (and is a moving target with every new motor development), here’s where each saw prioritizes speed.
It is safe to say that we live in a DIY era. Think about it. When was the last time you went on YouTube or anywhere else online and looked for something that tickled your fancy, a guide on how something is made or done, or maybe a tutorial. Indeed, we do it very often, so why should woodworking and home improvement be any different? With the prices of table saws constantly dipping and the insane number of choices on the market, you can get one for yourself and save thousands of dollars by doing things yourself instead of hiring contractors.
The weak point of this rolling stand is the base where all the weight sits. I really like the Bosch rolling miter saw stand, which is what convinced me to buy this setup. When you compare the miter saw to this table saw, it's a night and day difference. The miter saw from Bosch has thicker and larger diameter metal tubing. It clearly weights more, but it's on wheels, and has yet to show any fatigue from constant use.